Let’s not beat about the bush, Horizon Chase Turbo is the most fun racer we’ve played in years. Drawing inspiration from many retro games we adore, with a soundtrack by retro gaming music god Barry Leitch (who we hope to have on the blog soon!), it’s available on multiple platforms and is definitely worth a purchase. Don’t believe me? Check out the trailer below and thank us later.
We wanted to find out a lot more about the game and team behind it so we sent Adrian to pester Aquiris’ PR Manager Jesús Fabre to interview Amilton Diesel (co-Founder of Aquiris, Lead Technical Art Director and producer on HCT) for us and he came back with some great answers:
What is a typical day like with you and your team at your studio?
My day in the studio usually starts at 10 am with a generous glass of water and a small cup of coffee. We make a short stand up meeting, to catch up on what every team member is doing and if there is any problem blocking someone’s work. These meetings were supposed to happen every day, but since our team is very small and we know each other quite well, this communication tends to happen organically during the day and we skip the meeting very often. Our time schedule is a little restricted, because we encourage people to be productive and not stay in the office too late. Normally we work until around 7pm and overall it’s a very relaxed place to work.
Is Horizon Chase Turbo the first game you have worked on?
We have been developing games since 2007, from mobile to PC and consoles. Usually more than one at a time, developed by separate teams. We are about 80 people split into two offices. The Horizon Chase series are, along with Ballistic Overkill, our first authorial projects, both started in 2015, before that we have been developing a high amount of games for a very broad set of platforms, mainly games for the browser and mobile devices for a mid-core audience.
What games helped inspire this amazing game?
Top Gear for SNES and Lotus (PC) are the more direct inspirations (both great games! – Ed). In those games, races have a number of laps, instead of being a single sprint. In Top Gear, you also have races with 20 competitors and progress in several races throughout the world, contrary to OutRun. But the colorful scenery from OutRun and the laid back aesthetics are a huge influence. Choosing races in a map and the non-linear progression are more similar to Lamborghini American Challenge.
Something all of them have in common, and the reason why we call the game a throwback to this era of arcade racers, is the way that cars and tracks behave. You don’t need to brake at every turn, you can’t hit a signpost and head the wrong way, for instance. It’s all about stepping on, learning to dodge enemy cars and getting in a tug-of-war against each turn, trying not to hit anything while the scenery flies by at breakneck speed. It’s a digital-born simplification of racing that’s fun at its core and somehow got axed once games went full 3D. That’s the feeling that we tried to bring back.
You’ve certainly managed that! The game is incredible and oozes 90’s nostalgia and fun! Was capturing the fun factor of the classic 90s racer one of your number one objectives for the game?
Absolutely, with Horizon Chase Turbo our challenge has been to rescue the arcade racers of the late 80s and early 90s. The hardest things to do in a video game are the basics. In our case, the speed sensation, the turnings, tight controls… It feels good and almost instinctive to play the game and we really feel proud of that.
What was it like working with the legendary games composer Barry Leitch to help create the fitting soundtrack that complements the game so well?
I am big fan of the Top Gear and Lotus games, so one day I found Barry on Facebook and reached out to him. Introduced our project and asked if he would like to be the composer, creating a soundtrack with all the creative freedom he needed to sound as a true spiritual successor to those games. And he said yes 🙂
From the very beginning we decided to give him total creative freedom to make the best arcade racer soundtrack he would love to have made with today’s technology. And he exceeded our expectations by far.
If you could own any car from within Horizon Chase Turbo, which would you choose and why?
I would like to have the Lighting, which is inspired by the Tesla Model S. Just because I’m very excited about the whole idea behind electric cars. The lack of noise, pollution, engine oil and other chemicals… I just can’t wait to see electric cars being more of a standard rather than an exception.
When you first envisioned creating Horizon Chase Turbo, did you know from day one that you wanted to create an arcade racer as opposed to more realistic simulation title?
In the words of our Game Designer, Felipe Dal Molin: “We created Horizon Chase Turbo to be the racing game we wanted to play, hitting the sweet spot between true-to-life simulators and chaotic, explosive kart racers. We want players to feel the nostalgic tension of the simple tug-of-war of a tight turn; where players are run off-road for a split second only to return to intense high-speed action as they overtake and battle against friends playing together on the couch or via the online ghost mode.”
What platforms is Horizon Chase Turbo available on and can you provide our readers with the best place to get all the info?
The game is available in all modern platforms, and everybody interested in getting the game or knowing more about it, even in joining our community, can find all the links on our website.
How successful has the game proven to be and what has made you the most proud about the release of this awesome game?
We are very happy with the response from players and the support from the platform holders and stores where the game is being sold. The fact we are most proud of is that we are among the Top 3 best Metacritic rated games in 2018 for all the platforms it has been released on PC, XBOX One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. We are especially proud of the reception on Nintendo’s hybrid platform, as our game is the best rated racing game of 2018 and second best rated title after Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
It’s very well deserved guys! Do you hope to release physical copies of the game?
At the moment we are working on a physical deal to distribute a retail version of the game for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in Europe and North America. Hope to reach out with good news about it soon.
Do you feel a lot of modern AAA racer titles are a little too serious and sometimes slack the fun factor the classic arcade racers possessed in the ’90s and early ’00s?
I think time passes for everyone and every game. The way racing games have evolved is justified by what the majority of consumers are looking for. Modern games can be fun in their own right, the audiences have changed for sure. Horizon Chase aims for a very specific type of “fun”, but it doesn’t mean current titles lack anything. There are many options for every kind of consumer, this is the greatest thing about being a gamer these days.
What are your top 3 favourite video games of all time and why?
It is really hard to top just 3 games, but let’s try. In no particular order, I have to say, Metroid Prime because it was one of my main inspirations to learn 3D modelling. The way developers explored highly detailed geometry with small textures and simple shaders is just brilliant, also the atmosphere, music, pacing…is perfect.
Half Life 2 blew me away because of the physics implementation and everything related to game feel. Handling the crowbar, exploding grenades, shooting with the crossbow. Good Valve times.
It may be too early to ensure but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is already my favorite Zelda game. Developers took so many risks to make this game happen, it gives me goose bumps just to think about. It breaks not only Zelda conventions but also teaches how games should be made in general, again.
What other exciting games are you working on after Horizon Chase Turbo, and could a sequel be planned?
At the moment we keep improving all the Horizon Chase Turbo versions. Still cannot confirm nor reject the game will be ported to more platforms or have a sequel, all the possibilities are on the table and it’s still too soon to decide that.
If you could be transported into any video game, and live there for a day, which game would you choose and why?
The Witness. It’s totally chill, beautiful and I could try to find the last damn environmental puzzles.
What is your advice for newcomers that are thinking about establishing their own independent game development company and video game?
Be professional and consistent. Professional because many game developers forget how important is to establish a healthy company before even thinking about success. Aquiris is an independent studio, but depending on the point of view, we are not. We have 3 different investors, 12 years of history, a complicated management structure and many rules to follow. What we have back is a safe environment to be game developers while we can also establish our lives. Consistent because success requires a lot of work and nobody can do it overnight. Work harder consistently and you’re good.
That’s some great advice. One more before you go, if you could share a few drinks with any video game character, who would you choose and why?
Samus Aran. Strangely, I never liked to see this character talking. I rather have this drink with some gloomy and dark background soundtrack, cool lighting effects and no talking.