Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Curve

Created by the teams at Lucky Mountain Games and Sumo Digital, Hotshot Racing is a delightful looking cel shaded driving simulator, taking inspiration from the likes of 'Ridge Racer', 'Sega Rally' and 'Outrun' before it. Taking us back to the days of the Arcade, and a quarter per race, Hotshot gives us four regions with four tracks apiece; eight characters and four cars each. Designed for quick bursts and fast play, the main aim of each race is to survive checkpoints and finish first; whilst taking the time to cautiously feel the track will almost certainly result in a time out.

There's a steep learning curve here. Driving on 'Normal' difficulty I found the game to be both unforgiving and extremely rewarding at the same time. While my AI opponents were not prepared to let up once, it became clear that even a crash into the barrier or an unwanted spin wouldn't ruin my chances entirely, as soon as I was in last position I could come back to reclaim a win before the chequered flag. This gave me a real sense of accomplishment and that, unlike other titles, I won't throw everything away with one mistake. It also reminded me of why driving games like Mario Kart have been so consistently popular.

I was able to learn much about my opponents with practice; AI cars were normally all clustered together as well, meaning the pack usually didn't take much effort to overtake.

Perhaps the most alluring part of this game is it's look and style, razor sharp retro visuals which are clean and crisp, and whilst I'm all for playing similar callbacks on emulation; nothing compares to the idea of a brand new game - created in 2020 - which captures those facets so well and in glorious HD. I guess in that sense you might refer to it as the 'Ghostbusters Afterlife' of video games, taking what we love about the old titles, but adding in something new and fresh and exciting at the same time. Maybe that's a comparison you weren't expecting, but well deserved.

Additional free DLC on this Switch release means that we're treated to Barrell Barage and the Big Boss Content Bundle pack straight out of the gate, as well as a Grand Prix mode, which (should you manage to win the top trophy) provides a little insight into the backstory of your chosen racer. There's also a 'Cops and Robbers' mode which is essential. I'd also recommend, if you're not playing on PlayStation or XBox, that you chose portable mode for Switch as this is where the game comes alive and it's pick up and play style couldn't be more perfect.

When I first installed HR I felt that I wouldn't have more than a few laps of the track, before consigning it to memory alongside other countless racing titles, but the look, feel, design and style of this title really appealed to me. In all I've already clocked several hours playtime with no sign of stopping and it's become a stable of my library in a very short amount of time. I purchased a 'Download Code' in a box, and whilst I was a little disappointed not to get a physical cartridge, still appreciated the full box art presentation I got. Whilst it's a short game overall, with not a huge amount of content, it can be obtained for a very affordable price.

Publishers Curve Digital pride themselves on what they like to call Triple Indie (Triple I) games, and Hotshot Racing is no exception, with a podium finish assured. On your marks...

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars