ATV Wild Ride (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
A quick search for DS racers reveals an exhaustive list with ti tles from the classic arcade style Mario Kart to Codemasters incredible Drift series and everything in-between. Let's just say that this is one genre, which is very well represented on the system so it was a bit of a surprise when Renegade Kid announced that they were working on an ATV title. It's not that they aren't skilled at producing quality handheld titles but rather the fact that they are much better known for their first person adventures such as Moon and The Ward. A racer this is though so we 'suit up' (and helmet on) as we start our engines and head into our full review.
As you'd expect with any handheld racer there's the 'quick fix' option in addition to a mode aimed at those who want a more immersive and involved experience. If you are interested in the latter then the World Tour is probably just what you are looking for. This takes place over 20 different tracks through four varied locations and while the action begins at an almost pedestrian pace, it quickly becomes one of the most challenging racers you'll ever come across. This is due to the location being 'recycled' but while they can be perfectly easy to navigate in one direction, open a few alternate routes and add a few perilous 'blind' jumps and the outcome is completely different. This in itself will keep you coming back for more not to mention the fact that new 'bonus' riders are constantly unlocked throughout your trials. Outside of this there's the self explanatory Quick Race although you can select your own track and rider here giving you some element of freedom over the game. There's even some modes which challenge you to rack up the points by pulling off as many impressive 'air bound' tricks as you can before the timer runs out. A Multiplayer is also included and while it seems like a great idea to battle it out with a friend the lack of anyone else with a copy of the game sadly led to us not being able to sample this one first hand.
The control system here is incredibly intuitive and racing around the track is simplicity itself. The developers have even added a couple of different options to allow everyone to feel comfortable whilst attempting to win a race. There are also tricks, which you can attempt to pull off and while none of these require too much effort you will be required to get enough 'air' to complete them. Success slowly fills up you 'boost' meter, which can then be used to give you a favorable advantage when attempting to win some of the more complicated races.
Visually the game is very pleasing indeed with the developers managing to squeeze just about all the processing power the DS has to offer into realising the four varied tracks in the game. These are both well designed and textured and even run at a very smooth pace even when all four riders are occupying the same space. The only real drawback is the use of 'fogging' to limit the draw distance but when a game looks this good on the DS, we can easily overlook this.
Each race can be enjoyed with a selectable (and suitably rocky) soundtrack but no doubt, due to cart size restrictions, you can expect a fair bit of looping. Elsewhere you'll be hear the ATV rumpling engines as they attempt to cope with the varying terrain and there's even some mutterings from the riders themselves should you collide them during a race or be lucky enough to come first.
It's almost like the touch-screen and stylus didn't exist which is no bad thing really as the more traditional control set offer up just about everything you could wish for.
If ATV racing is your type of thing then Wild Ride is one of the better examples out there and while the trick and racing combination doesn't offer the deepest of gaming experiences you can't deny just how enjoyable the whole thing is. It's packed with tracks and racing options and, should you happen to find someone else with the cart, a Multiplayer too. There's even a 3DS version of this in the works but, until that finally becomes available, you wouldn't go far wrong locating yourself a copy of this rare and overlooked gem as soon as you can.
Pro: Lots of Modes, Impressive Visuals.
Con: Maybe Too Shallow for Some Gamers.
Final score: 7.5