Namco Bandai is bringing an all new line up of muscled speed machines for players to use and abuse, and a brand new 3D engine in its newest release in the Ridge Racer Series. While this entry in the series doesn’t bring the punch of a Grand Turismo title, the use of the new 3D graphics engine should be enough to make any racing fan smile.
The Ridge Racer franchise has always been about high speeds and breakneck action stuffed into an arcade-like experience, and this game is no exception. Fans will be happy to hear that many of the tracks that have become staples of the series will be returning in this handheld 3D version. With the old comes the new as Namco Bandai brings just enough fresh and exciting features to keep things feeling fun. One of which is a new drift button allowing the players to float through otherwise tough drifting maneuvers.
Players expecting speed right from the get go might be disappointed to know that while the second half of the game is all about adrenalin pumping racing, the first half starts at more of a walk that builds momentum until the second category of cars is unlocked. Once that second stage is hit the player better buckle up and hold on. Like most games in the genre, Ridge Racer 3D is centered around the basic principles of any good racer. These principles are slip-stream driving, drifting, and boosting.
Most players will be familiar with those terms, but those who are new to the genre might not feel comfortable with the them, so here is the low down. Slip-stream racing is all about closing in on your competition and riding their coat tails until a small meter fills granting you a small boost of speed which will allow you to slingshot past your opposition. Drifting can occur when you release the acceleration while cornering and holding the drift button down. This will allow you cut corners at a sharp angle while simultaneously maintaining speed. Boosting is a nitrous-like ability that allows the players to fill a meter when certain actions are preformed during the race and can be used to give the player that extra added speed needed to pass opponents and possibly win the race.
While Ridge Racer 3D is a new step in 3D racing, the graphics are rather plain and show their age, but with that being said, the cars are rendered pleasingly and the backgrounds jump with color. The controls are your normal racing controls, with the mentioned “drift” button as the only addition, and are tight and feel precise in your hands. With the lack of any kind of online mode though, Ridge Racer 3D feels like it could have appealed to a broader range of players if it had included one.
That being said, the game brings a handful of playable modes to the table, several of which take advantage of the new utilities built into the 3DS itself such as the Street Pass ability that allows you to download ghost car images of your friends to race against, and the four player races tend to spice things up a bit as well. The core of the game revolves around Grand Prix Tour mode and the standard Time Attack, while single races, and Quick Tour modes help round out the choices. While winning races is fun, the true reward for all those hard hours of grinding out the same map comes in the form of cash prizes that can be used to purchase even faster speed machines.
Ridge Racer 3D is not the breakaway hit that will fly off the shelves as soon as they are stocked, but more of a solid compliment to the starting line-up of Nintendo’s latest handheld gaming machine. The game will be a welcome addition to anyone who is just getting their taste for burning rubber and tight head to head racing and a nice fall back for those who usually want a little more.
Ridge Racer's fantastic 3D graphics are incredibly immersive and the controls are very precise, allowing for new and old players to easily pick up and enjoy this one.