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Ridge Racer

Review: Ridge Racer Slipstream

Dec 30 // Chris Carter
Ridge Racer Slipstream (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5])Developer: Namco BandaiPublisher: Namco BandaiReleased: December 20, 2013 (iOS) / TBA 2014 (Android)MSRP: $2.99 Slipstream is once again presented by series host Reiko Nagase, which gives it a bit of authenticity right off the bat. But it's more than just a simple character injection and voice that Namco Bandai has added into this new mobile iteration, as the game looks and feels like a real (albeit older) Ridge Racer game. Screens don't really do the game justice, as it looks incredibly smooth on most high-end devices, and the frame rate is consistent and high. Arcade-style racing comes to the forefront, with your typical drifting mechanic, nitro boosts, bright colors, and big jumps. It's not all that technical (especially in portable form), but it's fun nonetheless, and offers up an easy pick-up-and-go solution for fans. Nitro does add a bit of strategy to the proceedings, as drifting fills up one of three possible bars that you can trigger at any time. [embed]268164:52044:0[/embed] Then you have the titular "slipstream," which refers to the ability to tail enemies for more speed, right before the point at which you pass them. Doing this constantly from last place can result in a strategic boost to first, and it doesn't feel like straight rubber-banding due to the fact that there's some skill involved. It's fast and fun, which should appeal to series fans. Control-wise things aren't a disaster, as there are four total configurations available: two tilt schemes (which I don't recommend), and two touch schemes. One of each sets sports an automatic acceleration feature or manual gas icon, which is a nice touch. You're basically allowed as much or as little control as you want here (as is usually the case with mobile racing games), since you can turn driving assists up or down, or use buttons if you see fit. Although the touch controls do work well enough, this is a game that desperately screams "controller support." Hopefully the developers can get on it sooner than later. So if the game looks great and plays (mostly) great, what's the holdup? Well, as usual, IAP bogs down progress a bit. You can unlock more races, events, and cars normally by playing and winning, but it feels a tad slower than usual, most likely in favor of the game's two currencies (in-game and premium, the latter of which has a few exclusive cars tied to it). This is the same song and dance as most racing games these days, sadly, so you may be used to it by now. If not, just know going in that you may have to grind a bit -- or place higher than usual, consistently -- to reach new content. Then you have another problem in terms of replay value, since Slipstream doesn't actually have a whole lot to offer. Content-wise there's 20 tracks (10 unique locations with mirror options), 108 events, 12 cars, and a number of customization options for said vehicles. Right off the bat you can probably tell that's not a whole lot, especially if you're used to the vast garages from other racing titles. There are different modes (regular, time attack, and knockout), and online time trial races to fill your time with. But the latter is just that -- time trials, and not a real multiplayer component. Lack of multiplayer (even local) is a major bummer, as Slipstream's appeal starts to slip after you get tired of the 10 tracks.  20 years after the original Ridge Racer, here's what you're getting -- a mobile game. It's not particularly ceremonious, but for a few bucks, it gets the job done for hardcore fans who happen to own a device capable of running it. You'll have to have some patience to wade through the molasses-like unlock system, but thankfully, it is possible to slowly make your way through the game's content without spending extra cash. With the removal of IAP, and the addition of controller support and a real multiplayer mode, Slipstream could be something really special.
Ridge Racer Slipstream photo
Slips a bit, but still enjoyable
People can get restless for another entry in their dream franchise. For many years, Ridge Racer was the dominant racing game for some, offering up a sense of style with a selection of great tracks, and fun cars. But in a...

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Ridge Racer Slipstream to hit mobile devices this month


20th anniversary of Ridge Racer
Dec 04
// Dale North
It's not the next-gen Ridge Racer I wanted, but  we'll take what we can get. Namco Bandai has announced that mobile racer Ridge Racer Slipstream will come to the App Store and Google Play this month. Expect a full Caree...
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Ridge Racer composer releases new original album


Kohta Takahashi has something for Everyone
Oct 14
// Audun Sorlie
Kohta Takahashi has been one of Namco's more prolific composers over the years, having a hand in crafting the sugary sweet yet catchy Klonoa soundtracks as well as being lead composer for the Ridge Racer series beginning with...

Ridge Racer Driftopia photo
Ridge Racer Driftopia

Ridge Racer Driftopia is a free-to-play racer for PC, PS3


It looks surprisingly good!
Apr 12
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
A new Ridge Racer is on the way and it's going to be free-to-play. Driftopia will be out later this year for the PlayStation 3 and PC, and will see players racing, drifting, and smashing into each other as they compete for stuff to do stuff with stuff.
Ridge Racer remixes photo
Ridge Racer remixes

It's Ridge Racer, the arrange album! Riiiiiiidge Racer!


A short but sweet remix tribute to Namco's long-standing racing series
Apr 08
// Tony Ponce
No, it will never get old. NEVER. OverClocked ReMixer Joshua Morse has organized a jazz-electronica fusion celebration of Namco's Ridge Racer series. He was assisted by a pair of fine young gentlemen with wonderful first name...
Namco Bandai sale photo
Namco Bandai sale

Namco discounts Artorias of the Abyss and more on PS3


PS3, Vita, and PSP games are half price
Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
As a nice complement to Square Enix's Final Fantasy sale this week, Namco Bandai also has some discounts for PlayStation gamers going live soon. This is an assorted bunch, with the clear highlight being Artorias of the Abyss ...

Review: Ridge Racer Unbounded

Apr 03 // Alasdair Duncan
Ridge Racer Unbounded (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PC)Developer: Bugbear EntertainmentPublisher: Namco Bandai GamesRelease: March 27, 2012MSRP: $59.99 If it wasn't immediately obvious at the start, let me make this clear: Ridge Racer Unbounded is not a typical Ridge Racer game. Bugbear Entertainment's title is much more focused on combining a variety of racing modes along with encouraging players to destroy as much as possible around them, be it the environment, buildings, or even rival racers. While Ridge Racer Unbound can be exciting, the combination of racing and wrecking never really combines into something truly compelling. You play as a recent inductee into the "Unbounded," a group of street racing miscreants who aim to shake up the population of Shatter Bay with their illegal street races -- and by driving through coffee shops and malls while listening to dubstep. The story is nothing you should be paying attention to. Suffice it to say, you're going to be racing through each of the city's nine districts, competing in a variety of events in a bid to unlock faster and tougher cars. Breaking it down, each district is divided up into seven individual events, such as straightforward races or more specialized events like time trials, drifting challenges, and elimination events. Each event has a three-tiered reward, depending on whether you come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in a regular race or finish a time trial under par time. Completing these events will earn you experience points, which is then used to unlock cars and assets for use within a surprisingly good map editor. You’ll have to perform well to unlock the next races in the district and once you’ve completed all events, you’ll have dominated the area. Unfortunately, Ridge Racer Unbounded shoots itself in the foot right from the start due to its level design. Although racing through the city streets while the sun is setting does look beautiful, the lighting makes driving much harder than it needs to be, especially compared to the wider roads and clear daylight of later districts. Put another way: have you ever driven through the city center, blinded by the sun setting as you pass between tall buildings? Imagine that, but driving at 130 mph.  Aside from winning events, the other main way to gain XP is by scoring "collateral" which is gained during any event for actions like crashing through objects, concrete barriers, trees, and even large buildings. You'll also get collateral from wrecking your opponents' cars (called “Fragging”), and when this happens, you're treated to a slow-mo crash sequence where your opponent's car is flipped through the air. During this time, the control of your car is taken away from you, so it's actually a handy way to get through some tricky sections of the game. At the center of all of this is Power, which is gained from things like drifting, causing collateral damage, and getting your car airborne. Filling the Power gauge lets you use it as a nitro-esque boost, which, if you aim correctly, will allow you to smash into your opponents' cars for an instant frag. The other main use for Power is taking advantage of the many shortcuts you can find in each level. If your Power gauge is full, you'll get a flashing prompt on-screen that lets you know a building can be crashed into, creating a shortcut straight through it. Again, it's accompanied by a camera shot that takes control away from you, which can be annoying, as once you regain control, you're headed for an unbreakable part of the scenery and a crash, losing any advantage you might have gained from taking the shortcut in the first place. The other main problem is realizing what can and cannot be smashed into: regular logic goes out of the window here as concrete pillars, low walls, and event stairways leading up to elevated train lines can all be smashed into but low walls with yellow and black markings can’t. Although repeating events will help you learn what you can’t drive through, it’s still really hard to make those calls driving at full speed in a busy race. Shortcuts are also a bit of a misnomer as even though creating them is really exciting, there were far too many times that I felt my race position was never improved by blasting through a building. [embed]224877:43254[/embed] The event you'll be playing most is probably Domination, a twelve-car race where you're encouraged to frag your opponents and find shortcuts. These races are tough as you start in the second-to-last position and it's a real challenge to even get close to the leaders of the pack. It's hard to build up Power and it's really discouraging to see your rivals just use their Power boost to race out in front of you, especially if there are no corners to drift around to fill up your Power gauge. The other annoyance with the Power boost is fragging; as I mentioned before, it's great for taking down other racers for some points but in reality it doesn't offer you much of an advantage. Your opponents will always respawn and do so fairly quickly, meaning aggressively fragging other racers will give you some well-needed experience points but won’t necessarily aid you in the race. In fact, I've seen racers in front of me wreck, hit their burned out car, and not move up a single spot in the race because they respawned seemingly straight away and still in front of me.  It's doubly frustrating to bring yourself so close to a rival, only for them to engage their Power boost and insta-frag you. A frag seems to only be a minor setback for the AI racers but a big crash for you can easily set you back five or six places in a busy race. The AI drivers are definitely antagonistic and will take opportunities to frag you, meaning the races develop a real cutthroat vibe to them as you try and screw your opponent before he screws you. The other annoyance about the frag system is that, unlike your opponent's vehicles, your own car doesn't have any indicator to show its health, aside from some purely cosmetic damage to the car and a single “Damage Critical” warning that flashes on screen. This just compounds the quickness and the frequency of being fragged by opponents with frags coming from totally out of the blue. The straightforward Shindo races are more enjoyable as there's less emphasis on shortcuts and fragging your opponents -- it's just straightforward pedal to the floor racing. Drifting events will either be great fun or a nightmare depending on your choice of car and how well you get to grips with the drifting mechanics. Time Trial offers a lot more fun, as you're often racing a pure stunt course with no attempts at upholding the realistic city environment; it's mostly huge ramps and half pipes and it's all the better for that. Frag Attack is a basic elimination test but your Power gauge fills up at a much higher rate in this mode that it's just a matter of aiming at a vehicle and pressing the A button to mash into your opponents. Racing itself in Ridge Racer Unbounded is fairly standard and uncomplicated, depending on what car you chose for your event (there are separate classes of vehicle for Domination, Drifting, and so on); there's a real, tangible difference to the cars. 4WD vehicles hug the road much better than a 2WD or a RWD car, but as a result, you're less likely to drift and fill up the Power gauge. It's also worth keeping in mind your car's strength value -- it can make a big difference in how often you’re fragged by opposing racers.  Multiplayer offers different modes based on the basic races. Playing with AI racers does negate some of the frustration of the aggressive AI opponents and there’s a level of strategy needed as the other human players will create shortcuts, which you can also use, whereas the AI drivers will use shortcuts but never actually create them. The more interesting part of the multiplayer comes from Ridge Racer Unbounded’s excellent track editor. As you would expect, it’s a tile-based editor that makes creating a simple track layout super easy. Extra themed tile sets are unlocked in the single-player campaign and even in its first weekend, I was finding some really inventive courses being made online. It's intuitive to create your own city, with a variety of events and courses. The multiplayer suite also offers hourly and daily challenges to compete in (only against the AI), where your objective is to gain enough XP to beat the track creator’s score.  However, this is where an unscrupulous player can exploit the game; I played a randomly allocated track that had more explosions than 15 minutes of a Michael Bay film but also included a series of ramps that confused the AI racers and meant I finished in first place by a big margin. Wanting to test out if this was a fluke, I raced the same track three more times with the same result and with the reward of me going up a level. Whilst I don’t think there should be restrictions on what maps users come up with, it’s easy to see this feature being abused for easy XP boosts and rapid leveling. Ridge Racer Unbounded simply doesn't manage to make all its separate elements gel together. In the straight Domination races, it feels like the best strategy is to play it like a regular race and ignore the destructible shortcuts and fragging opponents. Then again, it's also easy enough to just ignore racing your opponents altogether and find yourself gaining a lot of XP simply by causing environmental damage and gaining other awards, instead of finishing races first. Due to the tough difficulty of the early districts, I found myself at almost level 20 (out of 30) before leaving the second of nine total districts in Shutter Bay. With such level progression possible, it leaves the question of why you would want to see the rest of the game. The multiplayer maps have shown there’s some lovely looking track layouts later in the game, but the motivation to see them simply isn’t there. What Ridge Racer Unbounded does right is high-thrills racing and crazy action -- like smashing through a municipal building only to boost off an elevated train track that then leads you into a truck filled with explosives. It is unfortunate that the rest of the game doesn’t support this grand spectacle. As a result,  it's hard for me to recommend Ridge Racer Unbounded to racing game fans when the still excellent Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is available.
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Bugbear Entertainment knows a thing or two about cars crashing into one another. As the studio behind the FlatOut franchise, they've shown they can create a driving game that melds crazy excitement with solid handling. Ridge ...

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Idolmaster content busts its way onto Ridge Racer Vita


Mar 12
// Josh Tolentino
Namco Bandai's devotion to bringing The iDOLM@STER to everything it can get its hands on isn't just limited to fighter jets. Now its coming to race cars, specifically the ones in Ridge Racer Vita. In the grand trad...
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Ridge Racer Unbounded gets pushed back


Mar 06
// Jordan Devore
Ridge Racer Unbounded won't be making its March release as originally planned. The Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 game is now set for a North American launch this year to give the development team some "additional time to pa...
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Ridge Racer Unbounded wants you to 'deal with it'


Feb 09
// Conrad Zimmerman
Here's a developer diary from the team at Bugbear Entertainment, currently working on Ridge Racer Unbounded. There are cars, they go fast and the level editor they show off looks like a great execution. They also released a ...

Preview: The roads are empty in Ridge Racer for PS Vita

Jan 25 // Abel Girmay
Ridge Racer (PlayStation Vita)Developer: CelliusPublisher: Namco BandaiRelease: February 22, 2012 Ridge Racer on Vita is an interesting conundrum because, as I said, it remains as solid a title as past entries. Like previous iterations, Ridge Racer forgoes any notion of real-world physics, bringing instead its patented drifting mechanic. Drifting has always been the defining feature that separates Ridge Racer from other racers, and it remains equally important here. Either you learn how to drift properly or have fun ending up in last place. It's not too difficult, thankfully. By releasing the throttle and moving the analog stick in the direction you want to go, players can send their cars into impossible-looking turns to speed around tight corners. This simplistic approach to drifting has served the series well in the past, and it works just as well on the Vita. It's for the best to that the drifting is so easy to pull off, since mastering the mechanic is key to performing well. The tracks in Racer Racer emphasize this the most, since they are all built with their fair share of hairpin turns and sharp corners. The draft and boost system -- and your effectiveness with them -- also rely on how well you perform, since you need a good drift going before you can build up your boost meter or draft efficiently. Multiplayer will allow up to eight players at launch, though our demo consisted of a standard race with four players. Online players can compete in standard races, of course, but one of the more interesting features is the ability to record, save, and upload ghosts which you can download (over either a Wi-Fi or a 3G connection) and compete against. It's certainly more intriguing an idea than just competing to shave seconds off a static leader board, and it could get more interesting when you compete with and against custom cars. Another staple of the franchise, car customization, is back and in full effect. While it's not yet certain how deep the customization system goes -- past Ridge Racers have boasted upwards of 300k unique variations -- if this can be matched, expect to swap out tires, paint jobs, and engines to your heart's content. Sadly, there is a chance that the customization (among other things) may be at its shallowest in series history, because Namco Bandai has elected to ship the game with a lackluster amount of content. Like I said, Ridge Racer on Vita is a solid racer at its core. But no matter how much fun the drifting still is, despite whatever positive aspects the game may carry, they all fall under the shadow of one huge caveat: the game is shipping with a bewildering five cars and three tracks. That matters. It really, really matters when talking about racers. Granted, the game will be retailing for less than other Vita titles ($29.99 versus the standard $49.99), the goal being to charge for DLC and let people craft their own experience, but there's no reason for the game to be so dry out of the box. Namco Bandai is promising free DLC to people who buy the game at or around launch. No word on what this DLC is, though, so it could be cars, tracks, or music packs. In any case, it's a little ridiculous to ship the game and then ask people to be patient as they release enough content to make it a complete experience. Ridge Racer for Vita doesn't set out to reinvent the formula. If you know Ridge Racer then you know what you're getting, or not getting, rather. The decision to ship the game with so little content is personally more of a reason to let it fly under my radar. If you're the type who is willing to stick with a game as content is trickled out over time, then keep an eye out for this one.
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Another PlayStation machine is about to launch, and with it comes another Ridge Racer, of course. The new installment for PlayStation Vita is somewhat of an oddity. I can't remember a time when my opinion of a game had ever b...

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PS Vita Ridge Racer gets a flashy new trailer


Nov 18
// Dale North
You'll have to squint and lean closer to the screen to see what's going on in this new Japanese trailer for PlayStation Vita launch game Ridge Racer. There's all kinds of craziness obscuring what looks to be footage of Vita'...
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Ridge Racer Unbounded launches on March 6


Nov 03
// Brett Zeidler
Hey guys, it's Riiiiidge Racer! Namco Bandai has announced that Ridge Racer Unbounded will hit shelves on March 6, 2012. Yeah, I know the Wii U is also on its way for next year, but this one won't be a launch title. Crazy, I...
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PS Vita digital games cheaper than boxed copies


Oct 11
// Jim Sterling
Last night, a number of PlayStation Vita launch titles were priced for Japan, bringing with it the good news that digital versions will be cheaper than physical versions -- something that the PSPgo utterly failed to do. A num...
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When the Vita was first announced earlier this year I was able to play around with a tease experience for the next Ridge Racer title. I was hoping to see more of the game at Tokyo Game Show this year, and I was able to, but t...

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Since I hadn't caught up with Finish developers BugBear since I was in Dubai, gamescom was the perfect opportunity to take a look at the latest announcements for Ridge Racer: Unbounded. This time we take a look at ...

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When we met with BugBear at E3 to get a sneak peek at Ridge Racer Unbounded, the end of their presentation teased some kind of online component where creation and sharing of custom tracks and cities. I was sold. Now they've ...

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Namco Bandai succeeding on 3DS


Aug 03
// Jim Sterling
Despite Nintendo panicking about the 3DS adoption rate and fears of third party abandonment, one company can claim to be doing quite well on the faltering handheld. Namco Bandai has enjoyed considerable success on the 3DS, wi...

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