Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

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)

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

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.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

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!

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

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.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

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!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuaZQMuWMts[/youtube]

RKS Score: 7/10

Drift Out

From the screenshots this game probably looks awesome, and it is pretty unique in the way that it moves. Unlike similar games where you simply steer the car around the track, here you steer the track around the car! It's an interesting approach which kind of reminds me of F-Zero on the SNES (although non-3D, obviously), and can take some getting used to. However, Drift Out is a very tough game and it's not just because of this! The courses look nice, featuring the type of backdrops you might expect to see - wooded areas, dusty tracks, desert areas, shallow water, mud, etc, but there are also a lot of roadside objects and it's very easy to become stuck by one of these which pretty much ruins any chance of doing well in a race, and it's this which is Drift Out's main problem.

Drift Out (1991)
By: Visco Corp  Genre: Overhead Racing  Players: 1  Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: Super Famicom (variation)

Overhead racing games were one of the earliest types of games to appear, with their history extending as far back as the 70’s, so as you can imagine the genre has undergone quite a few changes in the intervening years. One of them is obviously the standard of graphics, but there’s only so much that can be done using the Super Sprint style view. The best way to improve graphical quality was to zoom in closer to the action. It might seem obvious but it didn’t become commonplace until the 90’s. Many of the titles that then appeared were rally games, and Drift Out was one of the first. It’s actually Neo Drift Out that I’m personally more familiar with but in the interests of chronological accuracy I’ll look at this one first! I don’t know how well-known it was at the time – I at least never saw it, but it was a very pleasant surprise!

Drift Out - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

Well, initially at least! As mentioned, Drift Out is based in the world of rallying and is surprisingly realistic for an arcade game. You initially have a choice of seven cars, including such (kind of) familiar names as Fard, Toyata, Subaro, Mitsuboshi, etc. You then have to qualify for the race where each of the twelve racers start in successive increments. Each course is viewed directly from above and from a zoomed in perspective. Fortunately you get warned about each course’s many corners by large on-screen arrows but it still takes a bit of practise to successfully complete a course. As mentioned, each racer starts in increments so you’re strictly racing against the clock here, but if you race well enough or badly enough, you will see other cars and can overtake or be overtaken by other cars.

Drift Out - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

From the screenshots this game probably looks awesome, and it is pretty unique in the way that it moves. Unlike similar games where you simply steer the car around the track, here you steer the track around the car! It’s an interesting approach which kind of reminds me of F-Zero on the SNES (although non-3D, obviously), and can take some getting used to. However, Drift Out is a very tough game and it’s not just because of this! The courses look nice, featuring the type of backdrops you might expect to see – wooded areas, dusty tracks, desert areas, shallow water, mud, etc, but there are also a lot of roadside objects and it’s very easy to become stuck by one of these which pretty much ruins any chance of doing well in a race, and it’s this which is Drift Out’s main problem.

Drift Out - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

I can’t tell you how many courses there are here because I honestly don’t know. You can’t choose which you want to race on, the game emulates an actual WRC season, so if you want to see later courses, you’ll have to qualify by performing well in previous courses. Maybe I just suck at this game (and there’s a good chance of that) but I’m confident I didn’t get very far. Every time I think I’m doing well, I end up not taking a corner well and getting stuck against a barrier or rock or something similar. The collisions remind me of the original Ridge Racer or Wipeout where you stop dead and just keep bumping against the obstacle until you manage to free yourself. Okay, it’s not always that bad but it’s very frustrating and, for me at least, ruins what initially looked like being a really enjoyable game.

Drift Out - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

The presentation is very nice here though, it’s one of the reasons why first impressions of the game are good I guess. The title screen is laid over a rolling demo of the game and all the menu/presentation screens are nice. There is no music, either in game or otherwise, with Visco Corp instead opting for realistic car noises, but strangely they seem totally out of sync with your performance. It’s almost as if it’s just a recording of a rally car! The graphics are very nice with much or the roadside featuring impressive detail, and the cars all look authentic. It’s just a shame I didn’t get to see more of the game. I realise arcade games are generally pretty tough in order to get more of your money, but you’d have to spend a fortune practising each course here before you saw everything!

Drift Out - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot

Despite the frustrations involved, I have had some enjoyment playing this. Steering the course around the car is tricky to start with but it’s satisfying to do well (satisfaction I felt all too rarely!), plus this game provides a rare opportunity to race a ‘Fard’ Sierra! There are some great ideas here but ultimately it’s just too frustrating. Still, there are a couple of sequels, maybe we’ll have more luck there…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqbFZDyqlXI[/youtube]

RKS Score: 5/10