The first in a series looking at classic racing games which really deserve a current generation update features TT Superbikes, a game which still has gamers eager for a sequel posting on the official forum 6 years after it was released for the Playstation 2. How often can you say that about a non-MMO game?
The reason for the fanatiscism is simple – TT Superbikes was the closest thing to a perfect simulation of motorcycle handling that has appeared on any console, and pretty much on any computer as far as we’re aware. Other games may have surpassed it visually, and certainly in the 6 years since we’ve seen some stunning motorcycle racing games on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but noone has quite nailed the handling model in a way which really conveys the feeling of excitement and fun that you get on two wheels.
Not only did some of the development team, Jester Interactive, actually race bikes, but when I had the chance to speak to them in one of my previous jobs, they revealed they were huge fans of 250cc two-stroke bikes, and owned a couple. That’s possibly what seperated TT Superbikes from its closet rival, Tourist Trophy, which was produced by the far larger Polyphony Digital under the creative lead of bike racing Polyphony man Takamasa Shichisawa. When your obsession is the legendary class of bike famed for its cornering prowess, it gives even more reason to really nail the handling and cornering of bikes tackling the legendary Isle of Man TT course.
So why a new version of TT Superbikes?
So why would we beg, pray, and promise to fund a remake of TT Superbikes if we ever win the Euromillions lottery? It’s simple – in addition to the awesome handling, the immense Isle of Man TT circuit, and the fact that graphically we’ve come an amazing distance in the console generation since the game was released, there’s an element which I mentioned to the team back in 2005 as an original Xbox owner.
The actual Isle of Man TT races feature riders being sent from the start line at regular intervals rather than a massed start. This means you could theoretically have a persistant race world in which games come online and start racing at any time, with times etc updated in real-time in a similar fashion to the Need for Speed Autolog.
Imagine taking on the 37 mile course in solitude, just as a real racer would, and either seeing times updating each lap for your friends who have started earlier or later, or even being caught by someone who started 2 or 3 minutes behind you, just as can happen in the real race?
Give us global leaderboards, an in-game Autolog, some type of level progression for bikes, classes and riders, and some type of spectator mode with similar camera views around the course to normal TV coverage, with feeds out to online video sites.
In fact, it’s a shame that the motorcycle developers of the time couldn’t have made some type of bike game supergroup, as the perfect solution would be bike models by Polyphony Digital, the online lobby and multiplayer set up by Climax Racing (later Black Rock and now defunct), and all the handling by Jester.
Of course MotoGP has come a long way, and the current Capcom MotoGP 10/11 incarnation is pretty much the best yet – meanwhile Milestone have continued their 20-year World Superbike obsession and SBK 2011 is also damn good, and is pretty much the best handling motorcycle game of recent times. But even now, we’re clamouring for Jester to return with the kind of bike control only normally available to John McGuinness or Joey Dunlop…