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Out Run

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Out Run

Sega / US Gold (1988)

Synopsis

With your passenger clutching at her seatbelt, you're the driver of a super fast sports car speeding through a course of checkpoints towards the finish line in this time-limited driving game.

I feel the need...!


Graphics

Pros:

The most faithful offering against the arcade version. Car flip not on the other versions under review.


Cons:

Lacklustre backdrops and flat colouring of car and occupants.





Sound

Pros:

In-game music integrates well with the breeze-in-your-hair ride.


Cons:

Write home about the in-game effects if you want to, just don't pay for the stamp.





Gameplay

Pros:

The car is super-responsive.


Cons:

Not exactly breathtaking though, and don't forget those gear changes!




Graphics

Pros:

The car and occupants appear just the same as the coin-op.


Cons:

Green tarmac! Why? Did Duncan Norvelle chase the graphic designer away?





Sound

Pros:

A decent enough tune plays at the title screen.


Cons:

Turns a corner: 'Beep beep beep beep beep'. And that's it! Dismal.





Gameplay

Pros:

The car is fairly agile in its movement.


Cons:

Obstacles don't offer any real challenge, and there's no particular sense of achievement or excitement.




Graphics

Pros:

Nice detail on car sprite.


Cons:

Fairly poor representation of game colours, appears to have been handed down to the CPC.





Sound

Pros:

Intro screen music is a great departure from the frightful stacattos normally associated with the Spectrum.


Cons:

The engine noise, along with the cornering beeps, is grating.





Gameplay

Pros:

Again, the car is simple enough to manouevre.


Cons:

But you'll be as riveted as Mr T reading an 'EasyJet Flying Companion' pamphlet.



My other car's a Ferrari!




For all of you lucky under-25s, it may comes as a surprise that technology used to be massively limited in its scope during the 80s. Yeah, really! If you wanted to have the most advanced gaming experience money could buy, it wasn't a simple case of reaching over for the wireless controller on the arm of your cosy seat and switching on the Playstation like a boss. We had to go to the nearest seaside resort to get our nerdish teenage kicks.


Many of us who had bought into what was then classed as 'state-of-the-art' technology in the 80s, under the guise of 'home computing', were really being fobbed off! That's because the real deal in the world of gaming could only be found in the arcades where the latest big budget titles were beginning to use 16-bit technology.


Highway To Heaven!

Now, I'm not talking about Asteroids, Space Invaders or Ms. Pacman here! Whilst they each have returned billion-dollar revenues, I'm thinking more along the lines of games that pushed the envelope a little. Games like 1987's 'After Burner' had a machine that you stepped into and sat down in. The seat also moved whilst you played. For the first time, it was beginning to feel like games were bringing a newfound sense of realism. Playing 'After Burner', a flight simulation game, I remember freely forgetting where I was and imagining myself as Tom Cruise, but with the teeth I was born with.


Sega's seminal 1986 arcade release of Out Run is another example of this luxurious style of playing games whilst sitting in the comfort of a cabinet that's fully fitted out with a gear stick, pedals and a somewhat necessary steering wheel. Speeding around the in-game corners of the race track became a startlingly new experience as the cabinet moved from side-to-side and juddered upon a crash. This was a totally fresh gaming experience and would be today's equivalent of you in the cabinet being propelled from one end of the arcade hall to the other in a wildly spiralling rotation as sparks fly and air bags blow up in your face. Forget the patent, I'm well ahead of you!


Driving miss crazy!

So now you might be asking yourself the question: "If it was better in the arcades then how well did the game fare on the home computers of the day?" The answer really is quite simple: "Badly!" The 8-bit computers of the day were both nowhere near powerful enough for arcade-level exquisiteness and, in my book, nowhere near having been given the time, effort and respect that the title truly deserved. After all, this was a ground-breaking, fast-selling, multi-award winning beaut of a game. Shame on you Sega, shame on you!


We should probably begin with the Spectrum experience as a guide to the origins of the game's misfires, because the Amstrad version is clearly a port and inherits some of the traits that it was more than capable of dealing with. The biggest bone of contention is track one of the CPC/Spectrum versions. The track colour is green... and it's not even grass! Looking back to the original arcade classic, along with the Commodore 64 version, we can see that the original track colour should be in shades of gray. And no, as far as I know, it's not fifty. I have to wonder why they bothered with creating the game if they were so intent on making it substandard from the outset.

I remember imagining myself as Tom Cruise, but with the teeth I was born with

The CPC partially makes up for these misgivings with a car and occupants that are replicated very well. The vehicle looks bright red and shiny, and your brave passenger is blonde as per the original. The Commodore vehicle probably has a colour with the officially recognised title of 'brave brown'. It's better than brown, but they still couldn't summon up the courage to make it a vibrant and sexy red, instead going with a flat two-tone mix of 'brave brown' and black. And even your passenger didn't have time to get the Sun-In prepared for the journey.


She gets your drift!

As far as sound-effects are concerned across all of the platforms under review... Houston, we have a problem! The only non-musical sounds you'll hear during the race are the screeching of your tyres as you corner, and the engine running on the Spectrum version. Much of your time on the straight roads is spent in complete silence. You'll be thankful, though, because the screeching sound is represented by a series of quite annoying beeps. The engine running? That's more like the sound of crickets chirping. Needless to say, the lack of sound, or any credible sound, on such a pioneering game, is beyond "missing a trick".


The vehicle is responsive on each version, particularly the C64, so you expect such precision to give you a fair game. Well, it does, but then there's nothing that really seems to be taxing your skills to reach the checkpoint. Maybe one of the initial problems that works well in the arcade but not on the home computer is that you're not really racing. You don't achieve a higher position by passing other vehicles. You're simply out on a fast drive with your passenger across a network of roads in your fancy motor. With the only sense of achievement being that you pass obstacles (vehicles) and reach checkpoints, you find the monotony of this slowly creeping into your consciousness as you progress. If the game had the real seat-of-your-pants energy that the original evoked then all would have been sweet.


Unfortunately the game smacks of a rush-job and it's a shame because it fully lacks the standards set by the fun and exhilarating arcade original.




Graphics

The Commodore nails the colour scheme, but elsewhere there's liberal amounts of colour confusion that Jackson Pollock would have spotted.


Sound

The lack of sound-effects is bewildering. At least you can play your in-game radio on the Commodore.


Gameplay

The game plays perfectly well, but the content really isn't exciting enough to demand a second look.


Overall

You can't expect the trusty 8-bits to compete at arcade level, but other titles from the home computing era prove that this game is just a rough cut and shut of what it could have been.



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Platform Winners

Overall Ranking

28

19th Place

Our lowest rated game of 1988

Our only driving game review

Screenshots

...click here to enlarge

ROMs

Amstrad: download
Commodore: download
Spectrum: download

Video Review

Pixel8Games'pick of 1988