(3DS eShop)

VectorRacing (3DS eShop)

Game Review

VectorRacing Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Lines and lines and lines and lines and lines!

There's an episode of Family Guy in which Peter Griffin attends a production of Uncle Vanya. Partway through the play he stands up, bored out of his mind, and shouts, "for crying out loud, somebody throw a pie!" That's more or less how we felt playing VectorRacing.

VectorRacing is the epic tale of...nah, we're pulling your leg. There's no story; you drive in circles around a track. While simple racing games can be fun — indeed, often are — there's a distinct lack of depth and substance to VectorRacing which makes it difficult to justify its asking price.

The game consists of 12 tracks, spread out over three categories. You can also set the level of difficulty, which defines how aggressively the opposition behaves. So far, so good.

However the tracks don't feel particularly distinct from one another, and the game's minimalist approach to visuals contributes to that problem. We happen to like the way this game looks visually — more on that in a moment — but with track design so uninspired, graphical variety is sorely missing. Additionally, the other racers are never particularly difficult to beat, even on the highest setting. Without weapons, powerups, or items of any kind, you just need to make sure you hit the limited number of speed boosters on the track. Do so, and you win. Fail to do so, and you don't. So much for skill.

The controls are simple: you steer with the circle pad, accelerate with B and brake with A. As in the Mario Kart series, a well-timed press of the accelerator before the race begins will earn you a bonus boost, but this is about all you get by way of strategy throughout the entire game.

The tracks are wide enough that you won't be colliding with any walls unless somebody knocks you into them, which is easy enough to avoid. There are no holes to fall through or other obstacles of any kind, meaning you're only ever driving straight along and waiting for the next curve. Every so often there are the green rectangles you can run over to boost your speed, which may help you win the race but won't make the race much more enjoyable.

The visual design of the game is an interesting one, and we think it's successful in many ways. The basic line drawings may look like something someone put together using Petit Computer, but they animate smoothly and scale impressively. On many levels you can see the track stretching out into what feels like infinity before you, and you can see other racers through the wireframe environment as they wind their way through the course around you. It's a risky approach, but it works.

What doesn't work is the lackluster design of the tracks themselves. Many of them feel indistinguishable from one another, and even on the highest difficulty settings the dullness of VectorRacing makes it feel less like a racing game and more like a highway hypnosis simulator.

The game needs something — anything — to break up the gameplay, because as it stands it's a visual experience far more than a tactile one. Weapons, weather conditions, randomised tracks or obstacles, any of these would have helped.

There are six vehicles to choose from, but it's not difficult to win with even the slowest vehicle, so whatever you choose is down completely to personal preference. You can also choose to play these tracks singularly in Time Trial mode, submit times to online leaderboards or challenge up to four friends in local multiplayer, if you feel like explaining to them why you're not letting them play Mario Kart 7. Various options in the game let you adjust the volume of sound effects — what few there are — and turn every line to the uniform colour of your choosing. Go with red and it'll be just like playing any number of rightfully forgotten Virtual Boy games.

The music is a pulsing electronic throb that doesn't really leave an impact, but it's certainly not bad. The 3D effect, on the other hand, clashes terribly with the uniform black backgrounds, and lends to a game-wide disorienting visual bleed. Like the rest of VectorRacing, it's probably one of those things that worked much better on paper.


VectorRacing is graphically impressive, with its deliberately understated visual design allowing for smooth animation and impressive draw distances. When that's the best thing about your racing game, however, there's a problem. Uneventful tracks and a dire lack of variety means that racing on any one level feels like racing anywhere else, and that gets dull fast. Online leaderboards and local multiplayer are welcome additions, but the experience feels a bit slight for the cost of entry.

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User Comments (53)



Barbiegurl777 said:

I'm glad I'm not downloading anything until Oct & waited on this game for the review. I almost downloaded it yesterday but something told me to hold off on it until I saw a review.

Thank you so much just saved me 7 dollars!

I decided to pop back in Mario Kart 7 3DS in my 3DS & play it instead.

Thank you!

Happy Gaming! (^_^)



Shiryu said:

Was hoping for a better grade. Really love the visual style. Too bad my F-Zero fix will continue to eat away at my soul, then.



Takosuke said:

It's gotta have the same level of complexity that F-Zero on the SNES at least, which I've played for countless hours and still do.

...it does, right?

The price of this is putting me off however.



LittleIrves said:

For those Ambassadors among us, just play F-Zero: Maximum Velocity instead. The game gets a bad rap, but once you figure out the controls (pump the accelerator through the turns!) it's a really addictive fun game.



bofis said:

Arg, why didn't I wait for your review??? I thought this game had online multiplayer, and am very disappointed that it does not. I wish there was a way to refund eshop purchases within a certain time-frame of when you download them!



WhiteTrashGuy said:

You and I both friend. I would have thought F-ZERO a no-brainer for the Wii; using the controller and nunchuck for throttle and/or drifting. And then still no showing for the 3DS? With this and STAR FOX being my favorite Nintendo franchises I'm starting to get bummed. At least I got a new PUNCH-OUT!! 3 years ago...



mr_nihilism said:

I was so ready to get this...and then the review. It's a real shame because those vector graphics look really cool. Maybe if there's a price drop I'll pick it up.



MrWalkieTalkie said:

Awww, thats a shame. I was so looking forward to getting this. Maybe Ill just pick it up if it ever goes on sale...



atariman said:

What!?!?! I did not expect that, I understand that Nintendolife didn't like it but I'm still geting it sense it was a Vectrix game from the 1980's. , Good review.



Windy said:

All i'm asking is for some good software in the Eshop! I guess it's to much to ask. Can we get Kairosoft onboard here?



grumblegrumble said:

At $1.99, I might have thought about it, but it's overpriced for the content as you describe. I see that the e-shop lists it as "downloadable software" instead of "dsiware", is this what they are calling dsiware now or is this really a retail cart available to download on the cheap?



RR529 said:

@GrumbleGrumble, it's not listed as "DSiWare", because it's not DSiWare.

It's a 3DS Download (like Pushmo, Sakura Samurai, VVVVVV, ect), and is labelled as such.



Dodger said:

Hmm. I was slightly interested in this before.

Sounds like F-Zero with less ugly graphics. Unmemorable track design, focus on speed to make up for unmemorable track design, Etc. At least this doesn't look blurry.



TruenoGT said:

This originally reminded me of N64 F-Zero X, but with that game, Nintendo's goal was to scale back graphics so they could emphasize the speed and chaos of 30 racers on track at 60fps. Sounds like with this game, the point was merely "hey, we've got retro graphics!" and that was as the far as the design went.



TheDreamingHawk said:

I got this game and found it to be a lot of fun. In the GP mode the car differences don't do anything, but if you want to be on the leaderboard you need to plan it out. I still find it very fun and another amazing game on the eshop, but if it didn't have leaderboards then I wouldn't be playing this. Good review.



GrumpyGoomba said:

Not good felt like an unfinished f-zero game with the same song playing over and over and just when you think it's over guess what that stupid song still keeps playing.



Slapshot said:

Only you could come up with an opening like that Phil!

I was actually quite interested in this one. Thanks for saving me $7 dude!



Jukilum said:

I thought the 3D effect in the screenshots looked good. Does it just not hold up while in motion or is it just a difference in taste?



tanookisuit said:

Well it's worth the 99cents that Apple has it up for on their iTunes shop for iOS but for $7 not by a long shot as there's not enough there and it's really not all that interesting. It's a few moments time waster at best.



Philip_J_Reed said:

I thought the 3D effect in the screenshots looked good. Does it just not hold up while in motion or is it just a difference in taste?

My issue with the 3D isn't the depth — which I think is well done — but the bleeding. It comes from having bright colors against black (or dark) space, and it's not specific to this game...Pilotwings Resort and Ocarina of Time 3D have sequences where it is particularly noticeable.

However since this game is nothing but bright colors against black space, there's no escaping it, and it gets pretty distracting, and can make it difficult to gauge the location of walls or other cars.



LucinaSmash said:

@Philip_J_Reed I have the review download code for the game and I found the solution that might help the bleeding issue. Set the brightness settings to 4 and Power Saving On from the home screen. That work for me on the 3DS XL.

However, you'll probably not gonna test it yourself base on your review



Shotgunryugan said:

I'll probably skip on this one,doesn't sound good from the review,this also reminds me i haven't purchased Mario Kart 7 yet,i feel left out XD



spamineggs said:

I got this game over the weekend and I have to say that I'm loving it! I like F-Zero, and this does lack the depth of even the first game on the SNES, but it is none the less fun. What keeps me coming back is the leader board and the chance to rank among the top players across the globe.



ramstrong said:

>The game needs something — anything — to break up the gameplay, because as it stands it's a visual experience far more than a tactile one. Weapons, weather conditions, randomised tracks or obstacles, any of these would have helped.

Is it just me or everything gets boring after dabbling with Petit Computer? I still play Kid Icarus occasionally, but that's about it. Still, I must be the rare person who doesn't play Mario Kart, precisely because I thought all those items you mentioned distract from the driving experience, and there's no way to turn them off.

I am not most people. Most people cannot stand long stretches of highway without listening to the radio. I actually enjoyed the silence, and I like to feel the road through the tires, and that's it. No radio, audio books, text, or whatever. I like my driving experience pure.

Forza Motorsport also have uninspired tracks. Not only that, it lacks even boost. Nothing there, except pure driving experience. Will you downgrade that game, too?

>VectorRacing is graphically impressive, with its deliberately understated visual design allowing for smooth animation

That's the point of the game, isn't it? Smooth driving experience is the whole reason for its existence. The question isn't "What is exciting?". The question is "How smooth is it?". Maybe it's just the different expectation, but I am extremely interested in how the controls work. Control no problem? Is it precise or loose? Circle Pad or directional? Any drifting possibilities? These aren't mentioned in the review, but I need those info in order to make decision. IMO, incomplete review.



bofis said:

Mario Kart 7 is a way better game. However, since I did purchase Vector Racing based on graphics-alone, and before I read this review, I'll answer some of your questions. The game DOES need something, I do wish it had weapons of some kind or online multiplayer.

The game is very smooth, and controls use the circle pad and B to accelerate. A and Y brake, though I've never used them really. I feel like they drifted in the demo, but I can't really get drifting to work. Seemingly you can go full speed around most turns, but perhaps at the higher speeds in the higher difficulties you can manage drifting a little.



Philip_J_Reed said:

The question isn't "What is exciting?"

It may not be your question, but I do think that if I'm bored out of my gourd with a game, it's my responsibility as a reviewer to mention that. You don't have to agree — that's the wonderful thing about opinions — but I thought it was pretty important to mention. You say that "smooth driving experience is the whole reason for its existence," but I doubt most people buy a racing game because they primarily want a smooth driving experience. It's more likely they'll want...you know...a race.

It can come down to a difference of expectation, sure, but there are certain expectations inherent in the genre. It up to you, and everyone, as individuals to decide if those expectations align with your own.

The controls are discussed in the review, but I'll additionally mention here that yes, you steer with the circle pad. No drifting possibilities were mentioned because there aren't any.



ramstrong said:

@Philip_J_Reed I do think that if I'm bored out of my gourd with a game, it's my responsibility as a reviewer to mention that.

I agree you have that responsibility.

>there are certain expectations inherent in the genre.

Also agreed. I will not hold you to the higher standard involving miscategorized/mistitled game, but it would be nice if you do.

>yes, you steer with the circle pad. No drifting possibilities
Sigh. This is where I wish the reviewer is well versed in the genre. I can't tell by your comment if the control is good or not. It's like saying a chess program plays a "mean" game without commenting on play styles.

I have to know, so I bite the bullet. Downloaded it and played it. The control? It sucks. Yes, it uses circle pad. But it works like a directional pad! Either it turns or nothing. That's not how it supposed to work!

At the highest level, it drifts if you press B+A at the same time. Still bad, though. Certainly no Ridge Racer. Also there are different camera views, but I digress.

I actually like the track designs. It would be nice to cruise there had the control not faulty.



mayhem13 said:

Its an arcade style racing game, so what one finds to be good controls is subjective. I hate Ridge Racer because I hate drifting. I like games like Daytona USA and Cruis'n USA which can take a person like me who is terrible at racing games but loves them all the same. Make me look good. Thats why I like playing them and that all or nothing style can help people like me who don't want floaty controls.

That said, this game is all graphics. Its for the retro geeks and Vectrex nerds. So I had to get it. I absolutely agree with the reviewer 100%. Its all graphics and not alot of anything. The vector style graphics look great, the 3D effect is good. If you have a good memory, I suppose the tracks stick out. But for me, they just blend together. I guess I need a real background to remember a track. The controls, even by arcade standards are average at best. It is a very limited game. Strip away those cool vector based graphics and you know what, there is not much there. I wanted to like the game more though. I really did.



Ukee said:

I have really started to play it a lot more now. The game as a racing game really isn't all there HOWEVER I am loving the online best time ranking. I love being to load up the best times on a track and trying to get as close to #1 as possible. I was so happy to get in the top 10 in simulation - 03 on expert. So if you like time attacking other peoples scores then this does that pretty well.

That said my main 2 grips on the game is first of all the controls. Since the stick doesn't have sensitive sensors would just rather use the d pad to steer. And the secod being that it is to hard to notice where the wall is suppose to be, so it is hard to judge how much to steer into a cornor. Other then that I am really loving the game.

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