Arctic Thunder review
A cool classic worth looking for

The good:

Arcade-perfect graphics, sound, and gameplay. Up to 4 people can play.

The bad:

Controls are a little too loose. Not a ton of variety in gameplay.


Based on Midway's "Thunder" arcade racers, Arctic Thunder is a cool and unique spin on snowmobile racing with fast machines and racing in rather unusual ways and venues. Players can race to earn points & medals that unlock more racers, tracks, venues, and even cheat chodes to further enhance gameplay.
The graphics are arcade-perfect, and in fact look better than before. The most notable improvement is that the frame rate is faster & smoother than in the arcades, but one slight drawback is the game very briefly pauses sometimes due to the game loading a sound clip, but normally this does not affect gameplay. Sounds also are arcade-perfect, and realistic as well-you'll hear authentic engine sounds from the snowmobiles and explosions from weapons, and each character has a handful of decent quotes & sound bites, but as noted above sometimes the game's loading them causes the game to quickly freeze for just a moment. The announcer's voice is nice and not heard much which is good when you're trying to race and don't need distractions. Controls are a little bit on the loose side-for the most part they are responsive and realistic, but sometimes you'll try to turn and feel like your machine won't respond like it should. Also the "Weapon Select" button never works regardless of your control scheme, which may have been removed but Midway apparently left in the game-this gets frustrating because you can't just switch between multiple weapons quickly to the one you need, which can make you lose when you're about to win. Gameplay is realistic and kinda unrealistic-the environments and terrain are what you'd expect out of an off-road racer, although you'll race in some pretty out-of-the-way places, like a stadium, UFOs, cities in major blizzards, even Atlantis! Being able to use the weapons and attack opponents adds a nice extra element of strategy, and there are a few nice play variations but not quite enough variety. Multiplayer supports up to 4 people but given it's a very old title, there's no online support. You can earn points to upgrade your racers and unlock more hidden items, but this process is mundane and takes a while until you get really good at the game. Also there is a bit of a "catch-up" feature aainst the CPU that makes them seemingly come from nowhere when you're out in front, kinda annoying after it happens a few times.
Although the control issues bring this game down a bit, this is another excellent arcade-to-console port by Midway, and the under-$20 price tag is worth searching bargain bins for. Racers looking for something different in their racing should definitely pick up this title.

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