Saturday, 1 May 2021

Cross The Ridge R (PC)

 Despite the word "Ridge" in the title, this game has a lot more in common with the Initial D series than Ridge Racer. It really does have a lot in common with Initial D, too: it's an arcade-style drift racing game where you take part in one-on-one races that all take place on incredibly bendy Japanese country roads. Also there's lots of eurobeat music.


There's some stuff in the game I don't quite get, too. Like how there's a huge selection of cars to pick from, but you only get to pick once, the first time you load up the game. Also, if you're using an XInput controller (or a Dual Shock 4 masquerading as one), the controls are mapped automatically, but accelerate and brake are mapped to two of the face buttons, rather than the analogue triggers. But seeing that the menus are almost totally horizontally arranged, it looks like the developers were assuming that most people playing this game would be doing so with a steering wheel.


The main mode is arcade mode, which has various courses, each one consisting of four races, each against a different opponent. Complete one course to unlock the next, though I don't know how many there are in total yet, I've only played the game for a couple of hours at this point. It's been a fun few hours, though! Of course, right from the start, your success relies upon your ability to drift well, so it's important that it feels good to drift. The devs have done a decent enough job of this, I'm glad to report. I think I've been spoiled by the likes of OutRun 2 and Ridge Racer 3D with their incredibly easy works-every-time drifting, but Cross the Ridge R complicates things just enough to make a good successful drift feel incredibly satisfying. You've got to know just exactly when and for how long you need to switch back and forth between accelerating and braking when taking each corner.


I have mixed feeling on the graphics, though I do admit that they're not totally rational. There's something in the combination of low poly 3D models with blurry low resolution textures and the high resolution of the game itself that really reminds me of the days of X Box Live Indie Games. It looks fine I guess, if a little sterile. The big problem I have with it though, is that when I think of drift racing games, my mind always instantly goes to the ones on Playstation and Saturn, with their super-grainy textures and short draw distances (especially on the night time stages) that really added to their atmosphere. I know this kind of nostalgic thinking isn't really fair, though, so I won't consider it too thick a black mark against Cross the Ridge R's  name.


In summary, Cross the Ridge R is a game I can easily recommend. There don't seem to be many racing games of this kind released in the past decade, it'll probably run at full speed on almost any modern PC, and it only costs a few hundred yen! If you like arcade racers, it seems like it'd be rude not to pick this one up.