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Video Game / Hydro Thunder

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"Get that powerup!"

Hydro Thunder is an Arcade Game from Midway Games that was created in 1999. It's a simple arcade racing game in which you pilot a selection of high-speed racing boats in some 9 (plus 4 bonus) locations, often in a place that isn't suitable for such boats to be racing at, and in some cases, the government of where ever you'd be racing at would chase you down for a bit, and you'll be bound to crash into many a passerby, as well as to perform some insane stunts over buildings, rock formations, and who knows what else. The game was controlled by a steering wheel and a cool boat throttle with a boost button to increase the speed.

It has both the standard arcade port and set of console ports for the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, and in the Midway Arcade Treasures 3 Compilation Rerelease, in which the consoles were probably far better a chance to get to race on the bonus tracks, since most races are challenging to complete. One of the few games to actually not suffer from Porting Disaster in console format, although the boat throttle obviously didn't make the translation.

Though the game did not get a sequel during Midway's lifetime, it did spawn a loose series of arcade racing games focused on Nitro Boost mechanics and stunts, made up of Offroad Thunder, the Sega Dreamcast exclusive 4 Wheel Thunder, and Arctic Thunder.

A direct sequel called Hydro Thunder Hurricane was released in July 2010 for the Xbox Live Arcade. Hurricane was developed by Vector Unit, a new dev team formed by two people who worked on the "Twisted Metal in the water" game Blood Wake. Meanwhile, the arcades got a Spiritual Successor called H2Overdrive courtesy of Raw Thrills and Specular Interactive, which just happens to largely be the original Hydro Thunder development team.

This game provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: If you had a console port of the game, you could read the story behind the HTRA (The Hydro Thunder Racing Association) and some kind of Excuse Plot as to why you (the player) would want to participate in such a group.
  • Ancient Egypt: The second bonus track, "Nile Adventure".
  • Announcer Chatter: Usually at the start of the round. Actually, the announcer can be somewhat helpful at times...
    "Hey, you found a secret!"
    • When selecting a Hard Course:
    • Likewise, when selecting a Hard Craft:
      "YOU'RE CRAZY!"
    • If you listen closely whenever police craft or miscellaneous boaters show up to join the race, they'll be barking orders at you, or doing something odd. For example, the cops in Lake Powell:
    "What part of 'pull over' did you not understand?!"
    • The New York Rescue Team in NY Disaster is pissed at the boats speeding past him.
    • The Lost Island Tour Cruise has the tour guide simply calmly talk about the highly-illegal boat race going on around them.
  • Area 51: Where one race in Hurricane takes place, complete with a warp to an alien world and back.
    • Supposedly where Rad Hazard's parts were taken from.
  • Big Applesauce: Sort of, considering the place is flooded after a meteorite struck it.
    • Oddly, there's one part of the stage where you're clearly racing through a badly beaten World Trade Center.
  • City of Canals: You get to race in VENICE. The Far East and the Greek Isles also count.
  • Cool Boat: Pretty much all of them, but Cutthroat (a boat with a skull on it that has glowing eyes and partially made from Fighter Jet parts), Cutthroat's Easy and Medium equivalents, Miss Behave and Banshee (also made with Fighter Jet Parts and powered by jet engines), Rad Hazard (a boat built from alien tech from Area 51), and Razorback (a Super Prototype that's notoriously hard to control) qualify the most.
  • Derelict Graveyard: Ship Graveyard.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: The Rad Hazard boat seems to embody this trope, having been made from a crashed UFO.
  • Guy in Back: Your boat has an on-board navigator, much like real-life high speed boat racing, who occasionally makes comments over the radio as you race.
  • Knockback: While your boat is boosting, it will flash to indicate that colliding with other boats will violently shove them out of the way.
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: While it's expected that many 5th gen era games would make some graphical sacrifices for high player counts, the Nintendo 64 port of the game takes it to a whole new level — the view is forced into first person mode and the game runs noticeably much slower (ESPECIALLY notable during the starting line countdown, where there's a lot of space between each number) with 3 or 4 players, and this is already considering the fact it requires the Expansion Pak. Quite a shame, as this is the only way to play with 4 players on a home port.
  • "Miss X" Pun: There's a racing boat called Miss Behave.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Not all that unusual for an Midway sports game but Nile Adventure is something else.
    • In Hurricane one level has giant dinosaurs, another warps you to an alien world and back, and another ends with a Norse god pounding the water, making it extremely choppy.
  • Nintendo Hard: Trying to get first place (or at least hold a second or third place) position against the computer is pretty dang hard... even on the Easy Levels.
  • Nitro Boost: Not just any normal old go faster button. When you get boost fuel, your boost modules deploy, and at the press of a button, you rocket forward with extreme awesomeness! For example, Midway drops an extra pair of big block outboard motors ready for you to shoot the juice with, Miss Behave deploys a Massive Jet Engine for some afterburner delight, and the alien ship hits the micro warp drive!
  • Ramming Always Works: When you engage your boost, any boats that you run into will be knocked away.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The two sequels, Off-Road Thunder (Hydro Thunder WITH TRUCKS!) and Arctic Thunder (Hydro Thunder with SNOWMOBILES!)
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Smashing into some of the objects reveals boost powerups.
  • Rule of Cool: Pretty much the whole point of the game, and Lake Powell, Ship Graveyard, and New York Disaster seem to be pretty big candidates for this.
    • Don't forget the boost modes on all the boats. A hydro that boosts by firing up a jet engine is totally badass!
  • Scenery Gorn: New York Disaster, a flooded, post-apocalyptic version of the Big Apple.
  • Serious Business: If the fact that the HTRA will go out of their way to break the law and race in restricted areas like a ship graveyard or race during a catastrophic disaster in a major city isn't serious business in the boat racing crowd, then what else?
  • Spiritual Successor: H20verdrive, from Raw Thrills and developed by Specular Interactive, a new dev studio composed of the members of the orignal Hydro Thunder devteam.
    • About a year or so after H2Overdrive hit arcades, Microsoft announced that they leased the Hydro Thunder IP from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (who purchased the Midway back catalog following Midway's 2009 bankruptcy) and made a true sequel for Xbox Live Arcade. Everybody, say hello to Hydro Thunder Hurricane!
  • This Is Going to Suck: If you manage to hit the helicopter in Lake Powell, you'll sometimes hear "This is gonna hurt..." right before a speeding hulk of metal slams into the chopper. A similar line is sometimes played during a particularly long drop.
  • Title Scream: HYDROOOO THUNDER!
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: While your boat is boosting, it gains a shield that inflicts Knockback to non-stationary objects, including opponent boats, poor hapless non-competitor boats, and in Lake Powell, a train.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In Lost Island, one ramp is aimed at the mouth of an erupting volcano cone. Flying into the outpour of lava is not only harmless to your boat, but you get an invisible 9-second boost item for your trouble.
  • Wacky Racing: Flying into alien worlds and the stomachs of giant mythological snakes, power ups, ramps, and all sorts of weird things exist that almost never are used in real high-speed boat racing.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The rescue squad in New York Disaster, to everyone racing in a goddamn disaster zone: