RetroSpective – Out Run

Out Run InfoOn release Out Run was described as a high-action road racing adventure. However, this really doesn’t do, what is one of the most iconic retro games ever made, the justice it deserves. Out Run is simply put, an unmissable experience, especially if you’re lucky enough to jump into the driver’s sear of the original arcade cabinet.

Initially released in the arcades back in 1986, Yu Suzuki’s Out Run is a game that at the time seemed to entirely represent the future of gaming. In many ways though, it still represents the future, focusing on nonlinear gameplay alongside luxury and relaxation. Nevertheless, when playing the game today, Out Run also represents everything right about the golden age of the arcade.

Front Seat of a Ferrari

And talking of the arcade, there really is no better way to experience Out Run than its iconic sit-down cabinet. You see unlike many others, Out Run’s hydraulic cabinet moves you in tandem with your on-screen Ferrari. This helps you feel every corner, and surprisingly, even heightens that sense of speed.

Simon Drake Out Run Arcade Club
An original Out Run arcade cabinet which I was lucky enough to play extensively on free play at Bury’s Arcade Club.

In fact, sitting in the arcade cab tilting from side to side can quite easily transport you onto a coastal rode with the wind in your hair, and the smell of the sea wafting through your nose. All you need to do is jump into the drivers seat of Out Run’s replica Ferrari, select your tune, and enjoy the ride. It really is that immersive.

Take The Wheel

This immersion is also assisted by Out Run’s simple premise, one that encapsulates the true spirit of the arcade. Grab the wheel, and simply race against the clock through 5 different courses, whilst dodging traffic and avoiding roadside hazards. It really is that simple.

There’s no race, no rival, and no power ups. In fact, even the road you take is decided en-route, with the player given the option of left or right as the road forks in two at the end of each stage. Quite simply, Out Run is just a straight up honest race against the clock on some of the most glorious roads you’ll ever see in a video game. In truth it’s more of an experience, and win or lose, you won’t leave disappointed.

Pedal To The Metal

Just like the premise, the gameplay itself also shines thanks to its simplicity and accessibility. As such, dodging in between traffic whilst drifting round a corner at high speeds feels completely seamless. It’s also frantically fun at the same time.

Nevertheless, whilst the gameplay is fluid and easy to grasp, you shouldn’t mistake this for an easy game. In fact, at times it can be downright brutal racing that clock to the next checkpoint. And to do so you’ll have to get used to shifting between gears, and to taking your foot of the pedal every now and again. Otherwise you’ll find yourself veering off into the many roadside obstacles all too often.

Out Run Rocks
You’ll also have to take a gamble or two every now and again thanks to the many blind hills you’ll be driving over.

However, none of this really matters, as despite the difficulty, Out Run just leaves you with that never-ending desire to just keep on playing. This is something that is aided by the non-linear gameplay and freedom of choice that is given to the player by Suzuki and Sega AM2.  All meaning that even if you do manage to make it to the end of the road, there’s still an awful lot more open road left to explore.

The Open Road

And exploring Out Run’s glorious Japanese and European inspired landscapes, is just another of the many joys to be found in this game. From snowy mountains, to lush forests, all the way through to a stonehenge inspired rocky road. In fact, every single one of the game’s many stages simply sparkles with personality and is instantly memorable.

In fact, on release Out Run was celebrated for its presentation. Praise was especially focused on Sega’s pioneering sprite-scaling technique which gave the game its seamless 3D effect. It also helped make sure that the game could cope with multiple on-screen vehicles at the same time. In practice though, this technology immerses you in the experience, in ways that many games could only dream of achieving.

Out Run Map
The Out Run map with its various routes.

What’s more, whilst the 3D effects were a revelation back in the 80s, they still look just as good glorious to this day. In fact, when it comes to the portrayal of retro gaming and standing the test of time, there really is no better example than Out Run. What’s more, this is also true of the game’s soundtrack.

Tune In

Quite often, the importance of a quality soundtrack can be overlooked thanks to the frantic action in front of you. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to Out Run. In fact, it could be argued that the soundtrack is as much a part of experience as the driving. And just another area that allows the player choice and control over their experience.

Out Run Cheats Banner
Just like being able to choose your route, being able to select your soundtrack was a revolutionary idea back in the 80s.

Out Run’s soundtrack is a fitting mix of themes that blend open air driving with an 80s atmosphere. Collectively the game’s three tracks, Passing Breeze, Splash Wave and Magical Sound Shower, all very much embody the spirit of a lazy day at the beach, or a fun care-free drive along the coast. Again, these tracks very much continue to push two of the game’s core themes – relaxation and luxury.

Gaming’s Past, Present & Future

From the simple gameplay, to the nostalgic feel, all the way through to one of gaming’s greatest soundtracks, this really is one of the best games to ever come out of the 80s. But that’s not all. You see, thanks to its revolutionary technology and the non-linear design, Suzuki helped craft an experience that has not only stood the test of time, but in many ways is a game that most modern developers could only dream of replicating.

It may not have all of the extra add ons, upgrades, or story elements of a modern title. However, make no mistakes, when it comes to enjoyment and presentation, this is not only one of the best racers of all time, it’s quite simply one of gaming’s all time classics. Out Run may have been ahead of its time back in the 80s, but nowadays its quite simply, timeless.

Out Run Verdict

Sophia Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she's written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DivaXChill or @RingsandCoins.

One thought on “RetroSpective – Out Run

  • 28/09/2016 at 17:29

    I’ve got so much love for Outrun and Arcade Club. Great RetroSpective 😀


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