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My favourite Out Run home versions – Reader’s Feature


OutRun – what’s the next best thing to the coin-op? (pic: Sega)

A reader offers an exhaustive list of all the versions of Sega’s classic Out Run he’s ever played, from the ZX Spectrum to Nintendo Switch.

If I honestly had to say what my favourite video game is of all time, I believe this game would be it. There are so many which would come close, but I always find myself coming back to Out Run. From the first time I played the hydraulic version in a seaside arcade in East Sussex as a 14-year-old to now, just a couple of years shy of 50, I’m still playing it on a very regular basis.

Video games have been my main hobby since I was about 10-years-old. It all started with a Grandstand Invaders From Space machine and I been lucky to own most of the games consoles released since and some of the early home computers.

I have played or seen Out Run on most formats it has been converted for and I have always been looking for that perfect conversion. Below I have listed my favourite conversions of the game. I have not included versions of the game found in Shenmue, which is the same as the version included with the Yu Suzuki – Game Works book. I have also not listed the version included as a bonus in Out Run 2 on the original Xbox.

I have used the following criteria to do this is. I must have had to either owned or played that version of the game. Therefore, there will be some conversions which I haven’t mentioned and some people may therefore disagree with the list but this, after all, is my list.

 

10. Amiga 500 (U.S. Gold)

I was so excited about getting Out Run for my Amiga. Having already played some great original games and some excellent arcade conversions on the Amiga I had great hopes on this game delivering the goods. Everything about this conversion was wrong. From the large yellow border to the vertically squashed game screen to it not even really looking like Out Run. I don’t have fond memories of this conversion and can still remember the disappointment to this day.

 

9. ZX Spectrum 48K (U.S. Gold)

At the time of release, I have to admit to being a bit of a Commodore fanboy. There was an even split between my group of school friends. Two of us had the C64 and the other two had the Spectrum 48K. There was much banter and argument during this time but I always I respected what the Sinclair machine could do far better than C64, as each machine had its own strengths and weaknesses.

The Spectrum’s version of Out Run looks fantastic in all its monochrome glory. The car looks incredible, the roadside features appear to be fairly faithful and it initially looks like a very good conversion. However, once everything starts to move it’s like being on a ship in stormy seas watching the furniture drift one way and then the other. This has been a difficult one to place in my list, purely because I didn’t have the chance to play this at the time and playing it years later it is obvious that time has not been kind. Therefore this sits just below….

 

8. Commodore 64 (U.S. Gold)

I can still recall the day I rushed into my local town to buy this on release day. I didn’t need Zzap!64 magazine to review this first – this was obviously going to be fantastic and I needed to have it! Zzap!64 magazine later awarded this an overall score of 68%. Obviously, it wasn’t that great but for the time it replicated enough of the experience to make you think you were driving that famous red Ferrari. It also came with a music tape which contained the original music tracks. To recreate the arcade experience as much as possible I would place my music system right behind my head. This allowed me to blast out Magical Sound Shower as I played.

Visually, the game moved at a good speed and was a reasonable representation of the arcade machine but not really a great game in itself with a few too many flaws. Whilst doing a little research for this Reader’s Feature I came across an article that mentioned the game was coded by an 18-year-old and the pressure he was under to deliver this game so it could be on the shop shelves before Christmas and how it was a huge hit for U.S. Gold. It seems hard to believe the game was coded by someone not much older than myself, however it was an interesting insight to a side of the industry which we knew very little about at that time.

 

7. Master System (Sega)

It took a while for me to pick this up for my Master System. Mainly because cartridges were priced according to how powerful they were. I could buy Choplifter and Wonder Boy for the price of this cartridge, so it always kept slipping down my want list. Until I saw a classified ad in the local paper and bought it second-hand at half the price. On the back of the relatively flawed home computer versions this did not look promising upon its initial release. I’m going to put it out there that this was probably the second strongest of the 8-bit conversions. One thing Sega did with their Master System games was nail the main sprite/image. They captured the look of car probably as well as possible and it looked great – you knew it was the car from Out Run.

This version also kept the track layout of the original minus a hell of a lot of the graphical wizardry of the arcade machine. It was also one of the few early conversions to show your car flipping if you had a bad crash. Sound was very Master System like, but you were able to recognise the tune and select your favourite song.

 

6. PC Engine (Sega) – played via emulation

Prior to having access to the internet, I had only heard rumours and seen still images of the PC Engine version. I’ve only had the opportunity to play this via emulation and watch online videos for reference, but this really was a fantastic conversion. If I were lucky enough to have owned a PC Engine when this was originally released this version would have blown me away.

It looks far superior to any other 8-bit conversion. Now I am no expert on the PC Engine but I believe that because this came on HuCard format, instead of CD-ROM, that meant it would also work on the handheld PC Engine GT, which leads me to think this was probably the first portable version of the game.

 

5. Mega Drive (Sega)

The Mega Drive offered a pretty impressive conversion of the game. No confusion here, you were playing Out Run, on your Mega Drive in the comfort of your own home. It wasn’t a perfect conversion, but it was a good conversion and captured much of the spirit of the game. This was as good as it got in the way of conversions until the Sega Saturn version arrived.

 

4. Game Boy Advance (THQ/Sega)

I didn’t even realise this existed until quite late in the GBA’s life, so this was an impulse eBay purchase. Out Run is part of the Sega Arcade Gallery cartridge, which contained the usual suspects of Space Harrier and After Burner 2, as well as Super Hang-On. Unsurprisingly this is not a 100% faithful conversion, however it still looks pretty damn good running on a Game Boy Micro. Who couldn’t resist a version of Out Run in their pocket? It had the original car and although a little too easy was thoroughly enjoyable.

 

3. Nintendo Switch (Sega)

This is pretty much the same as the 3DS Sega Ages version, minus the tilting screen and hydraulic sound effects. What this version does have, in handheld mode, is a glorious, sharp, widescreen image which really shows the game at its best and the chance to play on the go. Definitely worthy of the £5.99 asking price and can often be found with a good discount.

 

2. Sega Saturn (Sega)

Out Run appeared on the Sega Saturn, in Europe, as part of the Sega Ages collection. The collection also included Space Harrier and After Burner 2. I think most people really bought it for the arcade perfect conversion of Out Run. At last you were able to play an arcade perfect port in your own home a mere 10 years after the arcade machine first appeared. Everything was there: the graphics, the music, the original car design, as well as the opportunity to play through the game with an alternative stage layout. I presume this version was aimed at the Japanese market. It was a difficult decision for me between this version and the conversion listed at number one…

 

1. Nintendo 3DS (Sega)

This is it, this is my favourite conversion of Out Run. M2 have done a fantastic job with this. Unlike the Sega Saturn version it does not have the original Ferrari but what it does have is a moving screen to replicate the hydraulic movement of the original deluxe version of the arcade machine. Not only does this look pretty damn cool but it increases the sense of speed as you take the sweeping turns in the road. In addition to this they have even added the sound the hydraulic cabinet made as is moved. It’s these little inclusions which have just nudged this to number one on my list of conversions. It’s another great example of the how M2 handle and respect their conversions of classic games and the closest any conversion has managed to get to recreating the experience of the original deluxe version of the arcade cabinet.

By reader BADMAFiA72

 

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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