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Sonic News Network
Sonic News Network
No to be confused with Drift.

Sonic Drift (ソニックドリフト Sonikku Dorifuto?) is a kart racing game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series that was developed and released by Sega for the Sega Game Gear. Initially released on 18 March 1994, the game remained a Japan exclusive title until it was included on compilation releases years later. The game features Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Dr. Robotnik in racing vehicles as rally contestants, with the basic gameplay deriving from standard, early 1990's racing games. The game also received a sequel, Sonic Drift 2, which had an international release.


Spoiler warning: Plot, ending details or any kind of information follow.

The title screen of Sonic Drift.

At the start line of a race, Dr. Robotnik is driving his Egg Typhoon and bragging that he is the greatest scientist in the world. The doctor is interrupted by Sonic the Hedgehog, who has come to participate in the race as well, saying that he will compete with his car rather than on foot, although he adds that he will win either way. Then, Miles "Tails" Prower comes in too, saying that he is a little confident and will try his best. As Robotnik scolds them for interrupting him, Amy Rose appears in her new car, the Breeze. However, she and Tails notice that Sonic has already started the race, and so the two go after him. Robotnik, meanwhile, brags that he will win, only to realize that no one is with him.[4]

After choosing a racer, the player has to lead them through three Chaos GPs: Green, Yellow, and Red. Depending on the character chosen, they will be taken to an ending cutscene after beating all three GPs:

  • If the player has chosen to play as Sonic, the cutscene will show the hedgehog driving his Cyclone across a track at high speeds. A close-up view of Sonic giving a thumbs-up to the camara will then appear.
  • If the player is using Tails, the ending cutscene will show him getting out of his car at the finish line. Happy that he has won, he jumps and gives a thumbs-up to the screen as Sonic, Amy and Robotnik watch.
  • If the player has used Amy, the cutscene will show her posing next to the Breeze after winning. She then spots at something that fills her with love, confusing Tails and Robotnik. This something turns out to be Sonic, who rejects Amy's attempts to make him fall in love with her.
  • If the player is playing as Dr. Robotnik, the doctor, victorious, will comically laugh at Sonic. This annoys the hedgehog, who chases after him.


Image Character Biography
Sonic Drift Sonic.png Sonic the Hedgehog and
the Cyclone
Sonic, who loves novel things, rides this insanely fast machine. Just like Sonic, its dashing speed is amazing. It's not so good at cornering, but it'll get through by drifting.[5]
Tails 6.png Miles "Tails" Prower and
the MTP-01 Whirlwind
This new car was hand-made by Tails for this race. It is a well-balanced machine with excellent cornering.[6]
Robotnik pose 3.png Dr. Robotnik and
the Egg Typhoon
The Eggman Mobile was modified for racing. It's designed for maximum speed, and it's ready to take on Sonic and the others. Maybe its slow acceleration is due to the Egg Temper mines it carries?[7]
Amy with car.png Amy Rose and
the Breeze
Breeze is a strange car with a mind of his own. He is not very fast, but his cornering and acceleration are very good. He's a very gentle guy.[8]


Sonic Drift is a racing game with a gameplay style and controls that are heavily based on Sega's arcade game Out Run. Here, the players race around a race course against the other three characters for the top position. The game's single player mode is Chaos GP, where the player's goal is to win three different circuits: green, yellow, and red. Each circuit is made of six different race courses that the player is taken through in succession.

Each race course is composed of a circuit which needs to be completed three times. The playable characters have rather simple controls, their basic actions being accelerating to move forward, braking, and moving left or right on the tracks. In tight corners, the player can brake while turning in a specific direction, allowing them to drift through the corners. If the player overuses this method though, the playable character will start spinning out of control. Should the player move outside the race tracks, the racer's acceleration will decrease noticeably on the rough terrain. The race track's sidelines also have obstacles that will stop the player altogether if the playable characters crash into them. The player can also collect Rings along the race tracks to perform special moves that are unique to each character.

At the beginning of a Chaos GP circuit, the player starts out from the fourth place, with that being the lowest position. Upon completing a race course though, each racer is awarded with points based on their finishing positions, allowing the participants to improve their place. The points given are as follows:

  • 1st Place: 3 points
  • 2nd Place: 2 points
  • 3rd Place: 1 points
  • 4th Place: 0 points

Sonic racing in Spring Yard in the green Chaos GP.

At the end of a Chaos GP circuit, the racer with the most points wins. If there is a tie for total points, the racer with the most 1st-place finishes wins. When winning a Chaos GP, the player is awarded with a Chaos Emerald. If the player does not receive first place on one of Chaos GP circuits however, they have to start over. Completing the red Chaos GP in first place awards the player with a small ending cutscene related to one of the four playable characters, which is then followed by the game credits.


Button formation Movement
Controlpadds.png left/right Move
Game Gear II Button.png Accelerate
Game Gear I Button.png Brake
Controlpadds.png up Perform the Special Power
START Game Gear I Button.png + Game Gear II Button.png Pause, exits Free Run mode


In Sonic Drift, different items and power-ups lie scattered across the racing tracks, which the player can collect to help improve their performance during a race. These items respawn after each lap on a track.

Item Name Description
Sonic-Drift-Ring.gif Ring The traditional golden Ring, which can be collected over the course of a race. Giving up two of them activates the character's special power. When the player gets hit by obstacles or an opponent's special power, they lose all their Rings.
Jump-Spring.png Jump Spring Yellow Springs that will bounce the player into the air.
High-Speed.png High Speed A red monitor that grants a small burst of speed.
Invincibility-Muteki.png Invincible A blue monitor which makes the player invulnerable to obstacles and opponents' special powers for a few seconds.


Sonic Drift features four playable characters, each one playing quite similar to each other, but featuring their own strengths and weaknesses. Each of them has a special power that can be utilized during the race to improve their performances or hinder their opponents. After choosing a character, the remainder become the opponents for the Chaos GP.

Icon Character Vehicle Special Power Description
Sonic-Drift-Sonic.png Sonic Cyclone Dash Good acceleration and speed but poor cornering.
Sonic-Drift-Tails.png Tails MTP-01 Wheelwind Jump A solid racer with good cornering but low max speed.
Sonic-Drift-Eggman.png Dr. Robotnik Egg Typhoon Mine Poor acceleration but high speed.
Sonic-Drift-Amy.png Amy Rose Breeze Heart Attack Good acceleration but low max speed.

Race courses

No. Track Chaos GP
Green Yellow Red
1 Green Hill Green Hill Green Chaos GP.png Green Hill Yellow Ghaos GP.png Green Hill Red Chaos GP.png
2 Marble Marble Green Chaos GP.png Marble Yellow Chaos GP.png Marble Red Chaos GP.png
3 Spring Yard Spring Yard Green Ghaos GP.png Spring Yard Yellow Ghaos GP.png Spring Yard Red Ghaos GP.png
4 Labyrinth Labyrinth Green Chaos GP.png Labyrinth Yellow Chaos GP.png Labyrinth Red Chaos GP.png
5 Star Light Star Light Green Chaos GP.png Star Light Yellow Chaos GP.png Star Light Red Chaos GP.png
6 Scrap Brain Scrap Brain Green Chaos GP.png Scrap Brain Yellow Chaos GP.png Scrap Brain Red Chaos GP.png

Other modes

Free Run

Main menu

Free Run is the basic Time Attack mode of Sonic Drift that allows the player to replay any of the race courses with goal of getting the fastest record possible. On the menu screen, the player can choose the race course and playable character and then start the race with the "Run" option. The separate "Results" option shows the three best circuit times and the single best lap time.


Versus mode is the multiplayer aspect of Sonic Drift, which features gameplay for two players. To play, players has to connect two Game Gear handheld units with two Sonic Drift Paks using one Gear-to-Gear Cable (VS Cable in Japan). The Versus mode consists of a gameplay similar to that in the Chaos GP which include the same features and has all the race courses available.


Option menu consists Sound Test to listen music tracks from the game or change the difficulty setting to Normal or Hard (Hard mode increases opponent racers' acceleration).


Review scores
Publication Score
Beep! MegaDrive 6.0/10[2]
Famitsu 23/40[3]
Sega Pro 30%[9]
Sega Saturn Magazine (JP) 7.156[10]

Sonic Drift received mixed to negative reviews from critics. On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the game a 23 out of 40.[3] In December 1994, Mark Hill of Sega Pro criticized the "sense of anticlimax [that] hits you almost immediately" once starting a race, saying that "pretty graphics and modest sounds don't compensate."[9]

When the game was included in Sonic Mega Collection Plus, Gamespy called it "almost unplayable",[11] while Eurogamer called it a "terrible, terrible racing game whose flickering madness actually made me physically sick."[12]

Despite its scores, Sonic Drift was commercially successful and received a sequel, Sonic Drift 2, which, unlike this game, was released internationally.


In Japan, Sonic Drift was sold bundled in with the Game Gear. For many years, the game remained Japanese exclusive until it was included as an unlockable game in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, which marked the first international release of the game. To unlock it, the player must collect forty emblems or complete forty missions. It was later ported for compilation games such as Sonic Mega Collection Plus. Sonic Drift was also one of Sonic the Hedgehog games to be available on the online video game service "GameTap" up until 2009, but the service has since been discontinued.[13]


  • Main programmer: Wa-Da
  • Programmer: Shinchan
  • Designer: Takako Kawaguchi (Choko), Gen Adachi (Gen), East
  • Sound creator: Masayuki Nagao (N.Gee)
  • Planner: K'
  • Director: Katsuhiro Hasegawa (Hase)
  • Producer: Hiroshi Aso (Asohy)
  • Special thanks to..: Wahaha, T.D.H
  • Presented by: Sega


Amy's official artwork with the Sonic Drift umbrella.

  • Sonic Drift is the first 8-bit Sonic game to be released exclusively for the Sega Game Gear and without a separate port for the Sega Master System.
    • It is also the first Sonic game release to remain originally exclusive in Japan, although the very first Sonic-themed product to remain Japanese exclusive was the arcade children's ride Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car from 1991.
  • On Amy's official artwork, the words "Sonic Drift" can be seen written on her umbrella.
  • This was the first game in the Sonic series to feature Dr. Robotnik and Amy as playable characters.
  • As the game was never released outside Japan, the digital instruction manual in Sonic Mega Collection Plus is in Japanese for all regions.
  • All of the vehicle names in Sonic Drift are related to wind.



  1. Although the game's box artwork features the tagline "Sonic Team Presents" (presented on many Japanese boxarts of early Sonic games), the game is known to be developed by Sega and no sign of Sonic Team's involvement has ever surfaced.


  1. ゲームギア カートリッジ(セガ発売) (Japanese). Sega (JP). Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved on 23 December 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Sonic Drift" (in Japanese). Beep! Mega Drive: 21. April 1994. Archived from the original. Retrieved on 24 February 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 (in Japanese) ソニックドリフト. Famitsu. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021.. Retrieved on 24 February 2022.
  4. Sonic Drift (Sega Game Gear), Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 4-5.
  5. Sonic Drift (Sega Game Gear), Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 24-25.
  6. Sonic Drift (Sega Game Gear), Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 26-27.
  7. Sonic Drift (Sega Game Gear), Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 28-29.
  8. Sonic Drift (Sega Game Gear), Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 30-31.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Hill, Mark (December 1994). "Review: Sonic Drift". Sega Pro: 72. Archived from the original. Retrieved on 24 February 2022.
  10. "GAMEGEAR SOFT READERS RACE for GG USER" (in Japanese). Sega Saturn Magazine: 86. September 1995. Archived from the original. Retrieved on 11 March 2022.
  11. Baker, Chris (1 November 2004). Sonic Mega Collection Plus. Gamespy. Retrieved on 4 December 2015.
  12. Bramwell, Tom (8 February 2005). Sonic Mega Collection Plus. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 4 December 2015.
  13. Sonic Drift. GameTap. Archived from the original on 30 May 2009. Retrieved on 4 December 2015.

External links

Sonic the Hedgehog handheld games