Commodore User1st December 1987
Published in Commodore User #52
Sega's Out Run was undoubtedly one of the most popular coin-ops of 1987, with over 20,000 machines sold worldwide. After nine months of development, and extensive pre-release publicity, the C64 conversion hits the streets courtesy of US Gold and programming team Amazing Products.
In case you were unaware, Out Run is a racing game which puts you in the driving seat of a Ferrari Testarossa convertible, with the objective of reaching one of five destinations by completing five stages within a given time limit.
Unlike the coin-op original, the destination has to be selected and loaded (yes, it's multi-load!) before you can race, and subsequently there are no forks in the road. This is annoying, as it restricts you to a choice of five predetermined routes, and if you want to attempt a different course, you have to turn off and reload.
The 3D effect in this conversion is unimpressive. The road moves convincingly enough, but the scenery (what little of it adorns the sides of the road) is bland and blocky and tends to float past - like the other cars on the road.
When it boils down to it, Out Run's gameplay is hardly a progression from the archaic arcade classic Pole Position. The steering wheel, hydraulics and breath-taking graphics are what make Out Run so enjoyable to play - three elements which cannot possibly be competently reproduced on the humble Commodore 64. So why bother? The prospect of a sure-fire number is, of course, the answer.
I could have put up with the obvious limitations of converting a game to the home market if the programmers had at least shown some of the wit and attention to detail that abounds in the Sega original. They couldn't even be bothered to give the girl in the car the right colour hair for heaven's sake, whilst many of the billboards and characters are non-existent. Besides that, the car crashes unimpressively into buildings no more than half its size. I don't think I remember any crofter's cottages in the original! That said, they have at least made the flip quite realistic, spilling the couple out onto the tarmac.
Other than the title, this conversion has little in common with its arcade counterpart - the inclusion of an audio soundtrack of the music from the coin-ops is of little compensation. Most of the twists and turns in the roads are in the right places, but it simply doesn't feel or play like the original - how could it? Without the exhilarating graphics and other cosmetics, Out Run on the C64 is little more than a mediocre racing game - certainly not the greatest home computer arcade conversion of all time as the blurb proudly proclaims. The worst thing about a conversion like this which has so much build up is the inevitable let down it incurs.