OutRun is synonymous with arcade racing games and has to be in the argument for the greatest arcade game of all time – and that’s a big argument!
Released in 1986, Out Run is perhaps Sega’s most well-known arcade game. The secret to its success not only lies with the desirable 80s Ferrari Testarossa Spider, its fast, smooth and colourful graphics and of course, it is now legendary soundtrack, but its simple and challenging gameplay presented in a range of sit-down and stand-up arcade cabs, complete with steering wheel and gear changer, made it a firm favourite in the arcades.
The game plays from a third-person chase view, where you have to race across five stages to reach one of five destinations. You are up against the clock on each stage, so you have to make sure your speed is consistent to stand a chance of reaching your destination.
Once you pass a checkpoint, you are given a time boost which gives you a chance to reach the next checkpoint. Along the way you have a constant flow of traffic to contend with, along with undulating roads, changing environments and lots of obstacles at the side of the road which can cause you to crash heavily and flip your car. It is amusing to also watch your player take some flack from the girl when you prang the car at lower speeds!
Driving in OutRun is very simple, you can steer, accelerate and brake (with a fully analogue steering wheel and pedals in the arcade) and change between low and high gears. There are few corners that you have to heavily brake for, it is more a case of ensuring you steadily weave in and out of the cars and occasionally lay off the accelerator for some of the sharper corners.
You can often find yourself pinballing around between other cars, but this tends to happen when you are trying too hard to go flat out all the time.
It is well documented that OutRun designer, Yu Suzuki, went to great lengths to deliver an outstanding experience. He personally invested months of his time with hands-on development as well as travelled Europe extensively in order to gain inspiration for the locations and visuals in the game.
The decision to include the Ferrari as the OutRun car was also treated with diligence, with efforts made to photograph and record the engine sound of a real Ferrari Testarossa to ensure no details were missed.
Much of this short review you will have noticed has not been focused so much on the gameplay of OutRun, but more on the overall experience and appreciation of the love and care that went into producing this timeless classic
For somebody who grew up playing OutRun ports and the arcade game whenever I was able to, just seeing the fast, colourful visuals and hearing any of those classic OutRun tracks play, brings it all flooding back. OutRun really upped the stakes of what quality in the arcade meant and truly deserves its place in history as one of the greatest games of an era.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).