One thing I wished there were more of on my Nintendo 3DS are racing games; I mean I know you have the likes of Mario Kart but it’s not the most difficult racing game around and it’s definitely made to appeal to kids more than adults. That’s why I was happy when I heard about AiRace Speed, a futuristic racing game developed and published by Qubic Games, that finally gives me a bit more of a challenge and doesn’t involve me throwing bananas or shells at princesses or talking mushrooms. Having not played any of the previous versions of AiRace though I don’t have a lot to compare it to in terms of how it’s improved over time, and so I can only base my opinions on how it feels as a racing game.
My first impression of AiRace Speed reminded me a little of the classic Wipeout games you had on the Playstation. I think it was the whole racing spaceships through tunnels and just that whole futuristic theme that kind of made me have some flashbacks to my happy childhood. Where it differs from Wipeout though is that with AiRace you don’t race against opposition, you basically just race against the clock in a few different modes, which for me is what lets this game down. I mean the game modes aren’t all that bad, you have the typical time-trial lap based mode where you can improve your skills on certain circuits learning all the different routes on each track as there are numerous tunnels spinning off in different directions. Then in addition you have the endless races which are real endurance tests that just keep going until you lose all your lives by getting wiped out.
Yet I get theimpression that the game would be a lot better and feel more complete if you could race other people, even if it was just against the computer and not available online. Instead the closest you get to it racing others are the online leaderboards where you can compete with people to see who can get the fastest lap times. I mean it’s a nice touch but there’s beating someone’s time and then there is beating someone in a head-to-head using dirty tactics which is a whole lot more fun.
Having said that though what AiRace Speed does give you is a challenging time as you race through 18 chaotic tracks that force you to navigate through tunnels, traffic and other obstacles. Spend too much time crashing, bumping and scraping into these obstacles though and boom goes your spaceship leaving you with negative impacts like added time penalties and having to restart at checkpoints. That’s why it’s important to master the controls and especially the boost feature which gives you that little boost of speed you need to help better your times. I mean the boost comes in useful on straights but can be deadly if you’re weaving in and out of obstacles. Luckily the controls are simple enough to pick up and using the analogue stick to steer allows for precision movement and you can revolve your ship to slip through narrow gaps. However the further you get into races the harder it becomes to prevent collisions, so expect to get easily frustrated.
My favourite thing about the game though has to be the 3D graphics; I mean some games on the 3DS I’ve thought didn’t really need the feature as it doesn’t enhance the game enough to need to redesign the game in 3D. On the other hand this game really did suit the 3D gameplay and made it so much more enjoyable. The depth perception allows you to separate the spacecraft from its environments which makes dodging obstacles feel like you are really escaping death. Plus I just think the 3D effects really work with the futuristic theme, like with the film Avatar where everything just seemed so natural in 3D especially the futuristic computer controls and equipment.
Overall AiRace Speed is a solid racing game that gives you a real racing challenge even if it is only against the clock. The game modes don’t differ too much but the endurance mode that allows for you to navigate a never ending circuit of tunnels is quite fun, though at times it feels like it purposefully trips you up by throwing obstacles in your way that you can’t help but clatter into. My favourite feature is the games 3D design as I think it brings something a bit special to the game and really works with the futuristic theme. However the major let down for me is that there is no opposition to race against, either against the computer or other users online and adding that feature would definitely make this game a smash hit. Still for the small price of £4.49 in the UK it’s definitely worth it and will give you hours of fun.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.