Japanese Drift Master: Bringing Drifting Back To Japan

Drifting is one of the most popular disciplines in sim racing. The explosion of JDM culture is rife within simulators such as Assetto Corsa – and spawned titles like Japanese Drift Master.

Japanese Drift Master (JDM) is a breath of fresh air for drifting fans around the world. Fantastic tarmac physics combined with endless customization options creates a heaven for Japanese car lovers and drifters alike.

Japanese Drift Master JDM Demo
Japanese Drift Master’s Main Menu.

The potential for multiplayer in the future combined with JDM‘s excellent customization options is a recipe for success. The conjoined mechanics of a ‘Forza Horizon’ style open world in the beautiful setting of the fictional Haikama Lake is the perfect setup for a drifting title. Additionally, the simulator-style road feedback is gratifying for a game of this size and budget.

Japanese Drift Master’s Game Map

JDM Demo: Game Physics

The studio behind JDM, Gaming Factory, has been developing this game for the past year. Driving physics are built specifically for this title and the large majority of the game’s content is available to view in their pre-release demo.

Driving And Drifting

The first car you drive, the Toyota AE86, is sluggish but rewarding when you get into a low-geared drift. The physics and attention to detail In tyre slipping and audio cues are impressive and consistent across both cars available in the demo version of the game.

Drifting the streets of Japan in the Toyota AE86

Surprisingly, the physics behind it are relatively simulator-like. The feel of when the tyre starts to lose grip and the rear end starts to slide feels remarkably similar to titles such as Assetto Corsa. There are complaints that the steering is not very accurate, but for a demo version it is definitely enjoyable how it is right now.


Whilst the game is predominantly centred around drifting, there are time attack events that demand speed and accuracy to reach the finish line in the quickest time possible. These events feel like there is an element of luck and randomness to them, however, with AI traffic randomly spawning every time you replay the event. Consequently, this rules out some attempts as the traffic is to bunched up to tackle the course quickly enough.

Time Attack Event #1

Crash Damage

Whilst the game is still in its early demo phase, the crash and damage model is non-existent. Not only is there no damage model, but there is also no penalty for hitting cars or objects. A handful of the missions could be completed by simply wall-riding the tighter turns.

The physics for crashing with traffic are not too different from an internet flash game. However, the collision physics with moveable objects have a lot of potential. If a damage model is brought into the game’s engine, the ability to set up difficult and punishing drift courses would keep an online community happy for years to come.

JDM Demo: Tuning and Setups

Tuning is a core part of Japanese Drift Master. The ability to fine-tune your vehicle to your exact specifications is surprisingly detailed and accurate. Not only does each slider make a genuine difference, but it was a rewarding trial-and-error experience when playtesting.

Whether it be perfecting your wheel fitment, or creating your dream stance car, JDM caters perfectly with a high level of detail and competence.

The ability to change your wheel offset in conjunction with your spring stiffness and ride height works seamlessly together. Camber adjustment and toe in or out create a sophisticated trial and trial-and-error-based tuning style.

Not only can you spend hours fine-tuning your drift missile, but you can transform a normal Japanese car into a show car in seconds. Body kits from brands like Rocket Bunny and an array of wheel and tyre combinations add another layer of customization.

The paint store is the icing on the cake for the customization side of JDM. A complex colour wheel adds an infinite amount of possibilities for players to create with their cars. The addition of wheel painting furthers customization options greatly with the potential for tyre writing as well as tyre smoke colouring in the future.

JDM’s Car List

Whilst the full car list is yet to be announced, the demo does include two playable cars and upgrades for each of them. The starting car is the Toyota AE86 and the option to switch to a Nissan S15 in the garage menu is also available for free. If you head to the car dealership, there are a few other options available, however, they aren’t drivable in the demo version currently.

JDM’s Future

The Japanese Drift Master Demo has only recently been released to the public. JDM took part in the Steam Next Fest: October 2023. This allows players to discuss the game with the developers, Gaming Factory, as well as find out details about the game’s contents.

The potential for development is nearly endless with an open-world mission-based game such as JDM. The car list, as mentioned earlier, is unannounced. Expect it to cover a wide range of Japanese drift icons with creative and iconic upgrades for each car.

JDM‘s Expansive Free Roam Map

The mission types are currently limited to drift and Time Attack. More event types are likely to make their way into the full game, but the idea of having both street racing and a drift mode in a game based around the streets of Japan is a fantastic start.

Check out the Steam page for Japanese Drift Racing here! The game’s demo is active until January 4th, 2024. Are you interested in what else drifting has to offer in sim racing? Check out our article on the importance of drifting in sim racing!

Toyota AE86’s interior

To see Japanese Drift Master in action, head over to OverTake’s Twitch channel to see Michel tackle the streets of Japan.

Have you tried out Japanese Drift Master? Let us know your opinion on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!

Sports Journalism graduate from Solent Southampton University with a burning passion for motorsport. I've been sim racing virtually all my life, I started out with Toca 2 Touring Cars when I was very young and now attempt to compete in the likes of iRacing and Rfactor 2. I graduated University in July, and got married to my beautiful wife Rachel at the end of August.