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RELEASE DATE (NA): November 1995 GENRE: Racing
// review by SoyBomb

Metal Sonic "steels" your money.

In 1994, Sega released Sonic Drift for the Game Gear, a half-assed racing game starring Sonic the Hedgehog and three of his franchise associates: Tails, Amy Rose, and Eggman (also known as Dr. Robotnik in the U.S. for quite some time). Sonic Drift was notable for being the first racing game in the franchise, but it was even MORE notable for being one of the least playable racing titles in recent memory. Bogged down with driving controls that would make Al Unser quit the profession and become a used vacuum cleaner salesman, as well as a shoddy graphical prowess and a very tinkly soundtrack, and you've got the recipe for disaster. Who would want to take Sonic Drift on the go? Who would want to take it anywhere other than a landfill?

A year later (almost to the day — 364 days after Sonic Drift was released in Japan), Sega dropped Sonic Drift 2 in 1995. Despite how cringeworthy the first game was on the bowels of the gaming public, someone thought a sequel was warranted. But with that extra year, surely all the flaws of its predecessor could be improved upon, resulting in a shining beacon of portable racing, right? They couldn't have messed this up twice, could they? ...COULD THEY?

Turns out they could, and they did.

Like before, there is hardly a story to be told here, although Sega has upped the ante by giving you a goal: to collect all of the Chaos Emeralds by winning six races in a row in either the Purple, White, or Blue Grand Prix (a hearty and overall not so creative change from the Red, Yellow, and Green GPs from the previous game). In the Blue GP, depending on whether you're using a good character or an evil character, that will determine whether you face off against Robotnik or Sonic in the final race. Win that, and you win Sonic Drift 2! Confetti will rain from the sky, and your name shall be forever engraved on the Wall of Uninteresting Victories.

Sonic Drift 2 is largely a carbon copy of Sonic Drift, though admittedly with a few changes. For starters, the roster of characters has been greatly expanded to a grand total of... SEVEN! That's almost double! Actually, it's very odd to see seven playable characters in ANYTHING. Seven is an odd number, and not just because it's not even. Newly added are Knuckles the Echidna, Metal Sonic, and Fang the Sniper, a generally unpopular half-wolf, half-weasel who debuted on the Game Gear and has received relatively little exposure elsewhere.

Do you see me winning here? No? Why not?

The controls continue to do a bang-up job of striving to be as horrid as possible, though I did feel as though actually drifting was a slightly more competent endeavour. But with so little time to react to the sudden onslaught of a curve (who's legitimately watching the map when they're spending so much time focusing on NOT spiraling off-course through the plexiglass window of a Denny's straight into a customer's Pumpkin Cream Pancake Breakfast?), precise controls are paramount, which this game sorely lacks. Did Sega not feel that their game could use a little tune-up? Or a full overhaul? Or maybe they should've just sent it to the scrap heap and focused their efforts into making a good Sonic game on the Sega Saturn?

To make matters worse, the presentation hasn't seen much of an improvement. In fact, if they hadn't cleaned up the HUD somewhat, I'd swear I was playing the first Sonic Drift. Again, carbon copying a broken game and claiming it as a new game is no way to develop games. How will you improve yourselves if you think your worst is your best?

Sonic Drift was a stain of a game on the fabric of the Game Gear library, and Sonic Drift 2 is a stain of almost equal density, tone, and odour. Though it has ever-so-slight improvements in control, they're not enough to make this game feel any less of an utter disappointment. If you managed to obtain both games, feel secure in the thought that you've been suckered twice.

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