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Asphalt 3D (Nintendo 3DS) Review

Review for Asphalt 3D on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameloft’s previous Asphalt Urban GT releases on the Nintendo DS may have brought success for the company, but with the launch of Asphalt 3D on the Nintendo 3DS it definitely has much stiffer competition in the form of Namco Bandai’s Ridge Racer 3D, which has already been receiving extremely positive reviews from media the world over. How does Asphalt 3D stand up to such a strong test?

When Cubed3 first got its hands on Asphalt 3D, the feeling was that although Gameloft had obviously ported this across from the latest iteration of the series to grace Apple’s App Store, it worked pretty well for a launch day 3DS game for anyone eager to satisfy their need for something in the racing genre. What happened after that was the sublime Ridge Racer 3D turned up, and although criticised in some quarters for being a quick port using the engine from the two PlayStation Portable editions, it proved to be one of the best Day One releases. Going back to Asphalt 3D after that has been painful, to say the least. Now, before diving into a strong negative critique of the Ubisoft-published effort, it should be stated that this is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe. Okay, it is terribly rough around the edges, lifts numerous ideas from the Burnout series, and does not particularly use the 3D effects of the Nintendo 3DS as much as it could do, yet there is a rather stable racing experience buried inside the diminutive 3DS cartridge.

Screenshot for Asphalt 3D on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The main issue to plague Asphalt 3D are technical problems, primarily in terms of the long loading times encountered and slowdown during races. Loading comes into play right after the game’s introductory video sequence (that has not been tailored for 3D, by the way, unlike Namco Bandai’s Ridge Racer 3D that looks amazing with 3D turned all the way up), with a very obvious progress bar that once took eleven seconds to gradually fill up and move on to the title screen. Even changing from one car to another on the vehicle select screen can result in up to a five second wait before the car image pops up and the female voice-over kicks in to announce its name, plus moving from one menu option to another results in almost a second’s delay rather than being instantaneous as it should be. It all smacks of a game that has been shoe-horned onto the hardware without the care and attention that Namco Bandai’s development team put in for Ridge Racer 3D (a game that even had its frame-rate stabilised before launch following early negative feedback!).

Asphalt 3D is all about the solo player’s Career mode, where fourteen cups must be worked through, each one containing five races, varying in nature. The general set-up is as follows: two standard races where the aim is to finish in the top three; a time trial that focuses on fast driving, attempting to reach the finish line before the time runs out; ‘Leader of the Pack,’ a survival race where maintaining the lead for the duration of the race in the name of the game; a fifth bonus one-on-one duel that is unlocked once the other four challenges have been completed. There are other variations on the theme, like ‘Chase’ and ‘Drift,’ for those hoping for more variety.

Screenshot for Asphalt 3D on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

As players work through the Career mode, they reach different levels that then open up new cars, as well as the eight in-game sponsors whose logos appear on the vehicle of choice, each of which adding special bonuses, such as tighter handling, increased acceleration, a higher top speed, considerably more boost, and more money (the latter two are augmented during races anyway, as each track is littered with a massive supply of cash and boost icons). The actual racing itself can be fun at times, since the handling and drift mechanic is solid, if not spectacular, yet the juddering nature of the action makes races painful for the most part.

Everything is fine and smooth when racing on your own, if you manage to overlook the poor draw distance that results in trees popping up out of the blue or, even worse, when other general traffic appears at the last second to cause massive crashes. Boosting, gained by drifting around corners or having Burnout-esque near misses with other cars, can also bring about a headache as when hitting ramps, the vehicle will slowly become airborne, floating through blocky trees with heavily pixellated leaves before smashing down on the tarmac again, normally bringing about attention from police who then proceed to keep pace no matter how much boost is used, attempting to drive you off the road. Basically, drifting around a race course in Time Trial mode alone, with no other movements on-track would be fine, but considering that is not what Asphalt 3D is all about it suffers terribly to the point where players will have to have considerable patience and high levels of tolerance to work through all the trials.

Screenshot for Asphalt 3D on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Those with the patience of a saint should know that Asphalt 3D’s attempt at keeping the player motivated to return time and time again is to open up every one of the sixteen Achievements, which range from ‘Discover 1 shortcut,’ ‘Eliminate 5 opponent vehicles,’ and ‘Win 1 event in Career Mode,’ to more convoluted goals such as ‘Crash into 50 traffic cars,’ ‘Pick up 100 power-ups,’ and ‘Spend $1,000,000 on vehicles.’ Then there is the pleasing inclusion of a StreetPass mode whereby any ‘Extra Data’ that gets stored on the 3DS system’s SD card will be used to interact with other 3DS owners that have played Asphalt 3D, checking out best lap times and various statistics to determine the winner in the StreetPass Racing Battle. The incentive for continued play in this case is extra money or new decals for vehicles. The progression of rewards granted is for individual integer meetings between one and ten, then jumping in tens until the number of encounters reaches 50, and goes as far as 2,500 and 5,000 Players Met, with these last two rewards merely being ‘Are You Serious?!’ and ‘WOW!!!’ - so if anyone reaches those totals, please be sure to inform us of the prize! As well as all this, up to six players can partake in multiplayer racing shenanigans, although each person will require a copy of Asphalt 3D to join in.

Screenshot for Asphalt 3D on Nintendo 3DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


There are plenty of different race types and handling is tight enough, but the slowdown and graphical pop-up issues plague the action too much, seriously dragging the quality down.


The menu layout is basic, extensive loading times are rife and there is some highly offensive slowdown during races, with the only saving grace being the solid vehicle models. Even the main 3D selling point of the 3DS is not put to the best use.


Mellow dance beats play throughout, with plenty of very clear and crisp voice acting. The main drawback is on the sound effects side, especially the grating vehicle engine noises.


Including StreetPass functionality is a great idea for offline racing battles, but the resultant rewards are meaningless for the most part. As for the wealth of tracks on offer, sadly the technical issues found throughout Asphalt 3D make it a real chore to reach completion of the Career mode.

Cubed3 Rating

What could have been a killer app for the launch of the Nintendo 3DS sadly pales into complete insignificance when placed alongside the fantastic Ridge Racer 3D. Gameloft has missed the opportunity to capture the racing genre from Day One with Asphalt 3D, offering up a slowdown-riddled identikit experience that will struggle to hold many gamers’ attention for the duration.

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorCubed3 Member

I won't be picking up either racing game, to me they both look very basic. I will be looking towards something that is released by Criterion (burnout) or the team behind the need for speed series.

Dave (guest) 28.03.2011 09:13#2

Shame, as it was the other way round with the DS launch - RRDS was very poor, yet Asphalt was pretty fun.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

The UK has clearly made up it's mind, with Asphalt 3D charting lower than No.11 (Splinter Cell 3D) in this week's Chart Track list. Ridge Racer did really well, cracking the All Format Top 20.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Wow, that bad?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Not so shocking that you won't get ANY fun out of it, but technically it's a very poor port-up of an iPhone game. Loading times are shocking, and the slowdown really spoils the experience. Throw in the lack of decent 3D effects and it's certainly not worth the 30-40 quid asking price.

Have you got an iPhone? Check out Asphalt 6: Adrenaline on the iTunes Store. The graphics look stunning, and it's only £2.99! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Som123 (guest) 02.04.2011 12:11#6

This game's rating should be:
Gameplay 8/10
Graphics 9/10
Sound 6/10
Value ?/10

Rob (guest) 04.04.2011 07:46#7

Seriously, you've got to be joking. Okay, people are entitled to their own opinions, but have you SEEN any of the other 3DS launch games? Even damn Rabbids, a simple 2D platformer, looks far smoothe than this steaming pile of silicon crap!

Given more time and attention, this could have stretched to a 7/10, but it's not a patch on Ridge Racer 3D. Sadly this represents Hakeloft's usual level of quality. Castle of Magic is the only recent game I've really liked; or maybe the Castlevania rip-off, Soul of Darkness.

Methinks YOU fail, sir.

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