(3DS eShop)

AiRace Speed (3DS eShop)

Game Review

AiRace Speed Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Have you the need?

AiRace Tunnel was a neat little arcade flight obstacle course on DSiWare that felt as if it was a bonus mode ripped out of a larger racing game. A few months later, QubicGames dropped AiRace onto the service, which was that larger game, filled with actual race courses against opponents other than time.

That same trajectory appears to be repeating on the 3DS eShop, starting with AiRace Speed. While it’s an obstacle course-based flyer that improves upon Tunnel’s blueprint in just about every way, Speed still can’t shake the feeling of being a side mode to a larger game — one that very well might be on the horizon.

The first thing that hits you is how much more polished Speed feels than its predecessors. Much of that is down to the prettier, smoother visuals that the 3DS can push and the more appealing, futuristic art style — while it is still clearly industrial in tone, the cleaner textures and improved lighting are a clear improvement over Tunnel’s drab vibe. Also gone is the weird “refresh flash” that would happen after clearing a lap in Tunnel — it was a minor quirk before but not having it around any more does a great service to creating a sense of world cohesion. As does the 3DS' signature stereoscopic 3D: zipping through tunnels with the depth effect cranked up adds to the exhilaration of almost crashing into everything. This type of experience — seemingly eternal visual depth — leans heavily into what this technology is best for, all the while with a whip-snap framerate to keep the flow smooth.

It also helps that Speed is a much larger game. Its 18 tracks, a significant bump over Tunnel’s six, are a blend of time trial lap-based tracks with multiple routes as well as endless tunnels that challenge your endurance. Bang into enough walls and obstacles will blow you right up and give out a penalty of some sort — in lap races you’re bounced back to the previous checkpoint with a three-second penalty on the clock, and in endless stages you lose a precious life.

The stages are divided up into chunks of three and continue to unlock as you earn stars, and each chunk comes with its own vehicle to pilot. With the exception of a small speed boost and different aesthetic, each craft pretty much handles the same. However, crafts are stubbornly locked to their respective three stages, so there’s no chance of taking a particular favourite from, say, the later courses back to chase scores on earlier tracks. This is a strange limitation, but so it goes.

AiRace Speed’s controls have been tweaked a tad yet it still handles similarly to its predecessors, so veteran pilots will feel right at home twisting and banking their way to gold star fame and glory. Swapping out the jittery-but-calculated D-Pad for the Circle Pad offers a smoother flight experience for whipping around tight spaces and it's easier to get a handle on than steering with the stylus and touchscreen. Using the latter is almost like playing a different game altogether — one that is more graceful and feels closer to gliding a plane through the air rather than forcing your craft through. Even more skilled players will make judicious use of the new Boost power to trim the clock and inevitably go much too fast straight into that wall.

While gameplay is a strictly solo affair, AiRace Speed’s online leaderboards add a competitive edge for those who might want the extra push to improve. If earning increasingly shiny stars only floats your reward boat for so long, the slew of achievements on offer are a good way to eek out more challenge.


AiRace Speed does one thing and it does it well: it drops you and your vehicle into an obstacle course and demands that you fly increasingly fast to get out alive. Time trial junkies and aviation enthusiasts will be happy to take this concept and run, while the rest might find the amount of content and repetition a bit on the flimsy side. While AiRace Speed is a bigger dish than its DSiWare equivalent, the limited scope still feels like that of a side course than a main meal.

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User Comments (24)



daggdroppen said:

I´ll pass this one. perhaps i will buy it on the discount. i wanted it to be more like N2O if there are no competitions



julienpoo said:

It feels like a side course it's true. But it's also priced as a side course.
The game is to be taken for what it is... but you can feel that they put effort in their title and it's very playable in 3D.
Good review. I recommend it and wish to the team behind it an encouraging success. I would be happy to get another of their game especially if it is a bit more ambitious.



6ch6ris6 said:

"...the limited scope still feels like that of a side course than a main meal."

nothing wrong with that for an eshop game i think



Anclation said:

Really fun game, bought it last week and I'm glad I did. Great game if you like time trials and futuristic racers.



ACK said:

Want it, but not as much as a full-featured Airace. Will anxiously wait for now...



Chris720 said:

"the limited scope still feels like that of a side course than a main meal."

Yup, exactly how to sum it up really. But y'know, you don't expect main meals from the eShop, unless you buy a retail download.



BulbasaurusRex said:

It's about time you finished this review. I had to go all the way back to Page 9 to vote for it in the North America Nintendo Download Poll.

Anyway, it looks good. I'll put it on my Wishlist (in place of AiRace), which is backed up enough to allow plenty of time for a possible improved sequel to come out.



MeWario said:

Great game Loved the original, but it was ugly as all heck. This fixes that! Sure it's a short experience, but racing games are fun to replay and it is an Eshop - not full retail - game.



WinterWarm said:

I don't get it.

The only fault( from my understanding) with the game is it's small, and limits the vehicle selection. So what?! It's five bucks.

I don't see how this warrants a 7. This game literally improved itself in every way over its predecessors. It seems like you're judging it as a demo.

I don't mean to discredit your opinion or offend you, but this review simply is confusing.



TG1 said:

@WinterWarm I agree it is a bit confusing. He seems to be comparing this game to both AiRace & AiRace Tunnel equally, rather than just the latter. That unique perspective probably accounts for the 7, as they are clearly very different games.



Will-75 said:

I downloaded it and I recommend it great price and a perfect pick up and play on the go title .



BulbasaurusRex said:

@WinterWarm They have to account for the system it's on when they review games. It should be better overall than AiRace simply because its a 3DS game rather than a DS game, but it dropped many of the full-game features found in AiRace, making it seem more like a tech demo as AiRace Tunnel was.



Xjarnold said:

I've never played an airace game before and this review had me confused... Is it worth picking up and can you race others(or was that only in older airace games?) or is it just time trial?



PokeMaster827 said:

I thought that AiRace on the DSi was awesome. But I wasn't too crazy about AiRace Tunnel. If it is true that they will make another game that is more similar to AiRace, I will definitely buy it.



QubicGames said:

Hi all!

There is no multiplayer mode which allows you to race against others directly. 16 levels are time trial and 2 endless levels are about how much distance you can fly with a limited number of lives. There are ranking leaderboards to compare your scores online, for each level, with all players around the world.

Technicallywise it must be better than AiRace, yes. But gameplaywise it's just different overall. It doesn't have the same features intentionally. AiRace Speed is a time trial racing game which focuses on speed, 3D immersion and tricky sci-fi tracks. Not on racing against competitors with power-ups. It's a full game which delivers a specific gameplay experience.

If you have questions about the game or want to share your reactions/experience, I'll be happy to read/answer you on this official thread: http://www.nintendolife.com/forums/eshop/airace_speed_3ds_eshop_discussion_thread1



njechranjec said:

I bought this and I love this game - it's awesome if you wanna feel the speed of flying in 3D - I LOVE IT



ACK said:

Jumped in with the sale and it's already one of my favorite eShop purchases. It tickles the time trial itch swiftly and impeccably.

Much respect, @QubicGames.



Dodger said:

I hope to pick this up sometime, as I loved Tunnel. I actually still play it sometimes. I wasn't as impressed by AiRace. The courses were kind of cool, but sitting down to play one, especially the tournament mode, took forever. Like, all Rainbow Roads and no Baby Parks.

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