Clear your mind. Now, visualize the most generic beat-the-clock sci-fi racer you can imagine. Picture its frustrating controls, the dull level designs, and how the vehicles all handle the same. Think of just one unique mechanic, that would set this imaginary game apart from the hundreds of other beat-the-clock/endless runners out there. Take a second to mentally place all of those elements together.
Now, remove that unique mechanic. Oh look, it’s AiRace Speed.
From developer QubicGames, AiRace Speed, is an oddly titled, sci-fi racing game which released within the 3DS e-shop on September 19th. The game features 18 different tracks that players can slave over in an attempt to beat their best time. An endless mode is also available after unlocking portions of the game by simply finishing the segment’s races without crashing. There are three segments, —blue, yellow, and green, and each segment comes with its own respective vehicle. Which would be cool, except all of the vehicles handle exactly the same.
Players are tasked with flying through tracks, —which feature a fair share of random hazards, in an attempt to beat their previous records. Things like solid walls with a small rotating porthole that players have to zip through, or random machinery that periodically slams shut, await pilots around every bend. Dodging these obstacles was typically easy, but occasionally the game’s frame rate chugged, and I found my ship clipping a ledge that I was safely avoiding a moment earlier. The lag was very random, and was not due to the 3D visuals (which is worth mentioning looked great), or the larger open areas (another one of AiRace Speed’s rare treats), so the cause of the turbulence was a mystery to myself.
I found myself struggling with the game’s controls at first. Using the control stick was difficult because it felt like the ships would only respond in extremes. They would either slowly crawl in the direction I shifted the stick in, or the ship would rapidly flick up and smack the ceiling if I pushed the stick too hard. Luckily turning on the Flight Assist feature seemed to regulate that control issue, which begs the question of why the Flight Assist mode wasn’t the default to begin with. There was also the option to use the stylus and touch screen to control the ships…but that setup was hardly responsive, or ideal.
The endless mode and the AiRace Speed’s 42 unlockable Achievements add a large amount of replay value to the game, but I can’t say that is enough to keep me playing.
AiRace Speed’s biggest problem is that it simply isn’t fun enough to warrant multiple playthroughs. Plenty of other racers and endless runners make the gameplay fun and rewarding (think how rewarding hitting another player with a shell is, in Mario Kart…or how fun it is to successfully dismount an enemy knight in Last Knight), but AiRace Speed really struggles to find something that sets it apart from the dozens of other games out there, vying for the spotlight. In the end, players are presented with a game that very few will take anything away from.
Check out AiRace Speed in the Nintendo eShop.[review pros="some replay value, 3D looks good, open areas are impressive" cons="an incredibly generic game, initially clunky controls, frame rate drops" score=39]