It seems like the App Store is the place to be if you want to play arcade-style racing games. One of the newest titles that has debuted on the App Store that can satisfying one's need for handheld speed is Ridge Racer Slipstream, from Namco Bandai Games. At $2.99, it might seem a little on the steep side, but maybe this ride will prove worthy of its asking price.
Ridge Racer has a long and storied history of showing up in arcades and on home consoles. While the series has seen many releases, the core gameplay has mostly stayed the same. So with Ridge Racer Slipstream, it became a question of whether or not it would stick to its guns or introduce something completely new. But as soon as I saw the series' famous race queen/mascot, Reiko Nagase, I knew that I'd be getting more of the same racing action that I grew up with.
As soon as you load up the game, you're thrust into a tutorial. The first thing you're taught is how to choose a control scheme, of which there are four. The first setting allows you full manual control of your car by giving you a Left and a Right button to steer, a gas pedal and a brake. The second setting gives the steering buttons and a brake button while the game automatically controls the gas. The third setting combines tilt controls with manual gas and brake buttons. And finally, the fourth setting has auto gas with tilt controls, only giving you the brake button. I found that it was easier to stick with the first setting because I played on an iPad, but your arms might not tire so easily on an iPhone or iPod.
There are two special mechanics in this otherwise straightforward racing game: slipstreams and drifting. During a race, you are able to follow closely behind someone and get into their slipstream. This means that air resistance won't affect you as much and you can go faster, allowing you to speed up and pass them. So if you're stuck behind the rest of the pack, you can be crafty and travel from slipstream to slipstream in order to catch up.
By the same token, you can be in first place and the racers behind you will take advantage of your slipstream. It's kind of a fun mechanic and makes you feel as if you really have to get a huge lead ahead of the pack so that no one has any hope of catching up to you. If anything, it makes you race harder and really think about your decisions on the track in order to get a commanding lead.
The second mechanic is drifting. Braking at a corner and then pressing on the gas again will let you skid around without losing too much speed. Not only is this important for keeping up your speed, but drifting also builds up your nitro meter. Once its full, you can press the nitrous button to get a temporary speed boost. Watching the maps and timing your drifts is integral to winning races.
Outside of Ridge Racer Slipstream's Career, Arcade and Online modes, you can customize your rides and even buy new ones. You can use credits that you gain from racing and completing specific objectives to help fuel your obsession with customization and upgrades race after race. Or, if you're really lazy and want a huge advantage early on, you can just pay real money to buy more credits. Cheater.
Ridge Racer Slipstream is a solid racing title that looks great and offers a good arcade experience on your mobile device. The price might be a little high at $2.99, especially for something that offers in-app purchases, but you'll get plenty of mileage out of this one. The only other negatives i can point out are that you might grow bored of it after playing for too long, so keep in mind that Ridge Racer Slipstream, like the use of nitrous, is best enjoyed in short bursts.