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AiRace Speed finally careened onto the Nintendo 3DS eShop this week, offering 18 tracks for players to dart, dip, dive and boost through. A budget title at just $4.99, can it sate the appetite for portable gaming fans possessing a need for speed?
We announced AiRace Speed's impending launch on the 3DS earlier this month, touting the game's decent number of courses and small suite of features as being potential good news for racing game fans who want to get a little adrenaline rush on the go. While AiRace isn't exactly a racing game (there are no other crafts on the course), it still manages to pack a decent punch for speed junkies looking for a quick fix.
As I said in the AiRace's announcement piece, the 3DS isn't exactly awash in racing games. Thankfully, AiRace Speed is a competent addition to that underrepresented genre on Nintendo's latest handheld, offering a couple of hours of entertainment for those who want to (if you'll pardon the pun) speed through the game and more for those who take the time to dig in and start chasing those leaderboard top spots.
AiRace Speed is a pretty straightforward affair, offering a decent selection of content with only a few frills. The game proper features 18 tracks, broken into groups of three. Each group features its own flying craft to pilot, adding a little variety to the mix as each craft seems to have slightly different speed, handling, boost, etc. The majority of the tracks are a simple race to the finish line, while two offer a never-ending series of tunnels and obstacles to steer through and only three lives to your name.
Courses are pretty well laid out with only a few hiccups here and there to turn up the frustration. Checkpoints are sometimes too far apart, forcing you to tackle a particularly annoying set of obstacles over and over again. Thankfully, dropping back into the action is instant, so it never gets too tedious.
While the obstacles get better the further you get into the game, some seem specifically designed to ruin a good run. It's not uncommon to be heading down a long and winding path, following the natural flow the previous obstacles seem to be dictating only to turn a blind corner and slam straight into a yellow wall.
So, yes, it can be frustrating at times, but AiRace Speed can also be exhilirating. Sometimes I'm just having an off session and I quickly discovered it was just best to put the game down before my 3DS suffered some sort of bodily harm. Other time, though, the game and I seemed to fall into sync. I'd find myself cruising down the bright and snaking tunnels, finger almost constantly on the boost button, effortlessly guiding my craft through the twisting and turning obstacles in a zen-like trance. In those moments, AiRace Speed truly shined.
Each course offers three tiers of medals to unlock, as well as individual achievements. There are all-around achievements to unlock, too, further lengthening the game's lifespan for completionists. It's also nice that the leaderboards seem to update instantly, so you can check out where your latest time landed you in the standings immediately after a particularly good run.
For only five bucks, AiRace Speed is a decent investment for racing fans looking for something new to play on their portable console. The game looks pretty sharp and the 3D effects are nice, so long as you can stop yourself from turning the console as if it'll magically help your craft make it through a particularly tight turn. It's the speedrun fans who are going to get the most out of this game, however. The courses can be tricky at normal speed, but you can keep that boost button jammed down throughout the entire race if you want. That brings a nice risk/reward system into play that should keep speed freaks coming back for more in the hopes of shaving off just a few more seconds.
This review based on a 3DS download copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS (reviewed)
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