Preview: Ridge Racer 3D

With Nintendo’s highly anticipated next handheld (the 3DS) literally weeks away from launch, it’s been doing the rounds with events set up around the world to give gamers a taste of what’s to come. However, thankfully I did not have to make the trips to New York, Amsterdam or any of the other locations picked for this years series of Nintendo World Events because the 3DS actually came to my little home town of Telford.

There’s not much Telford is famous for apart from The International Centre, a high population of chavs and a fairly good shopping centre. But every year, Telford also plays host to the West Midlands MCM Expo; a huge gathering of animé stalls, manga stalls, cosplayers, films, TV shows, and even a few games. Basically… it’s nerdtopia.

Running over two days, the MCM Expo was extremely special this year as it boasted one of the first official UK appearance of the 3DS. Thankfully I and the hordes of gamers that flocked to try out Nintendo’s brand new 3D, hand-held, miracle machine were not disappointed as a vast array of titles such as Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Super Monkey Ball 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, that were there to try before you buy.

Ridge Racer has been blazing through the streets of Tokyo, New York, and Telford.

Another one of the games on show was Ridge Racer 3D; Nintendo’s token “racing game”, developed in order to cover all the bases. But to be fair, that statement alone seems to give Ridge Racer 3D a disservice.

In a market where franchises and series are constantly jostling for position (see what I did there?), the likes of Forza, Gran Turismo, Burnout, Need for Speed (the list goes on), have become prominent household names, overtaking (there I go again), some of the classic series. Ridge Racer is a prime example of this, so much so in fact that I can’t even remember the last Ridge Racer game that came out, or the last time I played a Ridge Racer game, therefore I can now proclaim the series officially forgotten about.

However, after literally seconds of playing Ridge Racer 3D, I can now remember what a Ridge Racer game is like again. Ridge Racer 3D is classic Ridge Racer, it’s arcade-y, “old school” (although I hate that phrase), and it harks back to a time where racing games were far more simple. In Ridge Racer 3D, you pick your car, track and then you’re off racing against other drivers, beating lap times, picking up nitro and boost pick-ups and trying to win races. No faffing around tuning up your latest sports car, or creating a pile up on a busy motorway.

Of course, in order to keep up with the modern market, some things have changed. Graphically it’s a huge leap forward, and from all the games I managed to see or play, Ridge Racer 3D looks one of the prettiest; everything is so sharp and crisp, yet fluid and smooth at the same time. Unlockable achievements have been added to the mix, so whether it be beating lap times, picking up a boost for that hundredth time or winning your fiftieth race, the game is rewarding you for your dedication and skill.

And of course it’s in 3D.

To get the most out of the 3D effect you may need to tweak the settings

Being half excited and half sceptical over the 3DS and how well the 3D graphics would work before the event, I can safely say that, whilst some games work really well with 3D graphics and others clearly don’t, Ridge Racer 3D works splendidly in 3D. It may take a bit of fiddling about with the 3D slider to get the level of depth just right, but once you do the sense of speed is taken to even higher levels.

No game is without fault, and Ridge Racer 3D has one or two drawbacks that I encountered during my very limited with the game. Racing games on hand-held consoles are famed for having terrible controls and whilst Ridge Racer 3D looks smooth and fluid, it’s controls are what turns the game from a great look back at the older days of racing games, into just a fairly competent racer. The game makes brilliant use of the brand new circle pad control, making the game incredibly accessible, however I found drifting and cornering to be incredibly clunky and messy, which is a shame.

Whilst you can praise Ridge Racer 3D for it’s true to roots, retro racing approach, it doesn’t go any further than that. It certainly doesn’t break any new ground or territory, and the controls aren’t without faults. Ridge Racer 3D is beautiful looking and is set to give 3DS gamers their fix of nostalgia when it’s released in the UK on March 25th.

- Kieran Roycroft

Tue, February 22 2011 » 3DS, Previews

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