Though variety abounds in the racing genre, the main division in the genre comes down to this: some are more about racing, and some are more about the game. In the 3DS’ launch lineup, there’s one of each, and Asphalt 3D is for those who love the little rewards over a smooth ride.
First, though, let’s get through the bad stuff. Asphalt is clearly a port of an iOS game, and it doesn’t fit that comfortably on the new platform. The game uses 3D in the game itself and in car selection, but the rest is largely untouched, and those elements reuse as many assets as possible. Some things, be them menus or road textures or what have you, seem much lower quality than the system is capable of. The engine still has issues with slowdown, and the problem is compounded with every additional car on the screen. (Good thing you don’t start every race with everyone all there at once! Oh, wait. You do.) To add more problems, the game’s placement of the drift and jump information covers up the top center of the screen, which would be exactly the area you need to see in a racing game.
So Asphalt starts on a bad foundation. It takes the game equivalent of a low-rent apartment and covers the walls with tons of posters, going for fun over quality. The game feels like Burnout, with close calls, jumps and dangerous driving the order of the day. There are boost, repair and money icons scattered across the track to pick up. There are bonuses for finding shortcuts, jumping, dodging traffic and avoiding the cops. To top it off, each race has different primary and secondary objectives, and completing each helps you level up, increasing your rank and unlocking cars, parts and attribute-boosting sponsors. If that weren’t enough, there are over a dozen achievements This comes from the game’s origins in iOS development, where casual gaming principles dictate this type of constant gratification.
Asphalt 3D supports local multiplayer for up to 6 players, as well as StreetPass functionality that allows players to exchange best times. It’s not the online play we hope for, but it’s still something. (And for those who read our Ridge Racer review, Asphalt‘s announcer is, if possible, more annoying, but since she speaks less often it’s really a wash.)
The game beneath is not great, and that’s going to turn many away, especially with the solid foundation of its competitor, Ridge Racer 3D. It is, however, not an entirely wasted effort for those who like their games to be as game-like as possible.