Ridge Racer 3D

March 30, 2011

Anyone who has tried out a 3DS quickly realizes that the system’s particular brand of 3D lends itself well to a few specific genres. Flight games? Oh yeah. Augmented reality? That too. Most especially, though, three dimensions make a racing game really shine. That depth perception, while making most games immersive, actually helps the control of the game itself in racing titles, as you see the walls coming at you and the cars zip past. Why? We’ve been training ourselves all our lives to judge that stuff. 

So to Ridge Racer 3D, one of two racing games available at the 3DS launch, and one with an impressive-if-infamous pedigree. Lately, the series is always found revving its engines at the starting line of a system’s lifespan, and the focus on pure speed often means it’s obscured a bit by the time the next launch rolls around.

We think people should stop forgetting the game’s really quite good.

Ridge Racer‘s brand of pure drift-and-draft speed may not be as exciting as a Burnout-style or Blur-esque action-racer, and it doesn’t have the authenticity of a sim like Gran Turismo. The result is the game equivalent of an electable candidate: not the favorite of many, but most can agree it’s fun and worth your time. 

In the weeks leading to the game’s release, Ridge Racer 3D has gotten knocks for how it looks in screenshots, and we don’t blame the critics. In motion, though, the game is nice and smooth. The low polygon count allows for lots of on-screen action and interesting lighting effects, and what those don’t make up are compensated for by the fact that the screen’s still not that large.

The car mix is a little more friendly to the average person this time. Namco has thrown in a lot more American muscle cars, and there are some interesting choices for those who like a bit of quirk in their rides. Each car has a ton of color choices and paint jobs, so it’s easy to make your car your own.

There are a few things that hold Ridge Racer back. For one thing, that announcer is, put as nicely as we can, an obnoxious presence that we want to strangle. If we hear one more thing about our slipstream or our opponent’s slipstream or how well we’re using a slipstream, we’ll flip. (Thankfully for the safety of the Namco Bandai voice acting talent, you can turn the volume of the announcer all the way down. And you should do it immediately upon inserting the card.)  Besides that, we really wish Namco could have stepped up to the plate with an online multiplayer option. The game’s engine seems like it would have held up fine, and the system’s launch strategy means many are, for a bit, almost alone in their device ownership. Still, local multiplayer is handled well, and in what has become a launch game caveat, what did get put into the game is handled well.

The 3DS is good at racers. That inevitably means there will be a better game than this eventually. It may be a while though, and if Ridge Racer lasts you even halfway to that other game’s release, it will be well worth your money.

Pros: Smooth racing, interesting customization options

Cons: There’s an announcer? We have no idea what you’re talking about. We especially didn’t hear anything about a slipstream.


Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.