Thursday, October 1, 2009

Driift Mania (WiiWare) Review

We continue our streak of WiiWare games with a look at something that came out this past Monday on the Wii Shop Channel. It's Driift Mania from Konami. With this and Contra Rebirth, Konami's really doing well with WiiWare.

Shiift into Driift

If you were conscious during the late eighties and early nineties, you might remember two arcade games that featured racing in a top-down perspective: Super Sprint and Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off-Road. Get ready for a blast from the past as Konami is taking the tried and true gameplay of these two games and mixing them together for a brand new release on Wiiware. It's Driift Mania, an 800 point downloadable title where you can achieve your need for speed against 5-7 other racers. Does Driift Mania cross the finish line in first place, or does it crash and burn?

Driift Mania is a top-down racer where the entire track is shown on the screen. You control your vehicle as if you're in the driver's seat. Left goes left, right goes right, and you can also go in reverse-- although this can be problematic as it's quite disorienting to do so. The driift in Driift Mania comes from your vehicle automatically drifting on each and every turn. The game feels great, and that's important for a game all about precision and quick reflexes. Many times cars can pile up on one another when the track gets tight. If two cars smash into one another, an oil slick appears on the track where the collision took place. If driven over, your vehicle can spin out of control in quick fashion.

Championship mode can be played with another player.

The main single-player mode is called Championship. It features five cups spread out across five unique areas: City, Hills, Oasis, Snow, and World. Each area has three tracks for a total of fifteen tracks. Three of these tracks are unlocked through getting golds in Championship mode and playing the multi-player modes. Tracks are relatively short spanning from 4-8 laps depending on a track's size. Tracks feature plenty of twists and turns, hazards like mud and ice, as well as ramps and boost pads to get an extra shot of speed. The goal is to drive through all the checkpoints as you complete laps, otherwise your lap won't count. In Championship mode, after each race you earn points. First place gets ten points, second gets eight, and so forth. The player with the most points at the end of three races gets the gold medal. Like Mario Kart, there's different vehicle classes offering the different difficulties of Championship mode. Small cars are light and handle well, medium cars are faster, and heavy cars take turns the best. Think of small, medium, heavy, and special as easy, normal, hard, and super hard in difficulty terms.

Driift Mania can be very unforgiving in its challenge level. Other cars can knock you off your path, and turn you around, and when the CPU gets a lead, and can be hard to overcome. Of course, you can knock the CPU back just as hard as they attack you. Furthermore, Championship mode allows you and another player to play through the various difficulties and tracks a la Super Mario Kart which is a bonus.

Twists, turns, mud, ramps-- it's all in a day's work.

Multi-player is where this title truly shines with multiple modes and the ability to play with up to eight individual players. This is accomplished by connecting peripherals on up to four Wii remotes either the nunchuk or the classic controller. And while there is no online play to speak of, settling around a room talking trash and racing together is infinitely more enjoyable-- though the feature would have been welcomed. Unlike Championship which has you competing with five CPU opponents, multi-player has up to seven other AI foes to battle it out against. You can set up your own grand prix, selecting 1-15 tracks to race on, shuffle the order, add or remove CPU, and race to your heart's content. There's team races where two teams battle to accumulate the most points by placing high enough. Then there's the awesome meteorite mode where racers try to complete as many laps as possible all the while avoiding falling meteorites which will destroy their vehicle if caught in the blast radius. The more laps you complete, the more points you receive. Another game has one player infecting others through ramming into them. The player who survives scores points, but if all players are infected, the infected player wins. Cold potato has players grabbing the titular item and holding onto it as long as possible. The player who racks up the longest time with the potato is victorious. A good half of these modes must be unlocked through multi-player play, and they're just as fun and rewarding with computer players than without.

Avoid falling meteors in this mode as you complete laps.

For an 800 point Wiiware game, that's tons to unlock through scoring gold trophies on Championship mode and through plowing through the multi-player modes. There's approximately forty different types of vehicles in all from police cars, tanks, fire trucks, sports cars, rubber duckies, farm tractors, futuristic F-Zero-like vehicles, golf carts, hovercrafts, and much more. At the beginning of the game, only twelve of the fifteen races are unlocked for play. The unlocked three races take place in an arena-type setting with some of the more interesting track design to behold.

Speaking of things to behold, Driift Mania isn't a bad looker either. The tracks are colorful, the framerate is stable, and small visual touches such as skidmarks from your vehicles' drifts are quite nice. The music sounds like something from a coin-op classic arcade game which suits the arcade nature of Driift accordingly. It might get grating to some, but it does its job as being background noise behind the roar and humming of your vehicles.

The cel-shading is a nice touch visually.

All-in-all, Driift Mania is a heck of a steal at 800 points. It's a game filled to the brim with nostalgic gameplay. Sure, online would have been nice, but there's enough content for single-player and local multi-player matches that you might not even notice. There's plenty of new vehicles, tracks, and modes to unlock that hours can go by before you've seen everything Driift has to offer. Those into challenging racing will adore Driift Mania. It's a fantastic pick-up-and-play game well worth the asking price.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

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