[dropcap size=big]R[/dropcap]acing games have never particularly been in my wheelhouse. At least, not “serious” racers. My interest lies much more with arcade-style experiences where driving is freer and you can bump into guardrails all you like with little repercussion. Unfortunately, many games of this style have disappeared from the modern gaming landscape. Now we’re finally seeing people attempt to bring their styles back to the forefront. One such game is Drift Stage which is styled after classic arcade racers with a bit more modern control stylings.
As the name implies, you’re going to drift a lot in Drift Stage. The demo only has one arcade level but it gives a good taste for the mechanics at play. When played with a control acceleration is mapped to the right trigger while brakes are on left. Gear shifting appears automatic allowing you to blaze down the highway. However, this stage comes full of sharp turns. You’ve got to drift! Drifting is handled by letting go of acceleration, tapping breaks, and then tilting the analog stick left or right. The degree at which you tilt it changes the angle of drift, from slight to really extreme.
It’s also a lot harder than it seems! Despite quite simple controls I found myself regularly crashing into walls rather than performing the smooth drift that I watched a CPU player pull of flawlessly. Of course they’re good but somehow I could not keep up the speed or proper angle to make it much of any turns. After a handful of laps it finally started to make sense, but slip ups were still common. And don’t even consider using keyboard controls if you don’t have to. While functional, it feels very weird to utilize a combo of spacebar, alt, and arrow keys. At least, that’s my take on the whole setup.
The most outwardly impressive aspect of Drift Stage is not just the gameplay, however. What really stands out the moment you launch it is the excellent retro-styled graphics. Your car looks wonderfully 80s futuristic and seems like a simple 2D sprite. The same looks to be true for the colorful cityscape as you drive during sunset. However, it’s actually all 3D models apparently as each sprite reveals while driving by. The effect is pretty cool, and the color combinations work well. In all the aesthetic is downright gorgeous and I found myself using the photo mode from pause menu liberally.
You’ll also find that the 80s vibe follows through in the soundtrack as well. It feels ripped straight out of a film of the era, or even some action show. In all it is super fitting to the theme and almost makes this title feel like a lost arcade game from the past. Of course, this is all just the start. If the main menu is to be believed a career and multiplayer mode are also incoming for the full release. If you’re curious then definitely check out the Drift Stage demo – it’s totally free! Just recognize that this is an alpha build and therefore a small sample of what can be expected if and when the game is completed. The Drift Stage Kickstarter campaign is live now and requires $30,000 to succeed.
You can track the progress of the Drift Stake Kickstarter in our Campaign Calendar.