QubicGames has previously found success through delivering unique content to Nintendo platforms via the Nintendo eShop, and with AiRace Speed the small Warsaw studio doesn’t appear to be changing this strategy. Set to launch this autumn AiRace Speed is designed to build on the highlights of previous titles in the franchise while making use of the Nintendo 3DS’ unique features. From the preview build Electronic Theatre witnessed it would be hard to suggest that it doesn’t succeed in doing this.
Presented as a ‘tunnel racer’ AiRace Speed is an abstract experience that is more concerned with the player’s ability to analyse the environment than the desire to maintain speed. As a timed challenge travelling fast is of course important, but your score will invariably be better if you complete the stage without crashing as opposed to putting your foot down and sprinting through regardless of the collisions it may result in. There is a time penalty for every heavy crash or collision after the loss of your shield – and the penalty does increase in later levels – so learning the ins-and-outs of each of the stages is more important than mastering the handling.
Which is just as well, as AiRace Speed is not an immediately accessible racing title. Its various craft handle with far greater delicacy than any Mario Kart title and the demands placed upon the player when cornering significantly surpass those of WipEout. You are not a racing driver, you are a pilot, and as such you must navigate height in equal measure to driving line and speed; you must pivot with the same appropriation as you turn. It’s fast and it’s hard, but its most certainly meant to be.
For those players who are gluttons for punishment AiRace Speed also offers touchscreen control. The videogame feels remarkably different when using the touchscreen to guide your craft, and yet – while it takes far greater adjustment – it also feels as though micro-management of your position is far easier. A tap to the left or right can often send you into a panic as your veer of course on a corner, but here with the touchscreen it’s much more forgiving. Or, at least, you’re given a greater window of opportunity to rectify your mistake.
AiRace Speed will offer sixteen tracks in its basic set-up, plus two endless tracks which offer three lives in a distance challenge. Five crafts will be available to takes on this challenge along with all of the expected dressing for a time challenge racing videogame: stage ranking, online leaderboards and in-game achievements. Qubic Games are no stranger to Nintendo’s modern platforms, and it’s clear that they’ll be bringing this expertise to the Nintendo 3DS when AiRace Speed launches later this month.