A Ferrari F50 drifting on a road between palm trees.
Image credit: SEGA

Why OutRun Is The Perfect Arcade Game

As part of SEGA week, our own Luca was reminiscing over a popular arcade racer where players would take part in high-octane driving from coast to coast. Here’s why OutRun is the perfect arcade game.

When I was starting to fall in love with cars and racing, one of the first games I played was OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast on my PlayStation 2. Even though time has gone on and I have played more realistic titles, this game has never left my consciousness.

There was just something about this game that made it stand out. Even with its unrealistic handling and repetitive environments, why do so many of us have such fond memories of this game series?

Since it is SEGA week, let’s take this opportunity to wax lyrical about this game. Here is why OutRun for me is an icon in the racing game sphere.

History of OutRun

During the mid-1980s, SEGA game designer Yu Suzuki had come off the back of developing successful motorcycle racing games Hang On and Enduro Racer. His next hope was to develop a car game, and he was inspired by the 1981 movie The Cannonball Run.

Initially conceptualising the game as taking place in the United States, SEGA president Hayao Nakayama convinced him that the US would be “too large and empty”. Hence they decided on Europe. Suzuki made the trip to Europe and scouted places for inspiration, including the likes of the Swiss Alps, Frankfurt and the French Riviera.

When developing the game, Suzuki was keen to put an emphasis on the experience of driving. The original OutRun released in 1986 and even had a feature to select the music on the radio.

Yes, with it being an arcade game, there is an element of urgency to get to the checkpoints before time is up. Since it is designed to get players to reload credits, the player is of course incentivised to go as fast as possible.

Being a game from 1986, it very much is a product of the time. Fast forward nearly 30 years though, and the one we all know came into existence.

OutRun Gameplay

With vastly improved graphics, the brand new OutRun 2 game was a huge leap forward. Plus, there was a big increase on the content front.

There were multiple versions of OutRun 2 that had home releases, including the likes of OutRun 2 SP, OutRun Online Arcade and the one that many feel is the definitive version, OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast. In terms of content, the latter has the most to offer.

So now we come to gameplay. OutRun 2 features the follwoing main gamemodes: ‘OutRun Mode’, ‘Time Attack Mode’ and ‘Heart Attack Mode’. The latter of which involves being given prompts by your love interest, and the better you do them, the higher you score.

In all game modes, players drive through a stage and then come to a fork in the road. Going left maintains the same level of difficulty supposedly, whereas going right increases the difficulty for the next stage.

It is a very overstimulating and intense game that rewards the most skilled players. Ones who can hold a drift and have very little time to set the car up for the next corner.

OutRun: The Driving Experience

To create this article, I sought out an OutRun 2 arcade machine and luckily, there was one within a short train ride. They are equipped with two steering wheels and two players can simultaneously play the game.

The wheels and force feedback are weighted very nicely and all of them are motion rigs as well! It really amplifies the experience, and that is what makes OutRun amazing.

A Ferrari F50-esque arcade machine.
The OutRun 2 arcade game machine. Image credit: Level X in Middlesbrough

If you are one of those hyper-analytic types who must have everything “realistic”, this game will annoy you. For nothing else, merely the fact that all cars perform the same, no matter what decade they seemingly originate from. As a result, they all max out at around 186 mph.

The Rush of Being Behind the Wheel

All the cars sound the same, and the drifting is hyper unrealistic, but who cares? This game puts the thrill back into the driving experience. iRacing and ACC are all about getting the result, OutRun is about the rush of being behind the wheel.

It does not get bogged down in realism. With all this arguing about what counts as a sim, simcade and arcade, and so many people claiming the F1 game to be arcade, I doubt anybody would ever pick OutRun over the F1 game.

A Ferrari F50 drifting around a corner overlooking a waterfall.
Powerslide your way past incredible scenery in a selection of exotic road cars. Image credit: SEGA

The point of the arcade game is that it is fun, and OutRun delivers that in spades. It is the game you play to get the goosebumps forming on your arms. Putting the fun back into driving.

Just sit back and enjoy hearing Risky Ride or Magical Sound Shower blasting through the speakers and throw the car into corners. There is just nothing more thrilling than racing a sports car on a highway with your favourite track blasting out loud.

Big thanks to Level X in Middlesbrough for allowing us to use the image of their machines.

Be sure to check out our first SEGA Week article as well, highlighting The Incredible World of the Japanese Arcade Racing Scene!

What are your memories playing the OutRun games? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

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