Hydro Thunder

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Hydro Thunder
Hydro Thunder DC cover.jpg
Arcade flyer
Developer(s)Midway San Diego
Midway Games West
Eurocom / Blue Shift (consoles/PC)
Publisher(s)Midway Games
Composer(s)Orpheus "Soundstation" Hanley
Platform(s)Arcade, Dreamcast, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
March 1999
September 9, 1999
Nintendo 64 & PlayStation
February 29, 2000
April 6, 2001
PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Arcade systemMidway Quicksilver II [1]

Hydro Thunder is a Motorboat 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.[2]


Arcade version showcasing the boat Banshee racing on the Ship Graveyard track

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.

Scattered across the tracks are blue and red boost icons. When touched these icons allow the player who touched them to boost. Red boost icons are more scarce than blue boost icons due to the fact red boost icons give more boost fuel. When a player has boost fuel they may use the boost button to boost, which allows a player's boat to reach speeds much higher than what would normally be possible. 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 which is performed by braking and using the boost button. When combined with the many ramps on the tracks, players can reach short cuts and boost icons that would normally not be accessible otherwise.

The boats in Hydro Thunder are divided into four categories: easy, medium, hard, and bonus. The easy boats tend to be easy to control but they do not have the speed of other classes. Medium boats are in the middle, and Hard boats are usually very difficult to control but are very fast. Bonus boats are accessible by entering a combination to access the boat. The tracks in Hydro Thunder like the boats are divided into four classes: easy, medium, hard and bonus. The easy tracks are usually short and easy with the bonus tracks being the longest and hardest. The arcade version of the game had only two bonus tracks, New York Disaster and Nile Adventure. Hydro Speedway was present as a hidden track. The console versions add two more, Catacomb and Castle Von Dandy, making four in all.

Development and release[edit]

The arcade version of Hydro Thunder utilizes the same basic cabinet as Midway's earlier Hyperdrive. It has the same cabinet seat as Atari's San Francisco Rush. It also has the same steering wheel on the control panel as Cruis'n USA, minus the standard foot pedals, and adds 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 is intended to place the player "in the game" and make the player feel like an actual pilot of a powerful, high-tech speedboat.

In addition to the arcade, Hydro Thunder has been ported over to several home consoles. The PlayStation version of the game includes a career mode not found in the other versions. The Dreamcast version of the game has graphics that are more detailed and closer to the arcade version than the other console versions. The Nintendo 64 version allows up to 4-player local multiplayer (instead of just 2-player) when the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak is present. A standalone Windows version was released exclusively through budget re-releases 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 Francisco Rush 2049 under the name Hydro Rush for the PlayStation 2. However, the game was cancelled and the project moved to Midway Arcade Treasures 3[3] (a compilation of Midway's many racing games) for Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox, and was also included in the later Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition for Windows - however neither of these versions were based on the arcade original, but rather the Dreamcast port.


Midway had plans to create a sequel for Hydro Thunder; however, the project was soon cancelled and never recreated - though it did result in the formation of the Thunder sub-series including Offroad Thunder and Arctic Thunder. In January 2009, Raw Thrills announced a spiritual successor titled H2Overdrive, developed with the assistance of the former Midway San Diego members who worked on the original arcade version of Hydro Thunder.[4] On March 26, 2010, a sequel titled Hydro Thunder Hurricane was announced for Xbox Live Arcade.[5] Microsoft had bought the rights to the series after Midway was acquired by Warner Bros. It was released on July 28, 2010.


Next Generation reviewed the arcade version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "If you've been longing for the next exciting racing game after Rush: The Rock, it's here."[6]

IGN scored the Dreamcast version of Hydro Thunder at 8.7 out of 10.[7]

Jeff Lundrigan reviewed the Dreamcast version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "Buy it. You won't be disappointed."[8]

Eric Bratcher reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "Even without two-player, this is still a really fun game, though still a bit, um, shallow."[9] Bratcher reviewed Hydro Thunder 64 in the next issue, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "Looking for the next Waverace 64?"[10]


  1. ^ "Midway Quicksilver II Hardware (Midway)". System 16. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  2. ^ Parkin, Simon (July 26, 2010). "Hydro Thunder Hurricane Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  3. ^ IGN: Hydro Rush
  4. ^ New boat racing game by Raw Thrills’ and the Hydro Thunder team to be at ATEI
  5. ^ McWhertor, Michael (March 26, 2010). "Hydro Thunder Returns With All-New Xbox Live Arcade Sequel". Kotaku. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  6. ^ "Finals". Next Generation. No. 55. Imagine Media. July 1999. p. 96.
  7. ^ "Hydro Thunder". IGN. September 7, 1999. Archived from the original on May 19, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  8. ^ Lundrigan, Jeff (October 1999). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 2 no. 2. Imagine Media. p. 106.
  9. ^ Bratcher, Eric (February 2000). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 3 no. 2. Imagine Media. p. 94.
  10. ^ Bratcher, Eric (March 2000). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 3 no. 3. Imagine Media. p. 89.

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