Saturday 18 April 2020

Power Drive Rally (Atari Jaguar review)

Developer: Rage Software
Publisher: Time Warner Interactive
Released: 1995

Power Drive Rally is a racing game that's exclusive to the Atari Jaguar.

It includes a Season mode which houses various events including solo races (checkpoint based), rally cross (vs. a CPU opponent) and skills tests (obstacle courses against the clock). Each allows you to earn money in order to upgrade your vehicle, or to repair its state to improve performance (e.g. engine, tires, brakes). Season mode is lengthy and it's enjoyable working your way through, surviving to advance to another round and strategising on when to repair your car. The clarity of the voice samples from your navigator is fantastic and actually enhances your driving skills due to you not having to focus purely on on-screen arrows; they also allow you to judge and plan for upcoming turns much better and come in very handy when trying to shave off a few seconds from your closest rival. The action is lacking in personality though (e.g. there's no crowd noise or cut-scenes showing the racers) and it doesn't do anything to excite the player from a presentation standpoint. The courses do an adequate job of featuring multiple layouts per location, and although there's nothing here you haven't seen a million times before, I do like how items such as boosts are scattered throughout to add a risk-reward element. Also, the skills tests add some excellent gameplay variety and once you're familiar with what's required in each one (some trial-and-error is always involved due to the strict time limit) there's a lot of fun to be had in manoeuvring your vehicle in a more delicate manner to the main races. Another plus is that there are three save slots for multiple players to continue their progress at a later date.

Power Drive Rally is an unremarkable, yet solid racing game that plays well and has some nice vehicle upgrade options. It certainly doesn't reach the excitement and intensity of something like Neo Drift Out: New Technology (1996, Neo Geo CD), but it has plenty of content to satisfy if you're looking for a single-player only experience.

Random trivia: The first game in the series was Power Drive, which was released on various systems including the Commodore Amiga (1994) and Super Nintendo (1994).

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