Ridge Racer 3D
| Ridge Racer 3D
Ridge Racer has never been about realism. It’s a point that's worth remembering when you load up this 3DS debut, because the modern sensibilities of titles like Gran Turismo – which features real-world cars, complex physics, and authentic handling – make Namco Bandai’s famous racing series feel every bit as old as its 15-odd years.

But we’ll say it again: Ridge Racer has never been about realism. It’s about gliding your fictional motor car around a range of tracks so painfully beautiful they could have come straight off a picture postcard. It’s about gleefully bumping into opponents, tapping barriers and performing insane jumps without having to worry about things as mundane as suspension wear or bodywork damage.

Ridge Racer is speed distilled, and that ethos has been successfully implanted into this 3DS offering. In fact, Ridge Racer 3D isn’t so much an evolution as a whistle-stop tour of the all of the franchise's best bits. None of the circuits included is new, but some of them are taken from titles so old you’ve probably forgotten how great they were in the first place.

Slippery slide

As the title indicates in no uncertain terms, 3D is one of the biggest selling points of this game. Compared to fellow 3DS launch title Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, the effect is much more striking - as you stare down the track into the distance, objects and buildings have an appreciable depth to them.

It could be argued that giving this impression of distance aids your game, allowing you to judge braking distances and avoid rival cars. We’re not entirely convinced this is the case, but the visual trickery is unquestionably impressive and it gives Ridge Racer 3D a unique hook that sets it apart from practically every other handheld racing game.

It’s good that this hook exists, because if you switch the 3D effect off then what you’re left with is a game that barely looks any better than the PSP Ridge Racers – a title that's now half a decade old. Car models are low on detail and betray the relatively low resolution of the 3DS main screen, and some trackside objects wouldn’t look out of place on a 32-bit PlayStation game.

World tour

In terms of game modes, Ridge Racer 3D keeps things straightforward. The main source of entertainment is the Grand Prix mode, where you race on a series of tracks to unlock further events and gain access to more powerful classes of cars. You’re also awarded points for your performance, and these can be spent on purchasing additional vehicles.

Other single-player modes are available, but it’s the lack of online multiplayer that really hurts. Local play is possible, and the 3DS StreetPass functionality is used to download ghost data from fellow players, but Ridge Racer 3D is practically crying out for some form of net play. The thoroughly competent way in which Capcom handled this element in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition only makes the omission more exasperating.

There are other unfortunate annoyances. An avatar image is displayed above rival cars, and in the case of human players you can snap your photo or use your Mii for easy recognition on track. However, these images have a nasty habit of obscuring the track, especially on some of the more undulating circuits.

Turn down the volume

A special mention must be reserved for the unnecessarily effusive female announcer, who needlessly jabbers throughout each race and feels compelled to comment on your every move – no matter how insignificant.

The fact that she regularly claims that you’re driving too slowly when you begin a race and begin to move off the starting line is a constant source of amusement and irritation.

Ridge Racer 3D is far from perfect, and many will feel aggrieved at the lack of any real progress: this is essentially the same game you played on the PlayStation over a decade ago, albeit with a fancy 3D sheen.

However, putting aside the lack of online play, the occasionally rough visuals, and the annoying commentator, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ridge Racer 3D isn’t about realism, it’s about fun – and this latest instalment delivers that particular quality in spades.

Ridge Racer 3D

Ridge Racer 3D plays it safe by offering the same irresistible power-sliding gameplay we’ve come to know and love over the past few years, but the impressive 3D effect can’t compensate entirely for the crude visuals and lack of online play
Damien  McFerran
Damien McFerran
Damien's mum hoped he would grow out of playing silly video games and gain respectable employment. Perhaps become a teacher or a scientist, that kind of thing. Needless to say she now weeps openly whenever anyone asks how her son's getting on these days.