What can be said of Ridge Racer than hasn’t already been discussed, critiqued or hailed in one way or another? Well, in the case of Ridge Racer 3D, of course, Namco Bandai would have you believe that the new dimensional shift brings with it exciting and revolutionary features that no other device could squeeze out of the long-staling franchise. In truth, Ridge Racer 3D is as tired as they come – where giant snowmen lavish snow-swept mountain sides, confetti aimlessly floats onto your windshield and planes fly at you into the screen, in the kind of faux spectacle in which Ridge Racer has always revelled – devoid of any creative ambition and repetitive in equal measure.
But at the same time, this 3D offering is as smooth and instantly satisfying a Ridge Racer should be. There’s no doubting that this is quite possibly the best of the series yet as far as handheld is concerned, possibly even beating its console brothers, with Ridge Racer having all but left HD shores. In actuality, Ridge Racer seems to be a more comfortable fit for Nintendo’s swanky new console than it would have first appeared, with the more adaptable (yet still not perfect) analogue nub working wonders in controlling your oft-floaty and ill-mannered wheels as opposed to traditional D-pad controls, while StreetPass and revitalised friend codes ought to knock down the odd stumbling block on the way to competitive multiplayer with friends.
Although not for everyone, the 3D effects add a depth of field to the thrills of portable racing that might go some way to relieving the frustration that this is a carbon-copy of those Ridge Racers that have come before it. Though the same spin on the shining lights of downtown cityscapes, sunny seaside resorts, mountainous climbs and barren deserts settle our own sentiments: Ridge Racer doesn’t deserve another outing in its current state.
In truth, the courses are not all bad and there is something to be said for the push in processing power that comes with the new device; sharpening hard edges, harnessing much smoother lighting and with a better feel for speed. Not that the adding of dimensions doesn’t crop up its own fair share of problems – notably, Ridge Racer 3D suffers at times with frame rate drops that are as ever-present whether the 3D effect is on or off, although these are infrequent and do not harm our overall impression. But as a full game in its own right, Ridge Racer 3D feels like a cold shell that is part of a larger, ageing franchise.