Namco Bandai Games sees it their duty to release a Ridge Racer title for whatever fancy-pants new game system comes out. They've said as much in the past, and they're not looking to jinx the streak with the PlayStation Vita. That's perhaps why they've given development duties on the Vita RR to Cellius, a joint venture co-owned by NBGI and Sony founded in 2007 that, up to now, has mostly been a network and entertainment research firm.
"The first thing on all of our minds is what makes an RR game an RR game," said Cellius director Hideo Teramoto, who's been working on the Ridge series since 2004, in an interview with Famitsumagazine. "The second concern was what Ridge needed to be on the PS Vita. We concluded that that involved really pretty visuals that took advantage of the organic EL display, high-quality sound that took advantage of the Sony hardware, and the feeling of exhilaration that results from all that. That, and online play."
What sort of online play would that be, exactly? "I suppose the typical ideas would involve online races and time-ranking challenges and so forth," Teramoto responded. "That's not out of the question here, of course, but our intention is to implement features that use some of the more interesting aspects of the PS Vita's hardware. While I can't give details yet, I think one of the keywords I can give here is 'pride.' The PS Vita is connected to the net 24/7; it's a system you're really meant to have around you at all times. Maybe you take it out for a bit on the train; maybe you show it to your friends at parties. That's why I think it'd be neat to have some kind of feature you could show off to people and say 'Hey, look at this.' We're in the midst of trying out all these ideas on this new piece of hardware, so I can't really say exactly what it's going to be like yet."
Online may not be on display when Ridge Racer makes its latest playable appearance at the Tokyo Game Show this weekend, but the new demo will show off the new concept car that's serving as the "cover boy" for the game. The SYNCi, as art director Makoto Watarai told Famitsu, is a Ridge Racer car for the modern age -- in other words, a hybrid-engine sports car. "One of the themes thrown around by the development staff is 'the planet,' as in Earth," he said. "That's where the concept began -- with a blue color scheme and an environmentally-friendly hybrid design. I wanted a design that balanced speed with greenness, something that wouldn't seem out of fashion five or ten years from now."
The new Ridge is a Vita launch title in Japan and presumably will be the same in the US next year.