For those fatigued by SEGA’s Initial D line of racers, RewindApp’s Drift86 provides a new take on the series that previously swept arcades by storm. The sharp turns, cheesy Eurobeat, and famed 86 are all present and accounted for, but can it keep up with that infamous tofu delivery boy?
If one couldn’t glean it from the title, the main objective in Drift86 is to drift. Transporting players to a world of shipping docs, racetracks, mountain highways, and snowy towns, players must hit those corners with drifts that would make Takumi proud. The longer players hold the drift, the more points they accumulate. In addition, a multiplier system ensures that players will amass a big score when all is said and done.
Gamers are no stranger to this drifting-based gameplay – everything from Mario Kart to Gran Turismo have a system like that in place. However, for such a core element, Drift86’s drifting mechanics miss the mark. Exaggerated skids are perfectly fine in the world of games – the Ridge Racer series has been a pioneer in the space since the 90s. As a result, the slightest turn feels like bargaining with a petulant child that just won’t listen. We tried using an Xbox One controller to help with finesse, but even this control scheme did not alleviate this core problem.
However, what is present here is borderline unplayable – the slight turn can cause players to fishtail if they’re not careful. Carelessly careening into a shipping container or barrier quickly becomes frustrating when players lose control. It is easy to have your car end up on its side or upside down, with the only solution being to hit the conveniently placed reset button at the top of the screen. The fact that something like this was even implemented in the first place shows how big of a problem this actually is.
To help alleviate this burden, a number of non-licensed cars that vary based on power, control, and mass can be chosen. The “EG86,” “Eva X,” “SurpX,” and “BMG v93” aren’t fooling anybody, but their similarities to the real deal are still appreciated nonetheless. Note that any car that does not have “control” maxed out is a poor choice – getting behind the wheel of “Muscle Car 1969” makes the game far harder than it has any right to be.
Unfortunately, track layouts do not help things either. Though there are four different camera angles to choose from and players can take things slow, there are a number of gotchas that can ruin any run. Falling into a pool of water or hitting a dead-end made out of shipping containers is a frustrating experience, and other areas are just open spaces that can serve as infinite drifting zones. It feels like a lack of effort went into each of their designs, and the handful of peppy Eurobeat songs fail to mask the poor layout of each one.
Outside of the single player mode, there is also a multiplayer mode that is currently in beta. Players can create rooms and chat with others, but we were unable to find any racers to try this out with. Though the functionality is welcome, we are unable to see how the latency and general smoothness of this mode is compared to its single player offerings.
For replayability, there are six Steam trading cards that can be yours. No achievements are available, but players can accumulate money along the way. This is not a dealbreaker, but is still sorely missed.
Drift86 makes an attempt to capture the racing spirit of Initial D, but the poor mechanics in place cause this title to crash right out of the starting gate.
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