Street Racer Review – Is Street Racer One Of The Best SNES Racing Games?

Street Racer Review – Is Street Racer One Of The Best SNES Racing Games?

As popular as Super Mario Kart was, it’s
strange that there were very few attempted to replicate that formula on 16-bit systems.
But there was one attempt that few people remember, if they were even aware of in the
first place – A kart racer that not only borrows elements from Nintendo’s ever-popular racer,
but a few parts of other racers and non-racing games. Take a look at that title screen logo. Read
it out to yourself a few times. Street Racer….Street Racer….Street…..Racer. Does it make you
think of any other popular video games, maybe a popular Capcom fighting franchise which
also takes place on the streets? You can see where the developers train of thought went
with Street Racer. It’s core mechanics are pure 16-bit kart
racer, sprite karts speeding around a flat Mode 7 track, but that’s where the similarities
to Super Mario Kart end and the comparisons to Street Fighter begin, as Street Racer is
more focused on vehicular combat that racing alone. In fact, the basic melee combat is
more than a little reminiscent of Road Rash, with the player able to engage in some close-range
hand-to-hand combat. Without the power-ups of the Mario Kart series,
racers have offensive and defensive capabilities in the form of two special moves in addition
to being able to melee attack to the left and right with the L & R buttons. In true
Street Fighter style, each racer is truly unique with not only their own stats, but
their own unique moves – And the cast themselves are a motley bunch of weirdos, featuring a
German bi-plane pilot, Frankenstein’s monster, an Italian sports car driving narcissist and
others. It’s above and beyond the generic racers of other 16-bit racers, and even today
it’s rare to see this level of imagination put into the racers themselves. Not only that, but each racer has several
tracks based on their home turf, with each of the 24 circuits matching the character’s
theme – Frank’s takes place in a spooky castle, while African chief Suzulu calls the
African wildlands his home. The backing tracks that accompany each of these areas is also
pretty damn good and come together to ensure that every aspect of Street Racer is dripping
with character. The base racing mechanics are pure Mario Kart,
and all of you have probably played that game before, so you will know what to expect and
feel right at home with driving each vehicle. However, things are made a little deeper with
the aforementioned focus on violence, with the melee and special moves being a very fun
addition – There’s nothing more satisfying than slapping an enemy with a well-timed baseball
bat or punch, and seeing them fly into a nearby barrier, while you smugly drive away. Each
single player Cup is a straight league with points awarded for placement, and you can
even earn bonus points for collecting the stars on the track, for lapping opponents
and even by being particularly violent to the other racers. Lead the pack at the end
of the Cup, and you win. Sadly though, you don’t really win much
– You get the same screens at the end of each Cup when you’re top of the podium, and then,
you just get taken back to the title screen. There’s no sense of progression at all,
and it’s incredibly jarring for a game that does so well with character and presentation,
to just feel unfinished in this way. It leaves the single player portion of the game lacking
in depth and purpose. Outside of the Single Player mode, you’d
expect some form of multiplayer, and Street Racer certainly doesn’t disappoint in this
regard, with support for up to four players – Something that not even Mario Kart can boast.
Each of the game’s modes are available, and if you have a Multitap and three friends,
you’ll definitely have a good time. And on the subject of modes, racing isn’t
all there is to Street Racer, as it’s additional modes are very unusual indeed. The one that
catches your eye from the start, is Soccer. Before Rocket League earnt the love of gamers
worldwide, here’s a came that innovated with the football in a car idea. Eight racers
take part in a free for all where the aim is to find the soccer ball, touch the ball
to pick it up, before firing it past the Pong paddle-like goalkeeper to score as many goals
as possible, either within a time limit or to reach a goal limit. It’s an interesting idea that’s amusing
for a little while, but becomes quickly frustrating and a little shallow, becoming very repetitive
in a very short time. Once you’ve played one match, you pretty much no what to expect
– And unless you have a group of friends that really like to play this mode, then there’s
little to no reason to return to it. The same is also true of Street Racer’s
second mode – Rumble. Akin to a sumo wrestling match, it’s about using any means necessary
to rid a square arena of the other racers. Melee moves and special weapons are all valid
methods to achieve that goal, and depending on the difficulty level, the match will start
with a destructible barrier that you may need to break down yourself before you can get
to decimating the competition – Although, on Easy mode it takes so long to break down
the barrier that it makes the match harder than it is on Normal and Hard difficulties. Again, like the soccer mode there just isn’t
enough depth to play it more than a few times. These extra modes are interesting ideas, but
they’re just missing that hook to keep you playing, in the same way Mario Kart’s battle
modes always did. If you have friends round, you’ll likely have more fun playing the
racing portion of the game, as nature intended. A great sense of character, well-designed
tracks and excellent four player support. Lack of real progression and reward, which
should have been provided, instead of the unnecessary and limited non-racing modes. Street Racer is an intriguing blend of Road
Rash’s violence and Super Mario Kart’s racing fun, and it would have almost surpassed
Nintendo’s racer, if it weren’t for the lack of polish in terms of it’s Cup structure,
and the rather disappointing battle modes.

10 Replies to “Street Racer Review – Is Street Racer One Of The Best SNES Racing Games?”

  1. I really like Street Racer! I think in terms of mechanic it did the basics of both the fighting and driving better than Mario Kart. It's just a shame that so many of the circuits feel shallow and samey in comparison to the ones found in Nintendo's racer.

    Edit: One of my friends had the Megadrive version. They did a good job of replicating the game without Mode 7 – The battle mode was transformed into an endless ring o' doom.

  2. played this game to death when I was younger, though since I haven't played it for many many years I assumed it would have aged terribly.. but it actually looks like its held out well.

    My favourite racer on the Snes is Biker Mice from Mars. Would be great to see that vs Mario Kart.

  3. Played Street Racer slightly more than Mario Kart when friends were over solely for the fact it was 4 Player.

    But the battle modes were poorly thought out and the rings having to have the edges knocked out first was annoying, should have had some alternates like a hole in the middle, or an arena that got progressively smaller. Maybe a bomb tag mode too.

  4. It would be cool if you did a follow up of the mega drive version some day. I love how sixteen bit era titles were often so different. That doesn't seem to happen much now, the slight differences in the hardware doesn't seem to matter much.

  5. I've been finding out recently just how many racing games came out on the SNES and later became obscure. Of those, the ones I've found that I think are worth trying out are:

    Battle Cars

    Biker Mice From Mars

    Cyber Spin

    F1 ROC II: Race of Champions

    GP-1 Part II

    Nigel Mansell's World Championship Racing

    Saban's Power Rangers Zeo: Battle Racers

  6. Good catch comparing it to Street Fighter.
    I believe Capcom actually started a copyright suit over this game because of the name and some of the character select images being too similar. E. Honda being the easiest to recognize, but there are others, as well.

  7. I had this back in the mid to late 90s and I loved it, one of the best kart racers. The mega Drive version was a bit shit though

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