Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
OUT RUN • SEGA JAPAN • £24.99 • OUT NOW
If ever there was a game that put Sega on the map, it must be Out Run, the most celebrated racing game in the civilised world. The sights, sounds and smells (almost) of zipping along the streets of America have been portrayed on nearly every gaming format known to man.
The premise of the game is amazingly similar to that of The Cannonball Run movie, bar two major factors: there are no competitors and no police. Your aim is simply to impress your girlfriend enough to keep her in your shiny Ferrari Testarossa - not that owning the Ferrari would be enough!
Fail to speed through four of the ten stages quick enough and you’ll be demoted to the geek squad, and made to live a life without a girlfriend. However, complete the course in the allotted time, and a bedside companion is guaranteed for life. Is that incentive enough for you?
From the screeching tunes to the starter at the beginning of the race, you know that the remnants of the original arcade machine and more have been squeezed into the Game Gear’s tacky shell.
New to GG Out Run is an option to race head-to-head against the computer car on a selected stage. Admittedly, if you choose an automatic gear box (effectively choosing easy level) then you’ll have no problem beating his blue Porsche every time. Braver Pros will choose manual transmission, of course, but even there you’ll encounter few problems.
Unfortunately, changing gear is done by pushing up or down on the four-way. Inevitably, while zooming around a corner you automatically push a bit upwards at the same time, and thus change into low gear. Very annoying.
The gameplay itself is surprisingly refreshing. I’m glad to see Sega have created a large variety of vehicles to contend with, and even a few extra chicanes to add spice to your journey. The ten stages have also been enhanced visually, with each one having a different backdrop. Undoubtedly, the best racing is in Las Vegas, where the background is not only very colourful and detailed, but it also camouflages the distant cars so you can’t see them coming!
The three tunes come direct from the arcade machine and add to the experience of driving with the top down and the wind blowing through your hair. Passing breeze, the stabbing symphony, is still my fave and a perfect complement to the frenetic action.
But before you rush out to purchase this, be warned: the game will quickly be completed. After just a handful of goes, you may find yourself on the last stage of the game. Encouraging for inexperienced players, but a waste of money for anyone who’s played Out Run before. Recommended only for those who were hopeless at the original.
Watch out for the chicanes near the end of the level. They require a tight right then left turn coupled with severe braking. Don’t be afraid to brake, it wastes less time than pummelling into a tree.
Rev up the engine before the starter drops his flag to speed away from the line with tyres screeching.
This game is just far too easy. The layout of every stage is practically the same, so the only difficulty increments are between the auto and manual gearbox. Not even the amount of cars increases; your drive on the last stage is as trouble-free as it was on the first. Braking is also very harsh, which makes it easy to avoid oncoming cars even if you leave it till the last moment. True Pros will complete it within five plays on manual transmission.
Every one of the ten backgrounds has its own distinctive style. Here you can see the bright lights and big city of New York. Watch out for the sausage-jocks!
Out Run is available in Japan under the same name. You can get the Japanese version (complete with unreadable instructions!) from Console Concepts, 223b Waterloo Road, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST6 2HS. Tel: (0782)712759. The price for a ride in the left-hand drive version is just £24.
Available in Japan at the moment is a Mega Drive version. You can also get that from Console Concepts, but we recommend you wait for our ProView next month in SegaPro.
A cheetah can run faster than a Ferrari in first gear.