Here's the first Sonic Drift - a game that never made it out of Japan. Shame that, as it's pretty darn good (although Sonic Drift 2's better ^_^). Well, by the looks of things, it seems that the Chaos Emeralds are once again under threat by Dr. Robotnik. The only way to stop him is to win the Chaos Emeralds in... The Sonic Drift Racing Championship! Or something.
With Sonic at the ready in his little automobile, he sets off to save the world by... driving a car? With other characters racing for the finish - to save the world themselves or simply for fame - and Eggman sneaking into the race, it's up to you to use whatever dirty tactics you have to get in pole position!
The first Sonic racing game to hit the Sonic world, and it appears on the Game Gear! It was only released in Japan, but hey Europe and the US got Sonic Drift 2 a few years later, so it's not a total loss. In this debut racer you can play as four characters: Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Eggman. After selecting your racer, you choose which Chaos Emerald to play for, out of three available. From there you play a round of six races, featuring stages from Sonic 1. The graphics on the track are superb for the Game Gear and the challenging AI means that it's always a constant scramble for the finish line.
You can find items on the track to aid your performance while racing. Collect the blue box to gain invincibility, which prevents you from getting hit by trees and weapons. Grab the red box to get an extra burst of speed to catch up with the leader, and get rings to protect yourself and get more speed. There are also springs that shoot you up into the air, giving you a chance to get one step ahead.
Of course, the main aim is to stay on track, and get into first place. The levels are set up in laps, and half of your screen is taken up with the level map. That isn't particularly annoying though, as you're focused on the bottom half anyway, and it's good to know who's where. Points are awarded to each player ending up in a certain position at the end of the race, and after six stages points are totted up with the winner featured in a victory display.
This game is pretty much priceless! Both literally and in terms of gameplay. The racing's so hot you'll never tire of it, and 'literally' because it's one of the most sought after Game Gear games in history. The fact that it only was released in Japan doesn't help matters of obtaining it either. Only one thing detracts from the gameplay and that's the slight simplicity of the game, being the first Sonic racing game and all, but you start to admire that after a while. Either way, if you do grab this game, expect a lot of racing fun.