When I first saw that Super Night Riders was coming to Xbox One, it piqued my interest. I had never heard of the game before, but it looked like something I’d be into, given its nature as a retro-inspired ‘racing’ game. It was then that I decided to give it a chance. Unfortunately, however, my interest in and desire to enjoy the game ended up turning into disappointment, as the final product is a flawed experience that simply doesn’t have a lot to offer.
At its core, Super Night Riders is an homage to classic arcade racers of yesteryear, such as Super Hang-On. It’s a simplistic, motorcycle-focused game, wherein you try make it from one gate to another before running out of time. Accessible or forgiving it is not, and seconds are limited to the point of frustration.
The player controls one predetermined racer, who’s dubbed “The Red Rider” because she’s all decked out in red. Designed in the image of a beautiful, long-haired blonde woman, she acts as your silent avatar and cannot be customized in any way, shape or form. They say her name is Alice, but there’s absolutely zero depth to her character or her plight, and she honestly looks like a mix between a Mii and an Xbox Avatar. Hell, her hair isn’t even visible when she’s riding.
Alice, you see, is a crotch rocket driver who has a need for speed. She, for some reason, finds herself needing to race through different environments while dealing with both a short time limit and other bikers. Your goal while controlling her is to drive as fast as possible while avoiding everything in your path. Other riders aren’t your only enemies, though, as you’ll also have to deal with the many twists and turns that each course presents, all of which force you to make split second decisions as to whether or not you can risk braking.
Maybe I simply suck at these types of games, but I honestly found this one to be more difficult than it was worth. In fact, I quickly became frustrated by its very limited time limits, as well as the amount of precision it determined. Although it has several different courses, which change their environmental backgrounds with every passed gate, it doesn’t ween you in or provide anything in the way of accessible gameplay.
This would have all been more acceptable and easier to digest if the game ran well, but it doesn’t. Although its visuals are very basic, thanks to a low-poly aesthetic, Super Night Riders‘ frame rate loves to act up at some of the worst times. And, since this is a challenging arcade title, wherein every second counts, a frame rate hiccup can end up being the difference between success and failure. That’s because it not only loves to throw you off your rhythm, but can lead to unnecessary crashes.
Things aren’t helped by the tracks’ nighttime sections, as it can be difficult to see other riders until you’re close to them. All you really get to go by are their taillights, and when combined with the game’s fast speed and problematic frame rate, that can easily become a recipe for disaster.
The tracks, themselves, are also pretty basic. You’re looking at a mix of straightaways and steep corners, and little else. The environments that surround them — which include a traditional rural setting, a desert, a city and a rather pretty, pink-hued Japanese location, complete with cherry blossom trees — can be pretty nice looking, but they’re little more than window dressing. Their limited details also make me wonder why this game’s frame rate is so problematic, because it’s not like they’re intensive in any way, shape or form.
As much as I wanted to like and be able to recommend Super Night Riders, it’s simply not a good enough game. There’s fun to be had if you get into a groove, but it’s fleeting due to the title’s aforementioned problems, as well as the fact that its controls simply aren’t as tight as they should have been.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Super Night Riders' potential is ultimately held back by a poor frame rate, as well as gameplay that is no stranger to frustration. As much as I want to recommend this independent, retro-inspired racer, I simply cannot.