Ridge Racer DS
Namco brings the famous drift-racing series to the Nintendo DS. We see if this is an effort worthy of your driving skills.
When I go out for dinner I'm big on appetizers. Hit up some nachos. Maybe order some quesadillas. It's all good, but it's hardly enough to satisfy my appetite. For that I need the main course. This is the dilemma with Ridge Racer DS. There's no question it's a fun racing game, but it's not very filling. Rather, it's a small treat on a menu that features Ridge Racers (PSP) for dinner. Still, that doesn't mean the DS game isn't tasty in its own right.
So let's get this right out of the way. Ridge Racer DS is basically a port of the N64 game Ridge Racer 64, but with lackluster touch screen controls. However, it's still a fun game that revs its engines in a big way on Nintendo's dual screen system.
Visually, it's on par with a PSone game, but it runs a lot faster than you'd expect. It has a zippy sensation of speed that'll make the hairs on your arms pop up as you scream around hairpin turns. There's also a multitude of tracks and cars, and the inclusion of wireless multiplayer for up to six racers on one cart, putting this game clearly above Ubisoft's Asphalt Urban GT.
Much has been said about the game's controls, and yes, they're bad. Namco has in place three schemes, two of which use the DS touch screen. Viewing the action on the top screen, you can steer using either the stylus of the infamous DS thumb strap on the bottom one, and I just couldn't commit to either system. The controls take way too long to master, and you probably won't even try to become better at them because right away your car will be sliding all over the place. Instead, just use the boring but reliable d-pad controls.
While Ridge Racer DS provides all of the same thrills that the series is known for, I have a few issues with the gameplay. First, you can't switch controls on the fly and there's just no excuse for it. If I don't want to use the touch screen to control my car, I should be able to put my thumb back onto the d-pad and continue playing, but this just isn't possible. Instead, you have to go into the pptions menu to shift control schemes.
Next, the game's too difficult for its own good. The AI is brutal, and even the slightest mistake will cost you races. Unfortunately, slightest mistakes may happen quite often. Because this is Ridge Racer (meaning Namco hasn't really messed with the formula too much since the first game debuted on the PSone a decade ago), if a car just grazes a wall it's going to go out of control and bounce all over the place. In fact, the box might as well as read Ridge Racer Pinball.
Still, I got to give Namco credit for crafting a solid game that's a lot of fun to play if you really love the Ridge Racer series. Ridge Racer DS is a decent racing title, but after playing just ten minutes of Ridge Racers it's pretty hard going back to the DS version. However, if you're looking for the best Nintendo DS racing game, look no further.
What's Hot: Fans of the series should be satisfied by this game.
What's Not: The touch screen controls pale in comparison to the d-pad!