Digital Ore Refinery Tests It: Hurtlers Anniversary Collection

An unsubmitted draft for a post to a videogame performance analytics blog.

Digital Ore Refinery Tests It:  Hurtlers Anniversary Collection
crop of the february 1995 cover of Next Generation magazine

With the release this Friday of Horrified Onlooker Interactive's classic franchise on PS5, Xbox Xperience 2.4, Steam Machine, and Sven's House, it's time to put these ports to the test the only way Digital Ore Refinery knows how: Extensively.

Hurtlers (PS1, 1998)

Back in 1998, the idea of a racing game where telekinetic alien brains competed by propelling confused, flailing live humans through surreal obstacle courses was unheard of. I know that's hard to imagine, given how long the genre's been saturated now.

Key Changes

  • Draw distance extended and distance fog removed
  • Toggle option between the original bespoke flailing animations and dynamic ragdoll physics
  • Framerate cap removed
  • Gyroscopic control support added for the minigame where you slam your hurtler against an object or surface to make them more cooperative

Performance Verdict

Smooth as the gore-streaked backstop on the hairpin turn in iconic track Traumascape B (Reverse).

Hurtlers 2 (PS1/N64, 2000)

This port is a hybrid of the two original versions, featuring the N64 expansion pak version's higher object density, and the PS1 version's live action FMV cutscenes and original score by Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland.

Key Changes

  • All changes listed from the first game's port
  • Expanded Wes Borland score encoded in lossless DTS-HD surround sound
  • High-res FMV cutscenes sourced from a new 4k scan of the original camera negatives
  • Full uncensored blood and gore effects, even beyond what was seen in the leak (no pun intended) of the unreleased Windows 98 port

Performance Verdict

Even the namesake feature of the infamous Torso Tumbler track no longer causes frame drops.

Hurtlers: Velocity (PS2/GameCube, 2003)

Here's where the series started to get a little saucy, and I'm not referring to the still kind of genuinely upsetting gore slurry physics. (Well, not exclusively.) The first two games were all about precision control, dodging obstacles and applying psychic directional forces to get around corners without slamming your fearful, shrieking human into any hard surfaces. Velocity, on the other hand, added a controversial combat element. Reportedly inspired both by Mario Kart and the David Cronenberg film Scanners, players could now collect various color coded Psi-Bombs and use them on other racers to create a variety of gruesome effects.

Key Changes

  • Higher resolution textures from the original source files
  • Higher resolution prerendered FMVs in both the original Story Mode and the Trauma Flashbacks prologue campaign added in the PS2 port
  • Higher resolution gore slurry physics simulation

Performance Verdict

No whimsical metaphor here, I find the gore slurry physics to be incredibly unpleasant, even moreso at consistent 144 frames per second on my gaming rig. Even when I shut down the game I can still see the sloshing when I close my eyes.

Hurtlers Beyond (Wii/PS3, 2006)

This is the big one people have been waiting for, since the online matchmaking servers for this expansive and beloved return to form for the series were taken offline in 2008 when a fuel truck crashed into the data center and exploded. That actually happened, that's not plot from the game. The truck driver had allegedly passed out at the wheel from exhaustion while trying to crash into another data center nearby, which hosted a football blog he was incensed at.

Key Changes

  • The PS3 version's nicer graphics are applied to the Wii version's exclusive tracks
  • Skill-based matchmaking lobbies and the option to host a dedicated server
  • Online play now supports up to 16 racers, like the single-player career mode
  • Optional AI bots in non-full online lobbies
  • Toggle between the shorter original score by Fatboy Slim from the PS3 version, or the licensed EDM tracks from the Wii version

Performance Verdict

I'm going to take tomorrow off work actually, I thought I was hallucinating from the stress when I saw PS2-graphics gore slurry seeping out from under my closet door, but my wife and neighbors can see it too, and the building superintendent went into the room to look in the closet two hours ago and hasn't come out, and all we can hear is the sound of sloshing.