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Released in September 1999 for Sega Dreamcast, Hydro Thunder is an arcade port of a boat racing game. Collecting boost icons is a must because they allow pilots to gain a short boost of speed, jump out of the water, and activate their "Mighty Hull" which allows them to knock other boats out of their way. While the arcade game featured 11 tracks, those who purchased the home version were treated to 2 additional tracks: Catacombs and Castle Von Dandy. All 13 boats were fortunate enough to make it to the home version as well.


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Track name Time Date Player
Lost Island 0:01:31.68 2006-05-20 Zebediah Danvers
Arctic Circle 0:01:34.92 2006-05-31 Zebediah Danvers
Thunder Park 0:01:31.25 2006-12-27 Zebediah Danvers
Greek Isles 0:01:32.18 2006-12-20 Zebediah Danvers
Lake Powell 0:01:38.48 2006-12-22 Zebediah Danvers
The Far East 0:01:27.12 2006-10-14 Zebediah Danvers
Ship Graveyard 0:01:31.82 2006-12-22 Zebediah Danvers
Venice Canals 0:01:21.02 2006-12-27 Zebediah Danvers
New York Disaster 0:01:35.32 2006-12-24 Zebediah Danvers
Nile Adventure 0:02:43.27 2006-12-17 Zebediah Danvers
Hydro Speedway 0:01:37.12 2006-12-15 Zebediah Danvers
Catacombs 0:01:58.15 2006-12-24 Zebediah Danvers
Castle Von Dandy 0:01:41.08 2006-12-24 Zebediah Danvers

Author's comments:

First I would like to thank all of the staff at SDA for providing many hours of enjoyable video for my entertainment. Also, anyone who made comments in the forum topic I made (particularly InsipidMuckyWater).

I made these comments while watching each track. Most of my times are faster than the arcade world records, though not all. Four tracks still have the better of me: Greek Isles, Lake Powell, The Far East, and Venice Canals. I hope to one day make improvements on these tracks and send them in for your viewing pleasure. I note in my comments on each track where I collect any invisible 4 or 9 second boosts so you don't have to wonder how I seem to be gaining extra boost without hitting one of the blue or red blocks. Now on to the runs...

Easy Tracks

Lost Island

First of all, I should say that this was the first world record I was able to break for this game. Secondly, I apologize for my slow boat and track selection, I hope it will be edited out if possible. This run was done way back in May, 2006 and I was not totally sure of how much pre-race video I would need to 'prove' that I was making a legitimate attempt. Most other tracks (possibly with the exception of Arctic Circle) I choose my boat and track very quickly to minimize video time.

This run was also made many months before I figured out how to do a 'perfect' super start. In this run you will notice the boat 'pop' off the starting line. For a very long time I thought this was the best possible super start, I was wrong. However, this run does break the arcade (coin-op) world record for this track.

I would guess that I restarted this track over 1000 times before being able to get this time. Figuring out how to get around the big rock arch after the first ramp and boost was immensely difficult. I am slowed down by using up all of my boosters before reaching the 9 second boost in the first short-cut. I will note for you that there is an invisible 9 second boost in the lava blast of the volcano as you jump over it, incase you were wondering where it came from. The rest of the track goes flawlessly except for the very end...I miss the last 4 second boost...however, I still manage to keep my speed at maximum all the way up to the finish line. I think if I were to correct all of the mistakes I made and add in a perfect super start I could lower this time by 1 second or maybe a tiny bit more.

Arctic Circle

This run was also made before I made the decision to start recording my runs from the 'press start' screen. Again, this was from way before I figured out the perfect super start, so you will see the 'pop' off the start line again. The big challenge in this track is exiting from the big ice tunnel correctly. You get a tremendous boost of speed from sliding down this tunnel which you will keep until you make a drastic course change. Hundreds of attempts were needed to get the boat to not hit the wall on the right side of the track when exiting the tunnel (if I did the boat would get flung into the air and ruin the run). Hundreds more were ruined when I failed to jump through the little hole in the ice which cuts a very long and slow corner off the track.

The rest of the track is fairly simple, being an 'easy' one. After the 9 second boost near the big Titanic looking ship you go up into another ice tunnel and back down to another ramp and 4 second boost. I must jump as soon as I hit the water here because going off the ramp makes the next sharp right hand turn impossible at high speed (with this boat anyway). The run is only slightly marred after collecting the next 4 second boost and running in the small fishing boat on the right, not a huge time loss but it is easily avoidable. Shortly after this, I kill a few penguins on the way to the next short-cut and an invisible 4 second boost. The rest of the track runs smoothly.

Thunder Park

By the time I made this run I had finally figured out how to do the perfect super start. I had also figured out that Blowfish, the hovercraft, has the fastest booster acceleration speed in the game, Rad Hazard doesn't even come close. The format of 'press start', choose single player, pick a track, and pick a boat that you see is how all of the rest of the videos appear, why not be consistent?

Boost management is the most important thing on this track since it is a circuit track. Figuring out when to grab each boost was tricky, since you can only get each of the once, they turn transparent once you have collected that particular boost. As I come around the corner to start the second lap I Hydro Jump into the start/finish sign. I do this to keep my speed at maximum while conserving boost power, I need every second I can get on this track. Hydro Jumping is the term used for jumping out of the water, Hydro Bouncing is the term used for jumping again just before the boat hits the water, this is very important as it lets you keep your speed at maximum while using very little boost power. Hydro Bouncing is an extremely difficult thing to master, particularly if you only want to bounce only a small height off the water (possibly to avoid running into a low tunnel entrance like in Greek Isles). Anyway, back to the track at hand. As I come around the final corner for the 3rd and final lap, I jump and pass through a Banshee boat (the green one that really looks like a high speed water boat) I collect an invisible 9 second boat for doing so. I miss the start/finish sign but decide to press on anyway as there is still plenty of boost available to collect on the last lap. I knew I was doing very well at this point because I am ahead of the helicopter that has been chasing me around the track. The final stretch I Hydro Bounce just to make sure I keep my speed at max, another world record down!

Medium Tracks

Greek Isles

This track starts with another pop off the starting line. I always still make an attempt at the track if I get a super start, perfect or not, for practice purposes. I keep this run simply because it is the fastest time I have been able to produce. You will notice that I manage to bash into quite a few walls at the beginning of the race. This is only forgivable because of the hardest-trick-to-pull-off-in-the-entire-game is on this track. Be watching closely as I power down the big slide, heading for a ramp and a 9 second boost. I shoot off the ramp, collect the 9 second boost and head into the archway/tunnel directly ahead. This is the point where I must pull off at least 5 Hydro Bounces in-a-row in order to keep the big speed boost I have received from the previous ramp. I am so shocked that I actually did it I mess up again and can't even jump to collect the 9 second boost just after the check point. I keep going because I know my time to that check point was the fastest I have ever done, hoping I will finish with a time reflecting that feat. I somehow managed to pull off the fastest time I have ever gotten, though not a world record. I hope to improve this run in the future.

Lake Powell

I have decided that Lake Powell is my least favorite track. I don't really know why, I just despise racing it.

I choose Blowfish and achieve a perfect super start. I do not go up the big ramp which leads to the 9 second boost at the beginning. The ramp robs you off any speed that you may have and you have to use most of that 9 second boost to get back up to speed again. Besides, 4 seconds is more than enough to get to the next boost. Just before the 2nd check point, the moving 4 second boost swings out of my way. Though it would be very helpful, I must follow the inside line for a fast time. Shortly after that I drop down a small water fall onto another 4 second boost, unfortunately I have used all my boost up and must wait for them to redeploy. Nevertheless, the rest of the run goes very smoothly. I loose a bit of speed after the big drop at the end of the track because I turned too sharply, but I still get to the finish line to finish with a personal best, yet not a world record.

The Far East

Rad Hazard is the boat to use for this track. The trick to a fast time on this track is the short-cut tunnel at the end of the very first strait. The walls of this tunnel are very similar to the wall of the ice cave in Arctic Circle, if you make contact with them they will provide you with an extreme speed boost. You can even hear a noise indicating that I have made contact, kind of a 'shwoosh'ing noise. Blowfish is not as good at 'gripping' these type of surfaces as Rad Hazard is and will not get as much of a speed boost. As I get thrown out of the tunnel I hit the invisible wall on the right side of the track and it bounces me into the 4 second boost hovering above the water. This is good. I need as much boost as I can to get through the next section. I go through couple of turns and then see a big ramp leading to a 9 second boost. I go off the ramp and swing left, aiming for the direction I need to be traveling. I touch down on land and slide into the water just in time to make a very annoying hairpin turn, while being harassed by the police, not fun. A couple more turns and a 4 second boost lead up to the 2nd short-cut on this track. I pass under an archway and see a 4 second boost hanging in mid air. I must jump for this boost and keep my speed but not over do it. The short-cut is on top of the 'real' track. If you land too far down on this 'ramp' that curves to the right, you will not get another extra speed boost from contacting with it, much like the tunnel at the start of the track. Unfortunately, this ramp does curve so you must hit the wall as you slide through it. Though, once you exit you can jump and Hydro Bounce a considerable distance, keeping maximum speed, before relying on pure boosters again. Rounding the last corner, there is a small island with paper lanterns hanging from it. Jumping through this area reveals an invisible 4 second boost.

Hard Tracks

Ship Graveyard

This run is one of my favorites, almost everything goes perfectly. I get a perfect super start to start out. Just before the 3rd check point I jump to the side of the wood shack to get an invisible 9 second boost. Further down the track, after the large drop off, there is a 'short-cut' behind the waterfall that I choose not to take because it is much slower to take that route with Blowfish. I follow the main track instead and miss a 4 second boost that I jump for. It turns out it didn't matter because it lined me up better to take the next corner with the choppy waves and I still had enough boost to make it to the next 9 second boost.

Venice Canals

This is one of the most annoying tracks in the game. A very narrow main track and several hairpin turns make navigating through it very difficult, especially with the boat I choose. It may look like I get a perfect super start but if you look closely I don't get pushed out in front of the other boats like I should. I still get the 4 second bonus though, so I carry on. The narrow opening between the buildings at the very start is hard to get right, it caused many restarts. At the first check point you can choose again to stay on the main path or take the short-cut where you see the flashing yellow arrows. I take the main track because I always found it faster. I miss a 4 second boost shortly after the 2nd check point but I'm not worried about it, I have a lot anyway. Further down the track, in the room with the 3 swinging chandeliers, I make sure to jump through the 2nd one to pick up an invisible 9 second boost. As I take the last turn before the run to the finish line I jump and pull the boat hard to the left, this helps me keep my speed at maximum and cuts off a nice chunk of time. Again, I achieve a personal best time but not a world record. As a side note, you may notice that each time I pass a check point the 'old time' message reads 3:59.66, this is because I have not raced this track since turning the Dreamcast on, the game does not save your best split times, only the final times.

N.Y. Disaster

Perfect start is achieved again with Blowfish. I am very happy with this run. At times it looks like I don't quite hit a boost, yet it gives it to me anyway (I'm thinking of the one I jump to get after the S tunnel at about 30 seconds into the track). Even though the boosts are close to diamond shaped, the programmers nicely decided to give the racer a little leeway, so your boat can pass 'close' to it and still pick it up. The part that got my heart racing in this run was while I am in the big tunnel where the police boat is chasing me. I jump for the 9 second boost on the platform between the two pathways and hit the wall. I have to pull a hard turn to the right to make sure that I get it. Again, just like in Venice Canals, the end of the track demands that I jump and pull a hard left to get the furthest distance possible before landing. Getting the last 4 second boost is critical because I always ran out of boost before the finish line if I missed it.

Nile Adventure

Ah, the longest track in Hydro Thunder. The average player will find it very difficult to get a time under 3 minutes on this track. Blowfish is my boat of choice. I don't get the perfect super start and again you see the 'pop' off the starting line. If you have a different boat you can jump over the first archway you see and hit the buzzard to get an invisible 4 second boost. Unfortunately, Blowfish is not as good at jumping as other boats are so I must skip this. I pull a hard left as I go off the first ramp, collecting the 9 second boost, to shave off as much time as I can before the first check point. This track has 2 of the hardest short-cut areas to master in the entire game. The first is just after the 2nd check point. You must jump up through one of the 3 slots you see above the track. For best time purposes you must go through the middle one. You get an invisible 9 second boost for this as well as a huge speed boost. The closer to the very edge of the platform you land, the better. Landing a long way down on this short-cut will result in much less speed from the ramp. You will see that I miss a 4 second boost while in this secret area, it is almost impossible to hit with this boat, you always end up riding the wall on either side. After going through the snake tunnel, you drop down to the most dreaded part of the entire game, the extremely annoying, narrow, and dark tomb section. I manage to make it most of the way through with no trouble. However, near the end of it I smack the wall and lose quite a bit of speed. I grit my teeth and move on anyway as I am doing rather well despite this mishap. I collect a 4 second boost shortly after this and then jump over a tomb to get another 9 second boost. Doing this will cause a tomb on the wall in front of me to open, revealing a 'short-cut'. Once again, I do not take it because Blowfish is just not suited for it. If you are using a different boat you could possibly get a big speed boost for taking the short-cut but since I'm using Blowfish I continue on the main track. After a couple more turns and a big drop off, I end the 'meat grinder' part of the track. If you jump over the islands in the middle of the track you can get an invisible 4 second boost for each part you successfully jump over. I even get the moving 9 second boost when I jump over the last island. My boosters being full, I power on through the rest of the track for a world record time.

Hydro Speedway

This is the 'easiest' world record that I had to break from the arcade version of the game. I think it required less than 20 attempts to produce this run. Though I get the 'pop' super start, I still power through for a world record. This is another circuit track, it looks very similar to Thunder Park. As I start the final lap, I jump through the Banshee boat that is hanging from the crane to receive another invisible 9 second boost. Landing on the green island that is before the tunnel and before the last turn is a must if you want to get a good time.


This is one of the tracks that was never in the arcade machine version of this game, strictly the home version. Blowfish once again kicks mega arse. After the first turn there is an invisible 9 second boost between the two rocky pillars in the middle of the track. I can't really say much else about this track other than that I had to search the net for some best times to beat. Over at I found some. I deemed them 'pathetic', and if you navigate over there and search for Hydro Thunder you will see why.

Castle von Dandy

I get a non-perfect super start on this track, but I don't care, this track was not in the arcade version either. Shortly after the start of the race you will see an archway with a bell above the track. Jumping through here will net an invisible 9 second boost. After this boost, take a right hand turn, jump off a ramp into a 4 second boost, and then jump again over a small graveyard. This, again, will let you get another invisible 9 second boost. For those in the know, you can jump through the windows once you enter the castle for a 'short-cut'. I don't go this way because it is way slower, even though you can collect a lot of extra boost if you do.

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