Minimalist visuals; both analog and gyroscopic control schemes; four distinct modes with four difficulties
Only one song, though it's fine; relatively high price; lack of control sensitivity option
Gamelion Studios has become relatively well-known lately, what with its work in the mobile arena, but SpeedX 3D really takes the proverbial cake. The game is simple: whipping through an alternately tube-shaped and flat track, players must avoid obstacles at all costs, while also not falling off. Obstacles commonly come in the form of three-dimensional shapes that come breezing toward players thanks to an excellent use of the 3DS’ 3D effects, and quick reflexes can earn players power-ups and shields. It’s a little bit like Audiosurf for PC, save for that game’s reliance on music– while that would be nice here, SpeedX 3D focuses more on the dodging factor than the musical one. In fact, there’s only one song that plays through the entire game, even in the title screen– so it’s a good thing it’s one players can certainly jam to.
SpeedX 3D comes with four flavors: Stages, Endless, Survival, and Zones. There are 48 runs in four different stages, which must be started from the beginning, meaning that for the first few stages or so the game will be both slow and boring. (Not to mention that Stages mode also allows players to gain shields, reprieves from the endless onslaught of geometric shapes.)
Experienced players, though (perhaps those who’ve played SpeedX for mobile platforms), can go straight to Endless, where stages give way to simply trying to live as long as possible– though there are still earnable shields. In Survival, shields are completely disabled, with one wayward hit from some randomly placed column immediately killing the player. And finally, in the hardest mode, Zones, shields are disabled and the player has a fuel limit that can only be regenerated by moving to F-Zero-esque pit zones, all of which are usually placed inconveniently near obstacles. Also, there are four difficulties on each of the latter three modes, from Easy to Insane. Suffice to say that SpeedX 3D has thought of everybody from the greenest casual gamer to the meanest hardcore one. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air from many mobile developers, who assume eShop’s digital format means they can simply port a somewhat simple mobile game, without any complaints regarding its difficulty.
If you’re looking to ease into things, those shields on Stages and Endless should help you out.
Fortunately, Gamelion’s attention to detail is mirrored in the meat of SpeedX 3D— namely, its gameplay. It’s very entertaining, dodging blocks left and right, especially in the heat of modes like Zones, where thinking gives way to instinctive thumb-pushing– or 3DS-moving, as SpeedX 3D supports both Circle Pad control and gyroscopic control. And it never becomes too difficult to dodge blocks either, especially as every block is preceded with a colored line, alerting players to its deadly presence. Meanwhile, lest things become too easy for Johnny Quick, every so often special “Hazard Zones” will occur as well. Gravity wells might make it harder to move out of the blocks’ way, while blackouts turn off the colored line indicators and plasma vortices add more obstacles to avoid. They’re classic arcade tricks, making sure players are never too comfortable with the game.
But although its gameplay is both simple and sweet, SpeedX 3D does have a few issues. The Circle Pad controls never seem quick enough in the hardest difficulties of the game, and the gyroscope is a little too iffy for it to be accurate. Players would probably have appreciated a PC-style analog sensitivity option, though I can certainly see how that might be difficult to implement. Meanwhile, some of the Hazard Zones, such as Hue Shift, which literally only affects the color of the blocks and tunnel, are not actually dangerous– in fact, in their case, the most dangerous part of them are the banners that pop up whenever a Hazard Zone is about to trigger, as they cover up important real estate you’d otherwise use to predict obstacles. That said, these are relatively minor quibbles (though I’ve certainly died to Hazard Zone banners more than I’ve died to Hazard Zones themselves), and don’t damage the game too badly.
SpeedX 3D is that rarest of mobile ports– a game that improves not only visual flair, but controls and therefore gameplay, in both noticeable and positive ways. The only dilemma, then, is its price: SpeedX 3D is free on Google Play and iOS, but $3.99 on 3DS. Whether the 3D effects are worth that extra soy latte is up to the consumer, but they’re certainly good-looking– and SpeedX 3D is great-playing.
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.