20 Years of OutRun

     
 
 
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Turbo OutRun

Players: 1
About: Racing, not driving
Courtesy of: Sega
Back in: 1989
Originally on: Arcade
Also on: Megadrive, C64/128, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, PC

The Turbo Outrun arcade was usually an upgrade kit. A set of stickers and decals plus a circuit board you could plug into the slot of the original 1986 OutRun cabinet, making for a cheap and easy to install upgrade. There was also a dedicated standing cabinet and a very modern-looking sit-down one, the latter harder to come across at the arcades due to its higher price.
The game itself looks exactly like what you would expect from a supped-up upgrade: more vibrant colors and detailed graphics, a few new features, and a newer model (F-40) Ferrari.

Turbo's dedicated sitdown cabinet

As the name suggests, Turbo's main addition is a nitro button that you can activate at practically any time to reach higher speeds, but overheats the engine if used too often.
Other cool details are the game's dynamic weather conditions (rain, snow, and dust storms), puddles of water or ice-coated portions of the road that can make driving difficult, oil slicks that will ignite when the fiery exhaust from the turbo boost touches them, and obstacles like roadblocks that slow you down.
There are also three checkpoints along the road at which you get to tune up your car with either more turbo power, a more powerful engine, or high grip tires. It's a nice touch but it tends to ruin both the pace and simplicity that the original is known for.
Instead of racing against the clock, this time you'll also have to beat the CPU's car to the finish line, a white car reminiscent of a Porsche 911 Carrera. Co-pilot blondie will ditch you and hop into it if you fail to stay ahead at every checkpoint, and police will give chase and knock you around from time to time even though they don't seem to have any interest in pulling anybody over.

Japanese arcade flyer

Turbo's greatest flaw is that it ditches the multiple routes, killing its replay value and making for a completely linear (but still beautiful) trip across American cities. Chicago's city streets at nighttime and the fields of Indianapolis at dusk are some of the best ones, but still not quite as inspired as the originals.
The soundtrack, although good, takes a step back in this sequel. The original tunes are hard to match even by today's standards, and Turbo seems to acknowledge this through a much less interesting track list.
Those of you with keen hearing will find the catchy tune that plays during the car upgrade section is the same found in the tune-up section of Sega's Hot Rod, and also the shop in 1986 shoot'em-up Fantasy Zone.

Arcade flyer

Turbo OutRun was ported to the Megadrive, but looks much worse than the port of the original OutRun. Nearly all of the spiffy graphical effects have been wiped out entirely, so it doesn't feel like there's any difference between any of the levels other than palette swaps. In fact, taking into account how much of the stages got cut off, it barely even feels like the same game.
The quality of the music has dropped even further. Not only does the Megadrive's infamous sound-quality affect Turbo's original soundtrack, but the few new exclusive tunes this port has aren't up to par.
Megadrive's Turbo OutRun is one of the few games released in Europe and Japan, but not in America. Several low-quality home computer ports were produced.

CBM 64/128 cover
 

 

 

 
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
 
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
Turbo OutRun - Arcade
 
 
 
 
Version comparisons
 
 
 
 
Arcade
Megadrive
CBM 64/128
 
         
 
 
     
 
 
OutRun 3D

Players: 1
About: Driving with glasses
Courtesy of: Sega
Back in: 1989
Originally on: Master System
Also on: N/A

Following OutRun's incredible success, Sega decided to release plenty of spin-offs for the home market. But OutRun 3D is just the first in a series of bottom-of-the-barrel titles that will plague the OutRun name for years to come.
This entry utilizes the shutter effects of the Master System's 3D glasses in trying to present a three-dimensional world. There's no getting around this gimmick to experience the full effect, but as the cover promotes (WITH 2-D MODE!), it's possible to turn the effect off if buying ridiculous Sega glasses on Ebay isn't your thing.

European cover
3-D AND 2-D, for one low price!!!

Although some of the levels are the same as the original Master System version, there are a few new stages with some enhanced effects like cloudy skies and dark tunnels. The graphics are closer to the Game Gear version though, the scrolling is very choppy, and the sense of speed is totally gone. Plus the newly added songs are just incredibly bad.
The 3D effect is a vile attempt to sell more gimmicky glasses and doesn't excuse the game being actually worst than its predecessor.
OutRun 3D is one of the rarer Master System titles, and it doesn't appear to have been released in America.

 

Battle OutRun

Players: 1
About: Driving and ramming
Courtesy of: Sega
Back in: 1989
Originally on: Master System
Also on: N/A

Some of you might be familiar with Taito's Chase HQ, a great car-chase arcade in which the player's black Porsche rams and shunts criminals in their vehicules in order to arrest them. To further continue exploiting the OutRun name, Sega borrowed from Taito's classic for yet another Master System entry, Battle OutRun. The original's spirit begins to wane as this new entry strays from its humble, non-violent roots to hunt down and stop criminals Chase HQ style.

European cover

Racing takes place in non-contiguous stages (from California to New York) at the end of which the player catches up with the criminal's vehicle and must ram it into submission.
Road obstacles like roadblocks have been added to slow the player down, the most curious of which are ramps that seem to have no practical purpose since there isn't a reason for jumping.
Halfway through the stage a big trailer truck meets you to upgrade different parts of the Ferrari before your clash with the stage's boss: its body, tires, engine, chassis, and nitro boosts.

To be fair, Battle OutRun does have some well defined, vibrant graphics and the Ferrari still controls well. But the lack of sprite variety for opponent cars, poor music, and above all extremely annoying CPU opponents deliberately going out of their way to crash into you makes this a five minute curiosity at best.

 

 

OutRun Europa

Players: 1
About: Chasing European criminals
Courtesy of: U.S. Gold
Back in: 1991
Originally on: Master System
Also on: Game Gear, C64/128, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum

Completing the trilogy of these low-quality spinoffs for Master System (and now Game Gear and home computers too), OutRun Europa was farmed out to european developer and publisher U.S. Gold rather than made by Sega, which might explain why its stages are European cities.
Europa has players enforcing the law yet again, this time with the addition of two new vehicles: a motorcycle and a jet-ski. The former does a terrible job of immitating Road Rash, where punching other bikers causes them to explode (yes, explode) and cops try to pull you over. The latter features shooting down helicopters with a hand gun.
Other additions are a damage meter (shield icon) and fuel drums that must be picked up for your vehicle to stay on the chase.

European cover


The graphics are relatively impressive for the Master System, featuring roads with large buildings on the sides and the biggest car sprites the series has seen on the system. Unfortunately, scrolling is atrocious.
There's no reason to spend much time with OutRun Europa when Chase HQ and Road Rash offer road rage thrills in better, more satisfying ways.
Ports of Europa include a nearly identical version for Game Gear, and the usual home computer versions.

 

 

 

 
 
OutRun 3D - Master System
OutRun 3D - Master System
OutRun 3D - Master System
OutRun 3D - Master System
Battle OutRun - Master System
Battle OutRun - Master System
Battle OutRun - Master System
Battle OutRun - Master System
Battle OutRun - Master System
 
OutRun Europa - Master System
 
OutRun Europa - Master System
 
OutRun Europa - Master System
 
OutRun Europa - Master System
 
OutRun Europa - Master System
 

 

   
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