Developer: Zenym Co.
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Ultra Drift puts a different spin, sometimes quite literally, on the concept of the endless runner genre. This time instead of ducking, jumping, and slashing your way through whatever design theme the developers felt like pasting some little sprinting fellow into, Vietnamese developers Zenym has shifted the formula over to a world of tiny drifting race cars. It’s a neat idea on paper, but it sadly doesn’t get developed much more than that.

Ultra DriftThe gameplay in Ultra Drift consists of tapping the screen to send out a tether toward the little spinning circles located near the curves of the track that then slingshots the car around until you release your finger. Like most runner-type affairs, you have no control over the path or velocity of your in-game agent. But whereas most runners offer multiple modes of interaction to vary up the gameplay, or perhaps a different mode here or there, Ultra Drift has only the one. This is one of the reasons the experience starts to wear out its welcome so quickly. Another is the brutal nature of the otherwise ridiculously simple controls and the overall difficulty curve that comes as a result of it.

It’s entirely possible to fire your vehicle’s tether too early as you approach, leaving it hanging rather limply at the wrong time instead of providing the needed whip to fire your vehicle around the curve. Likewise, holding on a split second too long botches your release angle on what is an already tight track, putting you face-first into a wall. Either of these results in the player restarting and having to wait, once more, through the pre-race countdown. I really do wish that intro, short as it is, were skippable.

Ultra DriftAll of these elements together – the lack of variety to the gameplay, the unforgiving controls, the rudimentary audiovisual presentation – combine to form a lackluster, rather half-hearted thing. And to add that touch of extra annoyance, the splash ads will often pop-up just as the race is starting, rather than on the score recap screen between races, which is just a case of plain old poor design.

It’s quite possible that Ultra Drift may have a target audience somewhere among the ultra masochists out there, but for the rest of us, it’s just not worth the effort.

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