It's Ridge Racer. That's not me trying to be clever by bringing up that legendary moment from E3 a few years back. I'm just saying that Ridge Racer 3D is Ridge Racer. That, in many ways, is all that needs to be said if you've ever played a Ridge Racer game before - unless you've only played the awful DS game or the quite terrible iOS versions.
You drive cars, usually at very high speeds, drift them in insane ways around corners and use nitrous to boost, all the while trying to take first place in what is best described as a parade of opponent racers. While boosting wasn't around from the beginning, the rest of that sentence could be used to describe every classic Ridge Racer in existence.
As is always the way, the opening races are - by later standards - achingly slow and simple. The game's structure, built around a series of Grand Prix events, means that for the first few hours anyone with even a brief history with Ridge Racer will find themselves bored by how easy winning is. It's not until tier 2 cars are unlocked that things start to heat up.
A considerable bump in top speed turns what was a fun but somewhat relaxing jaunt around a series of tracks into a blistering battle against a bunch of nippy rivals as you try to cling on to the racing line. The powersliding has no standing in reality whatsoever, with corners being taken at 300+kph, your car gripping the tarmac like it has cut its own groove.
Some effort has been made to simplify sliding for newcomers (heresy in my book), meaning you can start a slide by pressing a button and exit a slide by releasing the button. While there might be an argument for including it, I hope most people won't use it as learning how to and then perfect the control of powerslides is the best part of the Ridge Racer experience.
In terms of progression there's not much more than unlocking new cars and tracks, while points earned can be spent on nitrous upgrades and race bonuses, such as a pre-filled nitrous meter and an automatic speedy start. It feels like cheating at first, but with an abundance of points just sitting there I felt I might as well buy whatever I could afford.
As for 3DS extras, it's more a case of 3DS omissions. Yes, there's Street Pass support, meaning you can share ghost lap data with other players, but multiplayer is limited to just four-players over a local connection and with each person having their own copy of the game. There's no online play or functionality such as leaderboards, and no Download Play - the ability to let a friend play with you without owning a second copy of the game.