Hydro Thunder is a speedboat racing sub-series game, originally an arcade game and later released for the Sega Dreamcast as a launch title in 1999. It was also released for PlayStation and Nintendo 64 in early 2000. This game is part of Midway's "Thunder" series of racing games, which includes Offroad Thunder, 4 Wheel Thunder, and Arctic Thunder. Hydro Thunder Hurricane, a sequel to Hydro Thunder, was later released for the Xbox 360 on July 27, 2010 on Xbox Live Arcade.
The gameplay of Hydro Thunder consists of racing high-tech speedboats through treacherous environments, from the cold seas of the Arctic Circle, to a post-apocalyptic, flooded version of New York City (New York Disaster).
The arcade version of Hydro Thunder utilizes the same cabinet seat as San Fransisco Rush and the later Offroad Thunder, and also has the same steering wheel on the control panel as Cruis'n USA minus the standard foot pedals and adding a variable position throttle with forward, neutral and reverse directions. The game also has an unusual volume adjustment, where the regular play volume is usually set lower than the feedback volume for the subwoofer in the seat. This places the player "in the game" and makes the person feel like he or she is actually piloting a powerful, high-tech speedboat.
Besides the arcade, Hydro Thunder has been ported over to the Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, and Nintendo 64. The Dreamcast version of the game was included in Midway Arcade Treasures 3, a compilation of Midway's many racing games. A PC version was also released in Europe. The Dreamcast port became one of the few Sega All Stars titles. Midway Games had plans to create a double pack for Hydro Thunder and San Fransisco Rush 2049 under the name Hydro Rush for the PlayStation 2. But the game was canceled, and the project moved to Midway Arcade Treasures 3 for Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
The original arcade game featured Greek Isles as an Easy track, rather than Medium, in addition to New York Disaster and Nile Adventure being the unlockable Bonus tracks, with Hydro Speedway only accessible via a cheat code using the pilot view button. Castle von Dandy and Catacombs only appeared in the console ports. Not only that, but the method for unlocking tracks and boats in the arcade game is unique; after finishing a track, you earn a key out of a predetermined number needed to unlock the track and boat. If you did not earn a free game after finishing a race, you would need to insert more coins in order to continue, or else after the Continue countdown runs out, the key(s) earned would become null and void, requiring you to start over again. Also, cheat codes on the arcade game to play as the Bonus boats involved highlighting certain boats and pressing the pilot view button three times.
The PlayStation version of the game included a career mode not found in the other versions. The Dreamcast version of the game had graphics that were more detailed and closer to the arcade version than the other ports. The Nintendo 64 version allowed up to 4-player local multiplayer (instead of just 2-player) when the N64 Expansion Pak is equipped to the console. Also, only the home ports featured the Catacombs, and Castle von Dandy tracks, along with New York Disaster and Greek Isles being reclassified as Hard and Medium tracks respectively. The console ports did not feature the keys from the arcade version.
The game does not offer very much of a storyline, but according to the manual of the Dreamcast, PS1, and N64 ports of the game, the player is a world champion powerboat racer longing for a challenge, until he recieves a letter stating that he is now recruited into the underground boat racing syndicate known as the Hydro Thunder Racing Association.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydro_Thunder Wikipedia article