Forget the Ferraris and the Porsches: what you really want is a little buggy to sit in. Give it plenty of, poke in the shape of a rear-mounted engine with a top speed of 244km/h and don't bother with namby-pamby seat belts and roll cages and you're away.
Welcome to Powerdrift, Activision's conversion of the popular Sega coin-op. As if you hadn't already guessed, it's a driving game! There are a few subtle differences between Powerdrift and other racing coin-op conversions, not least the absence of a time limit. None of this rushing to reach the next checkpoint as the seconds tick away. That doesn't mean you can just take your own sweet time though: it's still a race.
Twelve competitors take part in each race, but you start in fourth position. Quite simply, the idea is to finish each race in one of the top three places to qualify for the next stage. Each race is four laps of the track and there are five tracks to each course, with five courses to choose from. The tracks tend to increase in difficulty as you progress. For example, the first couple of tracks will tend to have fewer and gentler bends while the later tracks will become much more difficult to negotiate and quite a challenge.
As well as bends there are other hazards, including suspended log tracks with no barriers on either side, so it's very easy to get the line seriously wrong on a bend and go plummeting into space. Then there are the jumps that can only be cleared if you're travelling over a certain speed. Last but not least, there are the other racers, colliding with any of whom causes you to go into a spin. Not much time is lost as you're almost immediately back in the race, but your speed suffers and it takes a couple of seconds to get back up with the pack.
Fail to qualify and you can use one of your five continue credits to have another bash. Incidentally, and rather entertainingly, if you come in first for all five races you may get the chance to drive the motorbike from Super Hang-On or fly an F14 from Afterburner round a bonus track.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Very fast and very colourful: it's so fast, in fact, that it sometimes gets a little confusing as to where you're supposed to be going. But after a couple of laps of each course, you'll know them well enough. The jingles are standard coin-op fare, and the sound effects are fine for the job required.
Wonderful stuff. As challenging and as addictive as you'd expect from a hit coin-op but with much more gameplay depth than usual. A first-class racing game with all the essential ingredients to keep you in the driving seat.
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Powermonger, Platoon, PowerDrive AGA, Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight, Ports of Call, Police Quest 1: In Pursuit of the Death Angel, Police Quest 3: The Kindred, Predator
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