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Lifespeed (New 3DS eShop) Review

Now here’s a game I knew virtually nothing about except that it was a futuristic racing game exclusively on the New 3DS. I was thinking it would be similar to F-Zero or Fast Racing NEO, but it’s really more like “what if Star Fox had racing sequences?” Lifespeed is a fun game, but Wee Man Studios made some questionable design decisions that htamper the experience. The game’s Story mode offers up a plot that’s equal parts Death Race and The Hunger Games, with a genre-standard “Chosen One” thrown in for good measure. In between races, story beats are doled out via comic panels with an interesting painterlyhand-painted aesthetic. Unless you’ve already seen them, cutscenes are not skippable. When you’re actually off to the races, Lifespeed is perfectly competent. Races take place in long enclosed tubes that are dotted with various hazards to avoid. You can move your ship all over the place and fly through rings to get boosts, health, and weapons. This is where it feels like Star Fox. Interestingly, you do not have direct control over your speed. All you can do influence your ship’s velocity is to brake or fly through boost rings. Otherwise, your driver pretty much has his pedal to the metal the whole time. This took some getting used to, but with all the other visual information you’re juggling, it was kind of nice to not have to worry about feathering the throttle. Weapons include things like lasers, missiles, a shield, and mines. There’s a lock-on mechanic that requires a little too much precision to be useful. Missiles aren’t just Red Shells that automatically seek out an opponent—you have to be close to your opponent and target them for a few seconds before the missile is locked . The game looks great and flies along smoothly, even in 3D. The same can’t be said for the music, which was an afterthought. There are, however, issues. For one thing, there are only eight courses. This would be more forgivable if the courses were more interesting, but there’s only so much you can do with enclosed tubes. A couple tracks have shortcuts to find, which is nice. Story Mode doesn’t save your progress between races, so if you have to quite for some reason, you have to restart from the beginning. Bizarrely, though, you can skip cutscenes you already saw the first time. Cutscene-viewing is saved, but not your race progress! Many courses are littered with environmental hazards which are generally easy to avoid. Some sections, however, include turrets and energy bursts that can disable your ship. These particular hazards are hard to see and almost impossible to avoid—you won’t see them until they…

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