If you took the repeated death after death after death that you get when playing VVVVVV and mashed it together with the space-age racing game WipeOut you’ll get AiRace Speed. This game is the most painfully addictive game I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing and it probably has become the first game that has defeated me numerous times from so very early on in the game.
AiRace Speed for the 3DS is a fairly simple futuristic racing game with races that consist of either point to point or various circuits. You’re required to navigate your way through each course trying to get the quickest time possible. It sounds simple enough but it’s not.
In the game, instead of racing against other ships you’re primarily by your self racing through tunnels which are filled with obstacles. The only issue is, you have full control over the ship in terms of directions. The ship isn’t in a fixed position which means when you’re dragging your wing against the wall of the tunnel it’s up to you to correct that mistake. Oh and I almost forgot to mention that the further you progress the obstacles begin to move, so you’re required to think on your feet.
Flight Sim games are probably my weak point. I can’t for the life of me manage to control any type of aviation equipment. You should try watching me fly a helicopter on Grand Theft Auto V, it’s an uncomfortable experience which I’m sure my wife can vouch for. So in AiRace Speed I tried to make myself comfortable, I inverted the axis so when I press up I go up and I sat down for a good few hours of play. I probably ended the game after half an hour.
In AiRace Speed you’re also required to “roll” the plane to avoid dodgy placed obstacles, this adds another level of difficulty as it’s uncomfortable to try and steer using the CirclePad as well as holding the left bumper to roll in that direction on my 3DS XL. I’m sure it’s a little easier on a smaller 3DS, but sadly this really let’s the game down for me and probably made it 10 times more difficult.
Adding to the controls you also have a break and a boost. The break hardly ever came into good use with me, I often ended up just smashing into an obstacle before I could get the chance to correct myself. The boost adds another level of difficulty in a sense that you can often find yourself holding onto that button and not letting go.
The levels themselves are pretty well thought out. Sometimes it comes across fairly linear until your thrown out into a massive room where you literally have seconds to work out where the entrance to the next tunnel is. There’s also a series of tunnels that splay off into different directions with some ending with a wall, again, giving you milliseconds to correct your mistake and get out of the way. For a game that has a set course it can occasionally be surprisingly open which is pretty awesome.
After each level depending on your score you’re given a star rating depending on how quickly you have completed the level, you’re also penalised for smashing into a wall by having three seconds are added to your overall time which is a pain in the arse. This also becomes a bit of a kick in the teeth as you progress through the levels too with a certain amount of stars needing to be achieved before gaining access to higher levels – great.
All together the controls and the need to achieve almost three stars for each level add up to the type of frustration you only really get when you’ve been standing in a queue for ten minutes and the guy in front pulls out a bag of coppers to pay for a weeks worth of shopping.
Now, that would seem like a bad thing, but there’s something about AiRace Speed that just keeps me coming back for more. The need to claim victory. I don’t want to be defeated by a game so simple my younger cousin could easily play (and probably do better than me). I want to be able to zoom through these levels like the aircraft zaps through the tunnels.
With this game being a 3DS title I also have to touch upon the 3D capabilities. AiRace Speed looks very good in 3D but as I’ve mentioned numerous amounts of time, I’m a fidgety player and with a game like this I’m often tilting and moving my hands left and right which, for those of you with a 3DS will know, the 3D only works at a certain angle. If you happen to have had a piano fall on your head recently and are in a full-body cast with your arms stretched out at the perfect angle to see the 3D on a 3DS, I’d recommend switching it on, if you have full range of movement, I’d give it a go, but it probably won’t last.
Overall AiRace Speed gives you endless hours of play depending on how easily frustrated you are. For a Nintendo eShop title it’s a pretty good looking game too. I personally just can’t get on with the control system and often switch off after I’ve crashed into the same post 15 or so times. You can pick up AiRace Speed for only £4.49. I’d definitely recommend it during a quick toilet break.