By Brian "Shell" Gazza

Outrun - Arcade / Master System / Game Gear / Commodore Amiga / Amstrad CPC / Sinclair ZX Spectrum / MSX / PC-DOS
Commodore 64 / Atari ST / Genesis / PC Engine / Dreamcast / Saturn / Playstation 2 / Xbox / Gameboy Advance (1986)

MSX Cover

Outrun (Arcade)

Outrun (Arcade)

Sega's Outrun is known as one of the finest arcade racing games ever made. Created by Yu Suzuki and AM2, it utilizes the "Super Scaler" technology seen in Hang-On, Afterburner and Space Harrier. The blazing fast scaling of the sprites and smooth 3D motion of the road created an experience far smoother than most other arcade titles around the time. The game hit the arcades in 1986 in 3 different cabinets: an upright one, a standard sitdown one, and a deluxe sitdown cabinet, the latter equipped with hydraulics that would move the seat to the sides when you turn.

When most racing games at the time were designed from a bird's eye view, Yu Suzuki decided to put you in the seat of a very well known expensive sports car (Ferrari and Sega had some feisty encounters in court over the red convertible's likeness to a Testarossa), turn up the radio, put your sunglasses on, and speed down the bay next to your gorgeous blonde girlfriend.No laps around circuits, no sponsors and no pitstops. No ramming, no high speed chases, and no shooting (at least for now).Just cruising along, relaxing, and looking forward to the new sights the next stage will bring. The graphics have that fresh, clean and bright AM2 style. But that's not all. Outrun's three different in-game songs ("Magical Sound Shower","Splash Wave" and "Passing Breeze") have all become classics. Even the Game Over / High Score theme entitled "Last Wave", relaxes you while you stare at the sunset and listen to the waves break. The game only uses FM synth, but they still sound remarkable thanks to a separate sound dedicated microchip.

Outrun is known and remembered for being the first racing game where you could choose your own route AND music, although technically speaking Atari's "TX-1" formula 1 racer introduced forked roads in 1983. There are five different amusing endings depending on the route you take. Way back when getting a single picture and a "Congratulations" as an ending was apparently enough reward from the lazy programmers, Outrun's endings are just a little bit more. There are also minor differences between the "Overseas" and "Japanese" version circuit layout, including some small changes to different tracks.

Of course, Out Run got ported to several different platforms. Since none of the 8 or 16-bit systems were as powerful as the arcade version, everything had to be scaled down a bit. All Sega consoles and various home computers at the time got their share, with some of the computer ports (such as the ZX Spectrum version) shipping with a soundtrack tape as a bonus.

As with most Master System ports, its version of Outrun plays just like its old brother, even if it isn't powerful enough to pull off the smooth graphic effects.The scrolling is relatively good for an 8-bit system and the music sounds decent. Unfortunately, they made the graphics worse for the Game Gear (even though the two systems run on approximately the same hardware), and messed up the controls. At least it features a versus mode, where you can race against the computer or a friend.

For a long time, the Genesis version was the best port of Outrun. The system still wasn't powerful enough to handle scaling, but it definitely looks much nicer than any previous version. It's also a little easier, and has an exclusive fourth selectable song called "Step on Beat", which isn't quite up to the quality of the original tunes. The camera seems to be set a bit lower than the other versions, so it can be a little difficult to see the road, but it's only an issue if you're used to the other ports. 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 and is missing some of the details, but it plays just fine.

When consoles were powerful enough to replicate the arcade, Sega brought out several other versions. These include a port to the Sega Saturn in the Sega Ages collection (published in America by Working Designs), as well as hidden games in both Shen Mue games, and the Xbox port of Outrun 2. There's also a decent rendition of it for the Game Boy Advance in the Sega Arcade Gallery. In theory, they're all nearly arcade perfect, although the Xbox port is a bit on the shoddy side.

Sega also released the game as part of their 3D Ages collection, redoing the entire game in 3D. While the gameplay feels faithful, the graphics are pretty grainy and rather unimpressive. I guess you can't expect too much from a budget game. However, they made the car too large, and too far up on the screen, making it difficult to see in the distance. There's a new Arrange mode which is almost a whole new game, adding in a whole ton of new courses that take advantage of the shift to true 3D. Whereas the levels in the original Out Run were mostly flat with some hills and curves, this adds more mountainous terrain, on par with some of the stages in Outrunners. The circuit layout is also completely different, and there are now rival cars for you to beat. Unfortunately, the graphic coders were obviously pretty inexperienced, as there's a bit of draw-in in some of the tracks. At least there are some nice arranged songs. This version made it to America on the Sega Classics Collection for the Playstation 2.

MP3s

Magical Sound Shower (Arcade)
Passing Breeze (Arcade)
Splash Wave (Arcade)
Splash Wave (PS2)
Last Wave (PS2)

Outrun (Arcade)

Outrun (Arcade)

Outrun (Arcade)

Outrun (Arcade)

Outrun (Arcade)

Outrun (PS2)

Screenshot Comparisons

Arcade

Genesis

Playstation 2

Turbografx-16

Sega Master System

Sega Game Gear

Gameboy Advance

MSX

Commodore 64

Turbo Outrun - Arcade / Amstrad CPC / Sinclair ZX Spectrum / Genesis / PC-DOS / Commodore 64 / Commodore Amiga (1989)


Turbo Outrun (Arcade)

Turbo Outrun (Arcade)

Turbo Outrun (Arcade)

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 you could plug 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 graphical effects at you. Turbo Outrun features 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 fiery exhaust from the turbo boost touches them, in addition to obstacles like traffic barriers that can slow you down. So it's a supped up version of the original, adding bells and whistles.

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. There are also three checkpoints along the road, in which 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. Cops will chase after you from time to time, 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 reminiscent maybe of a Dodge Stealth 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 of it.

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 some cool levels though, as you drive through city streets of Chicago at nighttime and the fields of Indianapolis at dusk,but they're not quite as pretty as the original Outrun levels. Most of the music is okay, but nothing too outstanding.

Turbo Outrun was ported to the Mega Drive, 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 result, it doesn't feel that there's any difference between any of the levels other than palette swaps. In fact, with everything in the backgrounds that got cut off, it barely even feels like the same game. The quality of the music has dropped even further, as they added more new songs, but nothing interesting. Quantity instead of quality I suppose. This is one of the few Mega Drive games that was released in Europe and Japan, but not in America. There were also several negligible computer ports for the Commodore 64, Amiga, and such.The C64 version did have some excellent music, including a cameo by the shop theme from Fantasy Zone. Nice.

MP3s

Keep Your Heart
Rush a Difficulty

Turbo Outrun (Arcade)

Turbo Outrun (Arcade)

Turbo Outrun (Genesis)

Screenshot Comparisons

Arcade

Genesis

Commodore 64

Outrun 3D - Master System (1989)


Outrun 3D

Outrun 3D

Outrun 3D

After Outrun's success, Sega decided to release plenty of spinoffs for the home market, but Outrun 3D is just crap. It utilizes the shutter effects of Sega 3D glasses. You need to play it on an actual system for the full effect, or you'll need to settle with red/blue glasses if you're going to play it emulated, and that doesn't look pretty. Although some of the levels are the same as the original Master System version, there are a few new stages with some enhanced effects like cloudy skies and dark tunnels. The system just can't handle it though: the graphics are closer to the Game Gear version, the scrolling is very choppy, and the sense of speed is totally gone. Plus the newly added songs are just incredibly bad. The 3D is nothing more than a gimmick and doesn't excuse this sloppy piece of coding. It's one of the rarer Sega Master System games, and it doesn't appear to have been released in America.

Outrun 3D

Battle Outrun - Master System (1989)


European SMS Cover

Battle Outrun

Battle Outrun

Classic arcade gamers are mostly likely familiar with Taito's Chase HQ, a good old police-chase game in which you would drive a fast black Porsche seen from behind, ramming delinquents to finish stages. Well, that's what Sega copied with Battle Outrun. There's really nothing of the classic Outrun here. Just tackle every stage (from California to New York) beating and ramming on the enemy's car once you catch up to him. Like in Chase HQ, there are also obstacles on the road you have to avoid, and useless ramps (why do you need to jump anyways?). Halfway through the stage a big trailer truck will meet you and let you in to upgrade different parts of your Ferrari before you clash with the stage's boss. The game does have some nice, bright and vibrant graphics, and the Ferrari still controls well. But the lack of variety in enemy cars, poor music and backgrounds, and extremely annoying CPU cars continuously crashing into you on purpose makes this ripoff a five minute curiosity at best. This one is also relatively rare for a Master System game.

Battle Outrun

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