Ridge Racer 3D Review

By Kevin Kelly - Posted Apr 29, 2011

With nearly two decades of Ridge Racer games behind us, it's no surprise that Ridge Racer 3D continues the trend of being one of the launch titles for a new system. Unfortunately, while the game looks gorgeous, the gameplay itself doesn't match up.

The Pros
  • Gorgeous visuals
  • Wide range of cars
  • QuickTour feature should be in more games
The Cons
  • Races are far too easy
  • No online racing
  • No damage to cars

Ridge Racer 3D Review:

Ridge Racer 3D offers up several race options under the single player option, which you’ll be using a lot because the game only features four player local multiplayer. With all of the hype around the 3DS and its online features, it’s puzzling why they didn’t include online racing. That’s hardly surprising since Nintendo has always lagged behind in online gaming, but the 3DS was supposed to change all that.

The Full Race Package

In Single Player, you can select several options including Grand Prix, a series of races that is the closest option to a career mode, or Quick Tour, which is probably my favorite mode. You tell the game how long you want to play, and what type of course you want to race on (Recommended, Drift, High Speed) and what type of car you want to race in. The game will generate a course for you and drop you right into a single race, or a series of races depending on the time you selected, up to 30 minutes.

Other race types include One-Make Race, where all of the racers use the same type of car, and StreetPass Duels where you can race against the ghosts of people you’ve passed on the street.  If you’re just looking to jump in and try things out, select QuickTour or Standard Race, but if you really want to kill a lot of time, Grand Prix will keep you gaming for hours.

Behind The Wheel

The controls in the game are very simple, although the title offers up to eight different control schemes for you to choose from. I stuck with the standard: B to accelerate, A to brake or reverse, steer with the analog slider. You can also use the d-pad to steer, and if you choose manual transmission A downshifts and X upshifts.

You’ll gain nitrous during the races as you drift and slipstream, building up a three part meter in the lower left-hand corner of the top window. Hitting R activates a single nitrous boost, and depending on how far you’ve filled up the meter you can hit L for double nitrous and both for triple nitrous.

The bottom screen is used as a map and information system. Tapping the map zooms in our out one level, and hitting the camera view button cycle from third-person to driver’s windshield view. It’s a bit distracting to switch these two often during a race, and I found myself ignoring that screen entirely during most races.

You can set up options for one-button drifting, rocket starts, and so on, but as you’ll quickly find out they don’t really matter.

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Hammer Down

However, with all that in mind, you can ignore most of it. Just find out where the accelerator button is. Hold that down, and you’ll win every race. Yes, even as you careen off of walls and other cars. There’s absolutely no damage in the game, and the amount of speed that will get carved off of your speedometer for crashes is so minimal that they don’t matter.

What this means is that there is absolutely no strategy to winning these races. You’ll start off in the back of the pack every time, with AI racers far ahead of you, but you’ll quickly catch up to them and stay in the lead easily. In a game where drifting and slipstreaming are centrally featured, it’s frustrating that the races aren’t more challenging. With some minimal strategy required, and some simple damage modeling, this game definitely would have gotten a higher rating.

To 3D Or Not To 3D, That Is The Question

Ridge Racer 3D has some gorgeous visuals, although it can’t fully match the quality of the PSP’s Ridge Racer 2 from five years ago. Textures are a bit sharper, and the 3DS’ refresh rate will provide a sharper image, but you’re getting more detail on the PSP screen.

Of course, the PSP doesn’t have the 3D capabilities, of the 3DS, and Ridge Racer 3D does provide one of the better uses of 3D on the system’s launch titles.  After playing many of the launch games,  Ridge Racer’s use of the 3D is one of the best, and definitely stands out. Whether you’re jockeying for position behind the lead car, checking out cars in the garage, or blasting through races in the cockpit view, the 3D visuals are top notch.

Maybe Ridge Racer 3D 2?

It’s hard not to feel like Namco rushed this game out so they would have Ridge Racer 3D as a launch title. The visuals are there, but the gameplay just isn’t. Plus, where are the rocking tunes that the series is so known for? The load screens when you first activate this title have more power guitars in it than the entire game.

If you’re looking for a very pretty game that shows off your 3DS, Ridge Racer 3D is a perfect title. Especially if you have a couple of friends who have the same systems, and the same game for some local racing that will be far more challenging than the weak AI. Just be sure to turn down the sound slider, because Reiko’s commentary in this game gets old and repetitive fast.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?