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CONSOLE: Game Gear DEVELOPER: Sega PUBLISHER: Sega
RELEASE DATE (JP): March 18, 1994 GENRE: Racing
// review by SoyBomb

Drift off to sleep, and drive into a chasm.

We all know that Sonic's "gotta go fast", but apparently, his legs just aren't what they used to be. That's why he now uses motor vehicles to get around.

Sonic Drift is Sonic's first racing game outing, and it's about as exciting an experience as accidentally sitting down on a slice of toast and realizing there's now peanut butter glued to your behind. With no storyline other than "Let's go racing", and with no explanation as to why Sonic and Robotnik are now karting buddies other than "Let's go racing", this is simply your run-of-the-mill spin-off to cash in on the popularity of a bustling franchise. That's right, the hip crew of Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles "Tails" Prower, Dr. Robotnik — er, Dr. Eggman in this Japan-exclusive title, as he's referred to out there — and newcomer Amy Rose are all taking to the tracks, hoping they can win an arbitrary "first place" prize, likely a gift certificate to the Outback Steakhouse. Or, as I prefer to call it, the Outhouse Steakback.

After choosing whether you want to try out the Green Cup, Yellow Cup, or Red Cup, you're treated to six races set in the different zones of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Marvel at the Marble Zone! Hop through Spring Yard Zone! Get lost in Labyrinth Zone! The different cups offer the same locales, just different layouts, although all the layouts are bland and generally look and feel the same when you're out there driving. Really, only the horizon of the game changes, while the bottom half of the screen remains fairly constant: an ever-winding road of gray and white stripes

As uninspired as the game looks, it's the gameplay that causes this title to suffer the most. The controls are terrible. Driving straight is about the only thing they got right, when you're not randomly picking up a ring on the track and suddenly crashing to a sudden halt. Once it comes to surviving a turn, it's anyone's game. Actually, it's Sega's game, and they didn't do a good job. Although you can watch your location on the track with the in-game diagram, the turns still seem to appear too quickly, giving you practically zero time to react. You're supposed to drift... and I definitely drift... off the track and into obstacles such as grass, signs, and the occasional hitchhiker.

Or, should I say, DRIFTER? A-haw-haw-haw-etc.


There's no horn function, so I just throw my Game Gear in the trash instead.

Nine times out of ten, your drifts won't work as well as they ought to. Without this key mechanic functioning, the rest of the gameplay falls flat as racers repeatedly zoom by you while both you and the game crash and burn. Super Mario Kart drifting was better than this. The one thing this game says it does in its own title, it can't do. It should be called Sonic Grift, because all Sega did was steal your money.

Along the track, there are items that are supposed to help you. Supposed to, but very well may not. There are rings, the Sonic Drift equivalent of coins, that give you a boost when you press Up. Of course, smacking into another racer will make you drop one. Springs lain upon the track will send you into temporary aerial flight, just to get over obstacles or rivals. And then there are the boxes. Red ones give you a boost, blue ones give you invincibility. They can be very useful, but they still won't save your soul on those sharp turns.

Combine poor controls, a soundtrack that can best be described as "technically a soundtrack, although more like someone fell face first into a Fisher-Price xylophone", graphics that fail to stun, and two eggs, then whisk briskly until chunky. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, and let sit permanently on your shelf until disintegrated by time.


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