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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

OutRun Series

John B. Marine | 2:48 PM | |
Since 1986, Sega's longest-running and most successful racing franchise is OutRun. The series is all about the thrill of speed and enjoying open-road fun. I'd say this is one of the last great classic racing game series today. Where many other racing games mostly tried to compete with the likes of Gran Turismo and Need for Speed, OutRun mostly remained classic and true throughout the entirety of its existence.

This blog post is my own look at the OutRun series. Welcome to my blog!

--- OutRun Series at a Glance ---

Imagine driving a Ferrari with the top down as you enjoy the thrill of speed. You're a dashing young fellow wanting to give a girl the ride of her life by going on an epic driving tour. Welcome to OutRun. SEGA doesn't care if OutRun isn't some in-your-face crashfest or some highly technical racing sim. OutRun's roots are based on going full-speed in a fast car while listening to iconic songs such as Magical Sound Shower (my personal favorite) and Passing Breeze. You are simply playing this game for one reason- go fast and enjoy the ride. Just watch out for the objects on the outsides of the road as well as the commuter traffic.

Traditional OutRun Elements.

Here is how a normal game of OutRun works. The goal is to clear a bunch of stages (usually 5) en route to one of multiple endings. Your goal in each stage is to race from the start of each stage to the finish point of that stage. When you reach the end of each stage, you have to negotiate a fork in the road that takes you to one of two different stages. An easier stage is usually the left road while a harder stage is to your right. Regardless of which route you choose, you must clear all stages and reach the final goal to complete the game. You can basically make your run as easy or as difficult as you want by simply choosing whichever route you wish to choose. You must also dodge traffic while also avoiding scenery on the outside of the track. Can you complete these epic routes?

Now that you have a basic idea of OutRun, it is time to delve further into the realm of the OutRun series.

--- (Some Of) OutRun Games ---

This will NOT be a complete history of OutRun. Instead, I will only focus on a few games in the series. You can see sample videos by clicking on the links to each featured game. This will work better than embedding as many possible videos as possible. It also helps if certain videos can't be embedded.

OutRun (1986).

While the car is fictional, you pretty much can say you're racing a Ferrari Testarossa convertible. OutRun was a revolutionary game for its time with its graphics and for choosing routes. While it wasn't the first game to introduce the concept of choosing a route with a fork in the road (a game called "Tatsumi TX-1" in 1983 was the first (or one of the first)), OutRun surely made the open road feel like the open road. Since there are five goals based on whatever route you take, there are five different endings. This game was available on a number of platforms including the Genesis/Megadrive, arcades, and elsewhere.

Want a look at how it all began? Here is a sample of the first OutRun, just as you may remember from the arcades:

^ "OutRun - Complete Run & Best Ending Sega Arcade Version"

Want to see the other endings and other goals? Play the game for yourself and reach the other four goals! How would the OutRun series evolve? Find out with some of these other titles to be mentioned!

Turbo OutRun (1989).

Get ready for a turbocharged OutRun adventure. Your car is basically a Ferrari F40 equipped with turbo boost (I think the Ferrari F40 is a turbo car to begin with). This is the first OutRun to feature real-world locations, as you will be racing across the United States. Unlike the first OutRun, you don't have a choice of what route to take next. Your whole journey is one long and predetermined route. Your goal is to race from New York City to Los Angeles while also touching up on various other cities around America. As the name of the game suggests, you can use turbo boosts. Turbos give you a bit of an edge to try to make your American journey a bit easier. Just make sure not to overheat your turbos. Reaching a major checkpoint allows you to equip your car with one of three different upgrades- tire upgrades, an engine upgrade, and a turbo upgrade. One last thing about Turbo OutRun... you race in various parts of the United States in this game. However, not all locations are incredibly accurate. For example, when was the last time you recall snow-capped mountains in Atlanta? Regardless, the highway is yours to rule at crazy high speeds. It was featured on a number of platforms including arcade, Commodore 64, Amiga, FM Towns Marty, and more.

A video sample of "Turbo Outrun" can be seen here: Turbo OutRun sample video (14 minutes, 14 seconds in length)

OutRun Europa (1991).

There was an OutRun title called "OutRun Europa." It was NOT made by SEGA. It was instead made by U.S. Gold and Probe. There were no Ferraris, high-speed thrills, or anything really classic of OutRun games. This game was more like a story-driven racing adventure across Europe that involved racing on land and on water. It was simply point-to-point racing nowhere near the fun Sega's usual OutRun games provide.

Here is a long video featuring the Amiga version of this game: OutRun Europa video sample (24 minutes, 28 seconds in length)

OutRunners (1992).

One of the most beautiful '90s racing games is "OutRunners." This arcade title featured some of the most beautiful graphics for a 2D racing game. Even more so is how smoothly the game runs with these graphics. Like Turbo OutRun, you race across a variety of real-world locations. This OutRun, however, was MUCH different. For the first time ever, you could run one of TWO different routes- an East Route or a West route. Also new to OutRun was your choice of vehicles. You could choose from any number of cars driven by certain characters. Unique endings are provided based on the car you select in addition to any of the different goal sections. OutRunners did find its way onto the Genesis/Megadrive, but the home version was met with lukewarm reception as it lacked the beautiful graphics and outstanding gameplay of the arcade version.

Here is a sample video of "OutRunners." This is the arcade version: OutRunners sample (5 minutes long)

OutRun 2019 (1993).

The Sega Genesis/Megadrive was where you could enjoy OutRun 2019 from Sims Co. LTD. Your car is a futuristic machine racing across four different stages. Each route features a combination of certain single stages and some locations where you must choose a route. With enough power, you can let your car's turbo sing to go even faster through the futuristic landscape of OutRun 2019. One of the biggest graphical features is that of being able to go on certain elevated highways. There are even points where there are no guardrails to keep you on the road... you could overshoot either side and end up falling off into the water or off the road! It is a most unique experience, even for OutRun types.

A sample of OutRun 2019 can be seen here: OutRun 2019 sample video (4 minutes, 3 seconds long)

OutRun 2 (2003).

OutRun 2 was created for one reason- to bring the thrill of 20th Century OutRun into the new millenium and into the 21st Century. It has done so with beautiful 3D graphics and licensed Ferrari models. So no more faceless Ferraris trying to be real Ferraris... you're racing the real things! You are also listening to arranged and remixed versions of past OutRun songs. I personally love the Euro Remix of "Passing Breeze" among the remixed songs. In addition, OutRun 2 could be played at the arcades or even at home on the XBOX.

There are some other modes you can play in this game. One is "Heart Attack." Performing tasks ordered by your girlfriend earns you hearts. Screwing up given orders takes away hearts. Your main goal is to keep your girl happy for as long as possible.

If you want to view a sample of OutRun 2, you are free to watch this video: OutRun 2 sample video (6 minutes, 31 seconds)

OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast (2006).

In what could be defined as the final hurrah for the OutRun series, "OutRun 2: Coast 2 Coast" was basically a game honoring two decades of this legendary franchise. It featured all of the original OutRun 2 tracks while also offering 15 extra tracks. It also features upgraded versions of each car. And with the exclusion of the PS2/PSP versions, you can unlock the classic OutRun and even play two extra courses- one based on "Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge" and one based on "SEGA Super GT" (or "SEGA S.C.U.D. Race", SCUD standing for "Super Car Ultimate Drive"). You can even enjoy some extra songs for the game including classic OutRun songs as well as remixes.

Don't even bother playing the PS2 version unless you have a PSP and the PSP version of "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast" because some of the unlockable material have to be unlocked in the PSP version of the game. And sadly, you can't play the classic OutRun or the two bonus courses mentioned previously.

"OutRun 2" and "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast" are essentially the same game. This is a video of "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast" here: "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast" video sample

These were some of many OutRun titles.

--- OutRun Series: What to Take Away ---

If you have never played any OutRun title, you really need to play one. They provide a sense of speed and a sense of fun not many racing games could provide. Even as most other racing games matured and even as a lot of racing games became more about hanging on in the post-Gran Turismo times, OutRun remained a classic thrill ride very few could hold a candle to. Will there ever be another OutRun game? Maybe not judging on "OutRun 2: Coast 2 Coast" and how Sega is doing at present. But as with any franchise past or present, honor the timeless classics; and OutRun IS a timeless classic. It is one of the few racing franchises that simply involves the thrill of going full speed with little to hold you back. Today's realm of racing games is mostly about intense realism and the consequences of being too aggressive. OutRun kept it real through the entirety of the franchise. You can still enjoy simply racing full speed while not having to worry too much about trying to set your car up, how to properly attack a series of corners, or anything sim racers would likely spend loads of time figuring out.

OutRun is one of gaming's finest racing franchises for a reason. Why not pick up a classic OutRun title and play for yourself to see why? It is a series you should play if you consider yourself any real unconditional racing game fan.

That concludes this blog post in this new direction and evolution of this blog. I hope you enjoyed this post, as I hope you have with many of my other posts. Thank you for reading!

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