Power Drift

A sprint racer or a sprite racer?

Source // Hardcore Gaming 101

While I'm a fan of racing games, the whole drifting mechanic just doesn't gel with me. Maybe it's because I can't drive outside of video games and haven't got a clue of the physics or something. Whatever the reason, I was hoping that Power Drift wasn't focused on drifting, despite its name, and would allow all players to just put their foot down and gun it around the track.

Created to show off sprite scaling as much as to make a great racer, Power Drift is said to be notoriously difficult to emulate. Sounds like a challenge...


Turns out Power Drift is notoriously difficult to emulate, but I did manage to see the attract mode and titles and so on, and I guess technically managed to start a race but was then able to do absolutely nothing in it. It's an arcade game that ran at sixty frames per second, but I was left watching a single frame for sixty seconds. Not exactly an ideal way to play...

What I was able to see was how the tracks were constructed out of hundreds of scaling sprites. We often keep seeing phrases like 'screenshots don't do it justice', and we keep seeing those phrases for a reason, so be sure to watch a video of Power Drift so that you can see how absolutely maddening and mesmerizing these tracks are in a way that photos just will not do.

They're described as roller coasters and it's easy to see why. The races are fast and - assuming you're playing the arcade original - the screen tilts to the left and right to enhance the sense of speed that you're seeing. It's overwhelming sometimes, and that's completely ignoring the whole arcade machine jolting and shaking the driver around according to what your car is doing on the track.

If you're distracted by anything - on screen or off - you'll probably not be having the best of times trying to achieve a top three finish.

Fun Times

And that's all you need to focus on - finishing high enough to progress to the next stage. The naming conventions are a little weird but each course has five stages, with each stage being a separate four lap track. Twenty-five of these frantic circuits are available to test the limits of your ability to not just drive on them without problems, but to finish highly on them, and to not throw up by simply looking at them the wrong way.

Final Word

There's plenty to look at and there's nothing to worry about to staying on the track and being fast enough over those four laps, but it may well be too much for some people. The roller coaster similarities may well extend to feelings of sickness with some people. I'd hate to imagine how I'd manage, sat atop a violently shaking arcade seat reacting to my every failure.

Power Drift looks great, but the faster and more manic it gets, those great looks become too much for me to keep track of, which is important for knowing what turns are coming up and so on. This is based on viewing YouTube footage, however, so I'll have to find a way to play it for myself to see if these views hold up.

If you've got better luck than me, try it for yourself. Power Drift is simple and it serves as an elaborate tech demo, but it sure can show off its technology, and I'm not going to forget that in a hurry.

Fun Facts

The difficulty in Power Drift is decided by your car choice. Pick a red car for easy, blue for normal, orange for hard or grey for oh my God what are you thinking?!

Power Drift, developed by Sega AM2, first released in 1988
Version watched: Arcade, 1988 (Replay Burners)