Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Ridge Racer 3D

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

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            It seems to be becoming something of a tradition for Namco Bandai Games to deliver a Ridge Racer titles within the launch window of a new console. Everything from the PlayStation to the Xbox 360, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) to the original Nintendo DS has received it’s own unique vision of the classic arcade racing game, and so it comes as no surprise that there’s another instalment for the Nintendo 3DS already. Ridge Racer 3D operates within one of the most popular videogame genres, but on the Nintendo 3DS it’s also one of the most contested.

            The game is presented with a degree of flair. After more than a decade of big selling releases Ridge Racer has plenty of reasons to be confident about trying something new, and Ridge Racer 3D does justElectronic Theatre Image that. It retains the same drift-heavy racing set-up as every one of its predecessors, but there’s more to it this time around: a minimal amount of customisation that actually has a significant effect on the gameplay.

             There’s two options in particular that can alter the way in which you play Ridge Racer 3D, and each player will certainly find their preferred combination after just a few races. Nitro boost is charged by drifting and stored in containers, up to three of which can be filled. The player can launch a single, double or triple boost dependent on how many containers are filled. The customisation comes before the race, in the choice of which nitro kit you wish to use. There is a series of different nitro kits available, more earned by winning races, which can improve certain aspects of the nitro system: offering more boost charge on drifts for example.

            The second customisable aspect is the execution off drifts. By default, drifting is executed in the traditional fashion, easing on and off the accelerator while entering the corner. However, if the players opts for automatic transmission they can also choose to have one-button drifting: a throwback to the 16-bit home conversions of arcade racing games in which the player holds a second button along with the accelerator to maintain the drift and releasing it to return to standard clutch driving.

            As interesting as these two mechanics are, that’s about the limit of Ridge Racer 3D’s inventiveness. The game offers a wide range of gameplay modes, from Grand Prix stages to One-Make races, limiting the car manufacturers that your vehicle can be chosen from, and of course multiplayer gameplay. Unfortunately, the delivery of Ridge Racer 3D’s in-game action is so mediocre that it’s unlikely any of these game modes will hold your attention for a significant amount of time.

            The game’s artificial intelligence (AI) opponents seem to have been designed to work to the clock, instead of against the player. Repeating the same race with the same set-up and the same vehicle will typically find the AI driving at the same speed as on your previous attempts, putting up the same challenge and rarely deviating from Electronic Theatre Imagetheir preset course. What’s more, the sense of momentum is clearly lacking: regardless of what vehicle the player is driving, it’s rare the player will worry about the level of control they have under high speeds. The only real tension Ridge Racer 3D offers comes from the multiplayer, which is limited to multi-card local play.

            OF course, being on the Nintendo 3DS console one of the highlights should be the stereoscopic 3D visuals. However, Ridge Racer 3D is such a bland presentation that it really doesn’t add much to the game. This is the one area in which Ridge Racer 3D is outclassed by the competition on Nintendo 3DS: Asphalt 3D may not have been a groundbreaking racing title, but at least it offered some detailed backdrops for the action.

            An inherently flawed game, Ridge Racer 3D is best consumed in small doses: it’s entertainment that won’t last as long as your investment in the game. Despite this significantly disappointing design, Ridge Racer 3D is still the most presentable racing game on the Nintendo 3DS at present simply for showing some spark of originality. It’s by no means a game that’ll sell the hardware by itself, but as one of the most commonly discounted Nintendo 3DS titles at present, you could do worse than choose Ridge Racer 3D to tide you over until some truly inspiring software arrives.


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