Review: Riding Hero (Neo Geo CD)

 Riding Hero is one of four racing games on the Neo Geo CD and the only one where the action takes place from a third person perspective, instead a top view. It was originally released in cartridge for in 1991. Riding Hero features 2 modes, WGP (World Grand Prix) and RPG (Role Playing Game). WGP features 10 different tracks, and you earn points as you progress through them. Your ultimate goal is to win the championship. The 10 tracks are based on real world race tracks.

1. Japan - Suzuka Circuit 2. Spain - Circuito de Jerez 3. France - Bugatti Circuit 4. Sweden - Scandinavian Raceway 5. United States - Luguna Seca 6. Italy - Misano World Circuit 7. Great Britain - Donington Park 8. Germany - Hockenheimring 9. Brazil - Autódromo Internacional de Curitiba 10. Australia - Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit

In Grand Prix mode, you must finish 3rd or better to progress to the next round. The CD version of Riding Hero has unlimited continues, as well as the ability to save your progress and return to the game at a later point. Each race features 7 computer opponents. You start in last place and must work your way through the pack to reach the top spot. In addition to needing to finish in the top 3 spots, there is also a time limit on each lap, 2 laps per race.

The control scheme is pretty basic, with A being accelerate, B controls the brakes, and C activating your turbo. During the race, you have 4 turbos that give you a boost of speed for a short period of time.

While this all sounds pretty standard and should make for a decent motorcycle racing game, the game play is plagued by flaws the make the game nearly unplayable.

The first problem is the collisions with other racers. If you hit them, you come to a crawl. This is an arcade game and scrubbing the speed so drastically really pulls you out of the game. While I could put up with taking my time when passing the other racers, the single biggest aggravation is that when the opponents hit you, you also come screaming to a halt. You can be cruising along at top speed, only to have a opponent hit you from behind, and you nearly come to a complete stop.

Worse yet, if they hit you in a corner, you almost always get shoved into a roadside sign or object and get thrown off your bike. And when you get thrown off your bike, it takes about 7 seconds to get going again. So to recap, due to no fault of your own, you can get bumped into a sign by an opponent, even you are at top speed, get thrown off your bike, and lose 7 seconds of time. Not only that, this guarantees when you finally get going again, you will be in last place, only to repeat the whole damn thing all over again.

The time limit in Riding Hero is extremely unforgiving on some of the tracks. If you get thrown off your bike, there is little chance you will beat the race in the time limit. Germany was the most unforgiving, if you get thrown off, you will NOT be completing your lap, no matter what.

The Turbo system is also flawed. Unless you are going at the top speed, you cannot use your turbo. Perhaps the above mentioned flaws could be accepted if you could utilize a turbo at will. But instead, your turbos are limited to when you are at top speed, and cannot be used to accelerate quickly after a crash or bumping into an opponent.

Riding Hero is less about racing and more about surviving. In fact, I probably wouldn't have bothered to race all 10 races in Grand Prix mode if there was a track list somewhere. But from what I can tell, no human being has stuck with this game enough to see all 10 race tracks. This game is THAT bad.

Graphically speaking, Riding Hero is lacking. The race track is nothing more than moving lines similar to Out Run, which was released in 1986! The bike and rider look decent, and feature large sprites. The backgrounds have 2 layers of scrolling, usually compromising of a city scape and clouds. To it's credit, it does move along at a very fast and gives a satisfactory sense of speed.

The sound is also poor. Each track has it's own musical score, but they don't sound any better than the average Nintendo (NES) musical track. The engine noise doesn't gradually get faster, but rather jumps to a higher note as you hit speed milestones. There is also an awkward "we" noise when you get thrown off your bike. Overall, the sound is poor.

I wasn't really able to play RPG mode because of the text heavy menus and I have a Japanese console. But I was able to make it to the first event. The game was pretty much the same, only you start with a slow bike which just makes the aggravation slower. There is also vehicle traffic on the roadway, which act as giant obstacles taking up a majority of the road. And if you bump them, you fall off your bike. Go figure.

About the only thing I liked about the game was that your rider does not self center. If you press left, he will continue to go left until your press right. This makes it very easy to race through long sweeping, as you can just adjust how far to lean in a turn, and let's you use your accelerator to help get you through the turns.

Overall, Riding Hero is a terrible game with few redeeming factors. The graphics are average at best and the sound is poor. Riding Hero features a neat control concept, but the game is completely unplayable due to the unforgiving time limits and the erratic opponents who crash into you and ruin your race. I cannot recommend this game to anyone, not even hardcore racing fans. Avoid this mess.

Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 2/10
Game play - 2/10
Overall - 2/10 Extremely flawed