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June 26 2019

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  Riding Hero - ©SNK 1990

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Game Stats
1 or 2 player


42 Megs
Japanese Name:

Riding Hero

Released On:


Reviewed By:
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Review Introduction:

Just before I decided to give this very old racing game a try, I had been playing Shenmue on the Sega Dreamcast. While that might sound totally unrelated, Shenmue has a section where you can go into an arcade and play a few old Sega classics. One of these classics is "Super Hang On", a motorbike racing game from the 1980's that is a game I used to play a lot when I was young on my old Amstrad CPC computer! Anyway, after playing that for a while, I suddenly remembered that the Neo Geo had its own bike racing game, one that I had largely ignored for a long time.


So, that brings me to this game: "Riding Hero". Riding Hero is very similar to Sega's own classic, and even adds a few new features of its own. First off is the Grand Prix mode, which is the standard mode that you can play in. You earn points depending on what position you finish in and must complete the race in the given time limit to be able to continue onto the next race. This mode is fun for a while, but the main fun comes from the "Story" mode. This mode is in a way similar to EA's Road Rash game that originally came out for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. After entering your name you start off in your characters apartment, where you have the option to rest to recover your energy. If you leave your apartment there are a number of places you can visit (see the screenshot of the map in the additional screenshots page), including a bike shop, a "greasy spoon" diner where you can chat to people and also a few different racetracks, some of which you can only visit as you progress during the game.

While GP mode is OK, I was surprised how detailed the RPG-like story mode is. It was quite fun to chat to the different characters and bet against them to earn more money to either buy new bikes or tune up my existing one. One thing that made me laugh was when I lost a race and didn't have the money to pay up my gambling debt and the other racer got mad; I was treated to a funny cut scene where my character just punched the other guy clean in the face! Very funny indeed! One difference with the races you enter against other bikers is that they are street races unlike the track races that you go on in GP mode. This means that they can be tricky, as you have to put up with public traffic like vans, cars and other motorcycles.

Here lies the main problem with the game; there is much more fun to be had with talking to characters than there is with the main game play itself. The game doesn't exactly look stunning as it is very old and this type of game is not what the Neo Geo does best. It doesn't get any better when it comes to controlling your bike either. It doesn't auto centre when you turn and let go of the controls, so you have to constantly tap the D-Pad or joystick to stay on the road. Although the four available bikes have different handling/speeds, the control is not quite responsive enough, especially when it comes to weaving in and out of oncoming traffic! If you hit other bikes or traffic it slows you down a hell of a lot and even worse, if you hit any of the signposts at the side of the road it makes you fall off which brings you to a dead halt (this happens too often as well). That isn't to mention the fact that the collision detection is well off and CPU bikes appear to be able to pass right through oncoming traffic! GRRRRRRR!!! These things combine to make Riding Hero FAR less fun than it could have been.

Graphics & Sound:

As mentioned, graphically this game has very little going for it. It's a 1990 game, but it doesn't look a whole lot better (if at all) than Sega's 1986 title. The bikes are OK, but the backgrounds are very plain and just feature basically two colours and some signposts on either side of the road occasionally! Very drab to say the least. Like I said, this isn't what the Neo Geo does best, but I think it could have been a little better. That said, the games frame rate does drop a little when you are on the street races and have a lot of cars coming towards you. Basically this game is quite poor in the visual department. The sound is not great either, but is perhaps a very tiny bit better even with its hair-dryer style engine effects and some passable music.


So, all things considered, is Riding Hero worth the trouble? Perhaps. If you want to buy it and can pick it up for cheap or something then it might be worth it. Collectors will buy it regardless. It was average entertainment for a while, but I have to say that I wouldn't touch it myself. One thing that would certainly stop me from playing it in the arcade would be the continue system... if you are playing GP mode then you only have to win the race to carry on. However if you play Story mode, then get ready to continually put money into the machine! You get a small time limit for each credit you put into it, and once the timer ticks down to zero you either add money or it is Game Over!

Riding Hero would cost far too much money to play in the arcade, but it might be worth checking out at home. One thing that is worthy of note is that Riding Hero supports the Neo Geo link, which allows you to play 2-player against another person; provided you have 2 copies of the game, two Neo Geo's and two TV's. I have never seen two MVS units in the arcade linked together though. Anyway, many people think that the first console to have link-up capability was Sony's Playstation, but it just shows that SNK's Neo Geo was once again years ahead of everyone else, just like they were with the memory card!

Unfortunately that still isn't enough to make the game good.

Graphics: 4.5/10
Sound: 5/10
Game play: 4.5/10
Replay Value: 4/10

Overall Rating: 4/10

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