Thanks to Wee Man Studios for the review code
System: New 3DS (eShop)
Release Date: 02/02/2017
In this racing game, the titular Lifespeed races are hosted as a means of having people from across the galaxy compete in death matches to see who’s the best of the best, solely for the enjoyment of others. You take control of a resistance member who must help “the chosen one” achieve their destiny of stopping the games once and for all, by racing to the death!
Despite being a New Nintendo 3DS exclusive, (and a true one at that, as it’s not on any other system) the visuals don’t look that impressive compared to your standard 3DS game, which is pretty disappointing since I was hoping this would be the game to finally take advantage of the full power of the New 3DS, but just like with the abysmal Blockform it appears that the game is exclusive to the N3DS line solely because of the engine and C-stick. It looks MUCH better than the pile of garbage known as Blockform, obviously, it’s just nothing that screams “THIS IS THE ULTIMATE POWER!” nor makes me go “Only the New 3DS can handle this!” There was one visual treat I enjoyed, however, and that comes from the cutscenes, which are portrayed in the style of a comic book. A nice touch for a game like this, even if the story itself remains uninteresting.
And following what seems to be tradition with fast racing games I’ve reviewed, the music ranges from mediocre to borderline awful, continuing with the obsession with techno themes that I’ve heard in a few of these racers as of late, with nothing worth talking about.
Considering how fierce and epic the story makes these races sound, it’s pretty disappointing to find that Lifespeed is just an average racer with little to offer. Right off the bat you’ll notice that there’s no button to accelerate; that’s all done automatically, and the A button instead uses whatever item you pick up on the tracks. These items can range from spiky bombs that are dropped behind your ship, to missiles that lock onto enemy ships in your sights. Outside of items, the only other controls you have is the ability to brake with the B button (I don’t recommend using this, it slows you down too much and doesn’t help with drifting that well) and the ability to do spins in the air with the L and R buttons. (helpful for getting around tight corners if used while turning)
Disappointingly, when it comes to the modes, there aren’t that many of them, and they’re all single-player only. No download play/local play options available to speak of, which is just absolutely baffling in a racer like this. You have the story mode, which is a few stages long and takes you through all the tracks available in the main game, (Around eight of them) and as I mentioned earlier outside of the comic book presentation, the actual story is just there to exist for the most part, and not that impressive. As a matter of fact, it seems to end on a sudden cliffhanger, one that doesn’t seem to do any sort of effort into making you desperate to learn what happened whatsoever. I assume it’s because I didn’t play on the hardest difficulty, but if this was the developer’s attempt to go back to the old days where that was a required task to see an ending, they didn’t do a good job expressing it, as the story literally ends abruptly and without warning otherwise, giving me the impression that it’s just a sequel hook attempting to shock the player.
The other modes aren’t worth writing home about either. You can practice any of the main tracks in Single Race mode, in order to get the highest score for the online leaderboards, (which doesn’t make much sense since you’d think that getting the best time would be a bigger focus, but I digress) or play several tracks in a row in the Championship mode. Outside of focusing on the leaderboard, there’s little reason to go through these modes unless you find the long courses appealing or want to practice the hardest difficulties.
In conclusion, LifeSpeed is a pretty boring racer, with a really short story mode, no multiplayer to speak of and some tracks that go on a lot longer than they really should. While the controls are solid despite the auto-acceleration, and there is satisfaction from narrowly winning a race thanks to a helpful bomb, the game didn’t hold my interest for very long, and the decision to make the leaderboards score based just baffle me. It does seem that the developers were self-aware of these faults though, since the game is only six dollars on the US eShop. While it may be a decent experience if on sale, I ultimately can’t recommend this game at the normal MSRP, considering how the Airace games are also on the eShop for much less. Only diehard racing fans who won’t mind the lack of single player content or a multiplayer mode should consider giving this a look at the current pricetag, since the controls still work well, but the level design and content are lacklaster. I give Lifespeed a 5 out of 10.