Planet Riders 3D
| Planet Riders 3D

Michael Schumacher's career wouldn't last longer than the first corner of the next Grand Prix if Formula 1 borrowed one of the ideas from Planet Riders 3D. You see, these futuristic racing games, including Wipeout, System Rush and Red Out Racer, have cottoned onto something. Namely, that motor racing is much more fun when the participants are heavily armed with heat-seeking missiles and the like.

That's a lot shorter than your career in Planet Riders 3D will be. Eschewing the binds of gravity and reality, it straps you into the cockpit of a high-falutin' flying jet-car thingy (you know the sort by now) that you use to race at insane speeds around winding tracks in the far-flung future.

Along the way you'll pick up weapons, speed boosts, health packs and, hopefully, points by finishing before your five rivals. It's really nothing new, and if you've played any of the games that have so clearly inspired it (listed above) you'll immediately be familiar with what Planet Riders 3D has to offer.

If you haven't, you can expect racing craft that handle like a cross between a fighter jet and a hovercraft, tight racing action and plenty of explosive ordnance. The races are all set on a different planet, starting with the Inner Rim series, that includes Earth, the Moon, Mercury and Venus, though you'll be pushed to tell which is which as you never actually set foot or see the planet's surface.

Instead you're racing on what looks like a paved rollercoaster track. We've never come across a collection of tracks as nausea-inducing as this and we couldn't race the Earth circuit more than once without taking an hour off to regain our composure.

This is partly down to the speed of the game. While we're sceptical over developer Fishlabs' claims that Planet Riders 3D will run at 30 frames per second (it reaches it occasionally on a high-end Nokia, it certainly didn't look like it on our test workhorse, the Sony Ericsson k700i), it still runs at a fair old lick and, combined with the sweeping curves and severe gradient changes, is enough to make you feel quite ill.

It's not enough to stop you coming back for more, though, particularly when Planet Riders 3D looks and plays as good as it does. Each of the racing craft has their own particular strengths and weaknesses and their own individual look. Each draws on an aircraft of some sort (the American craft bears an uncanny resemblance to the Blackbird spy plane, for instance) while others are influenced by World War 2 fighters and they are all wonderfully detailed.

They handle pretty well, too, and while you will bounce from one side of the track to the other it's more a result of the limited horizon that you can see. It would have been incredibly useful if Fishlabs had provided warning signs like many other racing games do – given that the game runs on as small a screen as it does, it's quite an oversight.

Still, it doesn't spoil the enjoyment that's to be had. Even the soundtrack is bearable (which, for a mobile phone game, is high praise indeed) and the presentation is as polished as a grown-up home console game. It all makes Planet Riders 3D that rarest of things: a proper grown-up mobile phone game that's worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the console games that inspired it. Even if it does make you feel like you want to throw up.

Planet Riders 3D

Slick and sick-making in equal measure, this is a fantastic 3D racer if you've got the stomach for it