SpeedX 3D – Not quite a 64-bit review

Hey, remember how at least 147% of all games released on the DSiWare service were stupidly overpriced ports of 99c iPhone games with less content and options? Prooobably not if you owned an Australian system, since no DSiWare games were ever released for it here. None. Never. Especially not the few that were. But enough about e-racism, SpeedX 3D is here for your 3DS! It’s one of those iPhone ports you know and shrug, but now in glorious three dee. Two more dimensions? Seven thousand times the price. Now the math(s) works. Atari’s marketing department would be proud.

SpeedX 3D consists of… moving left and right. Awesome. If it had a box, that could be the box quote – ellipses and all, in Comic Sans, hidden under a tower of clearance sale stickers. Essentially, you’re zooming down a randomly generated tunnel (via the Circle Pad or gyro controls), avoiding blocks, pillars and sometimes these uh, bouncing pyramid things. They’re all drenched in bright colours to stand out against the bland abyss of grey town. While free to move around the tunnel, think of it as being stuck on a number of different lanes to switch between – sort of like a slot car, but without the patented Thunderloop Thriller.

The game gives fair warning for an approaching object by lighting up whichever lane with its matching colour. Harder levels result in multiple paths flashing at once, requiring split second eyeball-to-brain processing for a safe route. You can’t control how fast you’re going and the only way to stop is by crashing. But crashing means dying, so no. Noooo, no, no. Yes. Along the way you’ll see vents (?) on the ground which give you shields, as they do. Five shields can be stockpiled and activated at your will for a limited run of invincibility. They also seem to work by themselves, should you happen to smack into something – sometimes. Somewhere. Over the rainbow.

So there you are, moving left and right to avoid pyramid things, when all of a sudden a huge message pops up signalling some kind of silly effect. For a few seconds the screen might go dark, start pulsating (heavy breathing), or the gravity could be thrown out of whack, prompting exaggerated movements. These all help keep things a bit interesting, but not much. Because hey, SpeedX 3D kind of gets old pretty fast.

The environment you speed down never really changes too much – occasionally the tunnel opens up into a slightly more open field – only to morph back again. It looks about as interesting as a bowl of cereal that’s been forgotten; just sitting there on the bench, the milk all soaked up into a sponge-like blob of bran. And there’s just one single song throughout the entire game. Really, from the title screen to the everything else. It doesn’t even suit the action, and just comes across as morbidly depressing.

The graphics aren’t particularly worthy of any sort of reaction either. I mean, if you saw the game running for more than ten seconds, there wouldn’t even be an “Oh?” Or a “I’d better go get some ham for my bread roll”. Nothing. This isn’t helped by practically every level looking the same. The draw distance is incredibly low, which acts as a cheap way of increasing the tension of not knowing what’s coming up next, yet the frame rate somehow struggles.

SpeedX 3D is not a good looking game – it’s not taxing the hardware by any stretch of the imagination – so having it cough and wheeze around every corner is a tad confusing. Meanwhile, the 3D effect is nice, but a bit painful on the eyes thanks to its jaggered graphics standing out even more. If any 3DS game so far was in desperate need of some anti-aliasing, this is probably it.

So, this has mostly been negative. That’s because SpeedX 3D is pretty shit. It’s a very basic high score game with no online leaderboards. Oh, but the iPhone and Android versions – a fraction of the price – totally do. Actually, it might even be free on Android now. As in legitimately free, not ‘everything is pirated on Android’ free. This 3DS port adds a handful of new modes to try, such as Zone (where you have to collect petrol cans to keep going) and a never-ending run for that elusive  offline high score which you could take a photo of to send into Fat Boy’s mailbag for the next issue of Nintendo Magazine System. The core gameplay is exactly the same however, so these don’t exactly add too much in the longrun.

SpeedX 3D was designed as a quick burst toilet game, which is great, except there’s barely enough here to even cover that. Each run may be randomly generated for the most part, but there’s a crucial lack of variety in the setting, and no real incentive to put in any actual effort.

A good toilet game has that ‘one more go’ appeal, which SpeedX 3D completely lacks. It’s just not very entertaining at all. Once again, Atari’s marketing department would be proud.

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