Super Night Riders (2016)
Time To OutRun The Clock
Every now and then, there lies a game that is deceptively simple on the surface, yet the more research is done the deeper the rabbit hole goes. Super Night Riders was originally released in 2016 by sole indie developer neko.works and it had largely slipped passed my radar for all those years. As the Steam Racing Fest continues, I figured it'd be an as good time as any to take a deeper dive into what's essentially a simple barebones checkpoint arcade racer. Strap in as we take control of the protagonist, Alice, and see how far we go in her race against time.
In essence, Super Night Riders is a modernized version of the SEGA arcade racer, Hang-On. Released in 1985, mere months before OutRun, Hang-On featured a lone motorcyclist racing not against other riders, but against the clock. During each checkpoint, the scenery would change as well as the course layouts and the time of day. Twenty years later, this formula remains largely unchanged although with some quality of life changes to make the gameplay more accessible.
Strap Into The Helm Of The Red Rider
The main way of banking into corners in Super Night Riders is throttle control. As Alice approaches a corner, the player will need to release the throttle as they enter the turn. Doing so successfully will cause the bike to gravitate towards the apex, in which the player can regain speed by holding the accelerator when it's safe.
As with most checkpoint-style racers, traffic is a huge nuisance, and hitting the other riders will cause Alice to come to a stop. Those who are familiar with old-school Ridge Racer titles will know the concept of "releasing the gas to drift" and the pain of hitting other cars respectively. The margin for error is small by default at the beginning of the game, but as the player clears more courses, the stricter the time becomes. Usually, the player can get away with one mistake, but any more than that and it's best to restart from the beginning.
Drive Across Bustling Cities To Arid Deserts
There are two different modes with two different skins in Super Night Riders. The "main" mode is the Course mode, where players control Alice across six different courses. Each course has six unique stages ranging from the Forest, City, Canyon, Desert, Valley, and Hanami. There's also a Stage mode in which Alice selects one of six stages and drives in six laps, each lap representing a time of day.
Each stage has its own unique aesthetic that takes advantage of the game's graphics. The forest, for example, uses the dew particles and bloom to represent the sunrise, which quiets down as the time of day shifts. Hanami, which takes place on Japanese-style roads, has cherry blossoms fly past the riders no matter the time of day. The two skins include the default "Modern" look and a "Classic" appearance based on the previously mentioned Hang-On games, including low-poly models for added retro-ness.
The Future For Super Night Riders Is As Bright As Its Headlights
The graphics are up to par with what was available in the mid-2010s. For a lone indie developer, there's a lot of love put into not just the protagonist, but the graphics and aesthetics themselves. On max settings, it's above average from the standard fare of budget indie titles. I was able to play consistently above 60fps just fine and this is where Super Night Riders shine. The gameplay is addicting if not simple, as the goal of completing all six courses in one sitting is comparable to the arcade racers it's inspired by.
Overall, Super Night Riders is a relic of neko.works as the developer has plans on remaking the original game as well as making a sequel according to the Steam pages for both titles. Titled Season 1 and Season 2, the latter will feature Alice's rival with a whole new set of courses. The art designs for all three titles have been amazing and the only wish I have is for a fleshed-out story in the world of Super Night Riders. It'd be interesting to see the motives of Alice and her rival while even introducing small cutscenes in-between courses. These are all optional suggestions as the game itself has a formula that works well in the favor of future titles.
Super Night Riders is available on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One