Originally appearing in Japan as Buggy Heat earlier this year after suffering a couple of delays, ASC Games picked up the game and gave it a North American license under TNN Motorsports. Buggy Heat was criticized for its loose control system. Has this been remedied? Not really.
Hardcore Heat is best described as a cross-country racer in the tradition of ASC's 4x4 series. Of course with the added power of Dreamcast, the game is now enhanced with a new, hyper-realistic physics model. While the title is licensed by TNN Motorsports, players will not find any real drivers from the series. This does not really matter considering most people would not know who they were anyway. Instead, players will find 8 different drivers with their own unique personality and vehicle. You will find a wide range of vehicles from traditional buggy racers to larger pick up style trucks. Each have their own distinctive look and handling.
Hardcore Heat is quite impressive visually. CRI has managed to maintain a rock solid 30 FPS with only minor occasions of slowdown. Even in the split screen two player mode slowdown or popup is rare. While some of the tracks and their environments can at times look grainy or N64-like, the vehicles are sharply detailed all the way down to the paint. Players can choose from 4 different views. While the behind view is best to play with, the in car view sports some fantastic visuals showing you exactly what the driver is doing in response to your actions on the controller. There is also a customizable option which allows you to give your vehicle that special personalized touch.
The sound in Hardcore Heat is inconsistent with the gameplay. engine sounds and track sound effects are standard affair. It is the soundtrack that feels out of place. Consisting of a mix of basic rock and techno tracks, they just never seem to synergize with what is actually happening on the screen. Whether this was overlooked or grossly mistaken, the soundtrack at times distracts from the overall experience of the game.