Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

AiRace (DSiWare) Review

Review for AiRace on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

QubicGames is back with its second Nintendo DSiWare offering, following up the intriguing race-puzzle effort of AiRace: Tunnel with an out-and-out racing experience, simply entitled AiRace. With Mario Kart DS currently the king of cartoon-esque racers and Firebrand's more realistic Race Driver titles beating competitors out of the park, can AiRace successfully fill in the 'futuristic' gap in the genre that has yet to be filled by anything like WipEout or F-Zero?

QubicGames' first DSiWare release, AiRace: Tunnel was quite an intriguing take on the futuristic racing theme, working it into somewhat of a puzzle theme, with your craft flying down tunnels filled with numerous obstacles that need to be deftly avoided before reaching the end of a stage. Now the development team has taken the impressive game engine and tweaked it considerably in order to offer DSi owners a thrilling mid-air racing experience, the likes of which have not been seen since Rare brought Banjo Pilot (née Diddy Kong Pilot) to the Game Boy Advance back in 2005.

The stunning visuals of AiRace lift it not only head and shoulders above the rest of the DSiWare crowd, but the graphics actually look far better than the majority of full-scale racing games from Third Party retail releases. Sadly the soundtrack lets the side down somewhat, with the same tune looping repeatedly, yet thankfully it does not prove to be too much of a deterrent to the overall fun factor. The previous game, AiRace: Tunnel, definitely appears to have been a technical demonstration of what QubicGames could achieve on the DSiWare, with AiRace building considerably upon that foundation, introducing gamers to wide open locations, whilst also keeping a smattering of deadly tunnel features, all flying by at a pleasingly fast speed. The main action takes place on the top screen, with an overview map of the area shown on the lower screen, giving an indication of where opponent racers are in relation to your position,. That is, until a power-up is collected, which causes the screen to be taken over so that players can choose from a variety of items such as simple rockets, speed-ups, a temporary shield, or even a weapon that powers down another craft.

Screenshot for AiRace on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The control set-up, as per AiRace: Tunnel, is extremely intuitive whether you prefer touch-screen flying or standard face button usage, and even sufficiently caters for left-handed players. Playing with the D-pad is definitely preferable, in all honesty, though, since the game requires some extremely close control to navigate around the numerous obstacles, and your plane must also be simultaneously tilted left or right at times to squeeze through narrow gaps, which is must trickier to pull off with the stylus control option.

AiRace has a considerable amount to offer for its cheap price of 500 Points, with nine planes to choose from, lots of customisation, and six impressive race tracks to fly along during the championship mode (or twelve if you count the reverse versions that get unlocked as you play more), all complete with secret paths that can be found by taking differing routes to opponents, or blowing open with missiles collected from power-ups around a course. Throw in some quick racing on any of the unlocked tracks, time trials, multiplayer racing for those with multiple copies of the game and even some bonus courses where rings must be flown through in a specified time, and there is no reason why fans of the racing genre should not be snapping this gem up straight away. The nearest DS owners have gotten to F-Zero so far.

Screenshot for AiRace on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Great touch-screen controls and an even better standard button set-up, allowing gamers to expertly twist, tilt and turn as required through the impressive locations on offer, with their devious traps and pitfalls.

Graphics

Fast, fluid and simply fantastic considering the file constraints of the DSiWare service. QubicGames has a graphics engine that most of the smaller developers out there would kill for.

Sound

Terrible music that drones on and on with little variety between the different tracks. Music can make or break a game at times, and sadly AiRace has an extremely disappointing soundtrack that is best turned off completely.

Value

For such a low price, AiRace definitely has plenty to offer, especially considering the extras that can be unlocked and the extra difficulty settings.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Whilst AiRace: Tunnel took what appeared to be a basic tech demo and turned it into a very intriguing and engaging puzzle racer, QubicGames has taken that and considerably expanded it beyond what many probably thought was possible given the constraints of the DSiWare service. The end result is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced sky-based racing title that should keep those still waiting for an F-Zero DS happy.

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07.06.2010

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Developer

Qubic

Publisher

QubicGames

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

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There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?
Roger72 (guest) 11.06.2010 17:09#1

Don't really like the other DSiWare racers, but F-Zero's cool, so might check this out.

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