Believe it or not, I'd never played a Ridge Racer game before. That shouldn't be too much of a stretch, seeing as you know I hadn't played a Castlevania game until recently. But Ridge Racer should have been different. Ridge Racer is an arcade game. I should really have played it at the seaside. But the the days of seaside arcades were numbered when Ridge Racer was released, and I didn't see a Ridge Racer game for a long time.
Similarly, I always seemed to miss the boat with the home releases. I never seemed to own the right console at the right time. So although Ridge Racer was raved about in many places, I always seemed to end up playing Sega racers. That's definitely not a bad thing, but now it's time to broaden my horizons.
Having said that, I was surprised to load up the game and be greeted by Pac-Man. Bloody hell, Namco.
The morning commute seemed a bit more exotic today.
With that out of the way, it was on to the game. And it's a bit daunting at first, plonking you into the Ridge Racer Universe with barely a moment's notice. I mean that literally... a galaxy of swirling green stars swallows you up and spits you out at its origin. It's at this point you realise what a mammoth racing task lies ahead of you. Well over 100 races, and as if that wasn't enough, you have to plot out routes yourself!
I like this approach. It's more fun to have an element of choice over where and when you race. Plus, completing routes (in this case, linking a section of races together) unlocks new cars, and who on this Earth doesn't like unlocking stuff? It's cool to get a new car for every few races you complete. It's even better that they're named after classic Namco games, and driving a Gaplus or an Ordyne racing car is great.
Neeeeeoooowwww! Who'd have thought that little bug had it in him?
There are things I don't like, though. I don't like that you have to win every single race in order to progress. I'd have preferred an approach more like Sega Rally's, where you get points depending on where you finish and a certain number of points will allow access to the next area. That gives a bit of leeway, and is a touch more forgiving when you have a difficult game. Having said that, Ridge Racer 6 doesn't appear to be as hard as Sega Rally, at least, not at the moment...
I really, really, really don't like the announcer. I thought I did, at first. But it didn't take long for him to become really grating. And he's camp. Very camp. Not necessarily anything wrong with camp, but there's a time and a place, and a turbocharged racing game is neither. And when he says, "Ooooh, someone's let off some nitrous", he says it like someone in the room just farted.
Skreeeeeeeeee! Sliiiiiiiiiiide! And without so much as a car in sight for added fun.
But those are niggles. There's plenty of good stuff, too. The sheer volume of racing is something that would keep anybody busy for ages. I like some of the little touches, particularly the way Pac-Man is used for split times. And the actual racing itself can be pretty exciting, even if the controls are weird and the cars just a bit too slidey. Just as well I've played a lot of OutRun 2 in the past, otherwise I would have been completely unprepared.
Ridge Racer 6 is, basically, a giant arcade machine in your own home. It's more expensive than an arcade machine, but you get way, way more game for your money. I'm not entirely sure yet whether I love it or not. I love owning a giant arcade machine, sure, but it hasn't clicked in the way that Sega Rally or OutRun 2 did. That said, I'm enjoying it a lot and will be pressing on with it in the days and weeks to come. It'll be interesting to see where it ranks in my list of top racers by, say, the end of the year.
Hmmmm... list of top racers... everyone loves a list...