When Raw Thrills unveiled Super Bikes 3 back in October 2018, I got pretty heated. After being rather disappointed by their two previous racing titles (Cruis’n Blast and Winter X-Games Snow Boarder) and months of anticipation, I wanted the third installment in the studio’s seminal motorcycle racing series to be the best it could possibly be. Unfortunately, at that time, I just did not think that would be the case. We were promised eight bikes, eight characters, and five tracks—a far cry from past entries of the series. (For reference, 2010’s Super Cars boasted 27 courses.) I wanted a meaty new release in one of my favorite series, but the content just wasn’t there.
Looking back at a Google Doc I haven’t edited since November 2nd, 2018, entitled “Super Bikes 3 Hurts Me,” I realize that I may not have been in the proper state of mind to write such an article. Hot takes, as topical as they may be, are not usually the best way to go. Because of that, I want to take the 1,708 dismayed words in that yet unfinished article and turn them into something more constructive and brief. I certainly don’t want to slam the game or developer before it has even been released—goodness no—but still I want Super Bikes 3 to be the true sequel we’ve all been waiting for. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about my requests for the year’s hottest coin-op racer.
First off, and perhaps most obviously, I’d like to see more tracks. To me, there’s nothing more disappointing than a game that can be experienced in its entirety in 15 minutes or less. Cruis’n Blast and X-Games Snow Boarder fell under that category, but Super Bikes 3 doesn’t have to succumb to that fate. Even though the game is on its way soon, there’s no reason we could see a little more content added before release. Five tracks is simply not enough to keep players occupied for months on end. With the original 2006 Super Bikes, which had only six tracks, I had to stretch the software very, very thin to derive sufficient value. I don’t want SB3, a flashy (and likely expensive) 2019 title to feel the same.
I do, however, understand that we won’t see too many more tracks added this close to production. That said, I would still like to see content added through free online updates. While I’m not the biggest fan of relying on post-launch DLC, a barebones experience can almost always be saved in that way. And it’s a great way to encourage repeat play, too. (Just look at the success Dance Dance Revolution has achieved adding new songs on a regular basis.) In the end, I hope Super Bikes 3 features at least 12 tracks, like the original Fast and the Furious did way back in 2004. What I really want, though, is the return of most (if not all) courses from each previous entry and maybe a few more brand-new tracks. If Super Cars could do it in 2010, I hope Super Bikes can do it now.
With all of these potential tracks, I’d also like to see a real single-player mode. The Fast and the Furious: DRIFT allows for one player to blaze through the seven new Japanese courses to reach the credits and achieve some sort of real ending. While it may seem pointless to some—after all, who plays arcade racers for the single-player content?—it’s more than necessary for gamers like myself. Sometimes, I’ll stumble across a lone F&F: DRIFT cabinet and have no choice but to play by myself. That title, however, provides something greater to sustain my interest. I’m still racing CPUs alone, but I have some sort of overarching goal: getting to the end and “beating” the game. Unless the single-player mode hasn’t yet been announced, Super Bikes 3 doesn’t seem to offer any approximation of this experience.
At the end of the day, I’m hoping for something more than “Race from Point-A to Point-B over and over again,” because that’s what depth of content is all about. Like achievements in Super Cars—which I’d also like to see return in SB3—campaigns give players extra goals to chase after. Neither Cruis’n Blast nor X-Games Snow Boarder featured any additional modes (be it campaigns, time trials, ghost modes, or something else) and thusly felt kind of empty when played solo. These are the simple things that ensure a game lasts for years to come. The stuff that keeps players coming back, ya know?
Beyond that, there are some other little, nitpicky things I’d like to see, such as more characters, more bikes and online profile saves (the latter of which hasn’t been confirm or denied just yet). My biggest request, though, is simply more to do. I want Super Bikes 3, like most of the series before it, to be a title I can spend hours upon hours with. I want it to be so chock-full of content that I will not have seen everything in 15 minutes. Adding more tracks and single-player modes, in my eyes, is the perfect way to accomplish this. As it stands, I think I’ll have fun with the five available tracks, but I don’t think I’ll stick around forever.
While I do know Super Bikes 3 is bound to be a more than enjoyable experience like all Raw Thrills racers, I also think it’s okay to expect a little more from proven developers. We know the studio is more than capable of crafting deeper experiences. We know they can beef up their games. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like SB3 is poised to do so. That’s why, either before release or as continuous DLC post-launch, I want this title to be more. More than fun; more than a quick, casual experience. Sure, Raw Thrills racers have never been Maximum Tune or Initial D, but they were something grander than what we’re seeing now. I trust their developing might and hope to see it funnelled into deeper experiences going forward.
Graphically, Super Bikes 3 is absolutely gorgeous. And what we have seen of the tracks in gameplay footage looks absolutely sick. Still, I can't help but long for a broader selection. Maybe I’m out-of-touch—and maybe I’m not the typical, modern arcade gamer—but I sure do know what makes a thorough experience. Exciting base gameplay, when enhanced by rich content, is unlike anything else. But with all that being said, I’m looking forward to good things in the future.
Keep it real, ya sweaty nerds.