When it comes to rally games, it seems that the cream of the crop hit when Polygon made his march on
Sprite Tower, took it over, and burned it to the ground. I'm not saying
that games like "Rally
Cross(PS1)" and "Sega
Rally 2 (DC)" aren't my cup of tea, but they just don't have the charm of
Power Drive Rally.
As an overhead rally racer, PDR is in a class by itself. Sure, that four-wheeled (literally) monster at the arcades accomplished the same feat years before, but did it look this cool!?
By far the most impressive aspect of Power Drive Rally is the graphics/eye-candy. If you are a sprite fanatic, PDR will have you in your own comfortable heaven for your entire duration of play. The way your little car animates his way around the course, the greenery, fences and mud-puddles, the rain
effects - everything has a hand-crafted look that is, unfortunately, hard to imitate.
You might be wondering what you'll be playing while you're looking at all this fancy
stuff. Answer: a pretty cool racer. While not a showstopper in the game
play department, PDR has an easy to grasp control scheme with tight, quick answering maneuverability. Sure, every once in a while you hit that turn a little too tough, slide into the opposite direction, and react as if PDR had it in for
you... but trust me, it doesn't.
Actual game progression may be where some of my qualms come into play. Like any good
semi-simulator, you upgrade your little Mini on a race-to-race basis. You are awarded
various amounts of cash for a job well done. You can also grab cash on the track in the form of a power-up, and you must use this cash to constantly upgrade.
Also, every time you race you have to cough up some cash. Your car takes a beating during each race, so it must also be fixed
before each race. The amount of money you win covers these costs with little to spare, disabling you from increasing your vehicles performance as fast as it seems you must. While seemingly prohibiting a fun gaming experience, you get used to it and race
on; the meat is in the actual racing.
If a game could be rated on charm alone, PDR would receive perfect scores everywhere it
trotted. Regrettably, that nefarious devil cohesive play mechanics interferes almost every time and mucks everything up. Fortunately that devil got a bit lazy on PDR and only touched a small fraction of it, leaving behind a fun and memorable rally racer for the Atari Jaguar.
gives Power Drive Rally an 8/10.