Racing games are generally about getting across the finish line as quickly as possible. With the Drift Mania series, it’s more about style than speed. “Drifting” is when a driver deliberately loses traction in the rear wheels and slides around corners in a dangerous, yet flashy manner. This is the central gameplay mechanic behind Drift Mania Championship 2 for mobile devices.
It’s a distinct sub-genre of racing, and definitely offers a new experience, combined with a new challenge. Players need to get across the finish line within a time limit, and gain a bonus for making it there quickly, however the total score of each race is mostly determined by how often players can make their car slide, and the length of time each slide takes, along with how intricate and varied the drifts are. Players are penalized for going off the course, or hitting walls.
The game uses the accelerometer to simulate a steering wheel. Players will twist their phone or tablet at sharp angles to maneuver their car around a series of tracks, and although this is a great feature for a driving game, it does make it a little less mobile for players who feel silly twisting and swerving their arms while on a bus, or waiting in line in public.
Controls for brake and acceleration work a little differently than many other racing games too; one side of the touch screen has a slider that is used to control speed. Many racing games accelerate automatically, or they use a simple On/Off button, so the slider adds an extra degree of control that is needed to manage long drifts around multiple turns. There’s a handbrake button for a little extra reduction in traction when needed too.
Outside of the drift mechanic, Drift Mania Championship 2 plays like most other racing games. There are thirteen cars, but only two available at the start, with the rest needing to be unlocked as the game progresses. Cars can be modified with a very large selection of performance-enhancing upgrades, and there are many cosmetic enhancements too.
There are 13 tracks, but only one of which is available at the start. Unlocking the others requires spending in-game money, or doing very well in a race. Performing well will also provide money that can be used for car upgrades and new cars too.
A problem is that players need to do very well on a particular track in order to unlock the next one. Each track has a series of achievements, such as long drifts, or making it through a race with no damage to the car, and these take a heavily upgraded car, or superior skills to accomplish.
Players who can’t master the drift system will need to grind through the same tracks over and over until they have the money to unlock the next one, or use the option to spend real-world money to get in-game cash.
Players who get tired of the campaign mode have the option for online multiplayer where they try to best other players for high scores. At the time of this writing, there are connection issues that make it hard to complete a race with multiple players staying connected throughout, though.
Despite some very unique features, Drift Mania Championship 2 is for hard-core fans of this subgenre of racing game. Other gamers are likely to be put off by the tricky controls, limited number of tracks and cars available early on, and the grind needed to unlock more content. It is out now for iOS and Android devices.