Shaggy's Weekly Review: Super Bikes by Raw Thrills
Time is hard to find these days so I find myself remembering to do a review but with little time to write a new one up. Fortunately I have this one that I had planned on sending into Hardcore Gamer Magazine but I couldn’t get the right assets as their website only offers pictures that are too blurry for a magazine article (and there is no character art available which is something they request). Either way, this lets me easily do something a little more recent for my review here. As such it follows a slightly different format from my typical online reviews and I don’t see the need to rewrite it for now.
The Fast and The Furious: Super Bikes Review
Developer: Raw Thrills
Publisher: Raw Thrills/Betson
Players: 1-2 (linked)
Genre: Motorcycle Racing
Category: Fast AND Furious
Release Date: 3/20/2007
Arcades have always been able to provide something that is difficult or impractical to implement in a home environment – unique ways to control the game experience. Whether arcade game makers take advantage of such freedom is another story all together but in the case of Super Bikes we finally see the return of the motorcycle controller, which was almost forgotten by time with classics like Hang-On. Players sit on a motorcycle-like shell that veers from one side to another to simulate racing on a motorcycle. While this certainly is not the first time such a device has been seen in arcades, it is good to see it back in action as there is no other way to race with these types of games.
In Super Bikes You can choose from 8 different racers, each with varying stats that may improve your chances at winning or decrease that chance depending on your skill. The characters themselves are forgettable and have nothing to do with any of the characters established by the Fast and The Furious movies. The bikes however are all licensed motorcycles that any bike guru would probably recognize in an instant. One nice touch that was seen in the previous F&F arcade release is that you can upgrade you bike with bigger engines, better tires, NOS and more. One nice touch is that the game has a keypad along with a built-in save system so you can keep track of your “tricked out bikes” without resorting to a card system. That technology is nothing new (it was great on games like SF Rush 2049) but it is welcome.
The game itself follows similar formulas one has come to expect from Eugene Jarvis’ racing titles – it is not a simulation racer but instead an arcade racer throughout. The racing focuses on reaching the next checkpoint in time while using techniques such as power sliding to gain and maintain the lead. All of the tracks are pretty heavy on the curves so this provides ample opportunity for sliding although this does take some getting used to at first as you work to gain the proper balance on the bike controller. They also incorporated a turbo button labeled NOS on the bike that can be used to catch up in case you fall behind although its use is limited. There are 9 tracks to choose from, covering several locations over the world including Shanghai, Switzerland, Monaco, Baja and other exotic locations.
Graphically Super Bikes is pretty disappointing despite the fact that it is a new title and supposedly uses a PC to power it but it falls very short in achieving similar graphics you get with even next-gen console systems. Textures do not hold a lot of detail, there is no anti-aliasing and there are few neat effects to speak of. Character/object models are OK, the bikes look good and the environments do prove to be interesting. Surprisingly the game does use a few 2D objects which look great, with clean edges, realistic color and smooth animation. It has been a while since I saw digitized actors integrated into gameplay and they look spectacular but you only see them at the beginning of a race. Otherwise there is little here to impress anyone visually, but it appears that such was not the purpose of the game.
There are many songs to listen to in the game and you can change what you listen to during the game although in a noisy arcade it is almost impossible to hear any of it. It is a nice touch regardless and some arcades are noisier than others
Despite lacking in the graphics department Super Bikes is a fun game that can only really be experienced as an arcade title thanks to the unique controller mechanism. It uses tried and true arcade racing formulas while offering some fun options for upgrading your bikes. Super Bikes has already prompted a response from Namco who is currently planning on bringing their own motorcycle racer, MotoGP to the States later this year. So it appears that a new era of motorcycle racing is about to hit arcades once again and there is no better way to start it than with Super Bikes.