I’ve probably mentioned this way too many times, but I loved Ridge Racer. The PSP version was just so great, and it almost seemed unlikely for Namco to butcher it on the iPhone. With so many assets and tools available to Namco, I can’t seem to understand why they seem to think it’s ok to nickel and dime their customers.
They’ve been in the business for a while now, going back to the arcades with Galaga and Pac-Man, and I would think that they would have learned by now. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Ridge Racer, and while it’s slightly better than Ace Combat, it’s still very disappointing.
Anyone looking for a true Ridge Racer experience shouldn’t find one here, and with such a lack of true content and more of a DLC extravaganza, Namco has managed to once again destroy a once beautiful franchise.
Graphics: Not as bright as the PSP version, but really not as bad as the screenshots show. The car graphics are very blocky, but otherwise, the backgrounds are quite impressive. Again, don’t expect PSP graphics with this one, but don’t expect pixelated, throw-up. It actually looks pretty nice, and I was quite impressed.
Controls: The accelerometer controls were accurate, concise, and well executed. I didn’t really find much wrong with it, and it should be enough for those looking for good controls. I found it quite easy to learn without any auto-acceleration along with a good feel of drifting and turning. If you were worried about the controls, worry no longer.
Faithful: I’m was going to hold back on this one, but I’m just going to say it. Personally, I think it’s a faithful port of the PSP version. Sure there is a lot of content missing and the graphics aren’t as impressive, but honestly, it feels like Ridge Racer. As a Ridge Racer fan myself, I knew that I was playing the racing game on my iPhone. The only thing missing is, of course, content and other major features. But I should give props to Namco for making the game atleast feel like Ridge Racer.
Collision: When you collide with your opponent, almost nothing seems to happen. No crashing sound, no sparks, nada, zilch, nothing. It’s quite weird if you ask me, as in any racer there should be some sort of crash detection. Instead, all that happens is that your opponent seems to scoot a bit forward while you fall back, almost as if your car was made of sponge. No matter how arcade a racer is, this seems to be pushing the boundaries a little too much.
Difficulty: I haven’t gone through one track. Not once. That’s all thanks to the difficulty of the game, with a time limit between checkpoints. If you don’t reach a checkpoint in time, you lose the race and must start over again. The time provided between each checkpoint almost seems impossible also, and even without making mistakes, you’re bound to lose. I was somewhat frustrated as I haven’t been able to beat one track once in my hours of hands-on time.
Nickel and Dime: I’m not a big fan of the “nickel and dime” method taken by Namco, and for that matter, any game in the App Store. But for $2.99, you receive around 3 or 4 tracks along with 2 levels of cars. The third level for cars will cost you another $1.99 while 6 tracks will cost another $2.99. While Ridge Racer on the PSP cost me around $30, the game should have gone down in price atleast a little bit with such little content. The original for the PSP can easily be found on ebay or Amazon for significantly less, and the iPhone version doesn’t even feature half the content as on the PSP. I’m not satisfied with this nickel and dime method so far, and as an iPhone gamer, I say give us more.
Content: As mentioned before, you’ll only get 3 or 4 tracks across 3 gameplay modes. While 3 gameplay modes sounds quite extensive, the lack of a campaign or career mode makes this game feel a little bit… un-racer like. While you’ll play this just for a quick pick-up-and-play, the amount of tracks is quite saddening, and no one really wants to buy more for another $2.99. For now, this is one skeleton of a game.
Camera: I’ve never seen a more jerky camera. While playing the game, I would find the camera shaking back and forth throughout the ride, causing somewhat of an unpleasant view. I’m not sure why Namco thought this was okay, because for the rest of us, it’s not. I couldn’t help but feel quite nauseous and slightly dizzy after such a shaky ride, and it would be helpful if they could fix the camera.
Lack of Multiplayer: In this day and age, multiplayer is clearly necessary for a game’s success. NOVA shows quite a success due to multiplayer; EA Mobile’s games have almost all been equipped with local multiplayer options. The list goes on and on, and the lack of multiplayer in the game is quite saddening. Even bluetooth multiplayer would have been welcoming, but alas, a lack of multiplayer may lead to the game’s ultimate demise.
Sense of Speed: Basically, it feels like I’m going 20 mph in a 90 mph zone. It’s almost as if I’m driving a golf cart rather than a full-featured race car, and these cars don’t exactly drive the way they look. The backgrounds are sleek and all, but true racing fans will find the speed slow, monotonous, and a bit off for a racer such as this. While the higher level cars, such as the level 5 car pack available as DLC, are quite faster, most will find the game too slow to be considered a racer.
As you can see, I wasn’t exactly happy with the Ridge Racer port to the iPhone, and I’m pretty sure first-time buyers won’t either. If you’re looking for a quality, content-filled racer, look at Real Racing or Need for Speed because you won’t find it here. I may see some Ridge Racer fanboys feel some enjoyment from this title, but otherwise, it’s best to avoid this.
While I have received news that free content updates will start arriving as early as January 2010, the current version just doesn’t have enough. I’m sure most of us have seen developers promise updates but never follow through, have we not? Either way, this content-lacking racer is best avoided until Namco takes the iPhone with seriousness rather than mediocrity.