OutRun Retrospective

Welcome to Retrospective #1, a nostalgic look back into the yesteryears of gaming. Each week we pull a title out from under the rug, blow off the dust and ask what it did to make the gaming world what it is today. With so many games out there, some very well known and others being a little bit obscure to say the least, it is hard to know where to start. But after much elimination, the title that was chosen for the first episode of Retrospective is Sega’s 1986 OutRun.

OutRun (1986)

At the time of release OutRun was a phenomenon. It offered fantastic gameplay, eye poppingly good graphics, and presentation that exceeded many similar titles released at that time. With many titles at the time using the top-down perspective (SpyHunter) to entice gamers to play their games, OutRun went for a behind the car view which was not that commonly seen at that time. Another first that OutRun brought to gamers was a selection of bumps in the road; the tracks elevated, and gamers drove up, over and down small hills in the road. Sure, it was nothing to rival the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, but OutRun was one of the first games to offer gamers more than just a left or right turn and this was one of the reasons many people loved it.

We could talk forever about the gameplay; and yes it is a great game to play, but one of the reasons many people will remember OutRun and possibly have a quote written on their gravestone about it (if that way inclined) is the awe-inspiring graphics it brought to arcades all over the world. At the time there simply was no other racer and arguably no other game that came close to what OutRun offered. It looked fantastic, it ran at an impressive speed, every corner offered something new, and each fork in the road lead to something special. From the oh so pretty Coconut Beach to the difficult to get to Lakeside, there was always some candy to be tossed straight at your eye with new scenery to be seen at every goal. Not only was the scenery a treat to look at, the Ferrari Testarossa convertible was also very nicely modelled, which always contained your lovely blonde girlfriend in the passenger’s seat.

OutRun was also famous for the great music that backed up the excellent gameplay. The game featured three selectable tracks; Passing Breeze, Magical Sound Shower, and Splash Wave which were all available to listen to when racing. Another track called Last Wave played when you got a high score. Lastly, an additional track called Step on Beat was included in the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis port of the game. All the music in OutRun is composed by Hiroshi Miyauchi, who also did the soundtracks for many other Sega arcade games. Without doubt Yu Suzuki really did create something fantastic with OutRun being a game far ahead of its time.

Sequels Spawned

In the last 20 years, OutRun’s many Arcade sequels have sprouted with the OutRun name attached. Sadly, not all of these games were up to the high quality of the original. The first sequel was Turbo OutRun (1989) which was very similar to the original version of the game but instead challenged gamers to race from New York City to Los Angeles over the sixteen different stages available. Another change Turbo OutRun brought to the table was a rock inspired soundtrack which had nowhere near as many memorable tunes as the original.

The next title to bear the name of the original was laboriously named OutRunners (1992) which Sega boasted would bring the game back to its roots. OutRunner brought back the forks in the road that were sorely missing from Turbo OutRun, which once again let players choose their path to the finish line. OutRunners also offered the option of head-to-head (if arcade cabinets were linked together). This offered gamers the chance for up to eight drivers to race against eachother at one time. A range of eight different cars were available for gamers to drive.

Then over 10 years passed…

It seemed like the OutRun name was dying out; people still talked about the game fondly but no one thought the game would once again make an appearance in the arcades, but this all changed with the announcement and release of OutRun 2 (2003), which is arguably the best OutRun game released over its long 20 year pixelated run. OutRun 2 also got a release on Xbox in 2003 and although it did not receive many good words from the critics, it was still a very good title and if your interested or feeling a bit nostalgic can be picked up for next to nothing these days. (Read Our Review)

Speaking of console releases, there are three other OutRuns that were only released for home systems: OutRun Europa, Battle OutRun, and OutRun 2019. All these titles shared a home called the Sega Master System but sadly none of them had any of the magic that was contained in the original with OutRun 2019 been the best of a bad bunch. The last OutRun we have to talk about is OutRun 3D which makes use of the 3D glasses of yours to make the image pop off the screen. These glasses were packed with the game.

To this day, now 20 years on since its release, the OutRun name is going strong. In fact OutRun 2 has had a sequel announced, OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast, and it is currently being developed for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox and PC, with an expected March 2006 release date. I for one will be picking up at least one version of the game come release date.

Did You Know?

– In the 2001 film Donnie Darko, Donnie is playing OutRun at an arcade with his girlfriend. The scene shows him crashing his car during their discussion.
– In Shenmue II you can discover an OutRun arcade machine which is almost an exact replica of the original, bar minor changes to the sound samples and the car graphics. These changes were made due to licensing issues.
– The original OutRun is unlockable while playing the Xbox version of OutRun 2 and can be accessed by using the code NINETEEN86.
– The song “Put it in the Air” by Talib Kweli featuring DJ Quik, uses a sample of one of the music tracks of OutRun.
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OutRun has appeared on:[/b]

– Sega Master System
– Commodore 64
– Amstrad CPC
– Sinclair ZX Spectrum
– MSX
– Commodore Amiga
– Atari ST
– PC-DOS
– NEC PC Engine
– Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis
– Sega Game Gear
– Sega Saturn
– PlayStation 2
– Sega Dreamcast
– Game Boy Advance
– Xbox