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Hydro Thunder was originally released in arcade version. It is in the same cabinet as Cruis'n USA and Off-Road Thunder, with the difference of Hydro Thunder having no foot pedals, and including a three-position throttle with forward, neutral and reverse settings. The arcade version is also notable for its immersive sound setup, with regular play volume set lower than the feedback volume of the subwoofer in the seat. This original version also does not contain the Catacomb and Castle Von Dandy tracks. In addition, some tracks are hidden and can only be accessed with codes.

Sega Dreamcast[edit]

Of the console versions, the Dreamcast has the best visual quality. Effects are quite realistic, with the lightning flashes sometimes making it difficult to see your surroundings. The control of the boats is sometimes unresponsive, even at reduced speeds. There are 13 tracks in the game, although it says 14 in the manual due to the "test" track being pulled before the game was released. One detriment is the cumbersome name entry system, which only utilizes the Left dpad and Right dpad directional buttons with no auto-repeat or memory of prior entries.

Sony PlayStation[edit]

This version plays well with a good sense of speed, although it can be a little too dark in places and the graphics are the worst of the lot. As with the Dreamcast version, control of the boats is not always good and sometimes they don't respond to turning no matter how slowly you go. This version has two additional features to the basic 13 tracks: Time Trial and Circuit Mode. In Time Trial you get to pick a course and run through it without any opponents.

In Circuit Mode you spend money to enter a track, and each track has prizes which increases with difficulty. You have to race all the easy tracks before being allowed to enter any medium tracks, race all medium before hard, and all hard before bonus. You can race the tracks within each difficulty in whichever order you care to. You begin with a pot of $3,000 and it costs $500 for easy tracks, $1,000 for medium, $1,500 for hard and $2,000 for the bonus tracks. Prize money is $3,000 for 1st place, $2,000 for 2nd place and $1,000 for 3rd. The high score is based on your earnings only, not the amount left after track entry fees, so a maximum of $39,000 is possible.

Nintendo 64[edit]

The Nintendo 64 version is the middle of the road choice. It has decent graphics, and somewhat sluggish controls. It may be a little too dark for some players, and it doesn't support a good sense of speed.


This version is visually superb, and control of the boat is responsive, although the super start can take some getting used to. Record entry is the easiest of all versions, as the developers took into consideration the keyboard being present so you can simply type it in. There are some great visual effects in terms of lighting, but this can make some areas of the game difficult to navigate until you are used to the course.