Rider’s Spirits – Someone’s Dream Port

I had no idea Rider’s Spirits existed until a few days ago.

Rider’s Spirits is a port of the 1994 SNES racing game of the same name, albeit in Japanese. Copying Mario Kart is nothing new (or interesting), but let’s see what else this port offers.

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Yeah, I’m sure that’s the best use of that screen-space

So, What Is It?

This is a straight port of the 1994 game with English localization.

It’s a weaker version of the SNES Mario Kart and I would really struggle to say much more than that.

There are 8 selectable characters, all of which have differing stats (though that information has to be gleaned through gameplay as it’s not shown anywhere), there are 4 championship cups (all of which can only be unlocked by placing first in the previous cup), and there are 20 tracks.

The problem with there being 20 tracks is that the game doesn’t have that many ideas, so instead of having 20 somewhat unique tracks spread over the 4 cups (difficulties), it instead just slightly remixes the previous 5 tracks into something which could technically be considered different.

For example, that turn you made in the last cup may now be slightly obstructed by a few tiles of water, or a larger barrier. They feel very homebrewed, and while there is a noticeable difference between the Rookie tracks and their Championship counterparts, the change is so incremental that you never really notice it. It’s like a design version of the frog in boiling water problem. Too little, too late.

One positive thing which helps separate this game from Mario Kart is the mode variety. You have the standard time trial and tournament, but the other modes are sort of interesting. There’s an Endurance mode which has you try to keep your top spot over the course of several minutes while keeping an eye on your fuel gauge and making sure to hit a pitstop if you’re running low.

There’s a 2-player Battle Race mode, as well as a 2-player Chicken Run mode. This is a fun novelty where you have to speed towards the end of a finite road and stop as close to the edge as possible.

C’mon pit crew!

90s Design Choices

This is basically impossible to review. 90s games are often too old to be fairly scrutinized under a modern lens, but there are some things here that I did find legitimately odd considering this is the first port of this game.

The game has absolutely no tutorial. Long gone are the halcyon days of renting a game and smashing your head against its opaque mechanics because that’s all you had to occupy your weekend.

Nowadays, it would have been nice to know that you have to pull into a pitstop to get weapons, or that the fuel gauge is in no way relevant to the standard tournament mode. Perhaps this is on me for not going to the link in the art gallery which leads to a Japanese ONLY pdf of the original manual, but I think there could have been a compromise on their part to actually let me know what the game expects of me. The game hasn’t been available for 30 years so I’m confident that almost nobody will know that the wheelie maneuver is ESSENTIAL for winning the cup on any difficulty higher than Rookie.

In fact, it also would have been nice if the top half of the screen conveyed information that was in any way useful. In my 2+ hours of playing, I don’t think the rear-view has ever helped.

Rev the engine. No fear

Extra Features

This port does at least offer some accessibility and customization features.

You can rewind the game to adjust small mistakes, and you can remap the controls so that it doesn’t feel as though you’re trying to trick your brain into believing you’re holding a SNES controller.

There are also some visual options which allow you to smooth the game, change the aspect ratio, and apply a CRT filter. Nothing major, but at least it’s here.

One strange inclusion is the art. You can view the original cover art, some stills, as well as the original manual, but there’s so little here that it almost doesn’t feel worth including.

The death of many a friendship


This game is very cheap. If you are someone who has fond memories of playing this game on your Super Famicom back in the 90s and you have absolutely no access to any form of emulation or original hardware, then go for it.

It’s a 1994 game that feels like it. It has a few hours of fun and not much else, but that’s what video games used to be, and it’s all they really need to be.


  • Unmistakable 90s art
  • Fun 2-player modes
  • A smattering of bonus features


  • Not a lot of game here
  • Lack of any tutorial or helpful information
  • Obviously old design philosophy

Rider's Spirits


There's nothing here that isn't done better elsewhere, and – outside of nostalgia – I can't really think of any reason why someone would play this nowadays.