I’ll just say it now: AiRace Xeno is really cool. It’s incredibly short and can be frustrating at times, but with great gameplay, plenty of replayability, impressive visuals, solid music, and a cool setting, it more than makes up for its shortcomings. Best of all, it’s incredibly cheap, so if you like racers or futuristic settings, you should definitely try it out.

You control a futuristic jet flying through different locations in a sci-fi universe, trying not to crash and wanting to finish as fast as possible. The controls are easy to grasp: your ship will automatically go forward. You can move left, right, up, down, and every which way using the control pad. Holding A speeds up your jet while holding B slows it down. You will race through open rooms and closed corridors, but whatever the case, there are always blockades that you will have to avoid quickly and precisely.

To make this easier, your jet will stick to the walls and ceilings, which can help with faster maneuverability around some obstacles. Doing so slowly drains your health, though, so you will have to go back to regular flying often to refill. Doing so also slows your jet slightly, which is actually pretty important as we’ll get to in a moment. Holding down A and going for long stretches zipping past obstacles, whizzing through tunnel after open space to another tunnel, learning the different obstacle layouts, and mastering the controls to eventually make perfect runs — it’s a blast.

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But what’s your actual goal in the game? Simple: it’s to finish the course as fast as you can. Every course is comprised of multiple laps with checkpoints scattered throughout. If you crash, you are placed at a recent checkpoint with your timer reset to what it was when you last passed said checkpoint, but you get a three-second penalty added to your overall time at the end. Beating levels quickly is the entire point of the game. There are three different rankings — bronze, silver, and gold — depending on how quickly you finish a course. Bronze is incredibly easy to achieve, silver rather less so, and gold requires an absolutely perfect run. Even going full speed without any crashes, I still didn’t make it in time once, so you’ll need to take risks and avoid skidding along the wall if you want to take down some of these trials.

All the same, it becomes massively fun and satisfying when going for gold. Pressing down on A and going full speed is just a fun time. There’s occasionally the problem of an object coming up just a bit too fast — blinking can kill you if you’re unlucky — but by and large, it’s fantastic. But aside from the feeling of accomplishment, what’s the point of earning these rankings? You can use them to unlock new levels; there are only nine courses in total, but it takes work to unlock them. Some are unlocked by earning a certain amount of silver rankings while others are by achieving gold. Again, getting gold can be very tricky, so unlocking the last couple courses can take some serious effort. It is the good kind of effort, though; it always feels fair, and most importantly, fun, so you won’t ever get too frustrated.

Once you have unlocked all of the levels, there’s still other things to do. You can get gold on every track. There are leaderboards, so you can compete against your friends and the rest of the world. There are also a set of achievements for those interested in such things; so although the game is lacking in sheer number of levels, there’s enough replay value to help make up for it a bit.

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The game is visually great; for $2.50, it’s stunning. The level of detail, while nothing noteworthy for a retail price, is pretty impressive for such a cheap purchase. When objects are stationary, it’s nothing special, but when everything is zipping by you, it looks as good as it needs to, if not quite a bit better. It’s pretty great artistically as well. Colors pop and the environments are pleasant. It definitely feels like a futuristic world you are speeding through and it went a long way towards creating an interesting atmosphere. Musically, the game has a loud, techno, almost dubstep, sound to it. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s also not bad and fits the game pretty well. The sound effects are unobtrusive and not annoying, but they do properly let you know when certain events are occurring, like skidding or passing a checkpoint.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about AiRace Xeno. There’s not an abundance of content, but it’s cheap enough that it doesn’t really matter and what is there is really fun. The gameplay is simple but exhilarating. The visuals are impressive, the music is pretty good, and earning all the gold and the inclusion of leaderboards should leave plenty of replayability for those who care for such things. It’s pretty hard not to suggest this game for such a low price point, so if this sounds at all interesting, you should definitely try it out.

Written by Jonathan Harrington

Jono loves to play and try out all types of games, but he’s especially fond of those with “Xenoblade,” “Okami,” or “Zelda” in the title. He is a features and reviews editor at Nintendo Enthusiast, though he also dabbles in news.

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Pros:

  • Great gameplay
  • Impressive visuals
  • Fast-paced music
  • Plenty of replayability

Cons:

  • Not a lot of courses
  • Don't Blink

Final Score:  8 / 10

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