Ridge Racer is, without a doubt, one of the most venerable racing franchises out there, so it wasn't too surprising to see it listed as one of the Nintendo 3DS' launch titles. It's a franchise that's all about power sliding and fast cars, and despite the main series getting a shake-up with Unbounded on the home consoles, Ridge Racer 3D doesn't stray from that ethos, not even remotely.
The main mode in Ridge Racer 3D is the Grand Prix. Here, you'll go through a rather large tournament ladder, whereby, qualifying in all the races in a specific event will unlock more events for you to race in. Each event has four races, and you'll need to come at least third in each event to qualify. If you finish first in them all though, the grand prix page puts a nice little trophy inside the event.
You'll start off with the Basic Grand Prix, which deals with Category-4 and Category-3 vehicles. They're fast, but not all that fast. Once you've finished all the events in this set, you'll then unlock the next Grand Prix, and so on.
It's a lengthy mode, but only because there are so many races to go through. The problem is, that you'll need some real stamina to get through them, as there isn't a whole lot of variety. You'll generally spend your points on buying a fast car, use that for probably the entire duration of that Category's events and then use a new car. All the while, you'll feel like the tracks are becoming just a bit too familiar, and not in a good way. There are slight variations on each track, and there are also the obligatory reverse modes, but it does feel as though the Grand Prix mode is somewhat under-developed.
Gameplay is standard for Ridge Racer. And if you don't know what that is, where have you been? It's most definitely an arcade racing game, with no licenced cars and ridiculous gameplay mechanics. In short, drifting is your friend, braking is your enemy. Indeed, probably the only time you'll ever use the brake is to enter into a drift. It certainly keeps the action flowing at a fast pace, as no matter how steep the corner, you'll still just be able to power your way around with a well timed drift.
It might be a little cheesy, but when you nail a drift, there's a certain sense of satisfaction that goes along with it. Especially if you over-take someone on the inside of the corner too.To make the drifting have even more purpose, there is the nitro bar. By performing drifts, you'll slowly increase your nitro and when you have a complete bar, you'll be able to gain a slight speed boost. It's a fairly simple premise, but there's also some depth here too. In order to stop players just snaking along the track, the bar increases depending on the duration of the drift and the incline of the corner, not the incline of the actual drift itself.
But wait, there's even more depth to the mechanic. If you enter into a drift directly when your nitro boost runs out, you'll get what's known as "Ultimate Charge". It's like the normal charge, but more ultimate, meaning it charges the bar slightly quicker for a short duration. It's also possible to store up multiple nitro bars; the more bars you use at a time, the bigger speed boost it'll give you.
To round out the game's gameplay mechanics, there's also slipstreaming. It's not reallya new concept, but in Ridge Racer 3D, it's very exaggerated. If you get in someone's slipstream, you'll pass them no problem. The problem is, that your opponents can also slipstream you whenever you overtake them. It certainly makes the game a lot more challenging.
The game's mechanics are actually pretty good, although sometimes the drifting can be quite annoying. You'll even be able defy all laws of physics, by drifting the opposite way from which you're going. Also, if you manage to snag a wall, you'll end up wall-riding, reluctantly, which can be a bit frustrating.
Graphically, the game is quite disappointing from a basic standpoint. The 3D works really well, and there are some nice effects added to mix things up, but the car models and the tracks look rather dated - the console should certainly be capable of much more. It's also disappointing that the game has quite bad slowdown. It doesn't happen that much, but when it does happen, it's crippling.
In terms of replay value, there isn't any multiplayer featured in the game, but there are plenty of single-player modes to keep you occupied. One of the modes is One Make Race, where everyone is forced to use the same cars. To use the game's StreetPass too, there's also StreetPass Duel. If you're out and about, you'll get challenges from other players of the game, and you can earn points for beating their times.
Ridge Racer 3D is a pretty decent launch title for the Nintendo 3DS, although in some aspects it feels rushed. The main Grand Prix mode certainly has a lot of races to take part in, but there's next to no variety involved. The staple Ridge Racer gameplay mechanics are all there, which is nice, but the game's graphics are rather disappointing, with some crippling framerate issues present. It's still worth picking up though, so if you own a 3DS, check it out.
|Solid gameplay mechanics.|
|Plenty of single-player replay value.|
|Satisfying to nail a drift.|
|Grand Prix mode can get rather tedious.|
|Graphics could have been a lot better.|
|No multiplayer at all is a bit of a blow.|