Another quality lap around the track
With two decades and a ton of releases under its belt, Ridge Racer is one of the golden standards in the realm of arcade racing games, and Ridge Racer Slipstream is no different. The latest installment in the series brings what you would expect from the folks at Namco Bandai with regards to the series, including lovely graphics, tight controls, a catchy soundtrack, and of course, appearances by Reiko Nagase, the Ridge Racer racing queen herself.
The premise is simple, and as old as time itself: Take control of one of a number of top-of-the-line automotive vehicles and gun it down the track as quickly as possible, outracing the competition and crossing the finish line either first, or with the best time. Of course, you’ll need more than just the ability to drop a lead foot down on the gas to win; as with many an arcade-style racing game, drifting around sharp turns and tight corners is essential. Plus, when the chips are down, you might still be able to call upon the surge of speed provided by a nitro-charged turbo boost.
One key element, though, is the one from which this particular iteration takes its name: The slipstream. Trailing behind an opponent and using their speed to boost your own is a key mechanic this time out, complete with an assortment of several “perks” dedicated to either maximizing your slipstream potential, or shutting down that of your opponents.
Controls can take a little getting used to, but once you do, you’ll find they’re generally very tight and responsive. Four control schemes are present: Two with tilt-based steering, and two with touch-based. One of each features automatic acceleration, with the other adding a manual gas pedal.
We preferred the touch-steering with auto-gas, but the touch options have a small problem in the rather inconveniently-placed Nitro button. It’s right on top of the left steering button, and we would occasionally try to veer left, only to accidentally hit the nitro—a mistake that can unfortunately be costly at a key moment during the race.
One other thing we noticed about the controls is less a criticism and more a curiosity, as the drifting feels almost automated. That is, it feels like initiating a successful drift attracts your car to a certain part of the track, keeping you from veering off into the wall. It’s not bad, but feels a touch unusual versus other racers.
As noted before, there are plenty of options, from different cars to perks to racetracks, and numerous modes as well, including a career mode and shorter arcade, knockout, and online races (the latter of which is more like a time trial). Plus, there are lots of cool songs to choose from; our favorite was “Eat the World,” a remix of “Eat ’em Up,” which is a nice homage to fellow Namco Bandai franchise Pac-Man, complete with sound effects.
There really isn’t much bad to say about Ridge Racer Slipstream, and it stands to reason, as Namco Bandai have been producing installments for almost every platform imaginable for so long, they seem to more or less have it down to a science.