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Sonic Drift 2 – Game Gear

Sonic Drift 2 – Game Gear

sonic drift 2 cover artPlatform: Sega Game Gear

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Release Date (NA): November 1995

Genre: Racing

Nerd Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Sonic Drift 2 marks Sonic’s first North American appearance in a dedicated racing game as the first Sonic Drift game was never released outside of Japan. Call me pessimistic, but how could this game ever succeed? It was released in November 1995 just months after the release of the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Sure, the Game Gear isn’t a direct competitor against the 5th generation of home consoles, but at this point, the Game Gear was beyond archaic and considered by most to be a flop, despite being vastly superior to the original Game Boy handheld. But the Atari Lynx was long forgotten, as was the TurboExpress (you’re thinking, “The Turbo What?”), and the Game Boy Color wouldn’t reach the market for nearly three more years. So on the surface it might seem that Sonic Drift 2 was a game destined to fail, but was Sega in the right place at the right time? Nobody knows the correct answer, but with mid-1990s behind us, there’s only one thing we can do… Judge Sonic Drift 2 based on what the game is and not how poorly timed its release may have been.

sonic drift 2 - 1Three years prior to Sonic Drift 2, Nintendo shocked the world by sticking Mario and his best friends (and enemies) into race carts karts instead of continuing their tradition of awe-inspiring platformers. As the years went on, Super Mario Kart continued garnering praise for its innovative and wildly fun gameplay! I mean, let’s all be real, that game was amazing! Much like the first time we played Star Fox or F-Zero, our jaws were on the floor when we first experienced those ballin’-ass Mode 7 graphics. Nintendo was onto something and Sega needed to catch up to stay competitive. The only issue was that it took Sega far too long to realize the potential of the concept as a Super Sonic Kart should have been released no later than Christmas 1993. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and Sega may have jumped on this one a little too late.

Many critics labeled Sonic Drift 1 and 2 as Super Mario Kart clones, but their limited abilities (due to it being driven by the 8-bit Game Gear instead of the powerful 16-bit SNES) and weaker game designs make them anything but clones. Instead, these 2 games remind me more of original Game Boy titles like F1 Race and Race Drivin’ than Super Mario Kart. Critics did, however, mostly praise Sonic Drift 2 for one thing… Being better than its predecessor. And that’s not saying a lot. Sonic Drift 2 appears to have no story, relying on pure competitive racing as the basis for why the characters from the Sonic universe got together. Weak.

In Sonic Drift 2, you can choose one of 7 characters – Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, Dr. Robotnik (Eggman), Amy, Fang, or Metal Sonic.sonic drift 2 Single player mode offers up 2 options: Chaos GP or Free Ride. Chaos GP is the main tournament mode where you square off against 3 randomly selected racers and try your hand at winning over 6 courses in one of 3 circuits. Free ride allows you the opportunity to circle any of the 18 tracks by yourself and get a feel for the lay of the land. Then there’s versus mode, where you can link up to another Game Gear and play a friend. Each game mode offers identical gameplay and uses the same characters on the same tracks. Yaaaaaawn.

The poor visuals keep Sonic Drift 2 from ever being an enjoyable experience, which explains why you can easily find this game in any used game bargain bin, along with nearly every other Game Gear game ever made. First off, the screen is split in 2 with the top half being used to show a map of the course, what place you’re in, and how many rings you have. The bottom half is where the action is. Drivers race on a very narrow track on a flat plane surrounded by grass, dirt, nothing, etc. Perhaps the worst part of the visual aspect in Sonic Drift 2 is the extremely short horizon. Bombs and curves come up on your cart so fast, you will need to be able to mash the d-pad with timely precision in order to remain competitive. Granted, this is a Game Gear game we’re talking about, not Forza Motorsport 5. But I think the horizon issue could have been solved by utilizing the entire screen for the actual race.

sonic-drift-2-2

It’s not all terrible in Sonic Drift 2 as Sega did attempt to create some special moments by having individual characteristics of each driver including strengths, weaknesses, and a special ability used to gain the advantage over their opponents. By pressing UP on the d-pad, each player can utilize their special ability, but it’s not free! Each use of the ability costs 2 rings! And as in any Sonic game, getting hit causes you to lose rings!

Special Ability:

  • Sonic: Sonic uses the Dash which provides him with a sudden burst of speed.
  • Tails: Tails uses the jump to propel him over obstacles and opponent’s cars.
  • Amy: Amy distracts her rivals with the Heart Attack. She drops a heart and if a player touches it, they will lose their sense of direction, adding distance between her and her opponents.
  • Eggman: Dr. Robotnik tosses mines that, when hit by other drivers, detonate and destroy their cars. It also causes them to lose rings!
  • Knuckles: Knuckles can punch opponents if they are beside him, or jump over them if they are in front of him.
  • Fang: Fang throws out balls of oil that cause his opponents to spin out of control.
  • Metal Sonic: Metal Sonic uses the Super Dash, a beefier version of Sonic’s Dash ability. According to the instruction manual: “If you think Sonic’s Dash is hot stuff, wait ‘til you see Metal Sonic’s Super Dash! It’s so hot it costs three rings for him to use it.”

sonic drift 2 - 3While not wildly inventive, it is still unique enough to add a level of separation between Sonic Drift 2 and other racing games, including Super Mario Kart. The tracks aren’t terribly varied as far as you can see because the horizon is so near. The tracks might look different on the map, but that really doesn’t make them FEEL any different. A turn feels like a turn no matter what track you are on. Each track is extremely narrow and the only real noticeable difference is the background and environment. I know that technology really limited much of what was possible here, but even in 1995 and 1996, this was a disappointing title.

Overall, I just can’t say too many positive things about Sonic Drift 2. Players will suffer a horrific death caused by an overwhelming amount of underwhelming gameplay, repetitive track layouts, dreadful controls, lack of variety, and sheer boredom. I give praise to Sega for some very decent 8-bit graphics and an above-average soundtrack. They also deserve kudos for trying. Where would the gaming industry be today if companies had ideas that they never even attempted? Failing teaches us all how to do something right the next time. Sorry Sonic Drift 2 fans. The Game Boy has the superior game library even though the Game Gear was a way better system.

Nerd Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Member BioArticles by MemberMember Blog

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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