If there’s one genre of racing game that I just really love you’d be surprised to know it’s not Mario Kart. While I do enjoy a good shelling every now and then there’s one style of racing that I enjoy even more and that would be ATV racing. I’ve played numerous ATV games on every system I’ve owned and most of them have been really good. From the MX vs ATV series or the ATV Off-Road Fury series to the criminally overlooked Pure I’ve played numerous games featuring four wheelers and motorcycles. I don’t really ride any of those vehicles in my day to day experience, but I really enjoy the crazy, fast and tricky courses that you get when you get off of a paved road.
Renegade Kid released a racing game back on the DS called ATV Wild Ride that saw a very limited run at retail and was very hard to find. If you managed to find a copy and pick it up chances are that you really enjoyed it. Now they’ve revamped the game and are putting it out on the 3DS eShop with the aptly named ATV Wild Ride 3D.
What You Need to Know
ATV Wild Ride 3D is, as the name suggests, and ATV racing game. It’s a 3D port of the DS game and keeps most of the features from that game intact. You compete in a series of events spread across six tours and 24 different track configurations spread out over the world. There are three different race types that you’ll compete in for points. 12 riders and 12 unique ATVs are available to choose from, though many of them will require unlocking by playing through the World Tour Modes. You can play World Tour, Single races and Time Trials in single player or you can compete locally or online with up to three other people, and even leader boards to show you how you stack up against the rest of the world.
The most obvious thing you’ll notice about the game, if you played the DS version of it, is that it looks considerably better. The 3DS is a much more powerful system and the developers have gone back and done some graphical overhauling of the entire game. Gone are the muddy, mostly blocky textures that you would see on the older games riders and bikes. Now things look much nicer, smoother and more realistic. Getting up close to environmental elements will show some of the uglier textures in the game, but if you’re racing hard you’ll barely have time to notice those. Even the signs around the track have been changed from the previous games to get a little bit of free advertisement for some of Renegade Kid’s other 3DS games.
The tracks themselves look really nice in action. The ground speeds by and when you’re up in the air you can see for a pretty long way. Dirt flies up off the tires when you’re going around corners (even if you’re on a paved surface, which can look a little strange).
Solid, Arcade Racing Action
This is an arcade racing game at its core. You’re not going to get completely realistic physics models here. ATVs jump much higher in the air than you’d probably expect, fly farther and land more softly than they would in real life. Slamming into a wall will not send your rider over the handlebars or into the terrain features, you’ll just bounce off of them.
What you do get with this game is a great sense of speed and franticness. Much of the time you’ll feel completely in control, but when the pressure is on for you to finish in first place or risk losing the first place ranking in a tour you can begin to get out of control really quickly. The game rewards players who really learn the track layouts well. Knowing the precise angles to attack corners in and where you risk flying off the track if you perform an ill-time trick will be the key to coming in first place rather than fourth. The AI riders aren’t the most intelligent competitors in the world and will make many more mistakes than you will. Missing a jump or hitting a trick, with pre-loaded jumps that send you flying over the edge of a cliff can be disheartening towards the end of a race, but until you learn the tracks those will be commonplace.
The trick system of the game is fairly straightforward. You have three levels of trick difficulty that you can attempt. Each of these tricks will earn you boost power that can be used for temporary bursts of speed. The lowest A level tricks will earn you half of a boost while the most difficult C level tricks can earn you two complete boosts. Pressing one of the three trick buttons as well as a direction on the analog stick will result in your rider attempting a trick. There’s definitely some risk, reward to the trick system. Should you go for the more difficult trick to earn some extra boost knowing that you might not have enough room to pull it off, or should you go for the safer, less effective tricks that you can combo together? Decisions, decisions.
New to this version of the game is the inclusion of online play. You have two choices for competing against other, human competitors, local or internet play. Each of these is very simple to connect to and you’ll be racing within just a couple of minutes of setting up a match. The host gets to choose the track, and by default the type of event that you’ll compete it.
The online play works well, is lag free (from my experience so far) and is easy to set up. Once you find the AI racers easy to beat then taking the game online will give you much more difficult opponents to choose from. Your online stats are stored and added to worldwide leader boards that show you how well (or bad) that you may be doing.
If I have any complaints about the online portion of the game it’s that unless you in a menu you don’t know who you’re competing against as racers names are not displayed on the track during play. It would be nice to know who you’re getting ready to pass or who’s blowing by.
Unlike many games in this genre there’s not a lot of customization options available to you. There are 12 racers and 12 ATVs that are available to choose from, but you don’t have any way to customize those characters and you’re stuck with the vehicles that are available from the dozen. Some players find the huge customization options in games like Pure to be overwhelming, but having the chance to make sure you’re ride is one of a kind would be something that the developers should consider in future versions of the game. I want to be able to add my own unique touch to the ATV that I’m riding.
I’m not a big fan of the freestyle races in the game. They seem to be the most unbalanced and unpredictable races of the bunch. Those races require you to perform tricks for points. Your position in the race is irrelevant as the entire focus is on landing tricks so that you’ve scored more points than the other riders. The AI riders seem to be able to pull off trick after trick after trick with ease while you really have to learn the tracks in order to be successful at these races. It’s also fairly easy to exploit the points systems. Since you don’t have to worry about your position many times it’s actually best to fling yourself into a canyon because you have time to pull off the C level tricks that you might not otherwise pull off. You don’t actually have to land them in order to get credit for them so it can be possible to pull off multiple tricks before the game realizes that you’ve launched yourself to your death and resets you back on the track. I also found that some of the tracks have places where you can launch onto the side of a mountain and as you’re ATV slowly descends back to the track you can pull off multiple tricks. These races just seem to be less about skill and more about exploiting the tracks to your advantage.
The 3DS has a few good racing games available, but this is easily one of the best racing games that you can play on the system. The races are a lot of fun. The tracks and nicely laid out and varied. The frantic pace keeps you on the edge from the beginning of your play session too the end and the online play adds a nice touch giving you the option of racing against more intelligent opponents. There are some minor gripes about the game as mentioned above as well as some inconsistencies as to which barriers will keep you on the track and which will let you pass right through them. If you’re looking for a good racing game to give you something different than Mario Kart then this is $8 that will be well spent.
Review copy of the game provided by Renegade Kid.
Played through all of the World Tours, some individual races and about a dozen online matches.
Total Play Time: 6 hours