Ridge Racer 3D
Developed by Namco Bandai, release date is February 26, 2011 in Japan
Estimated Demo Length: 8 minutes
Wait Time: 10 minutes
The Ridge Racer series is a staple of system launches, so it’s no surprise that the Nintendo 3DS too receives an incarnation of the popular drift-racing series. The demo allowed for one three-lap race, and there were a few different car models to choose from. Due to demo time limits, I selected the first option available for the courses and car models, but there seemed to be plenty of cars, courses and gameplay modes.
The game’s visuals were the most disappointing aspect of the game. They barely look on par with the PSP version of Ridge Racer released six years ago (if not worse looking), and the 3D effect is underwhelming and underutilized. At no instance of the race did the 3D actually make the game feel at all immersive. There was some sense of depth provided with the 3D visuals, but it did not add anything to the experience. There is no real difference between playing the game completely in 2D or in 3D. The techno tracks were typical of the Ridge Racer series music, but nothing particularly stuck out on that front.
Gameplay, on the other hand, is tried and true and just as familiar as other entries in the Ridge Racer series, especially the PSP ones. The race was fast, but appropriately paced for a handheld game, in which players can play one race while on the bus or train and then put the 3DS away until the next commute. The demo’s difficulty was reasonable. I came in second place after having to strategically use nitrous boosts and drifting to make turns and overtake other cars. The game controlled well on the Nintendo 3DS and the Slide Pad (analog pad) works well for controlling races, and arguably even better than the analog nub did for the PSP entries.
On one hand, the visuals were underwhelming and considerably outdated considering the 3DS’s capabilities and the time that has passed since the original PSP launch. On the other, Ridge Racer 3D was surprisingly entertaining and by no means a boring game. But, it’s also very similar to other entries, so those looking for an evolution of the Ridge Racer series will not find it in this Nintendo 3DS iteration.