Wednesday 16 March 2016

Neo Drift Out: New Technology (Neo Geo CD review)

Developer: Visco Corporation
Publisher: Visco Corporation
Released: 1996

Neo Drift Out: New Technology is a rally game and the fourth title in the Drift Out series.

There's six stages in total (European, African, Snow Land, Southern Hemisphere, Scandinavian, and Great Britain) along with a short Practice round at the beginning of each game. Rather than racing for position, the objective in each stage is to reach the finish line within an allotted amount of time, so in that respect it's similar in structure to Excitebike (1985, NES). You can choose from a Mitsubishi Lancer, a Subaru Impreza, and a Toyota Celica, all of which have individual stats in terms of speed, control and body. The Arcade-like drifting mechanic is simple, yet brilliant, and it reminds me of Ridge Racer (1993, Arcades) where novices can ease themselves into the action without needing to rely on driving simulation. Each stage is a ton of fun and while they offer a good amount of variety in terms of locales and design there's also a severe lack of content with just one mode and six stages. They are short enough to where you never get too frustrated by the difficulty though and there's multiple shortcuts you can memorise to aim for a faster time. The fact that there's unlimited continues is great and makes things maddeningly addictive, especially in the later stages where the difficulty ramps up! One reason the game can be so challenging is that the camera is zoomed in a little too far so you can't see much of what lies ahead; it's not a deal-breaker but unless you've memorised the stages you'll frequently crash into obstacles that suddenly appear out of nowhere. The music perfectly compliments the high-speed driving action but the SFX of your car's engine continues to play even if you pause the game!
Neo Drift Out: New Technology is an absolute blast to play and features some of the best, most intense racing action I've ever experienced. It's just a shame that it's over so quickly, and ultimately the lack of modes and stages hurt the game in terms of replayability and value for money.
Random trivia: Visco Corporation also developed Breakers and Neo Mr. Do! on the Neo Geo in 1996.

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