Portable titles, by nature, are expected to be “mini” versions of their console counterparts, but recent years’ releases have definitely changed that, giving us full fledged titles complete with giant rosters and campaigns, such as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention for the Vita. With Ridge Racer, we would have expected the same type of complete racing experience that would enthrall racers for a long time, but sadly, this was not the case.
Initially, upon booting up the game, players will find that everything looks silky smooth and runs at a smooth 60 frames per second. The appealing visuals quickly disappears when players find how blandly the visuals are put to use; comprised of only three tracks and five generically designed, interchangeable cars, the game becomes quickly becomes a bore. It’s not just the scarcity, but the designs are bland as well. While the music is the expected and appreciated fast-paced electronica, a constant, annoying announcer will accompany players from the menus to disappointing moments as opponents pass them by, virtually pouring salt over wounds.
Undoubtedly, the appeal of racing games is the process of attacking tracks repeatedly and finding the fastest lines to take throughout a course. However, with only three tracks, hardcore players will quickly have them memorized and casual players will find them repetitive and shallow, with tedium setting in within the first week of play. This issue is only exacerbated by the five interchangeable cars with the same overall stats and upgrades. As a recreation of the Ridge Racer experience, however, this version shines. It recreates the testosterone-raising drifting experience that gamers have come to love. With every drift, players will begin to fill up their turbo boost and use it at every straightaway to catch up to rivals. The game is an engaging racing experience, but there’s just not much of it.
In addition to the tracks being few and dull, Ridge Racer only offers a time attack mode and online racing mode. In most of today’s racing games, players would expect to develop and customize their cars, eventually taking them online to take on other racers. Though players will be able to race against others online, the linear development of the cars give them little to no personality and fails to ever create a connection between players and their cars. This is only made more apparent when players try to switch to another car and see that the upgrades carry over fully, making each of the car a mere shell.
If players are dying for a drift-centric racing experience, Ridge Racer would have been the way to go with the game’s extensive and reputable pedigree. However, the Vita’s release will be hard pressed to satisfy even the die hardest of fans, considering its short length and lack of replay value. It may be tempting to give it a try, citing the series’ history, but anyone would be better off waiting till the portable’s next racer comes out.
Available on: Vita; Publisher: Namco Bandai; Developer: Namco Bandai; Players: 1 – 8; Released: March 13, 2012; ESRB: Everyone; MSRP: $29.99; Official Site
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.