Ridge Racer 3D (3DS)

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Once again Ridge Racer is a launch title for a new console. This time it’s Ridge Racer we all know, but in 3D. If you’ve played a recent Ridge Racer you will know the deal: fast racing that’s all about saving up nitrous, slipstreaming and timing your boosts to perfection. Braking is not necessary here – drift and you’ll go around any corner at full speed. The difficulty and skill comes in keeping up with the speed of everything, especially in the later races.

Ridge Racer 3D is an evolution of Ridge Racer 6 and 7, and in fact feels a little too similar to those titles while being scaled back for the portable format. The 3D effect is great, and really does add to the experience of speed, but other than that the game feels much the same as before with very little in the way of new content.

Ridge Racer 3D Screenshot 1

Bare bones

The game structure is bare bones – there are a set of Grand Prix cups, each with four races in them. To win the Grand Prix you must win the 4th race and to get through to the 4th race you must be in the top few places in all the races before that. Races are rigged: when you start you’re in 8th place and a set distance behind the leader, and to win you must pass the leader by the end of the 3rd lap. The other racers don’t really race you or each other, they simply go around the circuit at a seemingly set pace. For the first two race categories I was able to cruise around and win by a long way each time. In the third category – the intermediate Grand Prix – the challenge began, but that was a full four hours into the game, and very often it would still be a breeze. This is not to say I’m all that good, but rather that the difficulty is not adaptive at all which makes the races less interesting – you almost might as well be doing time trials. The other cars do get in the way when you try to pass and are useful for slipstreaming (racing up behind them to get a speed boost), so you would miss them if they weren’t there, but they don’t add that much to the racing experience.

Ridge Racer 3D Screenshot 2

3D and analogue – the standout features are in the hardware

Two very noticeable things that the 3DS adds to the portable Ridge Racer experience are the 3D screen and the analogue control. The 3D screen is the most obvious new feature, and it really does make a difference to the immersion and sense of speed. Buildings and bridge zoom past as your car races into the screen – I turned the 3D dial all the way up to play this game and it really helps to gauge distances and adds to the visceral enjoyment. Fortunately the graphics are up to scratch too, and the action is very fluid. The analogue control is fantastic too – I hope beyond hope for an F-Zero game on the 3DS as I think this analogue stick is up to the task of the finest control movements. Ridge Racer 3D is very responsive, just like its console predecessors. The responsiveness and sense of speed are a great combination as one feeds the other – this is a game where you get into a zone and perform driving feats you didn’t think possible. In reality it’s exactly the way the game was designed, but it still feels like you’re achieving something when you put in a flawless lap.

Ridge Racer 3D Screenshot 3

All the various nitrous features from Ridge Racer 7 are in the game, so there is a little variety to be found. Some nitrous tanks fill up when you drift, others while you drive normally, some have 3 tanks, some have 4, some fill up more when you do an Ultimate Charge just as you come out of using a nitrous boost. The variety is needed because the tracks are reused over and over – there are 15 or so but there are so many 4-race Grand Prix’s to complete that you soon feel like there are just a few that are recycled. There are also a number of different cars, but other than their drifting style (mild, normal or dynamic), they don’t really feel that different to one another. As you race you collect credits and unlock more cars, Grand Prix’s, tracks, car upgrades and nitrous kits. There is copious content, it just has monotony to it after a while because there’s not enough differentiation between it all.

Ridge Racer 3D Screenshot 4

Ridge Racer 3D is a solid launch title in that it shows the capabilities of the 3DS well. Cartridges are now up to the task of presenting a lot of content (although still not nearly as much as a Blu-ray or DVD), the graphics engine is solid and the 3D effects are brilliant. The analogue stick is perfect for controlling your car. There is quite a bit of voicework in game but it gets annoying after the announcer says the same thing for the 50th time and you can actually start predicting what she’s going to say next. There’s also some ok music and there are definitely some car sounds happening, but the sound didn’t stand out nearly as much as the graphics. It’s a good showcase for the system, and it’s a fun, if a little repetitive, arcade racer. Ridge Racer fans will not be disappointed. Others will have fun for a few hours but I suspect will lose interest fairly quickly.

Ridge Racer 3D Screenshot 5