Renegade Kid may be better known for their DS first person shooters (and Mutant Mudds) but don’t tell them to stay within their comfort zone. In 2011 they released ATV: Wild Ride on the Nintendo DS and despite being one of the better ATV racers in recent memory the game wasn’t played by many people. This was largely due to the game being hard to find at stores. Renegade Kid hopes to get this game into more hands by re-releasing it on the 3DS eShop and their 3D conversion of this DS game is mostly successful.
If you’ve never enjoyed an ATV racing game in the past then ATV: Wild Ride 3D isn’t for you. It won’t convince you to enjoy the genre but if you like simpler racing games that don’t try to be too realistic or rely on unpredictable variables like items than you’ll love this $7.99 download.
You race against up to three other competitors (online, local or against the computer) on tracks that represent different countries across the globe. The game’s physics are unforgiving as you need to plan how you want to land before you make a big jump off a hill. You can fill a boost meter by successfully completing tricks. Thankfully this boosting doesn’t overpower the pure racing aspect of Wild Ride. This is because of good track design forcing players to choose when they use this boost wisely.
Each shoulder button has a different set of tricks mapped to them, with the direction you press the 3DS circle pad deciding what type of trick you will perform. Don’t repeat the same tricks though because you will not earn any boost if you keep trying to pull off the same moves repeatedly. Holding the L button during jumps will let you pull off easy tricks that don’t take much time. The R button allows you to pull off medium difficulty tricks that take a bit more time and distance. Holding both L+R together at the same time grants you the ability to perform more difficult tricks that should be reserved for only the biggest jumps on the map.
Events are divided between flat-out races and freestyle events where you try to outscore your opponents by performing a large amount of impressive tricks. Overall there is about a dozen tricks you can perform in the air, some harder than others. World Tour mode is where you unlock additional tours, courses, riders, etc. In addition to this mode there are online modes, quick race, freestyle and time trail.
Online play is a blast as you’re jockeying for position with three opponents. Renegade Kid made a smart move by filling online races with CPU racers instead of waiting for four live people to join the room. One of the worst aspects of many online DS games (like Mario Kart DS) was that once you got into a room with other players you had to wait a long time for the game to search for additional players. Renegade Kid noticed this and the process of getting into a match takes no more than a minute.
There was zero lag in my experience and Wild Ride 3D ranks up with the best online 3DS games. If you like the mechanics of the single-player modes than you’ll have a great time online as races come down to timing, skill and positioning rather than who gets lucky at the right moment. It never feels cheap and almost every mistake is the player’s fault. With a lot of racing games today trying to keep the playing field level at all times for players of different skill sets it is refreshing that Wild Ride races don’t come down to luck.
Its a risk/reward system that is satisfying. If you wipe out by messing up a trick and crashing you will be reset where the game thinks you should be. This can cost you precious seconds in a race or freestyle event. It does require a bit of thinking before you tackle each course. Becoming an unbeatable ATV racer will require you to memorize tracks in detail but that is something fans of the genre should be familiar with.
It reminds me of a forgotten Nintendo franchise called Wave Race. Even subtle movements of the circle pad will greatly influence the direction your ATV takes after a jump. Wild Ride 3D is a game of finesse and smarts rather than simply staying in front of rival drivers. Landing and positioning are just as important if not more so than putting distance between you and the competition. I sincerely hope someone at Nintendo is paying attention to Wild Ride 3D and Renegade Kid as a whole. They’re the perfect studio to resurrect the Wave Race IP and Wild Ride 3D is proof of that.
ATV Wild Ride 3D has some flaws that aren’t glaring but remain hard to overlook. Thankfully they aren’t game-breaking and are entirely tolerable. Yes, there is some clipping. If you’re following reviews of this game you’ve probably heard about users running into objects that should stop them in their tracks but instead being reset on the track as if they fell off the course. In my play time this would happen only when I flew far off course and into wooden walls in particular areas that I clearly wasn’t meant to be driving towards. Obviously these wooden walls should just bump me into a different direction instead of resetting my driver but there are so few instances of this happening that it doesn’t hurt the game play much.
If this happened all the time and with other parts of the track it would be a big issue. Since this clipping only happens when you’re heading towards particular walls/objects it can be overlooked easily. You should avoid running into any walls at all times anyway so this clipping isn’t a major problem.
The visuals aren’t anything to write home about. Its based off a DS game originally and it shows. Graphics have improved a bit since the game’s original release in 2011. Its disappointing but entirely understandable. Players who don’t know the back story of how Wild Ride 3D came to be maybe be shocked by the somewhat muddy visuals but once you start racing all is forgiven.
I did enjoy the music Renegade Kid chose during races and in the menus. It gives off a very late 90′s extreme sports vibe much like the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The songs are pop-punk and performed by a band whose lead singer sounds like he’s doing a Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) impression. There aren’t a whole lot of songs and they all sound similar so they can blur together at times. You won’t be singing any of these tunes after your play time ends but they do add a bit of flavor to the races that fans of late 90′s video games will be fond of.
Overall ATV: Wild Ride 3D is a solid download for your $8. It was a feat in of itself to make a compelling ATV racer with the limited horsepower of the DS two years ago and now Renegade Kid has accomplished another significant feat. That is making the best alternative to Nintendo’s famed Mario Kart series on the 3DS. Both are too different to compare but if you’re looking for a racer based on skill more than luck this is the game for you. Wild Ride 3D requires actual thought and planning but doesn’t overwhelm you with it. You’ll still enjoy riding big air and frantically beating your friends to the finish line. Wild Ride 3D has a subtle depth to it with its controls which make it a must-have eShop game despite a few nagging issues.ATV: Wild Ride 3D review,