#608 Ridge Racer

Posted: 28th April 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

235th played so far

Genre: Driving
Platform: PSP
Year of Release:  2004
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco

There’s several games in this series, with two others sharing the title, and one (the 1993 edition) being on the list for future play as well.

I guess that means it’s a notable, good racing game, but I’ll be honest, for this game, it’s hard to write an introduction. Racing game, techno soundtrack, hard to say what’s special about it before playing it. Similar things have been previously said about Wipeout HD, F-Zero GX and probably about the ghost scene in the second Matrix movie.

Our Thoughts

Let me just prefix this with my first negative bit of impression: I couldn’t beat the first round of the first part of the competition. Yeah. The very first race, where you have to finish third or higher, I couldn’t. It’s mostly my fault, but it seems worth mentioning.

As said, this series (and in fact, the first tracks) dates back to 1993. I suppose this is where it shows. It’s not impossibly difficult once you find out what to do (use the blue car!), but it can stump you, and it’s not the guaranteed first win most other games would give you. Unless you are me and have played a number of racing/driving games then the first level is a bit of a doddle. The place where it begins to get difficult is around the fourth racing tour where instead of just good driving you need to be adept at drifting, something I personally find difficult.

There is one bit of what feels like clearer cheating though. While in most games, you start on a starting grid where all cars are fairly close to each other (you’re usually last, but can still get far simply from a good start), in this game you start several car lengths behind the car before you, and the first car seems to be halfway around the track before you even start. It probably adds to the challenge, but feels like a cheat.

Why drift? Well with every drift and handbrake turn you earn a bit more nitrous to launch your car down a track like a rocket. In tight situations this is very very useful and when well timed is essential to winning the race. Eventually you do get used to these tracks seeing how there are only 12 in the game (24 if you count the same track being mirrored in a similar manner to Mario Kart games). This is a bit of a short-change especially since none of these are originals seeing how they have been lifted from previous games in the series.

In some ways this game feels incredibly scaled down compared to the likes of Pure since it is a (excuse the pun) a pure racing game without many excessive thrills minus graphics, which still look gorgeous on the PSP, but Ridge Racer is all the better for this. Due to this Ridge Racer has a real pick-up-and-playability unlike many portable racing games not set in a futuristic environment.

Final Thoughts

This isn’t a special game, with many flashy features or special tricks. The graphics, thanks to its handheld nature, aren’t great. But this could still rate as a high point of the genre. It’s a good, solid racing game, focusing slightly on the drifting and speed boost, but just as much on pure, quick racing. You need to be accurate, you need to be fast, and you need to pay attention to what you’re doing. Scary, but in the end absolutely fun racing.