Preview: Hotshot Racing

DEVELOPER: Sumo Digital, Lucky Mountain Games
PUBLISHER: Curve Digital
RELEASE DATE: Spring 2020
AVAILABLE FROM: STEAM

If you like arcade racers, and the idea of a bright, colourful, but above all fun game appeals, then you need look no further than Hotshot Racing. Due out in Spring 2020, Big Bytes and Small Nibbles was able to play the preview build, and we’re delighted to report that it’s good. Really good.

Whether using a controller or keyboard and mouse, controls are tight, responsive, and easy to use, and the racing is simply good fun. The courses we tried were varied and easy to read (no more getting lost on the racetrack). Also, unlike many racing games where you can find yourself hopelessly far behind the rest of the pack, or outpace them all so much that there’s no way anyone else could possibly win, this is not the case here. Whether player or AI controlled, each racer has access to a boost and slipstream option.

Boost, as the name implies, gives your car a short, sharp burst of speed. However, it has a limited number of uses, which have to be recharged by slipstreaming or drifting. Drifting is its own challenge. Get it just right, and you can slide your way through corners and maintain higher speeds than you might otherwise. Get it wrong, and you can find yourself overcorrecting and losing valuable time. Then there’s slipstreaming. Get close enough behind another car and you will get a valuable boost to your speed, enough that you can overtake them.

Use all these together, and it’s possible to go from the back of the pack to being leader of the race well within the space of a lap. It also means that you can never be so far ahead of the competition that you can afford to relax, and more than once I found myself grinning from the sheer thrill of the race. These mechanics also add a tactical edge to the racing, as you have to choose the best time to deploy your boost.

There are quite a few different drivers and cars to choose from, as well as a ton of cosmetic options. With the cars, while each is geared towards different styles (balanced, acceleration, drifting, and pure, raw speed), each handles well.

While we could try the single-race, time-trial, GP mode and limited local multiplayer, the game will also support 4-player split-screen local multiplayer as well as online multiplayer. There’s also two novel modes that we’re looking forward to trying. ‘Drive or Explode’ forces players to maintain their speed above a certain level or, as the name suggest, they explode. ‘Cops and Robbers,’ on the other hand, sounds like a race version of tag – each time a ‘cop’ catches a ‘robber’, the robber gets added to the cops’ team.

Inspired by the classics, Hotshot Racing is shaping up to be a classic itself. Definitely one to watch. ■

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