We’ve become accustomed to simultaneous launches in this digital age. If not simultaneous, then at least within a month of launching in other regions, should there be a last-minute hiccup or similar.
Super Night Riders’ story is a little different. Some two years after hitting Xbox One in America, the arcade racer has finally found its way to Europe. The reason for the delay isn’t clear, but one cause could be down to Microsoft exercising quality control. Reviews across the pond weren’t too kind, resulting in a sloppy 36% Metacritic. Ouch!
Whatever the reason, a two-year delay is largely unheard of nowadays.
Many indie games are influenced by retro classics, but few are quite as brazen about it as Super Night Riders – as soon as a race starts, the words ‘Hang On!” dash across the screen. What we have here, then, is a straightforward checkpoint racer with courses taking approx. 3 minutes to beat.
Time limits are tight, with checkpoints just 30 seconds apart. There’s very little leeway for error – it’s possible to hit one, maybe two, rivals and still win but any more than that is pushing your luck.
Bike handling is fittingly arcade-like. Bikes get up to full speed in a blink of an eye and drifting across the tarmac to avoid traffic is an effortless task, requiring just a jab of the accelerator.
Backgrounds change from one checkpoint to the next, including cityscapes and dusty deserts, but there isn’t much variety in trackside detail. It’s also possible to race in one location, with each “lap” set during a different time of day. While everything shifts at a fair old lick, visually it’s extremely basic – bikers and their bikes lack any texture or detail whatsoever. Sadly, this doesn’t lend Super Night Riders a retro feel. It just looks incredibly, if not ridiculously, cheap.
Does it deserve the critical mauling it received back in 2016? Yes and no. Although simplistic, it’s still mildly challenging – there’s certainly a difficulty curve present, and it’s one that isn’t too unforgiving. And while it doesn’t nail the look of a retro racer, it does feel like one. In other words, the developers partly achieved their goal of giving the world a new retro racer.
We’ve always seen Hang On as one of those underwhelming early Mega Drive releases that were quickly forgotten once bigger and better games hit the scene. In fact, it wasn’t until it graced the cover of Retro Gamer that we discovered it does have its fans.
If you can count yourself as one, you’ll almost certainly find solace here. It’s a simple game that reminds us of simpler times.