With old-school 16-bit graphics reminiscent of the Eighties coin-op classic Out Run and a chiptune soundtrack composed by the veteran Barry Leitch, you’d be forgiven for chalking Horizon Chase up as a retro-style racer just for nostalgics.
However, once you start playing it, you’re likely to change your mind as it’s just so hard to put down. Anyhow, you can try it out for free, racing on five courses, before deciding whether to stump up £2.29/$2.99 to unlock the rest – a huge amount of content with a total of 73 tracks, 32 cities and eight cups are available. There are no further IAPs, which is highly preferable to the usual free-to-play model. Instead, extra cars and upgrades are earned via your racing achievements.
Control couldn’t be simpler as you line up on the grid with 19 AI rivals. Just hold the right-hand pedal to accelerate, release it to brake and use the two arrows on the left to steer your car. There are also six alternative control options, along with the option to use an external gamepad. While the cornering physics are hardly realistic and many bends can be taken flat out, you may well need to ease off the gas to adjust your racing line and avoid collisions, which slow you down. Weaving through a load of traffic is exhilarating, particularly when you’re using a nitro speed boost.
Along the way, you can garner pick-ups including tokens – also earned from your finishing rank and used to unlock more cup competitions or bonus races – and fuel, which you will need to top up periodically. While you only need to finish fifth on each course to gain access to the next location to race, winning all the races in a cup competition will unlock a new car, as will winning a bonus race.
You can also earn permanent upgrades that improve the performance of all unlocked vehicles. This becomes more important as you progress and in later races where you face much better AI opponents, so you may need to return to earlier courses in order to earn extra tokens.
While there’s a minor strategic element in choosing your upgrades and the best car to suit each course, it’s the fun racing action that will enthral you. We’ll certainly be playing this one all the way to the end.