Codex Gamicus

Power Drift (パワードリフト?) is an arcade game released by Sega in 1988. A racing game, it made high use of sprite-scaling to create a 3D effect, similar to contemporaries Out Run and Hang-On. Created by Yu Suzuki, it was the first kart racer, setting the template for later kart racers such as the Mario Kart and Sonic Drift franchises.


Power Drift (パワードリフト?) is a kart racer arcade game released by Sega in 1988, developed by Sega AM2 and designed by Yu Suzuki. A racing game running on the Sega Y Board arcade system, it made much use of sprite scaling and rotation to create a 3D effect. Improving on the "Super Scaler" technology and road scrolling effects of Hang-On and Out Run, Power Drift created "all of its track layouts with flat bitmaps" to simulate a "wholly 3D space using strictly 2D technology."[3]

The game was ported to a number home computer platforms by Activision and to the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 home console by Asmik Ace Entertainment. Sega later released ports for the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast consoles.


Twelve drivers from all walks of life compete in this racing game. The object is to finish each race in third place or better in order to advance to the next stage. Player have the option of continuing if they finish the race in fourth place or lower.


The tracks have a roller coaster feel to them, with lots of steep climbs and falls, as well as the ability to "fall" off higher levels. To add to this feeling, the sit-down cabinet was built atop a raised hydraulic platform, and the machine would tilt and shake quite violently. Each circuit, labeled from "A" to "E" has a certain theme to it (for example, circuit A has cities, circuit B has deserts, circuit C has beaches, etc.) in a series of five tracks. There are also four laps for each course.


Each course in the game has a theme song, and they are as follows:

Course Song
Course A Side Street
Course B Like the Wind
Course C Silent Language
Course D Adjustment Mind
Course E Artistic Traps

Ports and related releases[]

Power Drift was later ported to the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS and ZX Spectrum by Activision UK. A TurboGrafx-16 was developed by Copya Systems and published exclusively in Japan by Asmik Ace Entertainment. Sega later ported it to the Sega Saturn as part of the Sega Ages series of compilations, and in Yu Suzuki Game Works Vol. 1 for the Dreamcast. Due to the weaker hardware, every port (except the Saturn and Dreamcast ones) lacks the tilting action seen in the original arcade version.

If players place first on all five tracks (which is indicated by all five gold trophies on the number of wins display behind the course letter), an "Extra Stage" is unlocked, where the assigned car is a vehicle from other Sega games. Courses B and D allow players to race with the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet from the After Burner series in the Extra Stage, while courses A, C, and E have an option to race the motorcycle from the Hang-On series. Players also can press the start button while in a race to see a rear view.

Oddly enough, the billboards in the game contain an ad for the well-known Coca Cola soft drink, the now defunct real-life Chicago radio station WLAK 94, a sign showing Popeye holding a mug full of beer with text next to him that reads "SeaFood and Beer", a real estate sign saying "SOLD!" with the name of Australian real estate company Max Christmas, and for Los Angeles furniture store Victory Furniture, using each entity's then current real-life fonts and signage. This might have been an in-joke amongst the designers, or they might have been inspired from seeing Western advertisements in magazines, travels or the like.

Unusual for Sega's "Super Scaler" arcade games, Power Drift was never ported to the Mega Drive/Genesis video game console. Dempa was planning to port the game to the Mega Drive/Genesis console, but it was later moved to the Sega CD, before the project was eventually cancelled.[3] The Sonic Drift games for the Sega Game Gear handheld console were based on the gameplay of Power Drift, but with characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series.[4]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Scores
Sega Retro[5] 76% 86% 92% 84% 45% 62%
Review scores
Publication Scores
Amiga Format 92%[6]
6/10[7] 70%[8] 80%[9]
Computer and
Video Games
83%[10] 80%[11]
Famitsu 24/40[12]
Joystick 81%[13] 62%[14]
10/10[15] 81%[16]
The Games
87%[17] 90%[18] 92%[18] 84%[19] 45%[19]
Your Sinclair 82%[20]
Zzap!64 65%[21] 94%[22]
Publication Award
Sinclair User Racing Game of 1988[23]

While less known in America, the game was critically[3] and commercially[24] well received in Europe, where it was ported to a number of home computer platforms.

Arcade version[]

The October 1988 issue of Sinclair User gave the arcade game ratings of 10 for graphics, 10 for "Sonics", 10 for gameplay, and 9 for addictiveness, with a full score of 10 out of 10 overall. They described it as "the racing game to end all racing games," praising the "amazingly fast, colourful, detailed 3-D graphics", the way the motion cabinet "tilts precariously left and right", and the "sampled voices" and music, with the only criticism directed at the price of £1 per play). They concluded that it is technically "a breakthrough" with "breathtaking" graphics and "heartstopping" gameplay.[15] The January 1989 issue of Sinclair User gave the arcade version a Game of the Year award for Racing Game of 1988.[23]

In the October 1988 issue of Commodore User, Nick Kelly initially gave the arcade game a score of 6 out of 10, praising the game for being "well put together," looking "good," playing "nicely" and sounding "great" but criticized it for costing £1 per play, being similar to Out Run and not being "tremendously" varied.[7] Later in the November 1989 issue of Commodore User, Tony Dillon praised the original arcade version as a "cartie-racing legend" in his review of the Amiga port,[8] and he gave the Commodore 64 version a generally high score for preserving the fast-paced gameplay of the arcade original.[9]

Home versions[]

The home computer versions were commercially successful in Europe. The game went to number-one on the United Kingdom sales chart, above Continental Circus at number-two.[24]

The home computer versions were also critically well received.[3] Amiga Format gave the Amiga version a 92% score, including ratings of 9 for graphics, 6 for sound, 3 for intellect and 8 for addiction.[6] In the November 1989 issue of Commodore User, Tony Dillon criticized the Amiga port for unsuccessfully attempting to recreate the "3D image" of the arcade original and sacrificing smooth scrolling, giving it a 70% score.[8] In the same issue, Dillon gave the Commodore 64 version an 80% score, stating that it "might not have the sophisticated programming techniques of the Amiga version" but that it is closer to "the fast paced frenzy of the arcade original."[9] In the December 1991 issue of Sinclair User, Garth Sumpter gave the ZX Spectrum version an 81% score, stating that it "has superb playability which will have you coming back for more, time after time."[16] The Amstrad CPC version, however, received an average 45% score from The Games Machine.[19]

In Japan, the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 version received an average score of 24 out of 40 from Famitsu.[12] This console version was generally more well received by European critics,[5] with French magazine Joystick giving it an 81% score,[13] while Britain's The Games Machine magazine gave it an 87% score.[17]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Game hardware page. Retrieved August 11, 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3
  5. 5.0 5.1
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. 7.0 7.1
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2
  10. Computer and Video Games, issue 96, pages 16-17
  12. 12.0 12.1
  13. 13.0 13.1 Joystick, issue 6, page 90
  14. Joystick, issue 8, page 167
  15. 15.0 15.1
  16. 16.0 16.1
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Games Machine, issue 33, page 52
  18. 18.0 18.1 The Games Machine, issue 25, page 90
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 The Games Machine, issue 26, page 21
  23. 23.0 23.1
  24. 24.0 24.1

External links[]

Arcade version
Home versions