Reviews: Ridge Racer

Ridge Racers: One of the greatest driving games on the PSP

Ridge Racer was a launch title for the PSP, released in Japan as Ridge Racers and as plain ol' Ridge Racer in western regions. It's similar to a greatest hits collection, made up of racetracks and music from the series' older games, but with an added nitrous system and 16 original music tracks.

It's also one of the funnest arcade-style racers to make its way onto the PSP.

Graphically, it might not hold up. The game's ten years old, the Vita has been out with its own iteration of Ridge Racer for years and there are some blatant shortcuts in some course animations. But as a guy who jumped from GBA and DS to PSP, the graphics still blow me away. The GBA was still on the market when this came out, and this game managed to put out graphics almost on par with the PS2. On a handheld. IMO it still looks great, especially for its time.

Gameplay: as far as I'm concerned, the gameplay in this is divine. What makes this game is the drifting - it's easy, it's fun and it's fast. You're locked into a path when you drift, so you don't spin out when you brake into a tight corner - you either make the tightest drift of your life, or you stop on a dime and catapult forward. If you're looking for realism, play Gran Turismo.

That's not to say that Ridge Racer is easy to beat. Some corners need to be entered at a good angle, or you'll run into the guardrail and lose a ton of speed. There'll also be later tours that demand a steady lead, lest the Rubber Band AI kick your ass inches from the finish line. Ridge Racer has a decent difficulty curve for most of the game, but it gets very tough.

Music: on par with the gameplay. You have five discs of electronic music to listen to, from Nu Disco to dreamily soft electropop to pounding bass rhythms. There are also 8 remixes of music from former games, and 16 tracks lifted from Ridge Racer through to R4. It really suits the game.

Replayability: there are around 16 tracks all up, with mirrored versions of each, and around 40 tours which use between 2 - 6 of those tracks each. There's plenty to come back to, including some brutal bonus levels that will ruin you.

Overall, Ridge Racer is worth dusting off your PSP for, if not picking up a cheapo PSP for. It's cheap, it's fun and it's plentiful in content.