In the lexicon of racing, a powerslide consists of yanking on a car's handbrake while turning the steering wheel. This is done while entering a curve, with the ideal result being that you enter the curve facing approximately the direction in which you wish to leave it. GT Interactive's futuristic racing game takes its name from this hair-raising move and may be the first game in history to have a title that serves as a pretty thorough strategy guide.
Powerslide's tracks are, for the most part, a collection of hairpin turns. This isn't to say they are boring. Set in a postapocalyptic world, Powerslide's tracks run through appropriately bleak settings: an abandoned dam, a desolate mineshaft, a city half-buried in sand, and the like. Only one track is somewhat dull, a small oval dirt track that is effectively one continuous turn. But the rest are inventive, with jumps, steep hills, and a variety of surfaces that affect traction.
And traction is a big issue in Powerslide. The vehicles you drive are a collection of futuristic buggies with huge hind wheels and teeny front wheels that wouldn't seem out of place on a shopping cart. Equipped with such wheels, performing regular turns in these vehicles is, at best, a gradual process, making the titular slide an important key to victory. The buggies make up the majority of vehicles at your disposal, though there are a few truck-like autos as well. Each car is designed in an appropriately postapocalyptic manner, with a rusty, scratchy paint job. It's easy to imagine The Road Warrior's Humungus riding shotgun. Powerslide also features characters; after choosing a car, you choose a character to drive it. This decision, however, has little noticeable effect save for the color scheme of your vehicle.
The physics of the game are good, and control is excellent. Powerslide significantly excels in its visual realism, with a nice illusion of speed. The cars actually look like they are racing on the tracks as opposed to just sort of sliding along (an area in which many arcade racers fall short), with good shadows and cars kicking up dust when driving on dirt tracks. And the tracks themselves are incredibly detailed, with good, crisp textures.
Like most arcade racers, Powerslide doesn't really do anything too structurally groundbreaking. You have a limited selection of cars and a limited selection of tracks, and the majority of these must be unlocked by doing well in the championship mode (Powerslide also offers single races and time trials). The majority of the music is your run-of-the-mill arcade racing techno, though a few divergences from this style (especially one creepy symphonic piece) are notable. Still, Powerslide does what it sets out to do well, and the crazy driving style helps to keep it interesting.