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Sonic News Network
Sonic News Network
For the move, see Sonic Drift (move).

Sonic Drift (ソニックドリフト Sonikku Dorifuto?) is a kart racing game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series for the Sega Game Gear, developed and released by Sega. Released on 8 March 1994, the game remained an exclusive title to Japan until it was included on compilation releases years later. The racing game features Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles "Tails" Prower, Amy Rose and Dr. Eggman in racing vehicles as rally contestants with the basic gameplay deriving from standard, early 1990's racing games. The game also got a sequel, Sonic Drift 2, which received an international release, unlike its prequel.


The title screen of Sonic Drift.

Sonic Drift is a racing game whose gameplay style and controls are heavily based on Sega's arcade game Out Run. Here, the players race around a race course against the other three characters for a top position in the race. 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 thrice. 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 starts 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 as well collect Rings along the race tracks to perform special moves unique to each character.

At the beginning of a Chaos GP circuit, the player starts out from the fourth place (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:

  • 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 Action
Controlpadds.png left and right Moving the vechile
Game Gear II Button.png Accelerating the vechile
Game Gear I Button.png Braking the vechile
Controlpadds.png up Perform the Special Power
START button Pauses the game
START, Game Gear I Button.png + Game Gear II Button.png Pauses the game, exits the 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 Despriction
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 mid-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 character plays similar to each other, but also have their own strengths and weaknesses. Each of them has a special power that can be utilized during the race to improve their performances or hinter opponents. After choosing a character, the remainder become the opponents for the Chaos GP.

Icon Character Vehicle Special Power Despriction
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. Eggman Egg Typhoon-gou Mine Poor acceleration, but high speed.
Sonic-Drift-Amy.png Amy Rose Breeze Heart Attack Good acceleration but low max speed.

Race courses

Each race course in Sonic Drift is based on a Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), and comes in three variants, one for each of the Chaos GP circuits. Each race course also features obstacles and other items related to their theme.

Chaos GP Green Hill Marble Spring Yard Labyrinth Star Light Scrap Brain
Green Green Hill Green Chaos GP.png Marble Green Chaos GP.png Spring Yard Green Ghaos GP.png Labyrinth Green Chaos GP.png Star Light Green Chaos GP.png Scrap Brain Green Chaos GP.png
Yellow Green Hill Yellow Ghaos GP.png Marble Yellow Chaos GP.png Spring Yard Yellow Ghaos GP.png Labyrinth Yellow Chaos GP.png Star Light Yellow Chaos GP.png Scrap Brain Yellow Chaos GP.png
Red Green Hill Red Chaos GP.png Marble Red Chaos GP.png Spring Yard Red Ghaos GP.png Labyrinth Red Chaos GP.png Star Light Red Chaos GP.png Scrap Brain Red Chaos GP.png

Other modes

Free Run

The main menu of the game.

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 mode of Sonic Drift 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 (called 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).


Sonic Drift received mixed to negative reviews from critics. On its release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the game a 19 out of 40.[1] When the game was included in Sonic Mega Collection Plus, Gamespy stated it being "almost unplayable",[2] while Eurogamer called it "terrible, terrible racing game whose flickering madness actually made me physically sick."[3]

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


In Japan, Sonic Drift was sold along with the Game Gear in the same package. 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 to 2009, but the service has since been discontinued.[4]


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



Sonic Drift (Sega Game Gear Commercial Japan)


Game Gear Plus One Japanese Commercial


  1. Although the game's boxart features tagline "Sonic Team Presents", a line presented in many Japanese boxarts of early Sonic the Hedgehog games, the game is known to be devolped by Sega of Japan and no sign about Sonic Team's involvement has never surfaced.


  1. NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: ソニックドリフト2. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.327. Pg.41. 24 March 1995.
  2. Baker, Chris (1 November 2004). Sonic Mega Collection Plus. Gamespy. Retrieved on 4 December 2015.
  3. Bramwell, Tom (8 February 2005). Sonic Mega Collection Plus. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 4 December 2015.
  4. Sonic Drift. GameTap. Archived from the original on 30 May 2009. Retrieved on 4 December 2015.

External links

Sonic Drift
Sonic the Hedgehog handheld games