Hydro Thunder Hurricane is not your typical case of sequelitis. The original concept, simply, an arcade-style boat racer, was hatched by indie developer Vector Unit. The 2-man studio, which has grown to 6 for Hurricane, is led by technical director Ralf Knoesel and creative director Matt Small, who met in the late '90s at Stormfront Studios. They stayed in touch over the years, as each continued to build a strong resume of work, and, in late 2007, they co-founded Vector Unit and began work on a small, downloadable project that would become the licensed sequel to Midway's decade-old arcade racer.
Checking out a playable build on the PAX East show floor today, I quickly understood what caught the attention of now publisher Microsoft Game Studios, which smartly licensed the Hydro Thunder brand from sinking Midway in order to establish Vector Unit's game as part of a celebrated heritage. With the exception of nods to some boats from the classic arcade game, Hydro Thunder Hurricane is not much of a sequel, and instead represents the promising talent of a new independent developer. It's also, bizarrely, one of two Xbox Live Arcade games premiering at PAX East with a really slick, proprietary water physics engine. (Hydrophobia being the other.)