Ridge Racer DS
Developer: Namco | Publisher: Namco | Release Date: 2005 | Genre: Racing | Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon
The Ridge Racer series have been a racing favourite since its early Arcade roots and rise to dominance on the Playstation. The few outings on Nintendo hardware have sadly not enjoyed as much acclaim and judging by this entry in the series this trend is set to continue.
Ridge Racer DS is yet another port from the N64 with some hasty touch screen features shoved in. It has all the hallmarks of a rushed launch game which is really a pity as the series is capable of so much more than this. Visually the game tries hard but never manages to impress. The simple surroundings coupled with jagged graphics and muddy textures are bad enough but coupled with the very limited locations makes you feel a bit short changed. I know it’s unfair to compare the visuals to the PSP version but a quick glance will reveal the Sony handheld to be light-years ahead in visual quality.
While graphics may not be the strong point of the DS at least the game has some touch screen support. Not that you would want to do more with it than flick through the menus however. Trying to race using the touch screen makes the already dodgy controls feel utterly broken. Nintendo has helpfully labelled the touch screen method of driving as “hard” but “rubbish” would have been a more apt title. Regardless of your control preferences the racing still feels glitchy and cars feel like they are completely detached from the road (and the laws of physics for that matter.) Collision detection is extremely sloppy and any form of contact with other cars is best avoided unless you want to be knocked back a few meters. This is exasperated by the fact that if you are not first you might as well be last as nothing but numero uno will allow you to progress.
Single player mode offers “Grand Prix,” “Car Attack” and “Time Attack” while multi player has six player wireless support. There is a decent selection of cars making the car attack where you race against cars to unlock them quite fun but the limited amount of tracks and poor A.I tries their best to ruin this. Car customization is limited to selecting the paint colour and while there’s a range of stats like speed, acceleration and grip to ogle at the handling is so bad in any case that these figures are all but useless. With enough patience you might be able to overcome the horrible controls but the game never manages the smooth drifts that made its processors so much fun.
The music isn’t that bad and has a nostalgic quality to it but the same cannot be said of the sound effects and commentator. Bumping your car against anything results in a noise that sounds like a garbage can falling over. The commentator tries his best to jabber at you constantly with meaningless remarks. You will find yourself wishing that you could leave the track and drive over him just to make him shut up.
Knowing the capabilities of the DS I wasn’t expecting miracles from this game but I find it very hard to believe that this is the best Nintendo could manage on their hardware. The racing game selection on DS is very slim but that’s still no reason to justify this lacklustre attempt. Don’t be tempted into buying this one because of the name. You are much better off waiting for something else.
*Review originally published 2005.