Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
OUT RUN... • US GOLD • £29.99 • OUT DEC
Super agent Simeon Kurtz laughs in the face of tenor, treds on the toes of pimples and spanks the bottom of spots - but even he knows that his expense account lifestyle will shortly go down the pan, as will his life, if he cannot retrieve some stolen documents.
“A simple mission!” I hear you cry, and so it would be if the plans in question were not nicked from your Ferrari F40. Now your own agency think you’re on the payroll of the enemy and are hot on your trail. Your only chance of a reprieve is to chase the thieves in whatever transport you can find and stop them before it is too late.
Luckily, an absent-minded Hell’s Angel has left his Harley lying around with the keys jangling in the ignition. Fortune seems to be smiling on Simeon as you roar off in pursuit of his car, but as the police close in and agents begin taking pot shots from helicopters, you wish you could take a nice safe job in a country bank somewhere.
Out Run Europa is the logical progression from the original Sega coin-op. What its predecessor, Out Run, lacked was a convincing plot and some decent challenge. Europa has both, and I for one am glad that time has been spent on designing the game’s features, rather than throwing out a rubbish game on an important licence.
Europa's graphics are clear and colourful. The title screen depicting the logo circling a globe and the horizontal map of the route are all well done, setting the scene for a pan-European high speed jaunt.
The colourful presentation is continued in the actual game. Each country is significantly different, with national monuments and characteristic features dotting the landscape. The sprites are also well drawn with sports cars and aqua vehicles realistically portrayed.
Speed is the name of the game and Europa is very fast indeed. The hills and roadside features flash by, giving the impression of actually doing 200kph. Cornering is tough on the joypad and inertia is simulated making driving through chicanes and intersections tough on the fingers. Still, it’s all in a day’s work for a professional spot spanker.
As you would expect, each mode of transport handles differently. The F40 accelerates and corners much faster than the motorbike or Porsche, and this adds to the sense of racing realism.
However, Europa is a tad jerky when swerving and I am not convinced that the collision detection is all it should be, but it still retains a playability which is hard to shake. After repeated sessions trying to get to Berlin I still wanted to come back and attempt it once more. Although unnerving, this is undoubtedly an asset.
Despite the fact that the land areas are extremely varied, containing some of the best screens I’ve seen on the MS, the water levels are repetitive. They contain the same background but with a different main sprite. I was disappointed that after racing across half of Europe, I was confronted with what was essentially the second level revisited. This surprised me because after the variety of land stages, I had expected originality throughout.
A criticism I will make is that the collectable items are far too easy to mistake for hazards and so I lost most of them in a desperate effort to avoid a head-on collision. My advice would be to make them more obvious by keeping a string of them in one lane, or have a sign to show when they were available. With a game as tough as Out Run Europa getting every bonus is essential.
The music is best left buried, consisting of a soulless collection of blips intermingled with annoying “vroom” noises that are meant to be passing sports cars. The in-game effects are as forgettable, I would have liked to have more engine roars and crash noises.
One other point I have to mention is that a Ferrari F40 cannot be stopped dead by a police car - I mean, I’ve heard of creative licence but this is going a bit far, guys.
If certain enemies get to ram you, you will lose shield so don’t give them the chance. These are what you should avoid: motorbikes (level one), jetskis (level two), red station wagons (level three), boats (level four) and Porsches (level five).
Use the turbo to evade the cops, and the ammo to dispose of tiresome road hogs and helicopters.
With passport in hand, you're ready to trek all over Europe. Haven't got a passport? Never fear, '92 is near. In fact, why not postpone this silly spy stuff until later next year.
At any point in Out Run Europa you could be driving a car, pilotig a boat or skimming the ocean waves on a jetski. Diversity is the name of the game and adversity is what you must face.
SegaPro transport: B-reg Saab 900i (Andrew), C-reg Escort 1.4LX (Damian), D-reg Fiesta XR2 (some dork), H-reg Citroen AX GT (Dominic), H-reg tricycle (Richard), J-reg Hi-tech (Les).