NINTENDO DS REVIEW: RIDGE RACER DS

Ridge Racer has been a popular series ever since it first appeared on the PSone system. The game featured fast cars, some very cool tracks and music and sound effects that were exactly like playing an arcade game. The series has gone through several changes over the years; some for the better and some not so great. Still Ridge Racer is one of those arcade-racing games that offer fast pace action and is always fun to play.

When I first heard that Ridge Racer was making its way to the DS system, I was a bit surprised as well as concerned how they where going to make use of the touch screen. I really thought the game might be ruined by the new controls. After playing the DS version, all I can say is out of all the games so far for the DS system Ridge Racer is one of the best out there. While Super Mario DS is great and graphically outstanding, Namco managed to throw in several different things in this game and the end result is one of the best games for the DS so far!

Now it is not perfect and the controls will take a while to learn. The regular button controls even take awhile yet, after a few races it's really good just a little touchy. You will have to learn how far to steer the cars and learn to drift in order to win. The touch screen control method will challenge even the best gamer out there. It is neat and works, however, it is far from being easy to learn. They even have a control system for the thumb stylus that is on the DS strap and is marked expert mode. After trying it out, I can agree it will take an expert to have fun using the thumb strap. I will say in all fairness to the game and the DS system that in time it is something that can be learned and works as promised. It is just the fact the learning curve is long. From the very start of the game the intro is slick and features a catching opening with that familiar music and voices added. Gamers can go into a quick race right away and jump right into the action. Racers may want to adjust the drivers view to one of the other two settings since the game by default is set to the first person view. Setting it to the outside view will allow you to see the track and turns allowing you to get used to the layout of the track. Then if you like the drivers view, set it back later after learning the game.

Ridge Racer also features a Grand Prix mode where you try and earn the first place position for each track in that series. If you succeed you earn a trophy, then it will unlock the car attack mode. This is the mode that you can win new cars and add them to your garage by beating the AI racer. The AI driver is no push over and it is a challenge. There is also a time attack mode and several multi-player modes allowing up to 6 players racing against each other. You will have to master 20+ tracks to beat the game and while it may sound easy it is a challenge.

Graphically, the game has some really neat things added. Helicopters will follow you filming the race. You will pass huge TV monitors that will feature some other Namco classic games in action and even a few Nintendo characters manage to find there way into the game for a special appearance. After a race you can watch the replay of the race from several angles to see where you may need to brush up certain sections and it is dead on accurate. The sound is great and if you really want to hear how neat the sounds are, plug in a set of headphones. You will hear things that you won't hear through the speakers. For examples, the helicopters will be heard in the right or left ear depending on where they are coming from. The sound is dead on and so life like it is amazing. You will also hear speedboats and while going through a tunnel, the extra effect of the engines being amplified off the walls of the tunnels. They really nailed down the sounds effects right down to the tires squealing. Of course, you will also hear the announcer telling you to hurry up or giving you a compliment as well as letting you know if you just beat the lap record.

Ridge Racer shows what the DS is capable of doing. It does not push the
limits of the system yet, shows that the system is capable of pulling off several things at once. It's not perfect but it is a blast to play and worth the money. It also shows what a game can look like when done by someone who took the time and not just rushed it out to market.

Now there are times when all the cars seem to look a bit blocky and blend into the tracks scenery, however, after playing for awhile the cars do look good for a hand held system. If that is my only complaint to throw in, I then have to say Ridge Racer will make any racing fan that owns a DS happy. Just be prepared to take time learning the control if you want to use the touch screen wheel. Namco has once again showed why they are known as great game makers. They gave racing fans a solid racing game that looks good and sounds fantastic while offering a real challenge!

Preview By Chris

Namco announced the popular Ridge Racer would appear on the DS system. Perhaps a move on Nintendo part to "one up" Sony since Ridge Racer was a successful racer for Sony. It's not uncommon to try and get big name developers for a new system but this one was a bit of a surprise. Another big surprise was the announcement that the game would be one of the launch titles on store shelves. The game will feature 20 tracks including tracks from the very first game and Ridge Racer Revolution. It will also have tracks made just for the DS system. It will support up to 6-players via the wireless support.

Namco did not give full details about the game. However, taking a look at the screen shots the game is looking good. From the screen shots we know the game will have changing weather and day and night racing. A detailed hub will be located at the bottom of the screen to watch your speed and other gauges. We expect a ton of new screen shots and details in the next few days. For now take a look at the screen shots and you can see the colorful details.

Features:

  • Touch the screen and drive! - Analog steering through the use of the Nintendo DS Touch Screen.
  • Race your friends! - Supports up to 6-player simultaneous play through the Nintendo DS built in wireless support.
  • Pick from 20 total exciting racetracks – A total of 20 racetracks in three different locales including the quintessential Ridge Racer cityscape, a scenic Northwest course from Ridge Racer revolution and the sun-baked desert of the Southwest.

 

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System: DS
Dev: Namco
Pub: Namco
Release: Nov 2004
Players: 1 - 6
Review By Chris
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
4.0