The best racing game for Android is... Ridge Racer Slipstream (free)
Namco’s racer sits at the midpoint between Asphalt 8’s demented arcade larks and Real Racing’s overly earnest simulation leanings. Like its coin-op ancestors, though, Ridge Racer is still all about barreling along at insane speeds, and having fun — you just have to work at success a bit more than in Asphalt.
Here, driving like a total idiot will likely mean you’ll lose a race. Instead, you should only drive like a part-time maniac, slipstreaming the opposition, drifting through bends, and boosting past rivals. It looks great, sounds suitably meaty, controls really well, and even the IAP’s subdued enough that the game won’t constantly be doing wheelspins on your bank account.
Horizon Chase (free)
A love letter to classic 1990s arcade racers, Horizon Chase channels Lotus Turbo Esprit Challenge and Top Gear, fusing them with a decidedly modern take on old-school visuals. The result is an intoxicating and vibrant blast through 73 tracks located in 32 cities around the globe.
Realism’s broadly ignored in favour of speed as you battle from the back of the grid (every time, just like in the old days), bumping rivals aside to try for the chequered flag.
The difficulty curve’s smooth; the soundtrack’s head-noddingly cheesy; and the game is fast. You’re basically dead inside if you don’t plonk down S$4 for the full-game unlock once you’ve bested the initial handful of free tracks.
Asphalt 8: Airborne (free)
There are two ways to approach racing games: you can try to recreate ‘reality’, pretend you’re crafting a ‘simulation’ and make all of the tracks very grey; or you can just go crazy. Asphalt takes the latter route, having you zoom at breakneck speeds around ludicrous hyper-real city courses, which occasionally catapult your car into the air in a manner that is totally not acceptable under your insurance plan.
The fast, drift-happy racing is lots of fun, and although the game’s rather keen to relentlessly provide opportunities to convert real cash to in-game virtual cash, there’s not really any need to do so.
Pumped BMX 3 (S$7)
Imagine that little bird in Tiny Wings was a massive show-off on a BMX and that’s more or less Pumped BMX 3. You belt along increasingly insane tracks that would give any health and safety professional pause for thought, ‘pumping’ up slopes and then soaring into the air.
At that point, it’s all about the stunts and the not-crashing. The former requires cunning flicks on a virtual joypad and taps of a Spin button; the latter’s all down to timing and not being a ham-fisted buffoon when your little biker’s ten metres in the air, upside-down, and about to discover how cruel gravity can be.
Trial Xtreme 2 (S$4)
No, this isn’t the latest version. Trial Xtreme 3 was bigger and slicker, but something about the bike handling had changed and it no longer felt as technical. Not that there was ever a great deal of science to the Trial Xtreme games: you repeatedly fire your bike at the obstacles and eventually some combination of speed, lean angle and hammering of the physically dubious ‘jump’ button would get you through.
Any frustration is immediately dispelled by marvellous swoopy moments such as shooting off the end of a loop-the-loop and landing just-so on the downslope of the next section. Whoop! Crash. Repeat.