Ridge Racer 3D (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Adam Riley 22.03.2011

Review for Ridge Racer 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Ridge Racer was such a massive hit when originally released at the arcades that when the one-track racing title was announced as being exclusively ported to the PlayStation, it went to prove how the pendulum had swung favourably in Sony’s favour as Nintendo stuck to its guns for its cartridge-based 64-bit home console. Since then, Ridge Racer has always predominantly been seen as a Sony franchise, with Namco maintaining its stance to support the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable with key releases. However, after the superb Ridge Racer 64 from Nintendo Software Technology, and its touch-screen port to the Nintendo DS, one of the most superlative efforts in over a decade is now about to grace the Nintendo 3DS.

With Ridge Racer becoming one of those games that seems to appear at the launch of almost every system, what was once a legendary arcade racing experience has turned into what many may see as a cheap cash-in product that takes advantage of the new release hype period where early adopters have a tendency to buy anything released on Day One due to the lack of alternatives. Whether this belief is true or not, Ridge Racer 3D is by no means a quick and dirty port from one system to another, as is evident from the moment the CGI introductory sequence kicks in, taking full advantage of the glorious parallax image technology of the 3DS that tricks the player’s eyes into seeing three-dimensions without the need for special glasses.

Some of the courses and background textures may come across as being a little bland and lower in standard than the polish found in Pilotwings Resort or Super Street Fighter IV 3D, for instance, yet this is obviously still only a ‘first generation’ 3DS release and manages to look far better than most of the other Third Party launch window efforts. In all honesty, the minor visual weaknesses only become truly apparent if the game is paused or concentration is taken away from driving for the sake of critiquing the visuals. Ridge Racer 3D zips along at a blinding pace without slowdown, throwing around superb three-dimensional tricks that look remarkable when the 3D is turned off, and stunning with it on full-blast, with Namco Bandai including special touches, like dirt flying out of the screen when driving over rough terrain, or nitrous flames emerging towards you from the exhaust pipe of whatever vehicle is being driven at the time during boost moments.

Screenshot for Ridge Racer 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Certain other racers have a habit of using totally over-the-top American voice actors that leave you cringing every time they countdown at the start of a race, or scream ‘Final Lap!!!!!’ in an annoying drawl, but thankfully Namco Bandai has enlisted two solid people for the role of introducing each level (a smooth sounding female, although one that sometimes lack enthusiasm), and other segue way parts (a moderately controlled US male vocal). The advantage of the increased cartridge size also means that high quality, full-length music tracks can be included, and Ridge Racer 3D certainly does not hold back on that front, with each race being filled with some fantastic dance/techno tunes and both new and older, more familiar beats that get the adrenaline pumping, along with support from some clever implementation of stereo-panning vehicle sound effects. Wearing headphones definitely augments the experience considerably.

However, slick presentation is nothing without some raw, straight down the line fantastic gameplay, and thankfully Namco Bandai has delivered just that in droves. Ridge Racer 3D may have been pre-judged to be a rush-job launch title, but the development team has worked its fingers to the bone to include stacks of content that will ensure any racing enthusiast snapping this up over Gameloft’s Ubisoft-published Asphalt 3D will not be disappointed. As with most of the other first-day 3DS releases, there is sadly no online content included, so the only multiplayer fun that can be had is either in the local wireless Versus mode for between two and four players (using either a simple Tag, a Mii, or even a personalised photograph as the avatar), or via StreetPass, where ‘Duel Ghosts’ are collected from other people’s versions of Ridge Racer 3D and stored on the system’s SD card as ‘Extra Data,’ from which point these ‘Ghosts’ can be raced against in your own time. The real meat of the game is definitely the single-player side, though, where the Grand Prix opens up.

Screenshot for Ridge Racer 3D on Nintendo 3DS

There are a multitude of various tracks from older Ridge Racer entries, as well as plenty of new ones to choose from, all of which encourage players to use drifting as the ‘machines’ (as the game calls any vehicles) zoom around the plentiful supply of corners. The emphasis for Ridge Racer 3D is most certainly not realism, and taking advantage of competitors’ slipstreams, perfectly timing the brake/accelerate combination to skid crazily around corners at top speed, whilst also trying to find the best moment to unleash one-to-three Nitrous boost shells, as well as not smashing into a hundred pieces every time something scratches your vehicle of choice (numerous types open up deeper into the racer) are all reasons why Ridge Racer is miles apart from the likes of the stuffy Gran Turismo, and is more the ‘let your hair down,’ full-on thrill-a-minute style of outing for those wanting to pick-up-and-play for a short while whilst travelling.

There are three levels of difficulty in Grand Prix for each of the four vehicle types, and contained within are a whole host of races split up into four-race chunks spread across a progressive flow diagram layout, whereby specific paths can be taken to reach the end of the championship. Players are actively urged to create their own route to the finish of the Grand Prix, and can use points accumulated from races to purchase extra Nitrous speed canisters, give an extra boost at the start of a race, and so on. The game keeps a running percentage total of the player’s completion rate, and it is this that allows you to see exactly how deep and feature-intensive Ridge Racer 3D really is, and that is without even touching upon the Mirror and Reverse versions of tracks that can be unlocked, or the Standard Race, Time Trial, One-Make Race (wherein all cars racing are the same model) and Quick Tour (a randomly generated option dependent on length of play and course choices) extra modes that are present.

Screenshot for Ridge Racer 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Other than that, there is the ability to save Replays and Ghosts, check out personal course records and best lap times for each course, as well as compare your own data against that of people you met on your travels using the StreetPass function under the ‘My Ranking’ option, plus tinker slightly with settings and buy new kit in the ‘Garage’ mode where accrued points from races are required for shopping purposes. For those that wish to listen to more of Ridge Racer 3D’s fantastic soundtrack, the AV Player is ideal, as videos of Replays are shown in this section, complete with songs from the extensive soundtrack (sound effects are disabled here).

Ridge Racer 3D may have come up short in terms of longevity due to the exclusion of any online features, yet for a launch day release, Namco Bandai has not only successfully created a thoroughly entertaining arcade racing experience, but has rolled out one of the best Ridge Racer editions in many years, and one that surpasses many of the other Third Party 3DS launch efforts.

Screenshot for Ridge Racer 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Namco Bandai has delivered not only one of the best launch games for the Nintendo 3DS with Ridge Racer 3D, but has also managed to drag the series back from the brink, rescuing it from potential obscurity by dragging it kicking and screaming to the roots that made the original arcade experience so exhilarating in the first place. Ridge Racer 3D is easily one of the safest options when choosing your first few Nintendo 3DS titles.


Namco Bandai


Namco Bandai





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

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


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