TGS 2011: Ridge Racer Vita Hands-On

With the launch date for the PlayStation Vita confirmed, we take a spin with the popular racing franchise Ridge Racer.

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Ridge Racer (2012)
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A new console release and a new Ridge Racer go hand-in-hand. With the Japanese release of the PlayStation Vita coming on December 17, we had the opportunity to sample the upcoming launch title Ridge Racer. At the same time, we managed to sit alongside Cellius producer Hideo Teramoto and got to find out what racing and Ridge Racer fans can expect in only a few short months.

New Ridge Racer = New Console Launch.
New Ridge Racer = New Console Launch.

There are three aspects that Hideo pointed out that he hopes people notice upon playing Ridge Racer. First are the visuals. Thanks to the OLED screen of the Vita, the game absolutely "pops" thanks to the vibrant graphics in the courses you will race on and the cars in which you will do so. Even at this relatively early stage of development, Ridge Racer on the Vita retains the look and feel of previous games in the series and at times looks absolutely gorgeous with stunning vistas and fast turns. The visuals for the cars, both your own and your oppositions', featured a lot of details, and racing fans can expect that even without currently knowing specifics, there will be a large number of different car options at your disposal.

The second aspect is sound. They really want to take advantage of the audio power of the Vita by offering a unique, yet Ridge Racer-familiar, soundtrack. On top of that, they want to ensure that the audible noise from the various automobiles immerses the racer. When you tap the nitrous button, you clearly hear the extra power your engine gets, so expect to hear other noises that should add to the core experience.

The last aspect is online. While they aren't ready to get into specifics at this moment, the hope is to offer quite a worldwide experience. They anticipate that once the Vita is available everywhere that racers from across the globe will be able to challenge each other in a number of different modes. What this means exactly is unclear, but they do plan to get into the specifics closer to launch in Japan.

Continuing to talk about other features that fans can look forward to, they were unable to go into specifics. As with any other Ridge Racer title, we should anticipate a similar number of cars and tracks, but the exact number is not ready to be made public. In regard to the touch features of the Vita, the only touch function currently available was being able to tap the front screen to commence the demo. When asked about what additional features will use these functions, they could not tell me, but they are fully expecting that you will be able to drive by touching the various touch pads and that the interface will most certainly make use of these capabilities.

When asked about what they have found most challenging when making a Ridge Racer game, we were told it was ensuring that the game is ready for launch. Hideo has been developing Ridge Racer games since the PlayStation 2 era and knows how hard it can be to release a game at the same time as the console. Thankfully, though, he and his team have found that the Vita has been the easiest to work with, and he is very confident that Ridge Racer for the Vita will be ready in December and that fans of the series will be pleased with the final product.

Ridge Racer for the Vita should take full advantage of the hardware.
Ridge Racer for the Vita should take full advantage of the hardware.

Our time with Ridge Racer was brief. The single course available took close to five minutes to complete but was very challenging thanks to its tight turns and powerful opposition. Again, fans of the series should be able to pick this up and automatically feel right at home. Ridge Racer for the Vita is expected to launch alongside the PlayStation Vita this December in Japan and should also launch alongside it when it finally comes everywhere else.

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