Game Review

Ridge Racer 3D Review

Japan Japan Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

A familiar lap around the track

Namco’s Ridge Racer series has often been criticised for being a relic of a bygone era, a driving game that clings to outmoded arcade sensibilities and refuses to step into the super-realistic world inhabited by the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo.

The irony is that when Namco Bandai attempts to take the franchise in a fresh direction – as it’s doing with Ridge Racer Unbounded – the uproar is deafening. Perhaps that is why this 3DS outing sticks with the familiar, and offers a reassuring – albeit unadventurous – homage to past glories.

The world of Ridge Racer is one that should be instantly recognizable to all but the very youngest gamers. Tuned with instant gratification in mind, the game eschews modern trappings such as licensed cars, vehicle damage and even realistic physics to offer up the kind of experience that happily guzzled coins back in the mid-90s, when 3D driving simulations like Daytona USA and Sega Rally were doing the rounds. Ridge Racer 3D happily continues this tradition.

Ridge Racer 3D is the type of game where the brake is rarely used. Instead, to negotiate the tightest bends you simply lift your finger off the accelerator and then slam it back down again, forcing your insanely powerful sports car to kick out its back end, triggering a tire-screeching drift. However, unlike Gran Turismo – where such a manoeuvre requires expert timing and more often than not causes your vehicle to careen into the nearest barrier – you’re able to exercise complete control over your spinning car, almost as if it were on rails.

Ridge Racer 3D maintains these other-worldly physics, and is none the poorer for it. Namco Bandai knows that its most famous racing series is practically built on these ridiculously enjoyable drifts, and the intoxicating feeling of elation they engender when you’re locked in a tense battle with rival drivers. The fact that the formula remains unchanged after almost two decades is a testament to its enduring popularity.

However, while Ridge Racer 3D undoubtedly manages to capture what makes this lineage of titles so great, it refuses to take steps forward in other areas. For example, the standard Grand Prix mode sees you participating in various races, unlocking additional tracks and cars. It’s the closest you’re going to get a career mode in Ridge Racer 3D, but in truth it follows the exact same progression that we saw way back in Rage Racer, which hit the track in 1996. You’ll also find that the majority of the tracks are lifted straight from older Ridge titles – not a bad thing if you’re a fan of the games, but disappointing if you were expecting an entirely fresh group of locations.

This lack of evolution could be forgiven if Ridge Racer 3D had boasted more robust multiplayer options, but sadly it only features local play. After trading blows with players from all over the globe in Capcom’s excellent Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, we were bitterly disappointed that Namco didn’t see fit to include net play here.

As it stands, racing against friends is still good fun, but it’s hard enough trying to find one other person who owns a 3DS at the moment, let alone three. Fingers are firmly crossed that any future Ridge titles on the format will allow you to take your race online.

Ridge Racer 3D also gives a reasonable indication of the kind of visuals we’re going to be seeing on Nintendo’s new machine. It’s an appealing game, with bold colours and circuits that have been designed to look great from every angle, but to be honest there’s nothing on show here that couldn’t be achieved on Sony’s PSP. The only aesthetic element that is wholly new is the 3D effect, which actually takes some getting used to.

While Street Fighter IV adopted a more subtle impression of depth, Ridge Racer 3D takes it to the extreme. Distant bends and trackside objects look convincingly far away, but this seems to put additional strain on the eyes. While we didn’t experience anything that prevented us from playing the game for countless hours, becoming acclimatised to Ridge Racer 3D’s use of the auto-stereoscopic display seems to take longer than for other games on the new system.


Namco Bandai has played it very safe with its 3DS debut, picking an established series and creating a game which feels like a celebration of previous efforts rather than an entirely new chapter. This is of course no bad thing – Ridge Racer is one of those perennial greats that is well worth rediscovering – but the lack of innovation and absence of online multiplayer curb the long-term appeal of the game. There will unquestionably be better racers on the 3DS – heck, we’d be willing to bet that there will be a superior instalment of Ridge Racer within two years or so – but for now, this will prove enough to keep dedicated petrol-heads contented, so long as expectations are kept to a reasonable level.

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

Namco's racing title on the 3DS is now available throughout Europe

User Comments (69)



Corbs said:

I agree with the review 100%. Good game, but it could have been a lot better. Pretty hard on the eyes too, at times.



CanisWolfred said:

Now this was the review I wanted to read. And quite well done, too. Touched on all the things I was curious about. I think I'll be giving this one a go once I get my hands on a 3DS.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Great review! Nice to know it's still worth getting.

By the way, noticed a typo: "were were bitterly disappointed" -> "we were"



moosa said:

"Ridge Racer 3D also gives a reasonable indication of the kind of visuals we’re going to be seeing on Nintendo’s new machine."

I disagree with this. I don't think any one game could tell you what another game will look like, and I particularly wouldn't expect a launch title to set a very high bar in terms of visual quality achieved on the hardware.

Anyways, this is pretty much what I expected. Same ol' Ridge Racer. I imagine people who are new to the series could fall in love with this if they gave it a try though.
Two things that are probably important that I didn't see mentioned in this review: audio and content volume. I've heard that the music is pretty good while I know that the announcers are INCREDIBLY obnoxious (can you turn them off??). I've also heard that there's quite a bit of content in this game.



Bankai said:

Where's the "This is a 2D image of a 3D game" notice in the screenshots?



SwerdMurd said:

those textures are muuuuuuh-ddy! This will not be the "check out this awesome 3D effect, new skeptical friends!" game for me.



Morpheel said:

Duh, obviously, these are 3D images!
But... Why can't i see the 3D? D:



JamieO said:

I have had this game pencilled in as my main 3DS launch game since it was added to the UK release list and this review answers all of my questions, so there is still a good chance that I will buy this on March 25th. I have enjoyed the arcade exuberance of this series since my jaw-dropped seeing the coin-op in 1994 and it has been a game which I now associate with many a console launch, particularly with the PlayStation systems, as I picture the brand new release of PSone, PS2, PSP and PS3 all using a Ridge Racer title to showcase the tech.

Therefore, it is a selling point to me that Ridge Racer 3DS "feels like a celebration of previous efforts", I know that I will enjoy revisiting classic tracks in 3D. I am interested in the feedback on this title regarding eye-strain and acclimatisation, I have heard gamers including Damo discussing this on Twitter and it seems as though it is a difficult issue to pinpoint, because it is dependant upon each individual's eyesight.

My only tiny niggle with this game is regarding its graphical fidelity, I remember being blown away by Ridge Racers on my Japanese PSP in late 2004/ early 2005, so it seems a bit disappointing that a brand spanking new bit of Nintendo hardware does not really exceed that visual benchmark, because the first PSP game is over six years old now. It is not all about the graphics though, I'm confident that I will be won over by a nostalgic take on the Ridge Racer arcade gameplay in this title.

It's good to go into a purchase of this game knowing that it is fun, but it obviously has shortcomings. Cheers Damo.



Rockmirth said:

im still gonna get it! as they said it looks good now but not in a few years, just wait for mario kart to come out



citizenerased said:

Thought it would get a 5 or 6, the impressions haven't been very good (apart from Famitsu but they always overscore games, especially launch games)



Issun said:

I'll have this at a reduced price, and it's my first RR, soooo, I think I can play it safe and add a point or two. If it's not that great, I'm sure the stores'll take it back at around the same price, so it's a win-win situation



Weskerb said:

7/10 seems about right and it's a good review, but why no mention of the sound effects and music?



Beechbone said:

Awaiting Asphalt 3D review. I'm very interested how it compares with Ridge Racer.



Kenji510 said:

Im buying this game for sure and always love the Ridge Racer games since it was out on the Playstation 1 haha



pikku said:

meh. If it had online, I might've looked into it, but s it stands, there is no chance of me getting this game. Will Asphalt 3D have online play?




Good revw. Sounds like a decent purchase for ppl that were wanting to buy this game. I don't think its bad that its too similar to previous RRs because ppl make like that and its new-ish to Ninty consoles anyway. No on-line is bit of a glaring omission, but still - this game IS good. 3D and racing are like hand and glove so we should b seeing a large amount of racers on the 3DS over the next few years. Interesting times.

I'm interested in the asphalt, when is the revw for that out?



Corbs said:

We probably won't even get Asphalt 3D until launch day, so several days after that I would guess.



Kid_A said:

Well done. I much prefer the arcade-style racer to the racing sim, so I'm sure I'd enjoy this, but seeing as how I could get a similar experience on my iTouch for less money, and have it include online and better graphics, I'll pass on this one.



multiplayermadness93 said:

I was thinking about getting this for my first game because my dad said I could only get one game with it and its either going to be rayman3d or ridgeracer3d. Can you guys tell me which game to get?



PSICOffee said:

This is just like when the orignal DS was launced, two standard racing games where one is slightly better than the other. Back then it was Asphalt Urban GT and Ridge Racer DS. I don't expect these new ones to be much better or even ground-breaking.



Knux said:

I might have pre-ordered this if it had online multiplayer, but now I'll just wait for Mario Kart or the first racing game with online multiplayer. Great review though.



Imerion said:

Nice to see arcade style racers still live! Will be getting this for sure!



Spoony_Tech said:

For me the best line in the whole review was the comparison to rage racer. It was my favorite in the series and that line alone might convince me to pick it up. Now I just have to convince my wife I need a 3ds!



Colors said:

I was going to get this but i will just wait until the Asphalt 3D review. If it's goos then i'll add a racing game to my 3DS library.



Colors said:

@25/ShineSprite They might've made them green because the Retro section already has red stars.



Ristar42 said:

I dread the day when all racers are 'super realistic'!

I'm a big fan of arcade racers and this was about what I was expecting from Ridge Racer, I'd still get it if I get a 3DS. Online doesnt really both me, hardly use those modes myself unless they unlock stuff in the main game.

I'm hoping SEGA decide to bring OutRun 2 or Sega Rally to the 3DS, as we now have a portable Nintendo console that could do justice to both the graphics and the controls.



Chozo85 said:

I won't be getting this. Namco have got very lazy with portable Ridge Racer. The first game on the PSP was a best of compilation which recycled old tracks but generally worked well. The second game was practically the same game as the first one but with a few extra tracks. This 3DS version looks very similar to the PSP games (with many of the tracks recycled) but with 3D and maybe a few different tracks.



theblackdragon said:

@andyutd97: Unfortunately, Pilotwings is the one and only 3DS game Nintendo Life will not be reviewing. Ever. Sorry to disappoint!
yes, of course there will eventually be a Pilotwings review



Imerion said:

@Ristar42: Second that, Outrun 2 or Sega Rally would be awesome! Another two games I have probably played a bit too much.



Vinsanity said:

Arcade racers > Sims. Always has been, always will be. Forza and GT can blow it out their respective . Ridge Racer has never been criticized for not becoming that ; if anything, people have been waiting for Ridge Racer to pick up it's game against the likes of NFS, Trackmania, Burnout, Split/Second, etc.

But while RR is definitely not evolving to keep with the pace of NFS or Burnout, it is rather timeless. Ain't nothing wrong with Ridge Racer (except for super linear tracks; it always paled in comparison to San Francisco Rush back in the day); it's like Pokemon. You're not supposed to keep up with the series; drop out of it, wait out a few sequels and then hop back onboard sometime down the line. Last RR I've played was ....jeez, Ridge Racer 64 or RR V. And I'm actually feeling pretty nostalgic right about now;) Thinking it's time to hop onboard again this year, with RR3D and Unbound.

Although, I'll admit: Burnout or NFS 3DS sounds pretty good to me too.



pikku said:

Just out of curiosity, are you guys reviewing Japenese versions of these games, or did you recieve English 3DS's AND English versions of these games, lol?



Jonisme said:

Burnout for the 3DS would rock! They have already proven that they rule the world when it comes to online multiplayer with racing games, and they are just the right combination of real and unreal. I hope they don't decide to skimp out though.



TKOWL said:

(2006 E3 Reference ftw)



morphballer said:

I saw a demo video where this game had some considerable load times. Has this been fixed?



Corbs said:

There are some fairly lengthy load pauses at many points throughout the game. In fact, by far and away the lengthiest of any of the 4 3DS games I've played so far.



andyutd97 said:

87% by ONM so Im happy Ive pre-ordered ridge racer. Are you sure you arent being a little harsh on the game guys.



gazamataz said:

i've read three reviews of this game and two of them have been written by the lad on here.i've pre ordered it as it will be fun.i love ridge racer more than outrun2.but less than daytona.the dreamcast steering wheel was brilliant.playing with the pad was a joke.



andyutd97 said:

Possibly a minor bit but what weve got to remember is RR isnt just about online racing. Yeah knock it down abit but not that much !



James said:

This game has the most menus out of any 3DS game I've ever played.



WaveBoy said:

I loved the original Ridge Racer back during the launch of the PS1....The colorful fun graphics, the wicked arcade gameplay, the awesome up beat technotronic trippy tunes and graphics were top notch at the time.

Yet I haven't played a Ridge Racer game since, since I'm not exactly a fan of racers unless we're talking Mario Kart. BUT, IGN's review has swayed me into maybe getting this. The 3D effects are supposed to brilliant as it truly takes you into the world of Ridge Racer muhaha.



Paul4679 said:

Well, spent a good few hours on this now, and found it just as exciting as NFS Hot Pursuit or Split Second. Great graphics, great sound, great seat-of-the-pants gameplay. TONS of content, and drifting varies from standard easy physics to demanding dynamic physics, depending on chosen vehicle and upgrades.

As for the 3D, what a benchmark to set! Brings this classic arcade game back to life. Graphics look even sharper in 3D, and if you're having a hard time adjusting, then simply adjust the slider. I'd give it 8, and while multiplayer is absent the AI is challenging later on, thankfully not suffering from the dreaded rubber band syndrome that plagues NFS and Split Second.

Only trouble is you can't really bob your head to the (mostly) excellent music without straying from the viewing sweet spot ;-D



Traxx said:

I agree with the score. I'm a semi experienced RR-player and I think there are some missteps in AI-performance, some slowdowns and even too much customizing options. I'm not too happy with the visuals as well, some minor ghosting at some occasions, and visuals in general arent crisp enough, this can hurt the 3d experience.
But still, its a GOOD racer and if you are into racing, go buy it.




No, and it doesn't need it. I can see future racing games having motion control on the 3DS though.

I bought it and whereas it is a good, solid racer it can be a little generic in track design and can get a bit repititive. Its a bit like having one of those racers in the arcades on your handheld. It has that pleasant vibe about it. However, you eventually feel only motivated to play it an hour at a time (which isn't a bad thing). However, the motivation for "that hour" is high.

I've played Ridge Racer 1 , Type 4 and 7 on other ppl's consoles and I'd rate it about the same standard overall as RR7 on the PS3 I think. But I'm not a RR veteran.

Bisides that the 3D, drifting and general visuals are very good. The 3D aids your driving too imho.

Good- high 7 or scrapes an 8 /10



Tate24 said:

eh.. i dont know ?

It sounds good but i like bit variety in my racing games! and ive seen and hear most of the reviews on utube that this is good game. But racing becomes slightly boring after awhile and nothing really changes. Never really enjoyed ridge racer franchise and it seem's that this is missed opportunity to try sumthing new for new console.

I think only thing that interests me about this game is SPECIAL CARS which look really cool but must be nightmare to unlock them all!!!

I am thinking of getting other game soon!

Ive hear bad reviews by sum people but also good stuff from other people over Ashalt 3D and it seems to have alot more variety which i like!!

so i may buy that instead



matsuken717 said:

Damit hope in the next one we will see online with voice chat and better graphics and better use if the 3d



ramstrong said:

If not for the fact that some YouTube videos shows first person perspective, I may not want this. But it does, so I want it!



jerryo said:

I am still waiting for this game. Got Asphalt 3D, for me around 7/10.
So i expect RR to be much better than 7!



motang said:

I just picked this one up last week (my second 3DS game), and I am having so much fun with it. It's awesome arcade racer and since I am technically new to the Ridge Racer (I only played the first Ridge Racer back on PS One for 10 minutes), I am all over this one.



tovare said:

I second that. Much fun to be had in this game ... it should have had online multiplayer.



Mr-X9000 said:

its a shame this game doesnt play more like ridge racer DS(wich u guys really need to review)

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...