By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Recently, NHN released a standout mobile game to the market, Drift Girls. It’s free to play, and combines drifting (taking a turn where the wheels are opposite of the direction your car is facing) with a Dating Game (. . . that one’s pretty self-explanatory). I have been stuck on what I could possibly say about this, but I have to say, for the most part, it’s really quite fun. It’s ridiculous, the women that your character dates meet virtually every trope or stereotype I could think of. The South African vegan, a British military agent (Redhead, so as to not be Cammy from Street Fighter), a shy martial-arts girl, a ditzy blonde seeking direction in life, and many more. They make it a point to let you know that these girls do not get jealous (at least initially), and so you can date as many of them at once as you’d care to; this is definitely a fantasy, and not to be taken seriously.
If not at the release of this article, very soon, expect a Bottom Tier video of my/Colton’s racing shenanigans! The game is a little challenging to get used to (The drifting portion, at least), and the dating is really quite simple. Each girl likes a particular thing or doesn’t and each girl provides benefits to your racing depending on her affection level. The timing takes a long while to get used to, far more so than nearly any other timing or rhythm based game I’ve played. Factor in ever changing track types, turn angles, and the speed of your car, and addition boosts you get from the girl you’re riding with, and a simplistic mechanic turns into a mechanical nightmare to get right. Which ironically adds a lot to the replayability of the game, as you’ll be frustrated into playing until you can get it right! The dialogue is pretty entertaining and the localization team offers up some pretty fantastic scenes between your character and their opponents (“My car was kid-tested, mother-approved!” had me laughing way harder than I should have been).
Waifu Simulator: Generic City Drift
In this particular town, racing and drifting seems to not be against the law at all. It solves many problems, and commands an incredible female following. It in a way reminds me of Yu-Gi-Oh, the Anime more than the card game, where peoples’ problems are solved by a ‘Children’s Card Game.’ Though, this game will try to get you to spend just as much money as you might on a card game, I’m afraid. No matter how much I enjoyed the ridiculous dating, and fast-paced action sequences, the difficulty in the story mode ramps up very steadily, to the point where proceeding is almost impossible without spending real money on a car, or spending even longer farming in-game currencies to try and do the same. Most of the early chapters, you are on par or above the opponents, and that makes it easy to get into, but around Chapter 6 and 7 the difficulty spikes incredibly. No matter how finely tuned you are on your drifts, your skill only factors in to reduce your typical race time by a second maximum. The consistent AI with superior wheels will trump your inferior ride every time.
That said, car upgrades aren’t as brainless as you may initially believe. Parts, Cars, Mastery Levels, Car Ratings (1-6 stars), there are a lot of things to keep track of, lots of numbers, lots of grinding cars and parts up to upgrade, repeatedly doing the same races over and over to get new cars and parts to use as fodder. All this adds to your maximum straightway speed, straightway acceleration, maximum drift speed, and drift acceleration stats. I believe the ultimate goal is building a car capable of handling drift heavy tracks, and one made to zoom down straightways. In practice the limitations on resources mean you’ll likely have to settle for one car that’s hopefully balanced enough to handle whatever gets thrown at you.
The controls are pretty simple, but can feel downright unfair; there are lined spots in the road where the drifts take place, and the better you do on it (from Miss, Bad, Good, Great, Crazy) gives you Nitro, which you can use to boost through (Thanks, Starfox). Each chapter has a series of races, where success fills up a bar at the top of the screen, and at the end you have a Boss Race. These races all tend to revolve around at “least” one girl. Sometimes several, including unlockable girls depending on certain racing criteria (such as ranking 30% or higher in the online races in X league of the week, the first form of PvP offered).
I found myself doing races over and over and over again, just to get the next race to even pop up. Races are ranked, D-S, only rank you if you win, and the first time you score a B, A, or S on a track will grant you bonus rewards. So you can go back and do a race again if you have a low rank, do a little better, and get cool rewards. Namely getting an S rank on a track will score you 3 dollars, the cash shop currency, as well as the opportunity to get a bonus dollar once a day for racing the track again, no matter your score. Considering just how heavily the game is based around the cash shop, this reliable way of netting free currency daily is a must. Though the frustration of getting S rank (perfect start + Great on EVERY drift, or scoring a Crazy drift (+ or – 0.07s from a perfect drift) can be maddening!
While story missions and the follow-up grinding of them costs you fuel, Drift Girl’s standard mobile game stamina system, there are optional side races that use a ticket system instead to keep the entertainment flowing. This includes the League of the Week mentioned above, as well as the World Race. League of the Week races are segmented into tiers based on your car’s total stat, including your girl, such as the novice race not letting any stat above 1,000 participate. League of the Week tracks are considerably harder than the regular drift races you do in the storyline. On top of that, your reward is based on your performance versus the rest of the server, with your best time of the week submitted to ranking.
The downside is you only get 10 tickets every 12 hours, and to maximize your results, you should race every tier, even ones you are far below the qualifications for. This leaves you less chances to repeat races, especially for casual players, meaning you likely won’t be scoring in the top percentiles often if ever. Some of the drift girls can only be unlocked by scoring in the top percentile, so casual players will have to dawn their hardcore helmets at some point to grind out the best score to get these girls. Of course even if you get into the needed percentile, each day your rating can and likely will decay more and more as other players play and race, passing you by. So you have no choice but to keep up with it, similar to Vanilla WoW PVP. You’re going to have to invest time in this mobile game in order to keep that weekly ranking. It is at this point that the gameplay becomes monotonous at best.
Thankfully there is World Race, an elo based system that pits you against other online racers, or replicas of their car/girl stats and average performance, to see how you really stack up. World Race always puts you on the same track that is rather well balanced in the middle to reward cars on both straightways and drifts. The downside here is you’ll quickly discover how much gear overrides skill in this game. But World Race is still a fantastic way to make in-game coins and cash currency, while hyper leveling a car’s mastery points to give you a better fighting chance in story mode.
Another side venture to distract you from the painful repeated defeats in story mode is the Event Races, the quintessential filler arcs any anime harem worth its salt offers. These have limiting features such as restricting you to only using German cars, and seem to follow the progressively darker side of story mode, involving organized crime and mafia investigation.
Let’s Play The Dating Game
There are many, many, many women in Drift Girls. For whatever taste the player may have, Drift Girls may have exactly that. They use various anime/television tropes to create “interesting” girls, but it is pretty perverted when you get right down to it (not that that is necessarily a bad thing!). You can buy your date jewelry, and a swimsuit, and dress them up. Whomever you are seeing is also on your main screen, and in one of the tutorials it tells you that “you can touch her,” but it’s nothing really gross or disgusting. You can make her change her facial expressions at best while making sounds that might get you some stares in public places; you can also reposition her so you can see “more” of her, instead of just her face and shoulders. As you do things with these girls, both positive and negative, it creates Memories, and the more of these memories you unlock, the more rewards you get, from money, parts, cash (which can be used on more stuff, consider it the purchasable currency). There’s one other bit having high memory score nets you, but I’ll save that for last.
Each girl has her own hobbies, likes, dislikes, and on a scale of 1-5 gems, each date will be rated; If only girls were so quantifiable in real life. There are a few factors that go into the amount of points your date is worth from how much she likes your car, what she thinks of the date location, and how you answer questions she poses to you while you are out. If you score low, you can always go back later and score higher, but don’t take someone to the same spot twice in a row! That will seriously harm your relationship score. That’s bad, because unlike a full fledged pimp, your girls only shower you with coins every twelve or so hours if they’re in a good mood! Which makes you wonder, why does your harem pay you every time you log in if you aren’t their pimp?
The relationship scale goes to four hearts, but you can “Unlock/Exceed” that by fulfilling some pretty ludicrous conditions. Generally it’s Race X times with her as your partner, Go on X amount of dates, and collect 10 phone numbers. So, you’re telling me I have to bandy about with more women to get her to like me more? That’s kind of absurd. The farther you go in the game, the more locations are opened, and there are gifts you can give them only when you exceed the normal relationship scale.
But back to that bit on the memory score. Your total memory score seems to be a percentage chance for getting a girl to stay with you overnight, offering some rather… unique… dialogue, along with fanservice and a 24 hour boost of 100+ to your currently selected vehicles performance. Nothing sexual happens that you can see, but the dialogue tells you more than you need to know. As the difficulty curve continues its mountainous rise, you’ll find yourself fishing for girls to stay the night with you each day to maintain your fighting chance.
As you level up in the game and meet more girls, your dating location choices grow as well. There are also date locations that require items, such as tickets (say, the Sports Event), and not all girls will want to go, so be wise about where you take people. I personally think the game telling you that you can date as many girls as you want, and rewarding you for it is kind of silly. It’s fiction, and should be treated as such; but the girls are all really very attractive for what this is; I cannot tell if they are a parody of dating games, or if it is an attempt to take itself seriously. With the dialogue as absurd as it is, I certainly hope this is some kind of comedy or parody.
A Tale of Two Titties: 3/5
As far as mobile games go, there are certainly far worse and far better. It is entertaining and funny, even if you inevitably get bogged down by the difficulty and the need to farm pretty constantly just to keep up with the competition. As you progress, the game gets harder in other ways too, you no longer get to see the “safe zone” for a perfect start at the beginning of the race, and they take away the turn warnings on the side of the road, so while some roads might look like you take a left turn, they don’t and you ruin your entire race. And losing a race by .005 seconds is probably the most infuriating thing that I can imagine. Though the game really pushes the cash shop the longer you play, making it all but impossible to win without spending money. That’s really a black mark against the game, but despite that, I had fun, even if it became awkward to play around others due to the ridiculous squealing of the girls while drifting.
The graphics are pretty simple, but not ugly. The women all look really quite pretty with plenty of expressions to make them feel less 2D, though it steadily becomes a game about fanservice right from the first selection in the game. The game is all about showing pretty anime girls in bikinis, and it does that quite well, even if the variety in girls almost feels forced, drawing from all over the world. All in all, pretty, but not groundbreaking.
The controls really bothered me; it was incredibly difficult to get a “Crazy,” or perfect drift. If your finger slips even a little, it can ruin a drift and the entire race to boot, and that’s not good. Navigating the UI is fine, but the location of the nitro button is just awful. Cars that excel in drifting feel a bit handicapped as you have to pull some finger ninjutsu to enter a left leaning turn while activating your nitro without flat out fumbling your phone to the floor, or more often than not botching your drift quality.
The gameplay and features are really all pretty simple: You have dates, racing, online racing, and a shop. There’s not a lot to the game, but the countless ways they rewrap the same package is quite astounding. Given its simplistic controls, I doubt there is much further they could have pushed things. Though a clan system pitting drifting teams against each other would do wonders.
The sounds in this game were cute at first, but very… very quickly became infuriating. When a girl rides with you, she squeals and yells while you are drifting, depending on how good or bad you did it varies. A good race sounds purely orgasmic, and will turn heads (they even have a help tip warning you about it if you’re socially dense). Surprisingly if you do poorly some of the girls belittle you harshly, which can be a sudden jarring realization in this otherwise perfect fantasy. Add to it that the voices can be incredibly annoying, and definitely are reminiscent of various anime features. I found myself turning the volume down quite a bit, but for some reason found my performance faltered when sounds were entirely off. In the end my only option was headphones to maintain my competitive advantage from subliminal anime fanservice approval.
Want me Drift Girls? Catch Ragachak and Colton on our MMOHuts’ Bottom Tier Let’s Play video giving their uncensored commentary on the game! (mature content warning!)