Precise controls; 60 FPS racing even in 3D mode; suitably difficult in later courses; great online; over-the-top fun
Random wipeouts; sometimes annoying VAs
Renegade Kid knows how to break into the Nintendo handheld market in style. They’ve been doing it since the release of Dementium: The Ward on the original DS, an M-rated first-person game unprecedented on the system, while Mutant Mudds showed how the traditional 2D platformer could leverage the features of the 3DS. Now, with ATV Wild Ride 3D, the first racing game for the 3DS eShop, they’ve added a silky smooth arcade racer to a library where Mario Kart 7 is arguably your only fix.
The development of ATV Wild Ride 3D has been a bumpy one, having originally been released for the DS in 2011 to critical acclaim but low sales. However, this enhanced port is superior to the already-excellent original in every way, boasting improved controls, physics implementation by way of ATV suspension, online play, and of course, 3D functionality. It’s a racer in the vein of the Excite series, and captures the fun of those titles superbly. The primary play mode is the World Tour. Here you take your chosen avatar to tracks all over the world unlocking better quad bikes as you compete against four other racers in different play modes. Race and Elimination are self-explanatory, but Freestyle (where you perform stunts for points) is where the real star of the game– the tricks system– takes center stage.
Much like 2008’s Pure, players can perform midair tricks in any race as long as you have enough air, getting nitro boosts for successful landings. The low-risk Quick Tricks net you half a nitro unit, Medium Tricks a full unit, and the very risky Long Tricks award you with two full nitro boosts, which are perfect for snatching that photo finish. Each tier of trick has eight variations, triggered by pointing the Circle Pad in any direction, making for 24 tricks in total. Ever wanted to backflip off your quad bike as it sails over a chasm without wiping out? This game is for you.
The tracks are perfectly designed to take advantage of the trick system as well, giving ample opportunities for air. The six tracks— Mexico, England, Thailand, United States, Canada, and Russia— come in normal and extended variations, with reversed versions for each, giving you 24 different playgrounds. The more difficult tracks will require you to memorize their layouts, letting you find that balance between scoring a trick for a nitro boost, or racing more safely with less chance of slamming into a wall.
The AI is top-notch too, giving a great challenge in the late game, where tight finishes are all too common. You can hone your skills in the other singleplayer options, including Quick Race, a pure Freestyle mode, and Time Trial. This practice will come in handy in the higher difficulty levels, which are no Sunday drive, as well as in multiplayer modes where you’ll compete to be the best Wild Rider out there.
We didn’t have a chance to try out the local multiplayer (which will require each participant to own a copy of the game), but during a handful of Renegade Kid-hosted online matches, play was no different than it was offline, ensuring an online multiplayer experience on par with Mario Kart 7. Co-founder Jools Watsham and I were able to tear it up even on my terrible Philippine internet connection, so those in countries with better online infrastructure need not worry—the game runs like butter both online and off.
While we’re on the subject of butter, yes, this game runs at 60 frames per second, even in 3D mode. While its heritage as a DS title remains obvious, Renegade Kid have done a great job graphically in updating it to the newer platform, with higher-res textures (with mip-mapping!), additional track elements, spectacular highlights, and lighting and shadow effects. In-game “ads” for Mutant Mudds and Bomb Monkey are a nice touch, too. You can see just how far the game has come in the comparison screenshots below:
But the greatest improvement is the 3D. Racing is a genre where the added depth really shines, allowing you to judge distances and jumps much more accurately, and the effect is implemented beautifully in ATV Wild Ride. There’s no ghosting either. The game does have a few niggling flaws that sometimes detract from the gameplay. Wipeouts sometimes occur for no reason, especially in the Canadian courses. Pulling off the diagonal tricks is a bit fiddly as well, though with practice, I’m sure they can be achieved consistently. And while the pumping punk tracks (performed by Renegade Kid co-founder Gregg Hargrove’s band Swift Justice and the Hired Goons) are high-energy, amping you up for the game, the riders’ exclamations could be seen as grating after a while. Luckily, they can all be turned off in the options.
The brilliance of Renegade Kid’s latest game is that it’s a fully featured ATV racing game in the palm of your hand. It provides fun and challenge in singleplayer with seamless local and online multiplayer to boot, supported by robust tricks and physics systems. ATV Wild Ride 3D is akin to a portable Pure carrying the torch that the Excite series set ablaze.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.