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