When it comes to immortalising a three-time F1 world champion in a game, Horizon Chase was not the first that came to mind.
After all, in 2014, there was a selection of cars and challenges within the more serious Gran Turismo 6 and there’s a suite of simulators available that would be clamouring for that Senna heritage.
But after spending some time with the new Senna Forever DLC for the retro-infused arcade racer, there’s a lot of sense behind the decision.
As highlighted by the recent trailer, this is about edifying a whole new generation about Ayrton Senna’s rise to glory. The stand-out Toleman performances, the first win victory with Lotus and the three world titles in a red and white McLaren.
Back in my formative years, the first video game I ever played was Ferrari Grand Prix Challenge on the original Game Boy. As it happens, Horizon Chase drives in much the same way, with simplistic handling that holds your hands and cartoonish representations of single-seater race cars.
It’s even best played with the D-pad as opposed to those new-fangled analogue sticks.
There’s no slick drifting here and the brakes are entirely optional. You’re guiding your car around the circuits like a Scalextric set as opposed to driving.
This is all wrapped up in bright colours, deliberately sharp edges and overlayed with an electronic soundtrack. All the ingredients are here for a throw-back experience.
With that in mind, this is the ideal racing game for those just starting out. Can’t afford go-karting lessons? Pick up Horizon Chase instead. If I was an eight-year-old car-obsessed nerd in 2021 and not 1996, I would be playing this.
The Senna Forever content is a wonderfully nostalgic addition to the existing game, first released in 2015 for mobile devices and then in 2018 for consoles and PC. The older F1 cars perfectly suit the modern classic vibes that the game so heavily leans on and bring back happy memories for those who grew up watching that yellow helmet dominate in Monaco all those years ago.
The main career is made up of five chapters, each focussing on certain timeframes within Ayrton’s feted career – starting off in 1984, his debut season.
Here, each race is three laps and you always start at the back. You must manage your fuel and boost levels, both of which can be topped up by driving through on-track pick-ups mid-race. There are also collectable coins to source, reminding me of Temple Run.
This is not a huge surprise due to its Android and iOS roots, fitting into a theme of accessible fun.
Overtaking isn’t exactly a skill – you simply time your turns correctly and you either hit a game-controlled opponent or you do not. Simple as that. If you are unlucky and crash, then you do lose a substantial amount of momentum, so on straights, your opponents are best avoided. Likewise, if you hit a barrier too hard or drive on the grass. It may be heavily assisted, but there is at least a modicum of skill required.
This is especially true of the later events in the quicker cars. You’ll be flying so fast through chicanes, feeling car sick is a genuine concern. I felt as if I needed to find my Horizon Chase legs, my eyes struggling to keep up with the action.
As you complete each mission in the career, there are bonus objectives called Senna’s Marks. These could be using your boost on a set lap, or nailing the perfect start, for example. In-between certain events, there are also interstitials that inform you of some of his real-world triumphs.
There is no licenced content here, apart from the Brazilian hero’s name and appearance, but combine the history lessons with facsimiles of his cars, misspelt rivals (Keke Resborg, anyone?), addictive objectives and cheekily recreated interpretations of F1 circuits from the era and it’s hard not to fall head-over-heels for this game.
To cap it off, there’s a World Championship mode where you drive in the other racing cars from the generation and it’s playable with up to three other people thanks to the split screen option.
Horizon Chase Senna Forever does not have the most engrossing gameplay or a rewarding skill tree. Once you finished a few races, you’ll most likely have the hang of it. But trying to complete all the bonus objectives and collecting the coins is a satisfying enough gameplay hook.
The fact that it’s wrapped in nostalgia and will hopefully entertain a younger audience with an inspiring tale of heroics makes it even more engrossing. It’s this history lesson more than anything and that makes it an initiative I can get behind.
Senna Forever is a DLC pack for the existing Horizon Chase and Horizon Chase Turbo games. You will need the base game to play it. The pack is out today, 20th October 2021, for Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam and Epic), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android and iOS. Profits obtained will be used to support the Instituto Ayrton Senna educational programs.
|Developer||Aquiris Game Studio|
|Release date||20th October 2021|
|Available platforms||PC (Epic and Steam), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android|
|Version tested||PlayStation 4|
|Best played with||Controller|
Full disclosure: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.