Rob Dillman On November 20, 2013 at 10:20 am

AiRace_Speed_8How many genres could thrive without the most compelling parts of their gameplay? Would a Mario game live up to its iconic standards without the refined and thoughtful platforming? Would a survival horror-style game be able to get by without a sense of foreboding doom in the air? Could gamers buy into a Grand Theft Auto where you always had to obey the laws?

That question is somewhat misleading – It’s a common developer tactic to defy expectations and convention midway through a game temporarily. It keeps a player’s attention and forces them to think outside the box. By restricting a first-order optimal solution, a developer encourages its players to embrace the full potential of the gameplay available to them.

AiRace Speed, developed and published by QubicGames for the 3DS eShop, takes away the most compelling part of any flight simulator – the ability to fly uninhibited throughout the open skies – and forces players through a restricted course made mostly of cylindrical tunnels at, as indicated by the title, high velocities. Though it may feel and play like a post-apocalyptic version of the game show Hole in the Wall, it’s a tactic that deeper sci-fi flight sims like the Star Fox series and several Star Wars games have used in the past for a level or two.

The game’s concept is quite simple: Players race by themselves against predefined time goals on 18 different tracks to earn stars. Crashing into a wall adds seconds onto a player’s time. The stars unlock new tracks but are otherwise meaningless. To QubicGames’ credit, they did include achievements and leaderboards to add some depth, and at $5 on the 3DS eShop, it’s entirely feasible that players will be able to talk their friends into accepting the challenge of beating their time. It’s difficult to argue with the game’s value at that price point.

However, it does have its drawbacks. The game comes dangerously close to wearing out its welcome even with its 18 tracks and several aircraft, all of which are almost indistinguishable from one another. The tracks repeat the same few obstacles and shapes far too often, especially after the halfway point of the game or so. While some tracks have clearly defined concepts to separate themselves from the pack, it’s clear that others were half-baked and less inspired, overusing the same few walls with shapes cut out of them or forests of thin poles extending from various spots of the tunnel. Hardcore fans of the gameplay and game’s challenge will not mind, but players looking for a timewaster will surely lose interest at some point.

The framerate dips at high speeds in the tunnels as well. This may not sound like much, but in a twitch-based game based mostly in tunnels where every second counts, it will eventually make the difference between slipping through a tiny hole mostly unscathed and crashing instead. It’s puzzling as to why more of an effort wasn’t made to mitigate this problem.

Nothing in the graphics or sound will jump out at players. The sound is generic sci-fi techno that repeats too often, and the graphics are futuristically drab and mostly made of grey tunnels. Some of the aircraft designs are neat, but it’s difficult to find a noticeable difference between them other than their general shapes.

AiRace Speed is a time-waster that knows it’s a time-waster. It’s challenging and exhilarating for a short time and worth the $5 for those looking for a quick test of reflexes. It may not have much of a shelf life, but it will get a player’s adrenaline pumping until then.


The speedy gameplay of AiRace Speed presents a difficult challenge and will keep you tearing your hair out in the best way possible for 18 tracks. One point off for the framerate problems.


The graphics get the job done for its futuristic power-plantish/sewer setting but do nothing interesting.


The music and sound are just kind of there. The elevator music techno may as well be One Direction. You’re not going to remember either of them in a year anyway.


AiRace Speed takes its concept and puts forth a good effort for $5 on the 3DS eShop. Pick it up if futuristic high speeds and near-miss collisions are up your alley.

Comments are closed.