Ridge Racer is back to christen the launch of another gaming platform. Loaded with new cars, new tracks, and new gameplay features, Ridge Racer 3D is shaping up to be a solid member of the 3DS's launch lineup. But how will it take advantage of the system's 3D capabilities? Read on to find out.
Who's Making It: Namco Bandai's venerable Ridge Racer series returns with Ridge Racer 3D. Born in the arcade, this seasoned racing franchise has seen numerous sequels and iterations over the years leading up to its latest release, Ridge Racer 7, on the PlayStation 3.
What It Looks Like: Ridge Racer 3D has put on some muscle, some American muscle. A whole new set of muscle cars and tracks are in the works for this entry. True to form, these are all still unlicensed vehicles and venues in a world alive with crisp, clean visuals that pop with color.
How It Uses 3D: Using the power of the third dimension, Ridge Racer 3D affords you a better sense of spatial awareness with its use of depth. It simulates the feeling of looking down a road and lets you better judge your positioning in relation to the other racers and to the track. A sharp turn off in the distance is easy to spot, and it's even easier to gauge how far you are from that spot. This might buy you a few key seconds to react accordingly. If you're coming up on another driver, the 3D view can help prevent an unwanted fender-bender as you attempt to overtake your opponent.
What You Do: You race. Racing lets you collect points that you can then cash in on various unlocks and upgrades--such as a brief boost of speed at the start of a race. Racing also sets up your ghost data, which you can then swap with other racers via the 3DS's Street Pass feature. And if you're really clever, you could devise a scheme to track down one of the people whose data you've swapped with and challenge him to a race--in the game's local multiplayer, that is. If that person isn't too freaked out by this, you can then introduce him to your other Ridge Racer friends for some four-person multiplayer fun.
How It Plays: True to the series' pedigree, Ridge Racer 3D has the feel of an arcade-style racer. Accessibility trumps technicality, and a new easy drift mode option is available for the casual racer in each of us. Similar to the way drifting is handled in Nintendo's Mario Kart series, easy drift mode requires only a simple button press to send your car into a slide. Letting up on the button will then take you out of the drift and straighten out your car automatically.
The boost meter also returns in Ridge Racer 3D. Divided into three sections, this meter can be cashed in to get you that little extra boost of speed right when you need it. Sections can be fired off one, two, or three at a time depending on which combination of the 3DS's shoulder buttons you use. And if you're really stylish, you can boost into a curve, immediately go into a drift, and when you come out of that drift have a section of your boost meter refunded to you.
What We Say: From what we've seen, Ridge Racer 3D looks as if it's sticking true to the series' roots with accessible controls and high-speed action. The 3D vision is definitely a boon on the racetrack, and it lets you spend less time calculating distance and more time calculating how not to crash. And with the new easy drift mode, this latest entry in the Ridge Racer series strikes a good balance between the more technical racers and the pure chaos of kart games. Keep an eye out for Ridge Racer 3D alongside the launch of the 3DS.