Ridge Racer 3D and Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions Impressions

By Jeff Mattas, Feb 04, 2011 4:00pm PST Among the new games being shown at Namco Bandai's recent IGNITE event were Ridge Racer 3D and Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions, both upcoming titles for the Nintendo 3DS.

Ridge Racer 3D gives the long-running and beloved racing series the three-dimensional treatment. 3D seems like it would be a natural fit for a racing title, and, for the most part, Ridge Racer 3D pulls it off quite well. Most noticeable to me was the ability to better judge distance between my car and the other racers than you would without stereoscopic 3D. Accelerating, braking, and drifting all worked very well, and the 3D effect really helps to enhance the sensation of speed.

My brief time with the game left me with some concerns, however. In order to activate nitro for those mandatory speed bursts, the left and right shoulder buttons needed to be depressed simultaneously. Unfortunately, I found myself having to shift my grip on the 3DS to reach these buttons effectively, as it felt a bit uncomfortable to keep my fingers on the face buttons at the same time. Shifting my grip on the fly caused me to sometimes inadvertently move the 3DS just enough that it so that I had to realign my view of the screen. This practice was not exactly a consequence-free one, when going 100 mph. After my three-lap race, I was ready for a break, largely due to the need to hold the device just so throughout the course of the event. It'll be interesting to see if any of the controls will get tweaked before the game's March 27 release.

Also on tap for the 3DS was Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions, which is expected to release before the end of the 3DS launch window (June), to coincide with Galaga's 30th anniversary. A two-games in one package, Pac-Man and Galaga Dimensions uses the 3DS's accelerometer quite well.

The Galaga-themed part of the package, called 'Galaga 3D Impact,' is basically an on-rails outer-space shooter. Players occupy a gun turret on a spaceship doing battle with the series famous bug-like aliens. The twist (no pun intended) is that players aim by physically moving the 3DS as if it were the front window of their turret. In practice, this worked rather well, once I learned not to try to adjust my aim by tilting the device itself. Once I'd planted my feet, which solved my propensity to tilt the device, I was able to blast bugs with reckless abandon. Waves of enemies appear in formation, as in the original arcade classic, though some larger boss-sized aliens helped keep the action fresh.

The Pac-Man portion of 'Dimensions,' called 'Pac-Man Tilt,' is a 2D platformer that also makes good use of the 3DS's accelerometer. In essence, players can tilt the device to rotate the game-world, so that they can solve environment-based platforming puzzles. The in-game physics make the game a lot of fun, as there are plenty of springboards, pinball flippers, and the like to help the little yellow hero along. As you can tell from the screens, it's candy for the eyes as far as the visuals go. I'm a sucker for both Pac-Man and clever platformers, and 'Pac-Man Tilt' seems like it could hit both of these sweet spots quite handily, based on the little bit I played.

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