Ridge Racer Accelerated iPhone Review

Namco Bandai's gone a little iPhone/iPod Touch crazy, releasing classics (Pac-Man, Mr. Driller), revamped arcade hits (Pac-Man Championship Edition) and new entries in popular franchises (Ace Combat XI). Now, just before the New Year, it brings Ridge Racer to the platform with Accelerated, a game that possesses just enough speed and finesse to please longtime fans of the series.

In the game, you choose from three modes: Arcade, Duel and Survival. Arcade is a straightforward race, Duel is a race against another car and Survival is a "last man standing" event, where the last place car gets bumped off the grid after each lap. It's disappointing that the game doesn't contain a thorough career mode like previous Ridge Racers, but perhaps Namco was trying to go back to the same basics as the original PSOne effort, which only had one track with a few variations.

In addition, there are only 18 cars, six available right off the bat and 12 unlockable over the course of the game. Worse yet, only two tracks are available, with the option to race them backwards. Again, this is similar to what the original Ridge Racer offered, but it comes up short compared to other racing games like Need For Speed: Shift and Driver. If you're up for spending a few more dollars, you can buy three additional tracks for $2.99 and a few more cars for $1.99. Yes, premium downloadable content seems like a cheap way out, but on the bright side, the initial purchase will only set you back $2.99.

The controls will determine whether you like or hate Accelerated. There's only one option available, and it involves tilt steering. Now, for the most part, it's not bad, and it's easy to use the on-screen features, including the brake and the nitrous (once it's full). You can also select manual shifting and acceleration if you're up for it, but you might want to get a few practice laps first. That said, you'll need to get used to drifting. Slipping your car into a drift while not losing any speed is vital to a Ridge Racer game, and here you'll have some problems trying to keep going without losing control of your car.

On the positive side, Ridge Racer looks terrific on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Although there are times when it doesn't appear that you're going that fast (despite what your accelerator says), the visuals are on par with the previous PSP releases. Cars look great, lighting effects burst to life on the track and the frame rate remains steady throughout. Likewise, the music is upbeat and likable, with original tunes mixed in with previous Ridge Racer selections. The engine noises aren't that great, though. These cars sound more like lawnmowers than supped-up rides.

Touchy controls and limited content aside, there's a few bucks worth of mileage here. Ridge Racer Accelerated isn't bad, with a mostly acceptable presentation and some fun arcade thrills. Still, if a sequel ever comes along, Namco should improve the drift options and add extra content to the game, rather than forcing us to buy it separately. Especially if it comes out during the holidays, like this one did.

What's Hot: Decent tilt mechanics, looks and sounds as good as previous Ridge Racer games, bargain priced at $2.99.

What's Not: Only three modes and four tracks, you have to pay for extra content, drifting with tilt steering is tricky.

3/5