Super Night Riders has been available in various guises on Xbox and Steam since 2016, but now finds its’ way onto PlayStation 4 for those that have patiently waited. Unfortunately, it certainly has not been worth that wait.
You play as Alice – known as the Red Rider – in a game inspired by classic arcade racers such as Hang-On and OutRun. Whilst it takes the fundamental gameplay straight from these titles, it doesn’t really try to add to add its own spin to it and instead will leave you yearning for its predecessors.
For those unaware of these SEGA Classics, gameplay is against the clock rather than against the other riders. Players must weave in and out of other bikers on the road and reach the checkpoints in time. The time given can be quite forgiving in that you are typically afforded one bump into another racer, but repeatedly doing so and you will miss the next checkpoint by a long way.
Whilst the game doesn’t differentiate from racing against the clock, it presents this in a couple of modes. Super and Classic are the same levels, but Classic takes a more primitive aesthetic. Super doesn’t look much better in all fairness, but everything does at least have a bit more polish to it. Not too sure why there is an option when neither are appealing to look at.
Once you have decided on a graphical setting, you can choose Course or Stage. Stage is stage’s one to six all in the same area – whether that be Forest, Desert, City or something else, and Course mode groups all the same stage numbers in one race. So, Course 1 for example, is all the first stages of the Stages mashed together into one continuous run. Complete all Courses and you unlock the big daddy, Course 1 to 6, a mammoth 36 stage race through every single of the game’s stages in one go for the true test.
Regardless of what you choose, as you progress through the changes, Super Night Riders has a time of day effect. Each checkpoint progresses the time of day starting at Sunrise and finishing just after Dawn. It works to an extent that it makes the scenery look less repetitive, but when you get to travelling through the City stage at night, the screen becomes a mass of cityscape lights in the background and it’s very difficult to see anything.
The same goes for whenever you pass a checkpoint, you will have a few seconds where the game flashes up your split time and time of day/area setting that’s slap bang in the centre of the screen, blocking your view for everything else.
Whereas Hang-On and OutRun required repetition and memory to work out where the corners were and whether a tap of the brake was required, Super Night Riders offers nothing of that. Virtually every corner can be taken at top speed with only a small amount tight enough that the bike will come off the track – for a very brief, hardly noticeable amount of time – and there is no animation for bumping into an opponent aside from the same two sound effects and a severe drop in speed. In fact, the amount of space you have either side of the track is barely anything so for those expecting to careen into a rock and seeing a huge explosion a la OutRun will be disappointed.
Other features include Leaderboards which work occasionally, a stats screen so you can see how far you’ve travelled in the game and an Extras option which includes an anime – unlocked after everything has been completed – and an Instruction Manual that contains some character art for Alice.
All is not lost though. Super Night Riders features 6 music tracks and they are pretty catchy; you’ll be tapping along to them as you swing around the corners. Ranging from 80’s style electro to hard rock inspired they are generic and basic, but they are also the best thing about this game. Aside from the easy Platinum.
There are 20 Trophies for the game – nine of which are Gold, and this isn’t a particularly tough completion. The hardest one will be for completing Course 1 to 6 but with practice and a bit of memorisation, should come after a few tries. Other Trophies are for completing each Course and Stage, scoring 75,000 points in one second (a Gold Trophy that is incredibly easy to unlock requiring no effort) and a few gimme’s such as 1st checkpoint and 1st overtake. Trophy hunters can have this wrapped up within around four hours.
As it is, it is impossible to recommend Super Night Riders at all, when its’ two biggest influences are currently both available as minigames inside other, and far better games (Hang-On is a minigame in the Shenmue HD collection and OutRun is available in the SEGA arcades in Yakuza 0 and Kiwami). Even with this being cheaper at £6.49, you will feel short changed after less than an hour. Yes, it’s a racing game so there is bound to be repetition, but even then the core gameplay loop is as effortless as this and even the graphics are incredibly sub-par, this is purely a game to pick up some easy Trophies.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*