RIDGE RACER / Namco / Sony PSP
Namco threw this together as their launch title for the then-new PSP, and it turned out to be more of a collection of tracks and cars from previous games rather than a wholly original new entry in the series. I'll say this much for it though, it at least handles pretty well, with the simple "let go of the gas and turn to drift" style feeling less random and more controllable here. Drifting also gradually builds nitro boosts.

It also looks very nice. By today's standards the car models and tracks are relatively simple, but Namco obviously poured a lot of money into making this the PSP's initial graphical showpiece and the game still looks polished and pleasant, if dated. There's also a decent soundtrack mix that leans toward electronica/techno but has some Latin jazz and other random things thrown in there, and you're free to pick your song of preference for each race.

So it plays pretty well and looks pretty nice ... the one major problem is that it's extremely repetitious. There's 24 total tracks, which is fine for a handheld title, but they're all structured the exact same way and end up having a very samey feel. You start at the far back of a pack of 12, you spend the first two laps making up the ridiculous advantage that the front three cars get, then maybe you spend the final lap dueling it out with the front-runner if the CPU isn't too incompetent. You unlock new cars as you go, the game gets harder, but this same pattern just keeps repeating over and over and over.

I guess Namco was counting on multiplayer to even out some of the repetitious tedium of single-player mode, but these days that's not gonna happen. It's OK for a cheap price, but you can do better for a casual racer on the PSP or Vita.