Review: Snow Moto Racing 3D (3DS eShop)

Wet snow

Zordix's latest 3DS eShop title, Snow Moto Racing 3D, is a would-be fun racer marred by generic presentation, choppy frame rate, and unresponsive controls. The latest in the Moto Racing series – Aqua Moto Racing 3D was previously released – Snow Moto Racing 3D is a smartphone port that doesn't quite make the transition unscathed. There is fun to be had here, but there are more than a few caveats.

Despite the no-frills menu presentation, it quickly becomes apparent that Snow Moto Racing 3D is definitely not lacking in content. There's Championship, the main career mode; Quick Race, which lets you race on any unlocked tracks; and a multiplayer mode with Download Play. In Championship, each cup is made up of three tracks; most are relatively short, and you'll find yourself quickly unlocking the next cup while racking up achievements. Races are fair, with the racer AI not given any kind of major advantage, though you'll likely need to replay a few races to place in the top three.

Sprinkled throughout each snowy course are money bags and treasure chests that go toward buying new snowmobiles, as well as power-ups that fill a circular power gauge that, when filled, offers a satisfying boost with a tap of the X button. The gauge also fills when passing through mandatory checkpoints and when successfully performing stunts, which can be accessed when going off a ramp and using the d-pad and shoulder buttons. Different stunts will net you varying amounts of money and fill up the gauge quicker.

The controls don't respond as precisely as they should, and driving off the narrow trails also often slows the player down even more. Stunts are easy to pull off, but try to hold onto a stunt too long and you'll crash and give the other racers a very long lead. For the most part the crashes are justified, but every so often you'll try to perform a stunt and crash without being given nearly enough time, at least in terms of what you'd expect. And while there's nothing inherently broken or wrong with the level design, choppy visuals often inhibit the experience.

Playing in 3D, meanwhile, slows the performance so significantly that it should have been excised from the game entirely. The inconsistent visual performance is a shame, since there are some genuinely nice lighting and snow effects that could have really stood out had the graphics been optimised. The background music is is very repetitive, meanwhile, and the generic faux-rock instrumentals are quickly forgotten.

True to its smartphone roots, Snow Moto Racing 3D encourages short play sessions — you can exit the game in the middle of a cup and your progress will automatically save. The multiplayer extends the experience, as does the achievement system; you'll gain achievements for collecting a certain amounts of treasure chests, performing a certain stunt and more. Achievements can be viewed from the main menu and give the player some more to do beyond the Championships — one small nitpick: achievements appear on the top screen, which can distract from the race!

Conclusion

Snow Moto Racing 3D doesn't crash and burn, but it's no smooth ride, either. While there is plenty of content to keep the player going, the controls and visuals will likely frustrate. Zordix has released two Moto Racing games in a short span of time and both ultimately play very similarly. If you haven't yet played Aqua Moto Racing 3D and are curious to try one of these titles, Snow Moto Racing 3D gets the edge, if only because it wasn't released with the various glitches of its (now patched) predecessor. Zordix could genuinely be on to something here; hopefully future entries will provide more personality, smoother visuals and refined controls.

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