Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order (1994)
By: Visco Corp Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: Neo Geo (variation)
As far as my memory is concerned at least, the original Drift Out was something of an inconspicuous entry in the overhead racing genre, so considering how little-known it apparently was, I was surprised to find that it’s actually got a sequel! Like the first game, which has a SNES game based on it, Drift Out ’94 was also exclusive to the arcades but also received a modified home conversion in Neo Drift Out for the NeoGeo. Whilst similar, they are different games, and we’ll look at SNK’s game in a later post, but both are pretty similar to the first game except for one big difference – instead of the direct overhead view used before, Visco Corp have instead shifted the perspective to an angled overhead one.
Aside from the change in viewpoint there’s actually very little difference between the games though. There’s a similar roster of cars available here (although it seems Visco acquired an official license in the interim as the cars all have their proper names now), such as the usual Impreza, Evo, Celica, Lancia’s, etc. Sadly the Sierra doesn’t return but to make up for it they’ve included a Mini! Anyway, once you’ve chosen a car you’ll start your first race which must be completed within a set time limit. The more time you can finish inside the limit by, the better your final position will be, but if you don’t even manage to finish inside the specified time at all, the game is over! As before, you don’t start the race at the same time as your rivals but if you’re good/bad enough, you will encounter other cars on the road here and there.
Alas, as was the case with Drift Out, the game doesn’t let you select a course before-hand. It instead attempts to emulate a real WRC season by forcing you to earn your progress from country to country, with points awarded depending on your finishing position. Whilst this does promote a great sense of satisfaction at doing well and getting to see the later stages, all but the most determined of gamers probably won’t get to see them. The courses here look really nice though, so the urge to do well enough to see them all is certainly there. Whilst not particularly amazing from a technical point of view (most gamers were orgasming over polygon graphics by this point), the stages still look really nice. The cars all look realistic enough but the backgrounds are more impressive. They are full of detail and, since they span many countries around the world, they are nicely varied too, from mud, tarmac, gravel, desert, snow, and near enough anything else you could think of!
There’s also some nice effects such as the dust thrown up by your car on the desert courses and huge skidmarks (snigger) left on the tarmac sections, and the sound effects, whilst less realistic than in the first game, are at least in sync with your driving this time. The navigator’s voice is a little odd though, I’m not sure what he’s saying half the time! The music isn’t especially memorable but is suitable upbeat and suits the urgency of the game well. And urgent it is for the most part too! The courses are nice to look at but most of them are tricky to navigate, with each one featuring sharp hairpin turns, chicanes, narrower sections of road, jumps, obstacles (including parked cars of all things), and even multiple routes, with one route predictably being a bigger pain in the arse than the other.
The biggest problem with the first Drift Out was how frustrating it was – the ease and frequency of getting stuck behind roadside objects, for example. Drift Out ’94 rectifies this and some more of it predecessors flaws, but it’s still not perfect and remains something of a memory test – you’re unlikely to perform well on your first attempt at a course. However, I suppose that’s the idea of an arcade game – to get as much of your cash as possible whilst keeping you wanting to offer it! In that regard, Drift Out ’94 is a success – it’s certainly more enjoyable to play than the first game and, whilst it does look prettier, this is largely afforded by the new viewpoint which suits the game much more and allows for more detail in the cars and scenery. Overall, this pretty much does what a good sequel should do and improves on its forebear in just about every way. It’s still a little frustrating but is also very addictive and great fun. Well worth a burn now and then!
RKS Score: 7/10