Game Of The Month: August 2015
Out Run - Arcade / Multi Format
If there's one company that defines the arcade experience back in the early days then it's without doubt 'SEGA' and if there's one type of game that fits summer like a glove it's driving games. There is just a crazy link about fast cars and summer driving that just feels so very right, almost like the two go hand in hand. Whack on top of that the 1980's and 1990's obsession with pretty ladies in games and it was obvious which game we were going to choose for the boiling summer month of August. Only 1 game was going to do it justice... OUT RUN!
Originally an arcade cabinet this amazing game by Sega in 1986 was designed by Yu Suzuki, developed by Sega AM2, yup that's right the man all those internet hipsters fall over to love regarding shenmue did a ton more games before he rocked up and spent most of Sega's cash on two games that didn't sell. As well as Space Harrier, Afterburner and of course the mighty Hang-On this driving masterpiece would go on to be regarded as one of his finest moments. Rightly so!!!
While at heart a simple point A to B racer Out Run would go on to take the existing rule book about driving titles, rip it up and do just about everything cooler, faster and more fun. This was a games maker in full creative flow with the entire team of one of the greatest arcade experience deliverers behind him, if you look up the word 'COOL' in the dictionary you should find a picture containing the Sega logo, this game and Yu Suzuki in it smoking cigars. It's impossible to fully get across just how absolutely perfect this game was for it's time. But hey we like a challenge here at RGG so let's try shall we?
Start to finish racing was out, no more as the crow flies racing as the new method involved giving players a much deeper interaction with the game by allowing you to choose your own route to the finish. For the weaker players constantly turning left at junctions meant a much easier driving experience and one that prioritized fun. Want a real challenge though? Oh Sega's got your back buddy, turn right and come get some. Suddenly time was much more sparse, any mistakes were punished and chances were that you would be seeing that glorious map screen showing your progress but failure one more time. Here's the thing though, Out Run players never got annoyed. Reasons for this may have been how tight the controls were meaning any mistake would be your own and the soundtrack was just so relaxing.
Mention Out Run to anyone who's ever played it and the first thing they are gonna talk about is the music, it's basically sonic perfection. From the initial choice of 'Passing Breeze' 'Splash Wave' and of course 'Magical Sound Shower' on the menu screen to other incidental tracks this was like taking the soundtrack to summer and putting it into a game that made you feel like every single game was like a journey through your life. Some games are actually greater than the sum of their parts and every single piece of Out Run is brilliant.
Naturally home conversions followed and just about every single computer and games console of not just that era but all future times came out. 8-Bit computers such as the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC 464 had a decent conversion and the glorious consoles such as the Master System delivered a beautiful version. The PC Engine port is simply glorious and worth owning a console for. In Japan MSX format machines gave home grown Out Run fans another solid port and even PC DOS got a version, in fact only NES owners missed out although they had 'Rad Racer' which was also cool.
Amiga and Atari ST computer owners got in on the action as did the mighty Megadrive / Genesis 16-Bit console which is the version RGG has put up for the GOTM for August 2015. Not because it was the best version ever made because that would be the arcade of course then followed by ports onto systems like the Sega Saturn in the later part of the 1990's. We chose the Megadrive version because when you saw these games in the arcade you never ever thought you would one day get to play them in your home.
The jump from 8-Bit to 16-bit home consoles is the reason we call the Golden era exactly that 'Golden' you see in the short space of time between 1986 when this first came out and 1991 when the Sega Megadrive version hit was within everyone's childhood time. Those days of staring at screens in arcades hoping we could one day play a version that was even half decent became real. Sega went from definitive arcade hall magicians to wish granters and they did it in 5 years. Tell me magic doesn't exist... I dare you!
So this one is for the people who grew up with 10p's or quarters in their pockets waiting in line to see just how far Sega could push the bar. Turns out they didn't just raise it, they blew the roof off! then they went and put it all in your home! Halcyon days indeed.