Power Drift is not your typical racing game; it's an arcade port that feels more like a rollercoaster ride than an actual race. While it plays a lot like Sega's earlier classics, like OutRun and Hang On, Power Drift has a feel all its own thanks to some bizarre courses and a crazy cast of characters. This TurboDuo port does a good job of capturing the over-the-top aspects of this arcade game, but due to hardware limitations it just can't get the action just right.
Power Drift is a 16-bit 3D racing game released before the invent of Mode 7. That manes that the actual scaling is extremely choppy and the game has a strange unnatural look, all leading to a game that is fun but extremely frustrating to play. The game play doesn't differ too much from what we've seen in early Sega racing games, you pretty much push one button to go and shift by pushing up and down on the D-pad. It certainly has the makings of a great racing game, but unfortunately the Duo's hardware just can't seem to do justice to this unique idea.
The appeal of Power Drift comes in the wacky level designs. Instead of featuring courses that have you driving on a flat surface, Power Drift features levels where you're driving in the sky and making huge leaps over nothing. This means that if you veer off course too much you will fall to your demise. In a lot of ways Power Drift feels like an early attempt at the Super Mario Kart formula, there are a number of gimmicks here that Nintendo managed to successfully use in their far better racing franchise.
Power Drift offers you twelve different characters to choose from, one for just about every mood, sex and race. You will also be able to change the color of your vehicle (an odd buggy-like car). None of these things effect the way you play the game, the control is sluggish and unresponsive no matter whom you choose. Most of the time you're just worrying about steering left and right, but when going around corners it is imperative that you shift down by using the up and down buttons on the D-pad. In theory this should work fine, but I found myself having a terrible time actually getting the game to shift when I wanted it to. This control problem can mean the difference between winning and losing, and since there are no continues, you will find that this can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the game. Worse yet, if you don't start the race strong there's no way of actually catching up. This generally means that if you make a mistake along the way you might as well just quit and start over.
Unlike OutRun and Hang On, Power Drift actually has you racing through laps. In earlier Sega efforts you would drive in a somewhat straight line going from level to level, here you have to finish in the top three before you can move on to the next stage. This Duo version of the game features nine different levels, each with their own layout and backgrounds. You'll be racing through cities, deserts, jungles, national monuments and much more, all in the name of coming in first (or at least third).
As you might imagine the graphics in the arcade version are far and away better than anything found in this TurboDuo game. By comparison, this console port offers backgrounds with limited detail and characters that are small and blurry. The developers should be commended for attempting to port this game, but there's something about it that just doesn't feel right. Perhaps it's the fact that you aren't in a big race car-shaped cabinet. Or maybe it's the game's terrible scaling. Whatever the case, this port just isn't as much fun as its arcade brother.
Power Drift is full of good ideas, but thanks to the TurboDuo's hardware limitations almost all of the good ideas are wasted. As an arcade game this was one of Sega's greatest racers, but as a console port it just falls flat on its face. The TurboDuo was never known for its great racing games, and one play through of Power Drift and you will see why.