Are you old enough to remember the 1990s and in particular the modified car scene back then? Max Power magazine ruled the roost, featuring ridiculously altered vehicles (seriously, why spend £20,000 modifying an Astra when you could just buy a much better car with the same money?) and a variety of half naked women. Now that we’re in 2018, surely those two things aren’t still going to be around? Are they?
Well, it would appear that the good folk over at Team6 Game Studios B.V. are bringing the 1990s back, with the launch of the first official game from the Super Street brand – imaginatively named, Super Street: The Game.
So will this mix of anti-social driving, dodgy body kits, and “babes” fly, or will it crash and burn?
First things first and we just have to mention the presentation of the game; before we can get on to how it all works as a driving experience, we have to get past the way it looks. To be absolutely honest, the graphics on display here wouldn’t make a PS2 sweat, never mind an Xbox 360. The car models are basic and blocky, and worst of all, as far as I’m concerned, they aren’t real cars. I’m guessing the licensing was just too expensive, and so the developers have taken recognisable makes and models, like Skylines and Silvias, and changed just enough about them to be able to say “No, it’s not a Nissan, don’t be silly!”. The thing that makes this all seem faintly ridiculous to me is that these imaginary cars can all be fitted with real, aftermarket body kits and engine parts from real world manufacturers. It’s like the game is half licensed, half not, and the juxtaposition is just mad.
While we are on about the way Super Street: The Game looks, I have to call out the way the routes are marked out. Every racing game since Ridge Racer on the PS2 has had the option to allow players to use the very front bumper view for racing. I find this the best way to judge exactly where my car is, and I’ve driven in games this way for more than 20 years. In Super Street: The Game, I can’t. Using this view, the helpful arrows that tell you which way you are meant to be turning are invisible, and so as a consequence you are driving around with absolutely no idea where you are supposed to be going. Instead, those of us who like to try and become immersed will need to use the camera above and behind the car to have any chance of seeing the route. As you would expect, this kills any immersion.
It is a real shame that Super Street looks like it does, as the basic idea behind it is quite an appealing one. You start out at the bottom of the pile, a racer with a rusted heap to compete in. As you earn money and respect, more and more events and parts become available to you. You can buy parts to improve how the cars go, such as new engines and engine parts, or parts to improve the cars show; new body kits, paint or boot-filling ICE installs. As you progress, your basic car gets upgraded into a snarling street going monster, with lairy paint and spoilers like ironing boards, along with better brakes and suspension and so on. One thing that is a bit weird to me though is that in each category of upgrade, like brakes or turbo, there are different priced items to buy and apply. However, a turbo that costs $500 increases the stats of your car by the exact same amount as a $1500 turbo. I could understand the price differential if the more expensive item made the car noticeably better, but this isn’t the case. Another glaring omission is the ability to sell parts that you have replaced. I can’t understand why this isn’t a function that would be included in a shop scenario.
Further to that, as you win races, you can hire crew members to help you out. And here’s where the second part of the Max Power ethos comes in: all the crew members you can hire are ladies. “Finally! Some equality!” you might be thinking, but I’m afraid that isn’t the case. All the crew members are ladies in tight, revealing clothing, who would no doubt catch a chill if the garage isn’t well heated. The worst bit about this however is the way each and every one of these girls are introduced. The first crew member is Kyra, a “Race Coach”. Notice the speech marks? All the crew members are like this, all have a job title in speech marks as if to say “Hey, this good looking woman is your mechanic, wink wink!”. In this day and age, even in the juvenile world of modified cars, this strikes me as “Not OK”.
So far, so 1990s then, both in the mindset that Super Street: The Game runs, and the way it looks. But how does it play, I hear you ask? Surely, if it makes a decent fist of capturing the Midnight Club or NFS Underground type of gameplay that we cry out for then we can forgive the old fashioned attitudes? Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, you are going to be disappointed. Sadly, the driving experience is as ropy as the rest of the game. The engine noise doesn’t seem to be related in any way to the actual speed of the car, the handling is absolutely shocking, and the competition cars are all psychic and know exactly what you are going to do and will carve you up on any given corner. You can however have any control scheme you like, as long as you like automatic gears – another one of my bugbears as I like to choose when I change gear. But hey, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a major issue.
What is a major issue is the handling. In a circuit race, when you come to the same corner time after time, you’d like to think that the car will behave in the same way each time. Instead, we seem to have to partake in a bit of a dice rolling random number approach to handling; on any corner you could have understeer, oversteer, or if you are really unlucky, almost no steering. Braking for corners just usually means the competition will go sailing by, cornering as if they are on rails despite the fact they weren’t in sight two seconds earlier, using the handbrake either turns the car 90 degrees so you crash into a wall broadside, or will kick the back end out nicely but then slow you down so much you might as well get out and walk. In fact, the best way I’ve found to corner, if there isn’t a handy bad car to bounce off, is to coast around the corners. Seriously, let go of the gas, make the turn and then accelerate again. The car goes round the corner nicely, you hardly lose any speed and can get back on the power almost straight away. Just like real life…
The most jarring thing about the whole race scene though centres on when you crash, and believe me you will. As you have little collisions, the car starts to get undressed, losing wings and bonnets like it ain’t no thing. Have a bigger crash and you are treated to a slow-mo, close up view of the incident. Wheels fall off, doors fly open, and possibly the reason for the dodgy handling is revealed: there is no one driving the car! Is it too much to ask to have a driver model in the car, Team6? It looks so stupid, these self driving cars going around the track all by themselves.
All in all then and Super Street: The Game is bad – outdated graphics, outdated gameplay and outdated objectification of women, bad. Still, if it was a budget title, there would at least be a modicum of pleasure to be gained from an arcade racer, wouldn’t there? Well, yes and no. If it was around a fiver, I could certainly see that the fun would be there. Sadly though it’s nearly 10 times that and there is no way in the world that this product is worth that amount of money.
It is so bad that I cannot recommend this game to even the most ardent arcade racing fan.