This year has seen many big name releases coming to Nintendo 3DS, offering complex videogame experiences on par to home console titles. The likes of Luigi’s Mansion 2, Fire Emblem: Awakening and Animal Crossing: New Leaf have changed the pace of the Nintendo 3DS’ software catalogue by redefining exactly what is expected of the console. Sometimes, however, there’s room for something a bit easier too access. Disposable software that’s fun in ten minute bursts and then forgotten about moments later. AiRace Speed is exactly this kind of software: easy to pick-up and equally so to put down.
Available only via the Nintendo eShop, AiRace Speed is a videogame that’s made for anyone to be able to play almost instantly. It’s difficult, there’s no doubt about that, but the visual indicators are such that you always know where you went wrong, and are keen to overcome the issue next time around. Despite what the visual design might suggest this isn’t WipEout or F-Zero, nor it is Forsaken: AiRace Speed is a simple text of reaction speed and hand-eye co-ordination.
The long-and-short of AiRace Speed is the need to reach the finish line in as quick a time as possible, preferably in one piece. This is a videogame based entirely on time trial gameplay; there are no other racers to compete against on-track nor any human competition. Each track gas a three star rating, with the first star available simply for managing to cross the finish line, thus ensuring that players won’t be unnecessarily stuck on a track unable to progress.
Speed is of the essence in AiRace Speed, but going too fast will undoubtedly be your downfall. The tracks are littered with objects that will destroy your vessel upon impact, so the player has to negotiate the best path to take and at which speed they should take it. The twitch controls allow the player to micromanage their position and the angle of their ship, while the brake and nitro functions present the opportunity to fine tune their speed to a lesser extent. AiRace Speed is all about finding the balance between all of these assets as you hurtle down a tunnel past barriers and through tight doors.
In addition to the default control system AiRace Speed offers touchscreen navigation. In truth the touchscreen allows for far greater precision in control, but it’s also far more difficult to get to grips with. Opting for this system is only for the brave – those wishing to shave a second or two off their best time on the hardest tracks – as you’ll no doubt still be wrestling with the system after investing hours into learning its nuances.
AiRace Speed looks very good for a budget Nintendo 3DS release, but this is obviously due to QubicGames’ smart decision to hem it in. The fact that you are racing at high speeds through tunnels means that the amount of objects on-screen at any one time is minimal, and more of the graphics processing power can be spent on the vehicles the player controls. The few moments in which the tracks expand into small courtyard style areas are when AiRace Speed’s visual quality is at its weakest, proving that the art team has made plenty of shrewd decisions when it comes to making a videogame that looks as good as possible on a limited budget.
AiRace Speed isn’t a videogame that’s going to compete with the highlights if the Nintendo 3DS’ software catalogue in any way, but then it was never meant to. This is a filler title, a videogame to enjoy in bitesized moments between big fights and grand adventures, a respite from heated online competition or an aside to a two-hour investment in an all-encompassing role-playing game. In that regard AiRace Speed manages to achieve everything it set out to, and that’s possibly the greatest commendation a wallet-friendly title can receive.