Tail Drift Review
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Adding planes to a kart racing game isn’t a revolutionary concept. Just look at Diddy Kong Racing or Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. However, reconciling the freedom of flight with tight course design doesn’t always succeed. Tail Drift glides right past this issue by sacrificing freedom for an exhilarating, but linear, experience.
One look at Tail Drift's bright, blocky environments and players will know it’s not a “serious” racing game. But by tossing the rules of reality aside the game’s smooth, colorful, and shockingly well-lit cartoon world constructs giant tracks that twist and turn in every direction through trees and across desserts. Without some kind of assistance, navigating these floating labyrinths would be dizzying and disorientating. So the game uses a unique kind of racing line where each plane is magnetized to a single rail that snakes throughout each course. With forward movement taken care of, players then focus on rotating their plane around the rail to loop away from obstacles, avoid other players, and gather boosts and power-ups.
On one hand, Tail Drift's intense linearity is a little much. Planes can’t even ascend or descend. However, because of this tradeoff the game can afford to be way faster, use crazier weapons like missiles and mines, and make its courses much more complex and sprawling because there’s no fear of players becoming lost. Also, the tilt and touch controls just wouldn’t work with something more demanding than leaning left or right. And it’s not like the game doesn’t have depth in other areas.
Each cup is broken up into smaller events like standards races, time trials, and survival races, and some are pretty tough - even if they do reuse the same environments and songs too often. However, while the game suggests upgrading or purchasing new planes to take on bigger challenges, this feels unnecessary. We were able to beat some races with planes that were way under the recommended level.
Tail Drift works because it finds a tricky balance. It takes the focus of a traditional land-based kart racing games and marries it with the soaring possibilities that come with flight.