Hydro Thunder
System: Dreamcast
Publisher & Developer: Midway
Released: September 9, 1999(DC launch title)
Genre: Arcade Boat Racing
Capabilities: VMU Compatible, Jump Pack Compatible

The Game

Hydro Thunder is a brand new arcade racer from Midway. But instead of the usual wacky arcade racing, this one is of speedboats going at it on a variety of water worlds. Just combine Wave Race 64 and Cruis ‘n USA, and you’ll know what I mean. Now will this be just as better as the previous Midway racers? Let’s get onto the review and find out.


I gotta admit, these are really impressive. For a Dreamcast launch title, I see these beautiful environments you race on, made up of jungle trees, the ocean, and just about anything else you can imagine. There is so much animation going on at once, like your boat going all over the screen, plus the many environment animations (like volcanoes erupting, trees falling, etc.) I can’t believe that the game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, even in two player mode. The game’s menus are really easy to navigate through and nothing should be confusing at all for you, except when entering your initials for the high scores; it takes forever! All the boat models vary a lot, from the basic one’s they give you that look like standard speed boats, to really wacky one’s like the Titanic. There really isn’t nothing bad at all about the graphics, except I do believe the game could’ve managed to fit a 4 player mode on here with no problem, but maybe they were rushed to make it in time for Dreamcast launch.


The sound is standard in here. Nothing really spectacular. You got some guy telling you all the options as you pick them, he sounds a lot like the main navigating voice off of Crazy Taxi. He will get repetitive right away, because at the start of the race he says “Go, Go, Go!” You got fairly decent background music which is dimmed out to where you barely hear it when racing. You mostly here all the sound effects in the game, all which are well done, from the sounds of turbo boosting, to the boats jumping the rapids and so on.

Game play

The game controls are easy to learn. Not many, basically the L and R triggers accelerate and brake, and you use the control stick to steer. The rest of the buttons are used for the Turbo Boost, (power ups found throughout the course which gives your boat a limited boost in acceleration) and changing camera angles. It took me a little while to get use to the steering, which tends to be a little tight and to precise at moments, but I finally adapted to it.

The game has a couple of main modes, first there’s championship, where you race on several different difficulties on a set of courses, by placing in all of them you will unlock new courses and tracks. The race itself is fairly easy to complete, each one only takes a few minutes to complete, and it moves around the same rate as it’s arcade counterpart. Next, there’s the standard time attack mode, which is like a time trial where you race for your best times on any course you want. And finally, there’s vs. mode where you and a friend go at it on any course in split screen action. All the mode’s play great, but some may feel a bit sluggish while playing. And that steering can cause you to miss a few valuable turns.

Replay Value

The game can be played with two players, but a 4 player mode seemed like a must here because the Dreamcast could’ve easily handled it. And the N64 version had a 4 player mode, and that doesn’t make it sense, because why would you save better modes for lesser systems? The only other thing here to keep you playing besides the regular championship circuits, is the time attack races, which really isn’t much. Some more modes would’ve been greatly appreciated, like some form of trick attack or something. So don’t look for nothing extra to keep you here.

In Brief

+: Great arcade port, smooth frame rate all around, lots of boats and tracks!

-: No 4 player mode to be found, Only 3 game play modes all together, steering can be a bit tricky

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics: 9.0
Sound: 7.9
Game play: 7.5
Replay Value: 3.7

Overall: 7.0

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 7


This game is pretty fun to play, but more modes should’ve been added to keep gamers playing this game. The game is loads of friend to play against a friend, but don’t buy it just for the single player experience, because after you unlock everything, nothing is here to keep you playing. Just give it a rent instead, and if you really want it for the multi player experience, get the N64 version instead, because it’s playable with up to 4 players.