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Page 1:
OutRun
Turbo OutRun

Page 2:
OutRun 3D
Battle OutRun
OutRun Europa
OutRun 2019

Page 3:
OutRunners
OutRun 2

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by Brian Gazza - originally posted April 30th, 2006; last updated May 18th, 2014

OutRun (アウトラン) - Arcade, Master System, Game Gear, Genesis, Amiga, IBM PC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Saturn, PC Engine, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Xbox, Standalone LCD, Mobile, 3DS (1986)

American Arcade Flyer

Japanese Mega Drive Cover

American Genesis Cover

European Commodore 64 Cover

Japanese PlayStation 2 Cover

OutRun is known as one of the finest arcade racing games ever made. Created by Yu Suzuki and Sega-AM2, it utilizes the "super scaler" technology seen in Hang-On, After Burner and Space Harrier. It runs on a board built specifically for the game called the Sega OutRun Hardware, which is based on the System 16 board. The blazing fast scaling of the sprites and slick 3D motion of the road created an experience far smoother than most other arcade titles around at the time.

According to Yu Suzuki, OutRun was inspired by the 1981 movie The Cannonball Run, which featured a huge race across Europe in a variety of fancy cars. In transferring that concept into a game, Suzuki put you in the seat of an expensive sports car, which looks suspiciously like a Ferrari Testarossa, as you speed through a variety of exotic locations. The race begins on the beach, but spreads to deserts, canyons, forests and a diverse selection of other scenic routes.

The game itself is uncomplicated - there are no laps around circuits, no sponsors, no pit stops, no ramming, and no high speed chases. Just weaving through turns, dodging cars, and shifting gears when appropriate. If you run off the road and hit an obstacle you may flip over, but within a few seconds you're back on the road completely unharmed. The whole experience has a very laid back feeling; just cruising along, sunglasses on and hot blonde girlfriend by your side, relaxing, and looking forward to whatever new sights the next stage will bring.

At the end of each stage the road forks in two directions, each leading to a different area. A single game from start to finish only comprises five stages, but with all of the branching paths, there are a total of 15 unique tracks. The map, laid out like a sideways pyramid, is displayed at the end of the game and charts your progress. There are minor differences between the circuit layouts of the "Overseas" and "Japanese" versions.

The deluxe cabinet

The graphics have that fresh, clean and bright AM2 style, and the music tracks, supplied by Hiroshi Kawaguchi, are classics. There are three different in-game songs ("Magical Sound Shower", "Splash Wave" and "Passing Breeze"), selected via a radio at the start of the game, and each has a catchy Latin/Caribbean influenced melody. Each song also lasts approximately the duration of the entire game, about six minutes or so. Even the game over / high score theme, entitled "Last Wave", relaxes you while you stare at the sunset and listen to the sound of waves breaking.

OutRun hit the arcades in 1986 in four different cabinets: two upright ones, a standard sitdown one, and a deluxe sit-down cabinet, the latter being equipped with hydraulics that move the seat to the sides when you turn. These cabinets are also equipped with force feedback motors which shake the steering wheel as you turn or crash.

System Ports

Since none of the 8- or 16-bit systems were as powerful as the arcade hardware, everything had to be scaled back. Some of the computer ports shipped with a soundtrack tape as a bonus.

The Master System version is of reasonable quality given the technical constraints. The scrolling is relatively good for an 8-bit system and the music sounds decent. Many of the roadside details are missing, though, along with the horizon backgrounds.

Despite running on nearly identical hardware, the Game Gear version, ported by SIMS, is completely different from the Master System release. The sprites are smaller (and uglier) to compensate for the smaller screen, but some of the missing details have returned, like the backgrounds on the horizon and various other sprites. However, the roads feel cramped, and it's more difficult. There's also a versus mode where you can race against a CPU opponent or link up to another player with a Game Gear and copy of the game.

For a long time the Genesis version, ported by Hertz, was the best port of OutRun. The system still isn't powerful enough to handle scaling, but it definitely looks much nicer than any previous version. It also has an exclusive fourth selectable song called "Step on Beat". There's an extra ending screen, as well as cameos from the After Burner and Galaxy Force ships, if you manage to meet certain conditions. The PC Engine version was only released in Japan, and was ported by NEC Avenue. It's not as nice looking as the Genesis version, but it plays just fine.

US Gold published the ports for various home computers, and most were programmed by Probe Software. The Atari ST and Amiga ports are essentially identical, though the Amiga has the edge on music. The graphics are more colorful than the 8-bit ports, but they still look fairly bad, and the frame rate is not very good.

The Commodore 64 version, ported by Amazing Products, is a decent conversion, though the roads are the same color as the rest of the ground. It can't handle the forked paths either, so instead you pick from one of five courses before you begin the game. The music is decent, but "Passing Breeze" is missing. The IBM PC version was ported by Unlimited Software, and while it's stuck with 16 color EGA graphics and PC speaker sound, it plays well.

The Amstrad version is terrible. Like the Commodore 64 version, the road is the same color as the rest of the ground, but it's so incredibly slow that it's a wonder anyone allowed it to be published. The ZX Spectrum version is only slightly better, in that the speed is slightly faster, though not by much. The MSX version is practically identical to the Spectrum port. An MSX2 version, released in Japan and ported by Pony Canyon, is roughly on par with the SMS version.

The first arcade perfect port arrived in 1996 on the Saturn as part of the Sega Ages collection (which was compiled with two other games and published by Working Designs in North America and Sega in Europe). Ported by Rutubo Games, it includes a hidden option to make the game run at 60 FPS (the arcade original only ran at 30 FPS). The Japanese version also has newly arranged tracks, but these were excised from the overseas releases.

OutRun also appeared on the Dreamcast, compiled in the Yu Suzuki Game Works Vol. 1 disc, as well as appearing as playable a mini game in both Shenmue titles. It runs at a higher resolution than the arcade game, so there is slightly more detail in the sprites, though it's hard to tell. The music also sounds a little different. Perhaps there were also legal concerns at one point, because the car has been redrawn to look less like a Testarossa. It is also missing the niceties of the Saturn version. A straight emulation of the arcade game is available in the Xbox version of OutRun 2.

OutRun is also included in the Sega Arcade Gallery for the GBA, developed by Bits Studios. While most games on this compilation suffer from shoddy programming, OutRun turned out pretty well, with 60 FPS speed like the Saturn version, though the roadside objects are missing some details.

Sega also released the game as part of their 3D Ages collection, redoing the entire game in 3D. While the gameplay feels faithful, the car is too large, and positioned too far up on the screen, making it difficult to see into the distance. Like many of the other Sega Ages titles, the graphics are ugly, with grainy textures and interlacing artifacts, though at least it runs at 60 FPS. There's a new "Arrange Mode" which is almost a brand new game, adding in a whole bunch of new courses that take advantage of the shift to true 3D. Whereas the levels in the original OutRun were mostly flat with some hills and curves, this mode adds more mountainous terrain. The circuit layout is completely different, and there are now rival cars to beat. There are also more brand new remixes of the songs. This version made it to America and Europe on the Sega Classics Collection for the PS2.

In Japan, Sega released OutRun for mobile phones no less than three times. First it appeared as a standalone download in the Sega Ages line, which of course was downsized a lot but at least looks fairly faithful still. Then it was contained in the Sonic Cafe service, which like all the classic Sega games on there has severely compromised graphics even compared to the Sega Ages version. Finally in 2007, Sega put out a new version for 3G phones, which almost looks like the arcade version safe for a lower resolution and some big borders at the top and bottom.

Long before people carried mobile phones, much less played games on them, Sega struck a deal with Tiger to bring a lot of their properties to LCD handhelds. The results is what you would expect, although there was also a "deluxe" tabletop version modeled like the front of a Ferrari, which features steering wheel controls and absolutely horrible sounds. Sega also brought one of these Tiger devices to Japan under the title OutRun F-1, but it was actually a re-labeled version of Tiger's Road Race.

In 2014, OutRun was included in M2's line of excellent 3D conversions of Sega Classics for the 3DS, but so far it is only available in Japan.

The PlayStation 2 remake subsitutes classy sprites with low end 3D models.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Sega

Publisher:

Sega

Designer:

Yu Suzuki

Genre:

Racing

Themes:

Contemporary: Travel
Remake Available
Sprite-Based 3D


OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)

OutRun (Arcade)


Comparison Screenshots


Turbo OutRun (ターボアウトラン) - Arcade, Genesis, FM Towns, Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PC, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 (1989)

American Genesis Cover

Japanese FM Towns Cover

European Amiga Cover

The arcade version of Turbo OutRun was basically an upgrade kit; a set of stickers and decals for the old cabinet plus a circuit board that could be plugged into the expansion slot of the original 1986 OutRun, making it cheap and easy to install. It looks very similar to the original, although the graphics are brighter and it throws a lot more crazy visual effects at you.

As the name suggests, Turbo OutRun comes with a new addition: a boost button that you can activate at practically any time, but overheats the engine if used too often. Cops will chase after you occasionally, although they don't appear to have any interest in pulling you over, as they just try to knock you around a little bit. A white car will be your opponent to beat to the finish line, and at every checkpoint your girlfriend will leave you and hop into it if you fail to stay ahead.

Magical Shower

There are a few additions, such as dynamic weather conditions (rain, snow, and dust storms), and certain areas have puddles of water or ice-coated portions of the road that can make driving difficult. There are also oil slicks on the road that catch fire when the burning exhaust from the turbo boost touches them, in addition to obstacles like traffic barriers, all of which can slow you down. The car now looks more like an F40 than a Testarossa, and it also allows you to choose between manual or automatic transmission.

Turbo OutRun's greatest flaw is that it ditches the multiple routes, so every time you play it's the same trip across the United States over and over again. There are 16 stages, beginning in New York City and ending up in Los Angeles. Most of the locations have only tenuous relations to the area they're based on, if at all - Atlanta is nothing but a bunch of sand dunes, and Pittsburgh is little more than a long, rainy field. At least there are a few cool levels, as you drive through the city streets of Chicago at night and the fields of Indianapolis at dusk.

To break up the pace, there are three checkpoints, each appearing after four stages. Here, you get to tune up your car with either more turbo power, a more powerful engine, or high grip tires. It's a nice touch but it tends to ruin both the pace and simplicity that the original is known for.

You no longer get to choose your music, as instead it changes automatically after each checkpoint. The four tracks composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi and Yasuhiro Takagi - "Rush A Difficulty", "Keep Your Heart", "Shake The Street" and "Who Are You?" - are decent, but they lack the smooth, laid-back feeling of the original music.

Turbo OutRun (Arcade)

Turbo OutRun was ported to the Mega Drive. It's fast and it plays well, but for some reason, looks much worse than the port of the original OutRun. Nearly all of the spiffy graphical effects from the arcade version have been wiped out entirely, and as a result, it doesn't feel like there's any difference between any of the levels other than palette swaps. Two new songs have been added, but overall the quality of the music has dropped even further. It's a passable port, but not to the level it should be. This is one of the few Mega Drive games that was released in Japan and Europe, but not America.

The best port was released for the FM Towns, and was converted by CRI. Though it's still missing some background details and it's not quite as smooth as the arcade game, it's a big step up from the Mega Drive version. The brand new, redbook audio, arranged soundtrack is the best part of the package, greatly improving on the songs from the arcade original.

US Gold once again published the computer ports, with Probe handling the Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64 versions. The quality of these are about the same as the conversions of the original game.

The Amiga and Atari ST releases are by far the nicest looking, keeping many of the background details that were missing in the Mega Drive and FM Towns ports, but the animation and speed is embarrassingly choppy. The Commodore 64 game isn't as visually attractive as either of these, but it maintains a good sense of speed, the scrolling is far smoother and, overall, this version is the best of the computer ports. The IBM PC version has a large display window that takes up a sizeable chunk of the screen. It's smooth but totally missing the speed of the other versions, plus there is no in-game music. The Amstrad and Spectrum versions are both slow and choppy to the point of being unplayable.

The Amiga, Atari ST, and Amstrad soundtracks have completely new music composed by David Lowe, which is generally pretty decent. The Commodore 64 soundtrack was composed by Jeroen Tel, whose work is a fantastic rendition of the original arcade songs. The title theme is a brand new piece of music which remixes parts of "Magical Sound Shower" from the first OutRun, in a style consistent with his other excellent works found in Cybernoid. The shop theme from Fantasy Zone also appears during the tune-up sequences.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Sega

Publisher:

Sega

Genre:

Racing

Themes:

Contemporary: Travel
Sprite-Based 3D


Turbo OutRun (Arcade)

Turbo OutRun (Arcade)

Turbo OutRun (Arcade)

Turbo OutRun (Arcade)

Turbo OutRun (Arcade)



Comparison Screenshots


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
OutRun
Turbo OutRun

Page 2:
OutRun 3D
Battle OutRun
OutRun Europa
OutRun 2019

Page 3:
OutRunners
OutRun 2

Back to the Index