Gear up and take in those sweet waves of nostalgia as Hotshot Racing attempts to bring back the classic arcade racing genre from the 90s. With four tourneys, eight racers, online and additional modes, all running at a smooth 1080p 60FPS with a clean retro polygonal aesthetic, Hotshot Racing provides a lot of promise to those who thrived in arcades three decades ago.
Arcade racers are make or break on how the cars handle and let me start this review off by saying that they handle superbly. With impressive accuracy to each car’s weight and grunt as it courses through your palms via HD Rumble, Hotshot Racing is a treat to jump into for a race or five.
This arcade racer places more emphasis on drifting, having it build up your NOS boost meter. Sliding around corners feels wonderful when you get it just right as it’s quite easy to lean too heavily into the slide or not enough (however this varies depending on the vehicle you choose). Your AI opponents are often aggressive and they won’t hold back if they want to ram into you, adding to the difficulty and arcade aspect whilst also contributing to the frustration that goes along with it.
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Each driver you can choose from has their own cars with their own unique stats. The higher you place in races, the more gold credits you’ll receive which you can redeem for car customisation options. This plays well for those who enjoy customising cars and it doesn’t let you buy your way to upgrade your cars in order to win, however it does strip the game of that feeling of progression. Once you take gold on all tournaments, there’s not much more to do other than compete online or have a round of the game’s bonus modes: Cops and Robbers and Drive or Explode. These modes are a lot of fun when playing multiplayer, providing a much needed quirkiness to a game that would’ve other become repetitive and lack replayability.
Across four tournaments, there are a total of 16 courses to test your racing skills on. This is undoubtedly the most underwhelming aspect of Hotshot Racing and that pains me to say. Not one of the 16 tracks had anything memorable to highlight and I would simply get excited when I approached a corner that was slightly sharper than the others. Every track simply blurred into one and that is very disappointing.
Story / Personality
With Hotshot Racing‘s arcade nature, there is no story to latch onto and yet, that doesn’t mean that the game lacks a sense of personality. Upon starting a race, each character, with their own cars to choose from, represent a country. Whilst these characters can often fall into the realm of stereotypes, they tend to have their own quirks, including Toshiro from Japan who is secretly a cyborg.
The game also doesn’t take itself too seriously and this is wonderful to see. Whilst most of the player’s concentration is in the racing, it’s a treat to be able to look up and see a giant dinosaur or a bobbing UFO on the horizon.
Graphics / Art Direction
With its classically polygonal art style, Hotshot Racing is a burst of nostalgia for those who grew up in the 90s, rushing towards the over the top racers you’d usually find either in arcades or on the Sega Saturn/Dreamcast. Now in 2020, these polygonal graphics are bolstered by crisp HD resolution and brighter colours, making this love letter a wonderful sight to behold.
Music / Sound Design
Cast your mind back to the radical 90s and you and your buddies are walking into the arcade after school. You pass the Street Fighter II and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cabinets because you can hear the sweet hard rock sounds of Daytona USA and Ridge Racer. Hotshot Racing knows the importance of this memory and pays off in spades with an upbeat soundtrack that’ll get your blood pumping. Couple that with the grunt sounds of the cars’ engines and the screeches of drifting tyres and you’re in bliss 90s heaven.
Final Score: 80%
Hotshot Racing is a gorgeous love letter to classic arcade racers. Its vibrant visuals and smooth gameplay on Switch is admirable and its lighthearted aesthetic makes the game easy on the eyes. Its primary letdown would have to be its uninspired course design but for anyone who grew up with arcade racers, that can be overlooked to say that Hotshot Racing is a no-brainer to recommend.
Thank you for checking out our Hotshot Racing switch review, thank you to Renaissance PR for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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