When a game professes to be inspired by retro classics, the hope is always that the developers have taken the best parts and built upon them to form a modern success that could one day be a classic itself. That’s exactly what Super Night Riders, successor to the developer neko.works’ mobile game Night Riders, is attempting to do as an arcade racing game on the Xbox One. Is it as super as its name suggests or will it have too much focus on its retro roots and look out of place?
First off, I need to point out that there’s no story or anything of the sort to get stuck into, so that leaves a heavy reliance on the gameplay itself to drag Super Night Riders into being a success; something which many racers can manage. The best way to describe this game would be that it’s like Outrun but using motorbikes instead. Racing through checkpoints is the bread and butter of what’s going on here, whilst avoiding other bikers occupying the roads.
Simple controls mean that you’ll only need to hold the RT or A button to accelerate, the analog stick to steer and the LT to brake. It’s a good thing that there aren’t many buttons to worry about as the track ahead of you will come thick and fast, with bikes galore to navigate around at the same time as you trying to stay on the road. All you have to do, no matter what the track is, is to reach the next checkpoint before time runs out and repeat this over and over again.
Repetition in racing games isn’t infrequent; however across the six courses and six stages on offer, it feels like you’re basically doing the same thing on the same tracks. This could be due to the fast paced nature of the game not allowing the gamer to take in much of the environmental backdrops or notice the slight differences in track layouts. All I know is that I’m swerving left and right a hell of a lot and it’s damn boring.
Having six different courses sounds ideal, but they all follow the same pattern of first starting a lap in the valley, then to the canyon and so on until all six areas have been visited. Alternatively, you could try a six lap checkpoint race on a specific stage, where the entirety of the race will be spent on a single stage chosen from the six included. None of the backdrops are overly pretty and would just about pass as standard about ten years ago. On their own, visuals aren’t usually an issue but alongside such simple gameplay and modes, it’s just another negative mark that Super Night Riders has attached to it.
Apart from the issues I have with how basic the entire game is, the only real gameplay problem is when I race into the back of another biker on the road and there’s a painstaking thud that halts you to a complete stop. It’s far too easy to hit them again immediately after the first collision and that ensures you won’t make the next checkpoint; unless you switch Easy Mode on which makes those hit bikes disappear into thin air.
One of the few positives is the soundtrack which consists of just four different beats that range from a rock style to a bit of techno dance music. It’s the type of music that gets you pumped up to play upon hearing it, but then you remember what you’re about to play and all happiness is drained from your mind to make room for pure monotony.
Some may think that I’m being harsh on a $9.99 indie game, but the gaming world is full of games at that price and lower which deliver a far better and more interesting experience than Super Night Riders. It’s novel for the first ten minutes, until you realise this is it for the rest of the game and that the best part was back in the menu listening to the soundtrack. There’s not enough to do and what there is becomes far too repetitive and boredom kicks in rather quickly. Even the leaderboards included are simplistic and only show a limited amount of scores around your own.
If you’re after a racer that is not only inspired by retro classics but plays like it’s from a bygone era then by all means grab Super Night Riders and send your mind into a comatose state. I’ll stick with my next-gen gaming thanks.