Ridge Racers (Import)

January 7, 2005

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/ridgeracersimport/cover.jpg[/floatleft]And lo’, another console was unleashed upon the masses of Japan, the Far East clamouring to receive the dark, black purveyor of portable power. With it came the generic titles of inevitability, be they a golfing simulator, or, in the case of this obtuse disk, [i]Ridge Racers[/i]. However, one must not become detained by the disappointment of the Nintendo DS’ sordid touch-screen-wheel-wrenching tomfoolery.

No, [i]Ridge Racers[/i] on the PSP is a rather different experience altogether. In fact, I would not be hard-pressed to say that [i]Ridge Racers[/i] on the PSP is one of the smoothest racing experiences in console history, let alone in the portable gaming war. It is truly the slick, gleaming yin to Nintendo’s clunky, almost depressing yang.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/ridgeracersimport/ss06_thumb.jpg[/floatright]This is justified by the satisfying control you seem to exert over the vehicle. With the use of the analog stick, easing around corners at high speeds is an experience no longer akin to extracting blood from a stone-and in this case, ease is the operative word. No longer is it the case that the portability of a game saps from its absorption, its depth, and its ability to produce a satisfactory driving experience. The handling of cars in [i]Ridge Racers[/i] is as enjoyable and enticing as [i]Burnout 3[/i], except without the unbearable screeching of our friend Stryker.

Graphically, [i]Ridge Racers[/i] is something to behold. In comparison to any other portable game seen before it, it is a visual treat from the outset-the FMV intro a marvellous precursor to the visual feast that you are treated to upon entering the game. Strengthened by the PSP’s wide screen, cars rocket past at 60 FPS, speeding through colorful urban environs and lush vistas as you hang on for dear life. Hurtling over a hill, turning slightly as you do, and landing perfectly to turn a corner at full speed never looked, or felt, as good on a portable console.

However, while the game is as stylish as one would expect from Namco, it has enough content to keep even the most ardent racer going for many, many hours. While at first the tracks seem somewhat repetitive as you deal with the first set of basic challenges, you will discover a veritable automotive cornucopia-more cars, races, and hilariously-named challenges.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/ridgeracersimport/ss03_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]Something that cannot go without mention is the quality of the music in the game. While not made up of our favorite rock and pop artists, A