Riff Racer is an arcade styled racing game where the tracks are built by the music being played. You can use either your music or the ones that come with the game to start racing. At first you are only able to choose from a single car but will be able to buy more as you collect money by completing races. Upon starting a song, you will find yourself on a floating road, surrounded by oddly placed buildings that have a surreal look to them. The controls are very simple with the only actions being moving left and right as well as a nitro & drift button. Depending on your settings, your speed will be controlled automatically which makes the game unnecessarily boring. I’d highly recommend to make sure to set it to manual driving so it doesn’t feel like you are playing a glorified “Runner” game.
Your goal is to drive in sync to your music, making sure not to fall behind the song as indicated by a glowing line zooming across the track with you. The only obstacles are barricades that will occasionally pop up and if you crash into them your speed will simply slow down. There are some jumps littered through certain tracks but are rarely ever difficult to land. Riff Racer is all about the points which you gain by managing to driving ahead of the “in sync” line and drifting. You gain the speed needed to drive faster than your music by either drifting, touching a speed boost power up or collecting a bunch of cubes to fill your nitro bar. These cubes will also gain you points for collecting them so collecting as many as you can is as vital as going fast. Also scattered throughout are some coins which will net you some money if collected.
With the money collected you will be able to customize your car or simply buy a new one to race in. They all control the same with the only difference being how wide they are which both makes it easier to collect items as well as to crash into barricades. Even playing the fastest paced of songs Riff Racer is never difficult and there is not even a way to lose the game. If you are not interested in high-scores or having a laid back experience to enjoy your music, this game is not for you. It is still enough of a thrill to not have you dosing off but it is certainly not a game that will get your heart pounding. The corner of the tracks have safety rails so you don’t fall off but if you are going too fast or misjudge a jump then you will fall to your demise and respawn a bit behind the song. Flipping your car over also produces the same results.
A nice addition to get you to play more than your usual go to songs is a cash bonus for finding a song that no one has played before. In addition to the cash you will have your username engraved with the song. Playing enough songs will get your profile to level up which will give you a fair bit of money to spend. Drive, collect money, buy car and drive again is pretty much all there is to Riff Racer. It is a very simple yet addictive Racing game that will bring some new life into all the songs you’ve heard countless times. After a while it does start to feel a bit repetitive due to environments rarely changing in a significant way but time after time I keep returning for more.