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Manufacturer:  Midway

Released:  1999


Midway Quicksilver II Hardware
Main CPU :
Intel Celeron 333/366MHz
Motherboard : Intel SE44BX-2
RAM : 64MB
Graphics Chips : Quantum Obsidian 3DFX

Monitor:  Med Resolution, Horizontal


My Hydro Thunder

Date of Manufacture:  December 8, 1999

Serial Number:  23340100310

Cabinet: 25" Upright

Condition:  New monitor, Controls 100%, Cabinet is pretty damn spiffy

Purchased:  July 2008


Hydro Thunder Quick Links

Manual and Parts List


  1. Upright

  2. Sitdown - Front

  3. Sitdown - Back

Video review by Screw Attack

KLOV Entry

Hydro Thunder Music

 Title Screen

 Nile Adventure

 Thunder Park













Click on the arrows below to scroll through all the pictures.  Highlight a picture to make it full size.



Hydro Thunder is one of the few racing games to take players off of the road and into the water. Hydro Thunder was the 1st in the "Thunder" series by Midway that later released Offroad Thunder and Arctic Thunder.  Nine boats are offered (4 hidden), each with totally unique characteristics and 10 different courses (2 locked). On every course the goal is simple - collect power-ups, use shortcuts, and be the first to the finish line.

The courses and boats are some of the most colorful, diverse and imaginative ever created. Race your state of the art powerboat everywhere from the exotic Far East to the treacherous Arctic Circle. Every course is packed with jumps, hidden shortcuts, choppy waves, tourists, police, obstacles, animals, and 15 other competitors. Right from the get-go, there's a feeling of speed, fun, and elation. The depth of thought of attention to detail is superb and you'll find yourself noticing things missed on numerous previous occasions.  Here is a quick run down of courses:

  • Lost Island - This tropical island track is filled with waterfalls and cave shortcuts.
  • Thunder Park - Imagine an amusement park race track set on the water.
  • Arctic Circle - The frozen waters of the Arctic Circle are littered with treacherous icebergs and even a half-sunken ocean liner.
  • Greek Isles - Gaze at Greek architectural history while avoiding the local authorities.
  • Lake Powell - This medium-difficulty race takes you around Lake Powell, Arizona, and ends with a spectacular jump off the Hoover Dam.
  • Far East - Avoid floating junk and junks on this far-out trip through the Far East.
  • Venice Canals - Race through the ancient Italian city and drive right through the middle of a Castlevania-style cathedral.
  • Ship Graveyard - Avoid crashing into decaying ship wrecks and watch for sudden turns and drops in the track's vast network of tunnels and caves.
  • New York Disaster - Think Blade Runner. Ever wondered what Times Square would look like if everything were covered with water?
  • Nile Adventure - This three-minute long track takes you through a Vegas-style pyramid, complete with sea monster.

On the surface game play seems simplistic in Hydro Thunder but there are different techniques that allow the seasoned players to excel. Scattered across the courses are blue and red boost icons. When touched these floating icons allow the player to boost. When the boost button is pressed your boat takes off at high speed. Also by boosting a player can knock other boats into the air, a feature described by the game as the “Mighty Hull”. Another aspect of boosting is the “Hydro Jump” that is performed by braking and using the boost button. When the Hydro Jump is performed the player's boat is propelled into the air. When combined with the many ramps on the courses, players can reach short cuts and boost icons that would normally not be accessible otherwise.

Hydro Thunder sports a powerful 3D graphics engine and hardware (for its day) truly shines with water spray and lens-flare effects, as well as superb water physics. The graphics still hold up even for a 10 year old game.  The controls feature feedback that gives the player an idea of how choppy those waves are.

The audio is absolutely fantastic and even features a sub-woofer to pull you into the game. You'll hear your pit crew talking about everything from upcoming turns to a bad feeling they have about the course ahead. It'll totally get you involved in the game, especially when you hear them, and your driver, screaming and 'wahoo-ing' as you sail over waterfalls.

Hydro Thunder is probably (and unfortunately) the last great rush I felt in an arcade setting and I knew I had to eventually own one . The only problem was the space needed to house the game. Midway did make a slightly smaller and rarer upright version that I was fortunate to find in immaculate shape. It’s one of those games that anyone of any skill and age range can play. Even if you don’t win the game delivers a rush to everyone.


Did you know...

Game play Secrets

Solo Racing
At the boat select screen before you select your boat hold down the low view and pilot buttons and pull the stick in reverse then you will be the only one racing on the course.

Super Start
Before the race begins, keep the throttle in the STOP position. As the "3" begins to fade, throttle to full. As the "2" begins to fade, throttle to stop, and when the "1" begins to fade, throttle to full again. You will get a turbo start as well as a +4 second boost of fuel.

Jump the very last ramp of the course and hit (yes, HIT) the Start/Finish marquee on the right side about where the words "to go" appear in "laps to go". You will flip through the air and receive a 9 second boost.

Course Secrets and Shortcuts

Hydro Speedway
To race on the Hydro Speedway Course, highlight "Lake Powell" at the course selection
screen, then quickly press the PILOT button three times.
When the course splits in two, steer toward the grassy spot in between the waterways of the next split. Use your boosters to travel down this grassy spot.

Lake Powell
On the Lake Powell course there are 3 secrets. First in the waterfall, go through it. Second is, when you round the corner where the teepee's are jump over the decking to find a secret tunnel. And third when you get to the bridge with the two 4 sec. boosts, go up the incline that is in the middle. You can get the 9 sec boosts by doing so.

Lost Island
The first shortcut is behind the first waterfall. Go through this waterfall for a nine and a four second boost. Immediately thereafter, you will see some huts off to the left. Drive (DO NOT JUMP!) between the last hut and the rock just beyond it to access the second shortcut and grab those two boosts that are just too high to get. The hidden boost in this course is in the volcano flames--you must jump the ramp to get it.

Arctic Circle
Look for a hole in the ice on the right side of the course about one-third of the way through. Hydro jump into it and you will go careening down a long tube. This should gain you several places. You will exit FAST, so be careful--there are some turns just head and you should not miss the boost fuel in them. There is another boost further down on the left side you can hydro jump to get and cut the corner short.
Towards the end of the race, you will see a hole in the ice to your right and a large ship just beyond that on the left. Drive toward the middle of the ship, crossing the ice bank, and you will receive a secret boost. You will also enter the second shortcut. Try to exit the medium right turn on the outside because there is a long, flat ramp that will rocket you ahead a place or two right at the finish line.

Unlock Hidden Boats

Armed Response
To race as Armed Response, highlight Thresher and quickly press the pilot view button 3 times.

To race as Tinytanic, highlight Tidal Blade and quickly press the pilot view
button 3 times.

To race as Blowfish highlight Hazard and quickly press the pilot view button 3 times.

To race as Chumdinger highlight Razorback and quickly press the pilot view button 3 times.




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