Arriving just in time for the launch of the Nintendo 3DS is Namco Bandai's latest entry into the venerable Ridge Racer series, titled, not surprisingly, Ridge Racer 3D. If you've read our review of the system, you know that we think many of the launch titles less than stellar – not bad, just less than stellar – and Ridge Racer 3D falls squarely into that category. Essentially, it's like the majority of other Ridge Racer titles but, you know, in 3D – not eye-popping cars coming out of the screen 3D, but 3D.
First the bad. Where the game really falls flat is with its graphics, there simply isn't enough going on in the background nor along the sides of the courses and, even if the cars themselves are pretty, very few other visuals are as fully realized. Don't get us wrong, some backgrounds and environments look beautiful, but not all of them. Reflections which appear on your car are blocky and indistinct, and the majority of the buildings you whiz by on courses are little more than large rectangular shapes with smaller rectangular shapes standing in as windows. Pass a spectator stand on a course and confetti flies down—large rectangular bits of confetti—some of which, annoyingly, stick to your windshield (the 3D screen) as you race until they magically disappear. They don't fall off or fly away, they just disappear, but as they don't look real to begin with, you'd probably wish they weren't there at all. Leaves which do the same thing look better, but still feels kind of gimmicky.
Then, and this really isn't good, you're probably going to want to play with the sound turned off. There are tons of music choices available and some of them are actually quite fun to listen to, but the woman who provides the "encouragement" as you're racing is more than a little annoying. The problem isn't simply that she repeats the same phrases over and over again (although she definitely does do that), it's that the way she is everything is grating the first time out (not that the Ridge Racer franchise is really known for great commentary).
Where the game succeeds is with the sense of speed you get from most courses. Go fast enough and your tail lights get blur trails. And, while the game starts out on a far too easy difficulty level, play a few sets of courses in Grand Prix mode (the game's main mode) and things start to ratchet up to the point where its enjoyable.