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AiRace Speed Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . For as many systems as Nintendo has sold, the 3DS is hurting for quality racing games. QubicGames' newest title may not solve this lingering problem, but AiRace Speed is certainly a step in the right direction. The level designs are surprisingly fun and the 3D will blow you away. And for five bucks, AiRace Speed will make you forget about the racing game draught for at least a few hours! Rating: 71%
AiRace Speed
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  • Review Score:

  • B
It's impossible to deny the sales juggernaut that is the Nintendo DS and 3DS. Over the last nine years, Nintendo has been able to move nearly 200 million systems, easily dominating the handheld market. And yet, even with all that success, the Nintendo 3DS is suffering a draught of quality racing games. Some might point to Mario Kart 7, but that's one of the only noteworthy racers after nearly three years.

QuibicGames' newest 3DS title may not solve this lingering problem, but AiRace Speed is certainly a step in the right direction. It's a futuristic racing game that not only captures the sense of speed, but also makes great use of the portable's 3D display.

AiRace Speed (Nintendo 3DS)

AiRace Speed is set in the distant future; at a time when daredevil pilots race through tight corridors for fame and fortune. You take control of one of several flying crafts through 18 perilous stages. Thankfully you won't be bumping into other players, as each stage is nothing more than a time trial. Points are handed out for completing stages, as well as beating increasingly difficult time challenges.

Don't think you can just casually fly your ship to victory, because each stage is full of obstacles to trip you up. You'll need to weave around inconvenient floating walls, through spinning blades and into tiny tunnel entrances. Running into a wall is deadly; blowing your shiny new craft to pieces. Thankfully, you can always reset back to the last checkpoint, though it will cost you a time penalty.

To be perfectly honest, this is exactly what I expected from AiRace Speed. From the moment I saw the first screenshot, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. What took me by surprised is how interesting the stage design is. The 18 tracks aren't as linear as I anticipated, often allowing players to take multiple paths and shortcuts. There are a few moments when the game gives up the tight corridors for a wide-open landscape. None of these elements are particularly innovative on their own, but there are enough of these moments to keep the game feeling fresh.

AiRace Speed (Nintendo 3DS)

Sadly, the race types aren't nearly as varied. Most of the game revolves around simply completing a few laps in the shortest time possible. However, there are a few stages that mix things up. Some stages involve earning a high score with a limited amount of lives. In this mode, hitting a wall doesn't land you with a hefty time penalty, but with only three attempts, you better make each life count.

AiRace Speed is visually sharp, though I quickly grew bored with the repeated textures and obstacles. With only a few exceptions, it felt like the game showed its hand early. The later levels were certainly more difficult, but they didn't introduce anything new or exciting. It was just more of the same.

On the other hand, I was blown away by the game's use of 3D. Despite not being a big fan of 3D gaming, this fast-paced racing game won me over. The sense of speed is heightened thanks to the 3DS screen, even occasionally helping me judge distance. It brings some otherwise boring visuals to life. AiRace Speed is a great tech demo for Nintendo's current handheld.

AiRace Speed (Nintendo 3DS)

But as good as the 3D effects are, I couldn't overlook some of the game's more frustrating problems. Even with occasion non-linear level designs, AiRace Speed was often extremely frustrating. Completing the stages isn't so bad, but hitting the many time challenges requires a level of precision I don't possess. The system's clumsy circle pad doesn't make this task any easier. The Nintendo 3DS control scheme is woefully inadequate for this type of racing game.

With only 18 stages, AiRace Speed doesn't feature a lot of content. The single-player mode is straight forward and will take only a few hours to complete. Some gamers may want to go back and beat every speed challenge, but I suspect most will get their money's worth just racing to the final stage. AiRace Speed won't make you forget about Mario Kart 7, but it's a great diversion on a system in desperate need of quality racing games.
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