No racing game is off limits here at PRC.net, and today’s Reader Submission comes from longtime reader FMecha, who has given us a pretty detailed overview of the woes Ridge Racer has faced over the past few years as a franchise.
After several attempts at writing this, I’m back for yet another Reader Submission. And it’s featuring a game nobody ever talks about on your blog: Ridge Racer.Since the release of Ridge Racer 7 in 2006 for the PS3 (which is still praised for it’s technical abilities and the fact that the servers are still online today), newer Ridge Racer games have been seen by the community as hit & miss. Hardcore Ridge Racer fans are still demanding a new, proper Ridge Racer game for the current generation of consoles – as everybody’s starting to notice the lack of a Ridge Racer game on PS4 and/or Xbox One.
Regarding the newer games that the fans see as misguided efforts, let’s take a look at them, from an observer’s point of view:
Beginning with Ridge Racer 3D, I can’t really say anything about it. However, from what I saw, it seems that they are cramming Ridge Racer 7’s contents into a portable console, adding some new features here and there. From what I’ve heard, it’s between average and acceptable. There are complaints about the 30 FPS framerate cap, but this is understandable for a handheld game.
Ridge Racer Accelerated was basically a rehash of the PSP Ridge Racer games, the developers opting to jump on the iPhone bandwagon by simply porting over a title they’ve already released. And that’s it.
Every Ridge Racer fan HATES Ridge Racer Unbounded for one main reason: it strays from the Ridge Racer formula. It just plays too much like Split/Second and Burnout with the emphasis on destructive racing on open roads, as opposed to “drifting on closed highways/mountains” formula. And it was not even released in Japan – the series’ home market! This game was also part of a Humble Bundle (IIRC) after the game’s server was shut down. There’s also the free-to-play Driftopia based on this one, but it disappeared quickly.
Ridge Racer Vita was a return to roots of sorts… but the game was ridden with DLC. Apart from the basic five cars and three tracks, everything was locked behind the DLC paywall (comparable with R3E’s structure, except we’re talking about an arcade racer for an portable console and the structure is even worse). And worse yet, the DLC packs in question were mostly REHASHED STUFF from Ridge Racer 7 – except for one-off cars like the Hornet car from Daytona USA (which some people actually liked). No wonder the critics panned it and nobody except the Japanese time-attack players care. It’s a grind fest and it runs at 30 fps too.
Lastly we have Ridge Racer Slipstream… and it’s a mobile game. So the usual mobile game cliches/shenanigans apply – except you have to pay for the entire app first (there was a code giveaway, however). To upgrade a car you must wait several minutes before it takes effect – and I even heard the same also applies for buying cars!
It’s no wonder one can say that Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune – a coin-op arcade racer widely played in Asia, based on the manga Wangan Midnight, has replaced Ridge Racer as Namco’s flagship racing game. Also, the 20th Ridge Racer anniversary was celebrated with yet another game music collection release.
To be honest, stories of developers and publishers screwing up classic franchises (see Capcom’s treatment to Mega Man nowadays) is nothing new. But why this must happen to Ridge Racer? I shall wear my tinfoil hat now and offer my hypothesis:
First, in regards to Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune. Did Namco decide to send some (if not most) of the programmers of Ridge Racer games to Maximum Tune development team instead – and make them forget about Ridge Racer, thus making Maximum Tune as the future? And this is coming from a Maximum Tune scrub player.
Second, in April, you covered an article about the FIA WEC getting rid of grid girls. The game’s poster girl, Reiko Nagase, is an example of that (or as the Japanese call them, “race queen”). In my tinfoil mind, what if Namco held back the franchise from big consoles because they think the social justice warriors would come after them? Incidentally, there was a spin-off game called R: Racing Revolution – you control a female driver (who was formerly an ambulance driver of some sort) and the available cars are real cars. And it was slightly lewd, from what I’ve seen.
…and now I’m running out of words. And this was huge. On behalf of the Ridge Racer fans, I hope there’s a proper Ridge Racer game for the current generation of consoles.
Probably the first submission I have nothing else to say about. I’ve never played a single Ridge Racer title. Any others care to help out?