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Sonic Drift

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Sonic Drift
Director(s)Katsuhiro Hasegawa
Producer(s)Hiroshi Aso
Composer(s)Masayuki Nagao
SeriesSonic the Hedgehog
Platform(s)Game Gear
  • JP: March 18, 1994
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Sonic Drift[a] is a 1994 racing game based on Sonic the Hedgehog developed and published by Sega for the Game Gear. Players control one of four characters as they race to the finish line, with 18 tracks themed after levels in 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog.

Although it was designed with inspiration from Nintendo's 1992 game Super Mario Kart, Sonic Drift shares gameplay similarities to "Super Scaler" games previously released by Sega. Sonic Drift was released exclusively in Japan; a western release was planned but later canceled due to concerns about its quality. Sonic Drift was later released worldwide as part of Sonic Adventure DX in 2003 and the compilation game Sonic Mega Collection Plus in 2004. It was released again in 2023 as part of Sonic Origins Plus.

Reception to Sonic Drift was negative, with criticism for its gameplay and lack of difficulty. A sequel, Sonic Drift 2, was released in 1995.

Gameplay and release[edit]

In-game screenshot, showing Sonic racing on a course themed after Green Hill Zone.

Sonic Drift is the first racing game in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.[1] Players control one of four characters―Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles "Tails" Prower, Amy Rose, and Dr. Robotnik―and race around a series of tracks, with the objective being to cross the finish line in first place.[2] 18 tracks are featured,[3][4] based on the various zones of 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog, including the Green Hill Zone. Drift is the first Sonic game to feature Amy as a playable character.[1]

There are three game modes: Chaos GP, a grand prix mode; Free Run, a practice mode; and Versus Mode, where players can compete with one another.[2] Chaos GP contains three separate cups of six tracks each and a points system where the goal is to earn more points than the competition.[1] Each cup is identified with a color: green, yellow, or red.[5]

The gameplay of Sonic Drift shares similarities with Sega's "Super Scaler"-type arcade games such as Out Run and Super Monaco GP, although with inspiration from Nintendo's Super Mario Kart. Each character has strengths and weaknesses; for instance, Sonic has fast acceleration but poor control, while Robotnik has poor acceleration but moves at high speed. The top half of the player's screen shows the course map, while the bottom displays the player's car racing around the track. The game's driving mechanics focus on drifting to steer around corners at speed. Driving into television monitors scattered around the track awards the player a power-up, such as invincibility. Tracks also contain gold rings that can be collected to use a special move, which is unique for each character;[1] for example, Sonic gets a speed boost, while Tails gets a jump.[6]

Developed in-house at Sega,[1] Sonic Drift was released in Japan for the Game Gear on March 18, 1994.[7][8] The western release was canceled due to concerns regarding the game's quality.[9][10] Sega instead released a Game Gear port of Sonic Spinball.[9] Sonic Drift 2, a sequel, was released worldwide for the Game Gear in 1995.[11] In 2003, Sonic Drift was released as an unlockable extra in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut,[1] and was later compiled into Sonic Mega Collection Plus in 2004,[12] as well as Sonic Origins Plus on June 23, 2023.[13]


Sonic Drift received mixed reviews. Electronic Gaming Monthly was positive towards it in a preview, saying that the game was fast-paced and enjoyable but the flashing, choppy scrolling hampered the gameplay somewhat.[2] Three reviewers for Sega Pro gave a negative review of the game, criticizing the track designs as too similar, poor cornering controls, and low difficulty. Reviewer Mark Hill concluded his part of the review with "only a complete idiot would purchase a copy." The three reviewers were more positive about the game's graphics and sound.[16] According to Ulf Schneider of German magazine Mega Fun [de], Sonic Drift does not have the same quality of gameplay as Super Mario Kart and he criticized the lack of vision of a corner until being just before one, but he also said the game was fun and easy to master even on Hard difficulty. He also commented that the controls could be figured out within a few laps of gameplay.[17]

Retrospective feedback has been negative. The game's inclusion in Sonic Mega Collection was negatively received; Chris Baker of GameSpy labeled it as "almost unplayable",[18] while Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer called it "a terrible, terrible racing game whose flickering madness actually made me physically sick."[19] A reviewer for Jeuxvideo.com in 2012 compared Sonic Drift to Super Mario Kart, disliking Drift for being too simplistic and very easy to finish, alongside the general lack of content and poor presentation. The reviewer stated, "Too simple and too fast to finish, Sonic Drift is unfortunately not a title that will fascinate the crowds."[15] The staff of USgamer identified Sonic Drift's use of half the Game Gear's screen for the course map as an issue, and called the game "a poor man's Out Run".[20] Apollo Chungus of Hardcore Gaming 101 said that the gameplay itself was decent and solid, but felt that it was greatly lacking in content and variety. He criticized the track design in particular for being generally boring, lacking in presentation, and for the stage themes being purely cosmetic instead of affecting the track designs themselves. Chungus concluded his review by stating "the small amount of content mean that it's a racer only a small number of people will dedicate themselves to."[1] GamesTM described the title as a "lazy and cynical cash-in", saying that it did not understand what made Super Mario Kart so successful.[21]


  1. ^ Japanese: ソニックドリフト, Hepburn: Sonikku Dorifuto


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chungus, Apollo (March 12, 2019). "Sonic Drift". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Game Gear - Sonic Drift". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 58. May 1994. p. 200.
  3. ^ "International Outlook: Sonic Drift". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 57. April 1994. p. 80.
  4. ^ The Trackman in Japan (June 1994). "Overseas Prospects". GamePro. No. 59. p. 128.
  5. ^ Nakamura, Eric (June 1994). "Global Gaming". VideoGames. No. 65. p. 92.
  6. ^ "Sonic Kart?". Mean Machines Sega. No. 18. April 1994. pp. 10–11.
  7. ^ "[セガハード大百科] ゲームギア対応ソフトウェア(セガ発売)" (in Japanese). Sega. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Be Mega Dog Race". Beep! MegaDrive (in Japanese). April 1994. p. 21.
  9. ^ a b "First Shots". Computer and Video Games (151). Future plc: 11. June 1994.
  10. ^ "Newsbox". Sega Magazin (in German). No. 6. May 1994. p. 4.
  11. ^ Changes, Apollo (March 12, 2019). "Sonic Drift 2". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  12. ^ Goldstein, Hilary (November 3, 2004). "Sonic Mega Collection Plus". IGN. Archived from the original on June 23, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  13. ^ Shanklin, Will (March 23, 2023). "'Sonic Origins Plus' brings the hedgehog's Game Gear entries to modern consoles". Engadget. Archived from the original on May 7, 2023. Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  14. ^ "ソニックドリフト (GG)". Famitsu (in Japanese). Kadokawa Corporation. Archived from the original on February 29, 2020. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  15. ^ a b L'avis de Wolphegon (January 2, 2012). "Test : Sonic Drift". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). Archived from the original on February 8, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  16. ^ a b Hill, Mark (December 1994). "Sonic Drift". Sega Pro. No. 39. p. 72. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Sonic Drift". Mega Fun (in German). July 1994. p. 110.
  18. ^ Baker, Chris (November 1, 2004). "Sonic Mega Collection Plus". GameSpy. IGN. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  19. ^ Bramwell, Tom (May 11, 2005). "Sonic Mega Collection Plus". Eurogamer. Gaming Network. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  20. ^ "Gotta Go Fast: Ranking All of The Sonic The Hedgehog Games". USgamer. January 6, 2020. Archived from the original on August 25, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  21. ^ "8 Other Games Inspired by Mario Kart". GamesTM: The 25 Greatest Nintendo Games. November 4, 2018. p. 27 – via Internet Archive.

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