Following on from 2010’s AiRace: Tunnel on DSiWare, Qubic Games bring us another tunnel-based flight game on the 3DS’s eShop in the form of AiRace Speed.
AiRace Speed lets you control various futuristic aircraft across 18 levels filled with challenging obstacles. The game lets you choose to use the circle pad, D-pad or the touch screen to steer although, as you can guess, the circle pad is the optimum option, and feels weight but very responsive. The R button lets you perform a boost which is unlimited and extremely fast – the disadvantage comes from trying to navigate the level at that speed.
While the courses are mostly tunnel-based, they do open up in some sections, with some nicely-designed areas, which usually have multiple routes to choose from – you’ll have to work out which way will scrape the most milliseconds off your time, and levels will have multiple branching paths throughout. The tunnel sections are littered with many different obstacles for you to navigate, while these usually feel varied, they can start to feel repetitive in the three endless levels.
AiRace SpeedIn most of the levels, you’re trying to finish laps as quickly as possible – you earn a bronze star for surviving, and silver and gold for good times – but the three endless levels challenge you to get as far as possible with only three lives. Sadly, these aren’t laced with the occasional open area, so they can get boring when you’re going for a gold medal. On top of this, losing a life will send you to the last checkpoint, which can be a significant distance behind you. The remaining 15 levels are still varied, with some nice visual styles.
Just when you’re getting bored of the look of the game AiRace changes elements of the game – for example, for the first six levels the tunnels are perfect circles, this changes to an arrow-like shape on level 7, just after the first endless level. This may not sound like much in writing, but the style change, along with a new set of obstacles, help the game remain fresh. AiRace uses colour to make the obstacles stand out, meaning you won’t hit something because it was hard to spot and it gives it a simple but effective visual style. The 3D also works very well with the tunnel nature of the game, providing some great depth.
You can breeze through AiRace Speed in an afternoon if you just wanted to complete the game with the bare minimum bronze medals, but it will require practice and a lot of tries to learn how to blast through each level at full speed to gain the gold medals. There are also online leaderboard, so you can compete globally and with your friends.
AiRace Speed may be fairly simple, but the game provides a great sense of speed and the surprisingly varied levels prevent the game from getting boring. It’s a nice little game for a nice little price (€4.99/£4.99)- and it can be challenging without any frustration of thinking the game caused your death as the solid controls and clear visuals make knowing where you need to go easy. You just need fast reflexes to be able to do it while boosting.