I breathed a small sigh of relief when first playing Ridge Racer. It was technically the second game to go in my 3DS after a very brief play of Super Monkey Ball which was starting to make me worry about my purchase. Then I jumped into my first race in Ridge Racer and I was immediately reminded why I was so excited for the 3DS’s release. The 3D effect is just right; the potential eye strain a fleeting memory after a short time and the actual experience is excellent fun.[drop]Ridge Racer 3DS is best seen as a compilation of numerous past games. While there are a few new tracks here, for the most part you’ll see familiar tracks of old. This isn’t a problem if you haven’t played a Ridge Racer title in a while though. Instead it becomes a fond walk down memory lane when you come across a much loved track or music track that reminds you of the good old days. Brief nostalgic ramble aside, it’s good. It’s solid. Perhaps a little safe but in a good way. There are new cars too, inspired by real cars rather than the genuine article, but it’s more a reminder that Ridge Racer is about driving ridiculously fast rather than tweaking your car engine and gear ratios.
Indeed, before each race you can purchase power ups to speed up your start as well as nitrous boosts to use throughout the race. Clearly the sign of a game more concerned about being fun than realistic. Just how any Ridge Racer title should be. There’s no such thing as braking or slowing down in Ridge Racer 3DS. There might be brake buttons to apply but you’ll only be using these to powerslide your way around each corner, thus increasing your boost power just in time to unleash it upon the straights. It’s not long before you realise that the speed involved is making you grip onto your console a teensy bit too hard for comfort. Fortunately the circle pad comes into its own in terms of providing comfort for your fingers.
The main meat of the game is the Grand Prix mode, offering a series of competitions in which you can race to your heart’s content aiming to reach each qualifying position. As you progress, you get a choice of which path to take adding a slight non-linear element to proceedings. Plus there’s the bonus of unlocking new cars and tracks as you work your way through. The learning curve is just right, at first feeling remarkably simple to win a race. Once you reach the end of the Beginner’s Grand Prix stage however, there’s the hint of a challenge emerging, encouraging you more and more to improve. By the end, you’ll have memorised each track in order to shave those precious milliseconds off your time.[drop2]Other modes are a little less enthralling. There’s typical single races and time trail options, as well as a versus mode. The versus mode is where you realise that while there’s local multiplayer functionality, there’s no sign of online multiplayer. A slightly criminal oversight that’s bound to disappoint. You can at least use StreetPass to collect ghosts from other players so you can compete with them in a way. That’s assuming you find someone on your travels; something that I’ve found difficult to do in my slightly provincial hometown. Bringing up the rear is the Tour mode which allows you to specify how long you’ve got available to play and provides you with a series of tracks depending on that time limit as well as the kind of experience you want.
Ridge Racer 3DS’s arcade nature ensures that the commentators are similarly over the top. A slightly irritating American voice enthusiastically shouts at you if you’re not driving fast enough or if it feels that you should be doing better. It is slightly irritating but then again it adds to the arcade feel to the title so it can be forgiven. The 3D effects are great, rarely feeling too blurry and feeling particularly smart when racing through water or when leaves hit the screen as you speed through. Once you turn the 3D slider down though, you’ll notice how slightly bland and plain the tracks actually are. Everything feels flat and I don’t just mean in terms of lack of dimensions.
- 3D effect is spot on
- Plenty to do
- Sense of speed is impressive
- Tour mode provides customised experience
- No online multiplayer
- Poor 2D graphics
- Compilation of older tracks might disappoint some
Despite the slightly poor 2D graphics which you can easily bypass by using your 3DS as it’s intended to be used, Ridge Racer 3DS is a fantastic launch title for the system. Sure, it might lack online multiplayer which is a terrible shame, but its single player offers a great experience that’s terrific fun. There’s plenty to do and the constant completion percentage marker will remind you just how much you’ve got left to do. It’s fast, it’s frantic and it’s furious fun indeed.