If you’re a gamer, chances are you know all about Ridge Racer and its ludicrous take on drifting. So far the series has embraced a spot in many system launches, and the 3DS is no stranger to the arcade racer. Ridge Racer 3D takes everything you loved about the previous iterations of the series and bundles it into a tiny 3DS cartridge while still presenting it in an attractive, three-dimensional manner.
If you’ve been living under a rock and are somehow unfamiliar with the Ridge Racer formula, I’ll break it down for you. You race seven other competitors, starting last and racing your way up to first place. Tight corners and hairpin turns are a joke as you drift your car sideways, using nitrous to thrust your car into breakneck speeds. The arcade racing style is definitely not for everyone, but if you’ve enjoyed any of the previous titles, you can’t go wrong here. As you complete races, the credits you earn will unlock new vehicles or nitrous load outs and pre-race bonuses such as auto-rocket start or a completely full nitrous charge at the start of an event.
Most of your gaming hours will be spent in the game’s main Grand Prix mode, which consists of three separate Grand Prix levels that increase in speed and difficulty. Each grand prix has well over 10 events, comprised of four races each. Add that up, and you’re holding quite the time sink in the palms of your hands. Bundle that with the game’s Quick Tour, Standard Race and One-Make Race mode, which lets players set their own rules and settings for races, and you have enough choices for countless hours of sideways racing.
If you want to take the race to the streets, you can do so locally with up to four players. Unfortunately, besides the local multiplayer, no online multiplayer is available. The other, more unique multiplayer feature comes from the 3DS’s Streetpass function. You can wirelessly acquire other player’s ghost data and then try to beat their best time on a given track, earning some extra credits in return.
For new players or ones uncomfortable with the drifting controls, a new “one-button drift” system is selectable. It’s a simplified control scheme that rotates your car automatically as long as you have the button held down. It’s a welcome addition for those who find counter-steering a bit daunting or can’t quite grasp the concept.
The game doesn’t necessarily look very impressive with the 3D turned off. Car textures and shadows appear fuzzy, and sometimes the parts of the track look downright bland. A quick push of the 3D slider and the game turns from ordinary to outstanding. The 3D in Ridge Racer is undoubtedly a showstopper. Being able to play multiple 3DS games, I felt like the 3D works best here. Not only does it completely immerse you in the race and the often stunning landscapes and set pieces, but it makes judging when to start your turn/drift much easier. Of course, 3D isn’t without its gimmicks, such as bits of colorful confetti flying toward your screen and helicopters and planes swooping down from the sky only inches above your car, but thankfully none of these features detract from the gameplay.
If you want a full Ridge Racer experience that makes one of the best uses of 3D so far and just so happens to fit in your pocket, then Ridge Racer 3D is a launch game that deserves your attention and immediate purchase.