Sonic Drift

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Sonic Drift
Sonic Drift cover art.jpg
Director(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
Katsuhiro Hasegawa
Producer(s)Yu Suzuki
Hiroshi Aso
Composer(s)Naofumi Hataya
Masayuki Nagao
SeriesSonic the Hedgehog
Platform(s)Game Gear
  • JP: March 18, 1994

Sonic Drift[a] is a 1994 racing video game developed and published by Sega for the Game Gear in Japan. It features Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles "Tails" Prower, Amy Rose, and Doctor Robotnik.

In 1995, a sequel named Sonic Drift 2 was released.


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

In Sonic Drift, players race around a series of tracks in either single races or a Grand Prix consisting of six courses, collecting rings and using power-ups to obtain First Place. Each playable character has different positive and negative attributes, and can utilize a Special Ability at the cost of 2 rings.

Sonic, who drives a red and white sports car known as the Cyclone, has great speed and handling but poor control, and has a speed boost as his Special Ability. Tails, who drives a 1960s-era Formula 1 car called the MTP-01 Wheelwind, is well-balanced in terms of his speed, acceleration and handling, but does not stand out in any particular area- he can utilize a powerful jump as his Special Ability, which allows him to avoid obstacles and particularly tough corners. Eggman (as he is referred to in this game), who pilots a modified version of his standard Eggmobile known as the Egg Typhoon, has poor acceleration, but has very high top speed and cornering abilities, and can toss Bombs onto the track that can cause his rivals to spin out. Finally, Amy Rose, who drives a yellow and blue vintage convertible called the Breeze, has great acceleration at the cost of low top speed, and has the ability to attack by throwing small heart-shaped objects that slow down her opponents and alter their controls for a short time.

Development and release[edit]

Sonic Drift was developed by Sega AM2, a development studio for Sega headed by Yu Suzuki, who directed critically and commercially successful games for Sega, such as Hang-On, Space Harrier, Out Run, and Virtua Fighter, and released in Japan for the Game Gear on March 18, 1994.[1] A Western release was planned but canceled due to Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske’s concerns regarding its quality.[2] In place of Drift’s release in America, Sega instead released a port of Sonic Spinball. Drift is the first racing game in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, and was created specifically to rival the success of Nintendo's Super Mario Kart (1992). Early versions of the game featured Flicky, a blue bird that has made frequent appearances throughout the series, as a playable character, who was subsequently replaced by Amy Rose in the final version. The music that plays when collecting a blue invincibility power-up is a sped-up version of the opening song You Can Do Anything from Sonic CD. Drift is also the first Sonic game to feature Amy and Dr. Robotnik as playable characters. The soundtrack was composed by Naofumi Hataya.

In 2003, Sonic Drift was ported to the GameCube as an unlockable extra in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, alongside eleven other Sonic Game Gear games; the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 digital releases of DX omits these. It was compiled into Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC in 2005, and was digitally re-released for the now-defunct GameTap storefront in 2006. A demo of Drift is also included in Sonic Gems Collection.


Review scores

Sonic Drift received mainly mixed reviews from the press. Japanese publication Famitsu heavily compared the game to Super Mario Kart, feeling that the game was largely uninspired and generally lacking in content compared to Nintendo's game. They were also critical of the game's short horizon, which they claimed made it hard to see what was ahead of the player. Electronic Gaming Monthly was more positive towards it in a preview, saying that the game was fast-paced and enjoyable but the flashing, choppy scrolling hampered the gameplay somewhat.[5] They enjoyed the game's amount of modes, namely the Vs. Mode.[5] in 2012 also compared the game to Super Mario Kart, disliking Drift for being too simplistic and for being very easy to finish, alongside the general lack of content and poor presentation.[4] They stated: "Too simple and too fast to finish, Sonic Drift is unfortunately not a title that will fascinate the crowds."[4] Its inclusion in Sonic Mega Collection was negatively received; GameSpy passingly labeled it as "almost unplayable",[6] while Eurogamer mockingly called it "a terrible, terrible racing game whose flickering madness actually made me physically sick."[7]

Retrospectively in 2019, Hardcore Gaming 101 said that the gameplay itself was decent and solid, but felt that it was greatly lacking in content and variety.[8] They 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.[8] Hardcore Gaming 101 argued that the "controversial" short horizon was easy to become used to, and said that it didn't have that negative of an effect on the game itself.[8] They concluded their review with: "Sonic Drift is a decent enough racer, but the lack of variety in track design (both visually and thematically) and the small amount of content mean that it’s a racer only a small number of people will dedicate themselves to."[8]


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


  1. ^ "[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)". Sega. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2015.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  2. ^ "First Shots" (PDF). Computer and Video Games. Future plc (151): 11. June 1994.
  3. ^ "ソニックドリフト (GG)". Famitsu (in Japanese). Kadokawa Corporation. Archived from the original on 29 February 2020. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b c L'avis de Wolphegon (2 January 2012). "Test : Sonic Drift". (in French). Archived from the original on 8 February 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Game Gear - Sonic Drift" (PDF) (58). EGM Media, LLC. Electronic Gaming Monthly. May 1994. p. 200. Archived from the original on 15 January 2020. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  6. ^ Baker, Chris (1 November 2004). "Sonic Mega Collection Plus". GameSpy. IGN. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  7. ^ Bramwell, Tom (11 May 2005). "Sonic Mega Collection Plus". Eurogamer. Gaming Network. Archived from the original on 16 October 2019. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d Chungus, Apollo (12 March 2019). "Sonic Drift". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 29 February 2020.