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Super Night Riders (PS4 Review)

Super Night Riders is an arcade-style, time attack racer by the one-man French studio, neko.works. The studio has stated that Super Hang-On is a big influence on the game and that’s certainly a good enough reason for us to check it out. The game is available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One as a digital-only release.

It is very apparent that SEGA’s 1987 motorcycle driving game is an influence on Super Night Riders. You are not racing against other riders in this title – the goal is to beat the ever-depleting timer to the next checkpoint, and it’s up to you to weave in and out of other riders and find the best line through each course to minimise the time you spend on it. If anything, the original Hang-On title is a closer reference point for Super Night Riders in that you don’t even have to worry about using a turbo like you do in Super Hang-On.

The controls are extremely simple and welcoming. The left analogue stick steers your bike, R2 accelerates and L2 brakes. That is all you need to remember and arcade racing purists will appreciate the simplicity of the action. The controls are also extremely accurate and responsive, meaning that any mistakes you do make are completely down to you.

Speaking of mistakes, Super Night Riders is extremely forgiving when it comes to player error. If you hit another bike or run off the track, you merely lose some speed. It’s a far cry from the fiery, explosive crashes of the Hang-On series. You can’t even move far enough off the track to collide with any road-side objects. Once again, this makes Super Night Riders quite a welcoming little driving game and puts the emphasis on skilful driving.

There are 2 main race modes on offer – Course and Stage. Course tasks you with riding through 6 different environments at various times of day. Stage puts you in one specific environment but you have to play all 6 variants of the stage in succession. Night time stages add a little more visual flare with your bike’s headlights coming into effect. As the stages go on, they become more challenging with an increase in tighter corners. Making a mistake during these later stages will often cost you the most time. You can afford to make mistakes early on, but as things ramp up, you’ll soon discover that your driving needs to be as clean as possible.

Unfortunately, difficulty is something Super Night Riders could probably benefit from. You see, Super Night Riders is not a particularly challenging game and within a single hour I’d unlocked every course and stage. The real test of endurance comes with the final course which pushes you to complete every single one of the 36 stages back-to-back and it’s the toughest challenge the game has to offer. However, everything up until this course was a cakewalk by comparison, and the lack of challenge works against the game.

Thankfully, the presentation is of a high standard. The visuals are clean and sharp and the sense of speed is really well done. You can also choose from 2 different visual styles to race in. Super is the more realistic of the two – with textured surfaces and more detailed road-side objects, while Classic gives everything a more angular, polygonal look that’s more in keeping with a title like Virtua Racing. The action runs at a silky-smooth 60 frames-per-second and this also helps the game feel tight and responsive.

The only issue is the visuals are a bit uninspired. There are some missing spot effects that could have really helped the overall presentation. For example, the bikes leave no tyre marks on the track when you screech into corners. You don’t even kick up any dust like you do in Super Hang-On and it just means the game looks a little too clinical for its own good. The riders and their bikes are a single colour as well. No effort has been put into designing interesting liveries for the vehicles and rider’s leathers. Even the lack of crashes feels a bit disappointing. After all, this is an arcade driving game and stuff like this would have helped make the presentation be a lot more exciting.

Despite all this, I found my time with Super Night Riders quite enjoyable. Its simplicity and responsiveness shine brighter than its issues. Arcade-style motorcycle games are such a rarity nowadays that it also felt quite refreshing to play something that hasn’t looked like this for going on 20 years. The game is also priced perfectly for the amount of enjoyment you’ll get from it. The game is currently £6.40 on the Playstation Store, £6.39 on the Microsoft Store and £5.79 on Steam, so if a nice little arcade racer is what you’re looking for, this is certainly a very attractive option at those prices. Super Night Riders is a perfectly inoffensive and enjoyable time attack racer with great controls and a clean presentation, but you shouldn’t expect anything particularly unique from it.

7/10

A free copy of the game was provided for this review.

Written by Lewis “Sonic Yoda” Clark 17/08/2018

Screenshots

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