Riding Spirits

Overview

One of those genres in gaming that has always been a popular one is racing. You have multitude of racing game styles, ranging from arcade racers like Ridge Racer and Burnout, futuristic racers like Wipeout and Kinetica, and also the most popular of all, simulations like the Gran Turismo series. Shifting focus to two-wheeled racers, can Riding Spirit tempt us in giving it a shot, and could it even compete with the big guns? Read on.

Gameplay

My favorite racing title on the PS2, and really of all time was Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec. It’s the Gran Turismo series that I feel really brought the racing genre to full force, and I feel Riding Spirits really tries to imitate it, but on a motorcycle.

Riding Spirits has all the basic game modes - a Quick Race, a Head To Head mode, and the Riding Spirits mode. If you are familiar with the GT series, the Riding Spirit’s mode works the same way as the GT’s Simulation mode. You win as many races as you can to buy the best bikes so you can make it through all of the races, and really the main goal is to win them all.

If this sounds good to you, that’s great but there is one minor problem I had with Riding Spirits. It’s just too hard to win a race. I am fine with it being a true simulation game, but it just isn’t fun. I have never found losing fun, and when I am struggling to keep a good place in a race that I have been playing for thirty minutes, then that’s just not what I call entertainment.

I found out of all the modes in the game, the head to head mode actually to be the most enjoyable mode on the game. It can be rather fun watching your friends play the game for the first time and watching them crash into wall after wall after wall.

Riding Spirits controls were really not that bad. I felt that the buttons were in the best places possible, but steering the bike couldn’t be harder. Since this is a simulation, I do give credit to BAM for making this a true simulation, but the game was pretty hard on my analog sticks.

I am not sure if BAM! Just conveniently forgot about the sound aspects of Riding Spirits or what, but there is literally nothing good to talk about when it comes to how Riding Spirits sounds. I feel that they did a great job with the sound effects - the sound of the bikes revving at the start and throughout the race is quite realistic. But why is there no music during the races themselves? Even the most realistic racer, the GT series have music while in the races. Without any kind of music, the sound effects take center stage, which get quite annoying after you’re racing for the umpteenth time. The only time there is any music is during the replays, and that too sounds pretty washed out. Apparently the sound can be adjusted anytime during the game - Rizal)

Graphics

One of the best and worst parts both come from the same category. The graphics of Riding Spirits goes both ways. I will start with the good. The bikes of Riding Spirits were extremely detailed and very well drawn out. They all have there own nice features, and are really the best part of the game.

With that said, there always comes a bad, and the graphics are no exception to that. If you remember any of your favorite racing titles, usually one of the key things besides gameplay is the course design. This is where Riding Spirits falls down a cliff. The developers of Riding Spirits really has really put all their efforts onto the bikes and left out any detail on the courses themselves, which is an integral part of any racing game. All the courses of the game was lackluster and uninspiring, to say the least. I truthfully felt that with some better looking courses, it really may have helped this game flow a little better then how it does.

Fun Factor

Riding Spirits, to put it plain and simple, is too hard for my taste. The game can be so frustrating that I had to take 5-10 minute intervals during races. The feeling of winning was great, but the feeling of losing, because of one error can really get to you. Hardcore fans of motorbike racing could get some enjoyment from this game, but for an average gamer like me, the game’s steep learning curve, ultra-realistic game physics and unforgiving computer AI just steers me away from continuing with play.

Overall

This game really had a lot of things it could have done better. Being the first simulation racer on two wheels, Riding Spirits comes out with a mixed bag. While great emphasis has been placed on the simulation aspect of Riding Spirits, they apparently forgot to include the fun factor. Only hardcore fans and race junkies will get anything from this game. If you really must play the game, I recommend a rental first as there are more racing titles out there that deserve your money.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.