Rob Dillman On March 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Ridge racer PS Vita screenshotRidge Racer 7 on the PS3, released in 2006, has 22 courses and over 40 cars. Ridge Racer on the Vita, released in 2012, has, as of this writing, 5 courses and 9 cars.

Statistics can often be misleading. Though numbers never lie, they may not actually say what they appear to at first glance. A baseball player with a low batting average may make up for it in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Pools are not as dangerous as airplanes even though they may kill more people in a year (Freakonomics, anyone?). However, in a game where there’s little else to do but race, there is no excuse for having this few courses.

Surprisingly, it’s even worse than it seems. Every single course in Ridge Racer Vita appeared in Ridge Racer 6, Ridge Racer 7, or both. Namco-Bandai managed to both provide too little content and to provide completely rehashed content. The amount of value here is akin to paying for an 8 oz. steak, receiving a 4 oz. steak, and discovering that it’s a chewy, leftover steak from last night’s dinner rush.

The gameplay itself is the typical drift-based Ridge Racer style. Car handling is very tight and arcadey, and most of the gameplay mechanics have been carried over from Ridge Racer 7. By drifting, players earn a nitrous speed boost straight out of The Fast and the Furious. The more players race, the more they can unlock upgrades for their cars. Along with the engine, players can also customize some of the colors on their car to give it a personalized look.

For better or worse, slipstreaming is also back. The act of driving behind an opponent’s car to nullify wind resistance to gain more speed (also called drafting) is a common racing mechanic, but it’s much more severe in Ridge Racer than other games. It’s a fairly blatant rubber-banding mechanic, even if it’s no blue shell.

Ridge Racer Vita’s main new element is its team system. Upon initial bootup of the game, players may pick one of four teams to pledge their allegiance to. By fulfilling shallow missions that never amount to more than beating a specific team on a given day, players can earn more credits to unlock upgrades for their cars. Sadly, there’s no story mode where one must prove their worth by thwarting jealous teammates, outrun federal agents, and hit on Vin Diesel’s sister, but I suppose something needed to be cut for the wealth of fresh content.

Single-player gameplay modes are few in Ridge Racer Vita. Players can choose to “Spot Race” (3-lap race against CPUs) or time-trial by themselves, or, once certain conditions are meant, play “Duel Mode” to unlock (as of this writing) two new cars. “World Race” is multiplayer with few frills. Players can race against up to 7 other live opponents via Wi-Fi or ad hoc or just race a ghost. Players can turn nitrous and rubber-banding on or off. To Namco-Bandai’s credit, these options may be bare-bones, but they are essential, and multiplayer is done well with little lag. If they were up against a deadline, they picked the right pieces to include.

The visuals are well-done. They’re not mindblowing, but they’re on par with the home console versions of Ridge Racer so far. Cars and courses have detail to them, and there’s no significant pop-in or jagged edges to be found. Still, Ridge Racer Vita stumbles on the framerate, chugging along at 30 fps where its console brethren are at 60. The lack of smoothness makes a huge difference.

The sound might be the best part of this game. Ridge Racer Vita has lots of free music packs available in addition to its existing soundtrack. My favorite song, “Rhythm Shift” from the original Ridge Racer, is nowhere to be found. With a series as prolific as Ridge Racer, Namco-Bandai has a lot to draw from, and they certainly have done so for this game.

The Vita-exclusive features are mercifully minimal. Namco-Bandai has opted not to include touchscreen driving controls. Players can touch the side of the touchscreen for a rear view. The rear touchscreen may be used to shift gears as an alternative to button-based controls if selected before the race. This doesn’t work that well either, but it’s not forced on the player or shoehorned in just to use the touchscreen controls. The touchscreen menus work reasonably well, but there are some places where more text would be useful. Icons are only intuitive when they mean something universal, a principle that Namco-Bandai has failed to observe here.

Though the core game is the fine-tuned Ridge Racer gameplay players have come to expect, there isn’t enough content here to justify a purchase for anyone but the most dedicated of fans. As a franchise dedicated to being present on the launch date of a console, Ridge Racer is notoriously hit or miss. With Ridge Racer Vita having ¼ the number of tracks of Ridge Racer 7 and completely rehashed tracks to boot, this game is without a doubt a disappointment.


It’s Ridge Racer. Nothing more needs to be said but this: Riiiiiidge Racer!


The game looks the equal of its console counterparts. The framerate misses the mark and heavily impacts the overall feel of the game.


Even if many of the tracks are reused, the size of the library is impressive.


This game is incomplete and rehashed. No matter how good the rest of it is, this is a port at best and should probably be called a beta.

4 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    I really wish game reviewers would actually play a game for more than an hour, or not just copy others reviews…

    If you had played the game for longer you would have realized there are 2 more cars in the game, the devil and angel cars with their own short race mode

  2. Steve says:

    Not that this makes the game not lacking, but not one review of this games from anyone has had its facts straight….

  3. Rob Dillman says:

    My apologies. I did not mention the Angel and Devil cars in my review (or how to unlock them) so as not to spoil them for other players. However, this was probably a little too cautious on my part, so the review has been updated to reflect both their existence and the mode to unlock them. They are a staple of the series, but I figured it was better to play it safe than sorry.

    However, I can assure you that I did play Ridge Racer for a significant amount of time and feel confident in the validity of both the compliments and criticisms I gave the final game. I am not a veteran of the Ridge Racer series, so I can only write from the perspective of someone relatively new to the games, and I can only write a review for someone who is wondering if this game is a good value and worthwhile to play on its own merits, rather than as one game in a franchise.

    I appreciate your interest in my review. Thanks for reading!

  4. Stubblehead says:

    A good and fair review. The game only has 5 tracks and nine cars with DLC though as the game ships with less content. The game has so little content that even the demo that was released didn’t even have a race. It was a glorified trailer.

    I am still shocked that a game with so litle content could have been released. There are those who don’t go online so won’t get the DLC which is a turn off in itself. I could get the DLC if I wanted but I don’t want to buy the game as I feel like I am saying ‘yes it is ok to release a game that is basically what the demo should have been’. I’ll stick with Wipeout