A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hydro Thunder Hurricane is a fantasy boat racing game. There is some violence -- boats explode -- but the drivers are never injured, and the high-speed aquatic action is so over-the-top that there is little risk of any players attempting to simulate it in the real world. Note that while the game does support online play, it does not offer any communication features, which means there is no opportunity for players to share personal information or be exposed to inappropriate behavior.
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What's it about?
A long overdue sequel to the original Hydro Thunder arcade game (which also appeared on Nintendo64), HYDRO THUNDER HURRICANE is the second entry in Microsoft’s 2010 Summer of Arcade series of downloadable games for Xbox 360. It’s essentially a fantasy boat racing game in which players maneuver extremely quick speedboats through over-the-top environments filled with ramps, huge waterfalls, exploding barrels, and sometimes even sea monsters. Venues include such imaginative settings as a frigid northern course watched over by a Norse god and a jungle track inhabited by a huge crocodile. Four single-player modes exist for players to work their way through, and between one and four players per Xbox can head online in quick one-off races against fields consisting of up to 16 players.
Is it any good?
This is a pretty straightforward boat racer, but it’s fun. Earning points through each of the four modes (and plenty more online) gradually unlocks all of the courses, boats, and competitions -- a good carrot to keep playing until the credits start to roll. And while it’s easy to jump in and win your first few races, things become a little more complex as you go along. Players will need to learn when to use “boost” to cut corners and how to deal with dynamic environmental obstacles, such as the giant water snake that appears in one track. They’ll also need to explore to find the best shortcuts and locate triggers that, say, create ramps or turn on wave generators. And then there are the secret collectible logos hidden around each track, which can be devilishly difficult to locate and grab while racing -- a good challenge for hardcore players. Pretty good value for a measly $15.
Online interaction: This game can be played online with a group of up to four players on each local screen. Neither voice nor text chat is supported, so there is little worry that players will be exposed to unseemly behavior from other players.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about racing games. Research shows that young players’ driving habits may be influenced by the sort of racing seen in realistic driving video games. Do you think that fantasy racing games that don’t feature cars pose the same risk?
Families can also discuss online gaming minus communication features. Would you rather play against humans with whom you cannot speak, or computer-controlled opponents? What is the difference between the two?
For kids who love fast action games
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