Air Race Speed review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: QubicGames
Developer: QubicGames
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

There was a moment during the Nintendo Switch reveal, in the midst of one of its hype reels for upcoming games, when people briefly went crazy over the possibility of F-Zero being reborn on Nintendo’s new hybrid console. It was quickly revealed to be an entirely different futuristic racing he game called Redout, but it made plain just how many gamers pine for the rebirth of the now decades-old franchise.

All those people need to buy a Vita and check out Air Race Speed ASAP, because if it’s not quite F-Zero reborn, it’s still the next best thing.

To be sure, it’s not a 1:1 comparison. There’s no multiplayer aspect to Air Race Speed, for one thing, which means that if you’re going to enjoy it — and you will — you’ll have to do so solo. In fact, there’s not any mode to the game other than time trials, so the “Race” part of the title requires a little imagination on the part of the player.

Beyond that, though, if you’re looking for a futuristic racer that’ll get your pulse pounding, Air Race Speed will do the trick. The vehicles are sleek little spaceships that extremely handle well, the courses are challenging without being impossible, and the whole time trial/star rating thing means that, particularly on the Vita, it lends itself perfectly to replayability. In isolation, each of these things would be great; taken together, they make for a genuinely fun game.

It’s all helped, of course, by the fact it looks phenomenal. Given how tricky some of these courses are, Air Race Speed would be sunk if the graphics couldn’t keep up with the gameplay. Impressively, not only do they keep up, everything looks amazing in the process. Even as the world is flashing by you, there’s never a hiccup or a glitch: it looks crystal clear, and ensures that even if you’re pushing your ship to the limit, you’ll never be faced with a hangup that causes you to crash into a previously unseen object.

I don’t want to suggest, of course, that in 2014, a huge mass of people will speak of Air Race Speed in the same reverential tones that they use to talk about F-Zero today. Its reliance on single-player-only mode pretty much puts paid to that idea. But amongst Vita owners who take the plunge and pick it up — amongst a niche within a niche, in other words — I think it’s the kind of game that’s going to be beloved.

Grade: A