A plethora of racing games this month, and today is a Hotshot Racing review that covers the PS4 and the Switch.
What is with the influx of driving games this month? There’s been so many of them released in full or the Early Access stage that has been so good; it feels like September is the month of the racer.
So far, we’ve had:
Not it’s time for Hotshot Racing, and this review covers both the PlayStation 4 and Switch version where I was lucky enough to have access to both.
Hotshot Racing Review
Back in the day (here we go), my friends and I would be ‘that crowd’ that used to hang around the local arcade practically every night with no money. If it weren’t the pool table, we’d be at Daytona USA, and perhaps one of us had a couple of quid to pay for another player.
It was quite easily the best driving game with mates. The arcade simplicity and rush of hearing ‘Day-toh-naaa’ each time you’d put some shrapnel in, but without money the next best bet was a console game, and the closest arcade experience was Virtua Racing on the 32X (least I think it was).
If you haven’t read the Sega Ages Virtua Racing review, feel free to, but in summary, this was what arcade racers were about, and in fear of this dragging out any further, that is precisely what Hotshot Racing is too.
If this were an arcade port you’d find from the arcades, you could deem this ‘arcade perfect’. The controls handle as you’d expect with no faffing about with setups, choose from a range of cars based on your mood; speed or drifting comes to mind. As for speed, it’s incredibly swift and not an ounce of slowdown on either the PS4 or Switch.
Hotshot Racing isn’t fast like Wipeout, but sleek. Drifting is automatic, that is, if you’re going full out and lock the wheel, you’re going to drift. Some cars handle better than others, and they’re stats to represent top speed, drifting, and acceleration.
On top of that, there are eight players to choose from in low polygon glory, each with their motivations for racing and decorative style (you can change their racing suit as well as the appearance of the cars, albeit basic).
After you complete one of the four Grand Prix Championships, you’ll get a little end sequence finishing up their story. It was a nice bit of variety to a typical racer, but each successive win plays the same conclusion, so after you’ve seen it once, you’ll skip it.
If You Wanna Come Collide With Me
The Grand Prix has three difficulty settings, with normal being the entry-level. I’d say that this setting is just about right. The AI is quite aggressive, and there was enough challenge that I wouldn’t always be in the lead, I’d have to earn it.
Now here’s my biggest beef with the game: collision detection. When chasing, you can plough through the other drivers without consequence. You don’t spin them out, nor do you incur a time penalty or anything similar, so you can’t fluke your way through by ramming.
However… this doesn’t apply when you’re on the receiving end. All of the races I lost, a.k.a without a podium finish, was a result of being clipped from behind. If you’re hit, you almost spin out, often hitting the sides and having to catch up. Worse if you have to reverse and straighten back up.
This ruined the flow for me big time and put me in brief bursts of expletives. It can be so frustrating when you’ve completed two perfect laps only to miss out in the last minutes.
Another trivial thing was the agility on some of the cars. The suspension felt like it was made of spaghetti, the vehicle wobbling all over the place at times that it was distracting. Bear in mind that this was only for a few cars and, well… you can choose a different one – there’s plenty of choices.
The first issue was problematic at times, the second can be dismissed as a preference, but overall, Hotshot Racing is so much fun to play and is like a sweet shop when it comes to presentation. The colours are gorgeous, the low-res polygon modelling is marvellous, and with a multitude of views to pick from, you’re spoiled in terms of eye candy.
But it’s the gameplay that matters and how it handles. Aside from the collisions with cars from the rear, the game plays really well. It’s slick, entertaining and a lot of fun in multiplayer too (unless the other players purposely ram you!).
You can make a brief comeback when clipped though as your car comes equipped with a nitro and it’s pretty well-balanced that it’s not open for abuse. As you might expect, it refills with style, so streamline behind an opponent or pull off a cool drift and you’ll find the nitro replenishes and you can sneak in a cheeky boost over the finish line if you plan it well. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I used that strategy, and with success.
Now All We Need Is A Handful Of Coins
Hotshot Racing is a game that feels like reliving the past in a very good way. I could imagine playing this or watching friends play while the moths ate away at my pockets as a kid, and while I could say that a younger me would be blown away with this ‘arcade perfect’ game, I can say it now too.
Sure, it’s not without its flaws, but it delivers in so many ways, and I see this as my go-to racer when we eventually have gamer guests around, or perhaps, I’d step out of my comfort zone and play online more.
In terms of modes, aside from the typical arcade and time trial variations, there’s a Cops & Robbers mode and Drive or Explode (an elimination mode), and these are playable locally and online. There’s a leaderboard too if you’re that good.
Replay value is for both single-player and multiplayer. As mentioned, you can unlock new skins and customisations, but they’re pretty basic and only cosmetic. I found that I had accumulated so much money as I didn’t need to spend it. I wasn’t saving for a rainy day; there just wasn’t the incentive.
Instead, the incentive for playing Hotshot Racing is the gameplay, which has to be the highest compliment. It’s not about grinding to unlock a new car, suspension or bodykit, or even getting the best time to win a new track – it’s all available to play now without any nonsense, and on that basis, it’s a hit.