By all accounts, the PSP is going to be A Big Thing when it's released in Europe and Australia on September 1st. However, as we're not very patient, we got hold of a PSP a little earlier, so we can provide previews and features months before the handheld is released here. And the very first game we imported with our PSP was the Namco classic, Ridge Racer. Namco (and Ridge Racer) has been present for every console launch that Sony has ever overseen, ranging from Ridge Racer on the PSX, Ridge Racer 5 on the PlayStation 2 and now Ridge Racer on the PSP.
The PSP version of Ridge Racer is not a port of an old game, it is completely built from scratch and features tracks from the original title, Ridge Racer Revolution and, for the first time ever, from the arcade version, Rave Racer. It was arguably the flagship title for the PSP when it launched in America in March, but more titles will be available when the system comes out here in September.
But we've rambled enough about the background of the game, so let's get to the future. Ridge Racer on the PSP is a visual arcade delight, that demonstrates what the PSP is capable of and then some.
The startup of the game includes a lovingly detailed and intricate FMV sequence, showing close-ups of the cars, and some lovely ladies. Considering this was this writer's first experience with the PSP, it wasn't a bad start. After starting the game up, players are prompted to create a new profile, and the game will save to the memory card.
From the main menu screen, there are a few options, such as Vs, Time trial and single race, but the World Tour mode is the highlight of the game. This is divided up into different tours that take place over many tracks from the Ridge Racer franchise. Each race has a qualifying position, and to progress through the game you must equal or better the qualifying position.
One thing that PALGN noticed is that the difficulty level begins really easily, completing the basic tour is not a strain, but the difficulty level does increase very quickly.
As you progress through the World Tour mode new cars and tracks are unlocked, and eventually their is quite a library of both of these unlockables. There are also other prizes to be won which we are not going to reveal.
The actual gameplay of Ridge Racer has been retained with this game. The drifts are a little more extreme and the touted nitrous feature works surprisingly well, and seems like a great addition to the game, rather than a novel inclusion.
Overall, we were very impressed with Ridge Racer. Previous fans of the series will definitely be pleased with the great, nostalgic memories and the incredible sense of speed with the game. Expect a review of Ridge Racer on September 1, and stay tuned for more PSP Previews shortly.