Ridge Racers 2
A Look Back In Time For A Classic Namco Series
Released as a launch title for the PSP, Ridge Racer served as a tech demo of sorts for the Sony handheld, proving many of the features that the device was capable of when in direct competition to the Nintendo DS and even the Nokia N-Gage, it's only competitor in the handheld market. The graphics were console-quality, with its shading, flares, and car reflections that were simply unheard of at the time. Its sound quality was also a high point, taking cues from the device’s claim as a multimedia device as well as a gaming console as well. Overall, Ridge Racer was successful in showing what the PSP was capable of, with other titles pushing the device to its limits over the years to come. Two years later, Ridge Racer 2 would be released, but first, it's best to talk about the original.
The Original PSP Title Was Ridge Racer’s Anthology Title
Ridge Racer, in many ways, was the “anthology” title, celebrating a decade of the series’ success by including a hand-picked amount of tracks from each title, from the original arcade Ridge Racer, Ridge Racer Revolution, Rage Racer, Ridge Racer Type 4, and the arcade only Rave Racer. Music tracks were also handpicked from older titles, including an entirely new soundtrack, with cars based on prior models in past games as well.
Under the hood, Ridge Racer was much more than a “glorified tech demo,” but rather it was an incredible racing game unlike anything before it at the time, even compared to other titles in the series’ past. The way the cars handled in this game took Ridge Racer back to its series arcade roots, compared to the more “realistic” Ridge Racer Type 4 or Ridge Racer 5, the previous entry in the series at the time.
The First Introduction To Nitrous Began With PSP’s Ridge Racer
The cars traveled at top speeds at all times and drifting through corners while maintaining speed rewarded players with nitrous boost. The nitrous boost was the new mechanic for the Ridge Racer series which eventually became a series staple in its following games. This offered a form of strategy, as players would need to know the optimal parts of a course to use a boost and build nitrous through drifting corners at high speed.
Reading up to this point, a lot of the review is based on Ridge Racer and not its sequel, and there’s a very good reason for it. The “sequel” is not much of a sequel at all, but more of an updated release to the original launch title.
Ridge Racer 2 Can Be Considered An Expansion To The Original
Released in 2006, two years after the original in Japan and a mere few months elsewhere in the world, Ridge Racer 2 took everything from Ridge Racer and added new tracks.
This doubled the number of tracks, including just about every track from every Ridge Racer title up until R4: Ridge Racer Type 4. New music was added, some original and some from older titles, while new special cars were also included, making Ridge Racer 2 the definitive PSP experience.
The PSP Sequel Was Never Released In America Officially
Unfortunately, American fans would miss out on the experience as the game was never released in the US, only releasing in Europe, Japan, and the surrounding Asia region. Fortunately, American fans were able to experience the title for themselves as the PSP was region-free, allowing players to play the European version of Ridge Racer 2 on an American PSP, bearing in mind that cars will be in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour.
At the time, critics felt the bonus content wasn’t justified in purchasing what was, essentially, an “upgraded title” to the original, an understandable point to be made as the gaming climate in 2006 was different than it is currently in 2021.
In Many Ways, Ridge Racer 2 Predated “Modern” DLC
Nowadays, games are expected to be layered with DLC, either as individual content, season passes, or full expansions through the use of a digital marketplace. In 2006, online gaming and digital distribution were at their infancy, meaning the most reliable way to include bonus content was to release an “upgraded” version of the original game.
Games like the Metal Gear Solid series were well known for taking this approach, including Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. Final Fantasy games at the time also followed this approach, with upgraded bonus content for Final Fantasy X and XII respectively. To a lesser extent, this practice is continued today with titles like Persona 5 Royal expanding on its original, criticizing Ridge Racer 2 unfairly.
Ridge Racer 2 Is The Definitive “Ridge Racer” On The PSP
If there was a choice between the two titles, Ridge Racer 2 would be obvious for players wanting to experience the best way to play one of the best handheld racing games from that generation. While there are differences between the two, specifically the unique Special cars in Ridge Racer 2 being different from its predecessor, the sequel more than makes up for it with its added content, further amplifying the point that Ridge Racer on the PSP was an amazing game in 2004, in 2006, and even in 2021.
Ridge Racer 2 is available on the PSP.