back to article Sega’s Out Run: Even better than the wheel thing

How bereft the coin-op arcades of yesteryear must have looked before the arrival of the audacious, muscle-flexing Out Run machine. It’s true that Hang On and Space Harrier laid the foundations a year before, but Out Run was Sega’s golden moment in sit-down, "experience" videogame machinery. There were two versions of the deluxe …

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Anonymous Coward

This and Space Harrier

This and Space Harrier were the dogs back in the day. You had reason to go to the arcade as no home machine could replicate what the hardware could do. Both games usually involved having to queue for your turn (the hydraulic Space Harrier cab at Southsea had queues I have never seen before or since in an arcade when it was first installed)

About 8 years ago I found a Outrun sit down cab (non moving version) in an arcade in Ilfracombe. Had a broken gear shift which made gameplay somewhat challenging but still had a whale of a time on it.

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Re: This and Space Harrier

I had to register to say this:

I was going to write almost exactly the same thing! I came back for 3 years to that same arcade in Ilfracombe just to haev some goes on Out Run. Yes, it was a bit knackered but it still bear the socks off every other game in that place. The last time I went there 2 years ago IT WAS GONE! So I asked the guy working there what happened to it and the words he uttered devastated me: "It's been chucked in the tip mate". What, I could not believe it. Damn, I would've paid good money for it. It still depresses me every time I think about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This and Space Harrier

Sad news. When I was playing it I was thinking to myself "someone could restore this". Very short sighted to throw it away when people would literally be queuing up to bung the owner a couple of hundred quid to take it off his hands.

Given the state of some of the cabs people restore it wouldn't be a problem. New decals can be made, components replaced. Providing the main board isn't completely destroyed they are pretty serviceable.

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Re: This and Space Harrier

I managed to save a 4 player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine from the tip back in the late 90's. It's been sat in my sisters garage ever since, gathering dust. I bet it does not even turn on now!

This does mean I can legally play it on M.A.M.E tho ;)

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Re: This and Space Harrier

Sad, sad news!

That's pretty strange that the owners hadn't worked out the value of what they were holding...

Hopefully someone grabbed it out of the tip!

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Re: This and Space Harrier

I still have a Space Harrier machine in storage. It ran well for about 6 months, although the movements weren't as exciting when you didn't have to queue up for it!

Couple of months ago I missed out on one of those 360 units. I remember the look on my mate's face when I got out of one on the Gold Coast as he asked 'Did you *know* it was going to do that? I gotta try that thing!'

Knocked the home rumble seat into a cocked hat, that thing.

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Interesting- didn't realise the saturn version was worth a punt as it's not featured on (m)any buying guides. May have to take to ebay :D

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The Soundtrack...

I remember that C&VG magazine gave away a tape with the soundtrack to Outrun and Skate Or Die on it. I still have it somewhere. Must see if I can dig it out at the weekend.

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Re: The Soundtrack...

Ah, the soundtrack ...

Despite being utterly crap at Outrun, I absolutely loved the music - still do.

Back when I spent far too much time in the local arcades with my mates, the local recreation centre was notable by having one of the moving Ferrari-u-like 'sit in' versions of Outrun - my memory is a bit foggy, but it may well have broken other ground too by virtue of being 20p/credit rather than 10p.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Soundtrack...

I remember that tape. I was thinking it was 720 I loved the soundtrack to when it must have been Skate or Die.

When you play these sorts of driving games now they tend to be a little boring. But the Out Run music is legendary.

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Re: The Soundtrack...

Ha ha ha, I wondered if anyone would mention this. Used to put it on in my mates car. Sadly it was a Vauxhall Chevette, not a Ferrari.

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Re: The Soundtrack...

Skate or die - yeeeeesssssssss!

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Re: The Soundtrack...

Think you were right, I seem to recall it was the soundtrack to the Atari game 720 (but featured the phrase "Skate or Die") as opposed to the EA game Skate or Die.

Memory not what it was!

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Headmaster

Super-scaler?

It's been a while since I've thought about such things, but isn't it "superscalar"? Or is this a Sega-spin on the name...

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Def
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Re: Super-scaler?

No, "superscalar" refers to the perceived parallelisation given to the execution pipeline of a single core processor through beginning execution of the next instruction before the last has finished. A "super scaler" makes things (in this case sprites) bigger or smaller.

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An All Time Favourite

With out a doubt Outrun is one of my all time favourite games. I even enjoyed the ZX Spectrum version with it's separate audio tape. I hate to think how much money and school time I spent playing the game in the arcade though. A true classic.

Anyone done a browser version yet?

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Re: An All Time Favourite

Don't know, but I'd like one too.

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Pint

My first win came in this game.

And then I did it going L-L-L-L, then L-L-L-R, then L-L-R-L... unti I finished them all.

I don't know how many quarters I fed to the machine at Singing River Mall, but it was a lot.

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Anonymous Coward

Home versions

The home computer versions were by US Gold and were TERRIBLE. Massive advertising campaign, screenshots that looked good yet when you came to play them they were all awful.

The worst was the Amstrad CPC version which had lovely graphics on the screenshots but when you came to play it the frame rate was awful. Also there was no sound apart from beeps despite a very tuneful rendition of the music on the menu screen.

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Re: Home versions

My C64 copy was the 2nd on a compilation, meaning I had to load through the first game, then the 2nd (I was too young to realise the use of the tape counter).

I enjoyed it.

I remember Sega Power Drift, which was a bit like Out Run but had more of a roller coaster type tracks

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Re: Home versions

The Atari ST version was good. It came with the computer, along with Space Harrier.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Home versions

No, really, it wasn't. My mate had that pack and both Outrun and Space Harrier sucked. He'd never been near the arcade versions.

Yes ST Outrun had speed but it lacked any refinement. It was like the programmers only experience of the arcade version was someone describing it down the phone to them.

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Happy

Re: Home versions

It just shows how crap games could sell because of a name (in this case, an amazing arcade game). One good thing about the Internet, for sure.

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Memories...

I was able to finish this almost every time I played it - used to gather a crowd watching which seems oddly gratifying when I think about it.

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Re: Memories...

There were dip switches you could use to set the time added at each check point. Our local arcade owner was a gold-plated c**t who set it so it was virtually impossible to finish and hence the games played per hour was higher.

It was still a busy machine despite the evil difficulty level.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Memories...

I'd love to know how much the Deluxe cabs were new. Pricey compared to the standard units I bet.

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Happy

Re: Memories...

He could have over-egged the hardness though don't you reckon? Sure, people's games would be over in a flash, but I bet they would come back for more, more often if they'd got a bit further more easily.

There must be a graph somewhere for arcade owners???!!!!!! :)

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Re: Memories...

I remember having crowds behind me when I played Darius. For some reason that game clicked and I could make it all the way through on one life. Never got me any chicks though!

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My favourite arcade game

Awww I have fond memories of OutRun.

I think I almost bankrupted my parents by shovelling coins into the arcade machine. It makes me chuckle now about the lack of health and safety. Neither you and you girlfriend wore seatbelts so if you smacked into a tree or a pillar you would end up flying out of the car and onto the road - with magically no injuries.

It was a big task for the 8-bit home computers to recreate and they did struggle. I had a CPC464 and you had to make do with the external audio track and loading each new level on tape which did frustrate somewhat.

I loved the intricacies of the sprites of the car. Even to this day I can remember the juggernauts and the yellow VW Beetles :)

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Re: My favourite arcade game

It would have been too much for the Acorn Electron. The only driving game I remember was Overdrive and it had no bends. Though the Ancient Romans would have loved it!

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My Atari ST came with this, Carrier Command and Bomb Jack - legendary games, and conversions that were a lot better (imo) than the 8bit versions.

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"My Atari ST came with this, Carrier Command and Bomb Jack - legendary games, and conversions that were a lot better (imo) than the 8bit versions."

The Atari ST was a much more powerful computer than any of the 8 bit machines... being at the time a next gen 16/32 bit computer... so I guess that's why eh?

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Anonymous Coward

The ST (and the Amiga for that matter - both versions of Out Run were virtually identical) was capable of much more, as proven by Vroom. The Out Run conversion was terrible considering what it could have been. OK, so it could never have matched the Arcade, but it was a long way off.

The spectrum version was actually a good attempt, despite being difficult to see anything due to it being black on green, at least on level 1.

The PC Engine version was probably the best conversion. How I wanted one of those.....

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Except BJ on th ST was turd. The speccy version beat the pants off it.

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PC Engine, a legend. No UK release for that console - though I think it got to France?

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It was...

The PC Engine had a very limited release in the UK as the Turbografx, using the same styling as the American release, but dropping the "16" from its title. Compared with the original PC Engine and following Core machines (which are TINY), it just looked pretty ugly.

The PC Engine still remains the only console I want to own but have not.

Soon.

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Splash Wave. Yes.

I have been following the Antique Code Show articles, being reminded of a fair bit of my lost youth in the process. We haven't seen the 1983 Star Wars arcade game from Atari yet, and that was a lot of fun.

But Out Run was something else. I did try try several of the soundtracks; as I recall I liked Splash Wave the best. Never noticed any character animation inside the car and certainly not "... issues a good telling-off each time you crash".

The 3D rendering was unusually good. Far in advance of Atari's Pole Position for example. I do remember on one stretch finding myself sitting up straighter in the seat in an attempt to peer over the horizon. Didn't work though!

Something else, about all driving games then and now: does the brake pedal do anything useful?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Splash Wave. Yes.

Out Run is one game where you actually need the brake pedal, for all stages apart from stage 1, which you can get through flat out. You can also slow down by slamming it into low gear but you take too much off your speed usually if you do that.

I didn't have enough money when I was a kid to throw at Out Run, much as I'd have loved to, and while there was one in my student union it was a choice between that and beer (as well as eating food to stay alive) so I rarely played it.

When MAME came along I was so happy, especially the day that I completed it for the first time. It was a sense of satisfaction which was equalled by completing the other five final stages.

I still go back to it every now and again.

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Re: Splash Wave. Yes.

I have a mate at work who has a few arcade cabinets at home, he invited me to a retro game party a few months ago where they had an original stand up Outrun as well as many other classics. My night was made up when I had several goes on an original Star Wars arcade machine, it had only been fixed that week. Apparently the explosion when you destroy the death star causes havoc with the monitor as it is so bright combined with the way the 3D style graphics are drawn!

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Hard Drivin'

This and Hard Drivin' were firm favourites down Mablethorpe way. I found Outrun joyful but Hard Drivin' was an altogether different affair. 'Real' driving physics applied to a rather spooky and empty landscape. Looking back it was rather akin to taking a Sunday drive through Limbo. Watch out for the cow by the barn!

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Re: Hard Drivin'

You grew up near Mablethorpe and Skegness too?

Gimme six *holds up hand*

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Re: Hard Drivin'

Hard Drivin' - loved that and the 360 loop you had to do in it. I must admit, I loved Space Harrier, Afterburner as well as G-LOC in that 360 degree gyro. Great fun. Lost a lot of money too on Super Don Quixote, Dragons Lair, Firefox and Space Ace. The arcades near me had one of those laserdisc cabs.

However - none of it beats getting 4 random people all squeezed together to play Gauntlet on a cab.

As for Outrun - it was good but preferred Chase HQ.

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Re: Hard Drivin'

My wife who is also my brother doesn't like me to speak to strangers.

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Re: Hard Drivin'

* dribbles in delight *

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Happy

Re: Hard Drivin'

Mablethorpe? Used to go there every summer, scrounge some pocket money, and hang out in the arcades. Even remember some of the early electro-mechanical racing and shooting games were still around there in the late 70s. First place I played the full-motion Space Harrier and Power Drift. Though you had to go to Skeggy for a full-motion Galaxy Force II.

If you really want to bring a tear to the eye, try the 'Milestones' museum in Basingstoke. Among their mechanical games they've got a restored original animated 'Sooty' puppet band machine - and talking to the restorer, it's genuinely the one from the back of the indoor fairground in Mablethorpe.

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I still remember the first time I saw a sit-down Out Run cab.

Coming from the C64 and other arcade games, it was literally jaw-dropping. The music, presentation, hundreds of scaled sprites bring flung around ... a real classic.

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Ahhh

The pocket (and lunch and dinner) money I spent on the deluxe cab in the arcades! Incidentally at the time the speccy version was considered to be the best. Woe betide the Amstrad gamer...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ahhh

Speccy version is very tolerable under emulation if you turn the speed up a tad. Good game, just wasn't quite fast enough.

And then a few years late Speccy and CPC Chase HQ turned up and blew everyone away. Everything Outrun could have been.

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Boffin

You do talk some rubbish - tiled and scaled road?

The background was done using a fixed perspective view of a road, wider than the screen and narrowing to the horizon, with solid lines for the road edges. Horizontal lines were copied from it, with some skipped or duplicated to make the road rise and fall, and shifted left or right to make the turns. No scaling, no tiles, and no big secret. And at the same time an alternating colour palette was applied to each line to make bands of colour run towards the player.

The novelty in Out Run was that it could render two roadways side-by-side, splitting them right down the middle should they overlap. That way it could draw a very narrow road, or widen it out into two carriageways or even fork off in two directions. The only time you see the true width of the road from the stock graphic is when you're going down one fork, before the road merges with the other half again.

Space Harrier and Hang-On used the same system (though with just one 'road'). The big difference in Space Harrier was that its starting image was a series of evenly spaced strips running to the horizon instead of just a single road. Then with the palette shifts applied you got the familiar gingham-shaded chequerboard.

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Re: You do talk some rubbish - tiled and scaled road?

Hmmm, are you sure?

"And at the same time an alternating colour palette was applied to each line to make bands of colour run towards the player."

and

"Space Harrier and Hang-On used the same system (though with just one 'road'). The big difference in Space Harrier was that its starting image was a series of evenly spaced strips running to the horizon instead of just a single road. Then with the palette shifts applied you got the familiar gingham-shaded chequerboard."

So how do you explain the smooth scrolling transition of the road side bands on OutRun and the Space Harrier ground at slow speeds? If it was palete shifting, then you would not see a smooth effect and it would be much more coarse.

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