Review: Outrun, awesome music but conversion could have been much better
Most people who were old enough can still remember the impression Outrun made on them the first time they saw it in an arcade. Compared to driving games around before it such as Pole Position and Konami GT it was jaw-dropping. It’s superb sprite-scaling effect made it look just what it was, the start of a new era for 3D arcade games. Outrun, for those who don’t know, is a driving game against the clock. There are 15 stages in the game, although only 5 have to be completed in order to finish the game. At the end of each individual stage there is a fork in the road, and the direction you take depends on which stage you encounter next. The driving experience on the master system is good. Unlike a lot of the home computer conversions the way the car corners and skids is quite faithfully to the original. The fact that you can hit other cars and not grind to a complete standstill keeps the action moving. The lines in the road and the number of track-side objects help give the game an excellent feeling of speed. Inevitably there are a few things missing from the original. There are no lorries on the roads. When you flip the car it’s passengers don’t end up on the floor. However there are also things included that you might not have expected to make this version such as hills in the road, the overhead ‘gateway’ in stage 2 and the music select screen. The first thing that strikes you is the smoothness of the animation. By todays standards it’s poor but back then, on the Commodore Amiga, it was smooth as silk. All of the cars are nicely drawn. There’s not a lot in terms of track-side detail, but the trees, shrubs, signs and rocks all look good. There’s also a nice amount of background detail such as clouds and mountains in the distance. One of the best things about the arcade game was the thumping soundtracks and it’s pleasing to know that they all made it to the Commodore Amiga. Each one of them is instantly recognisable and are included in their entirety. Even Last Wave, the moody high score melody is in here. There’s not much else in the way of Sound Effects. Squealing of tyres as you skid on a bend, a few beeps as you pass a checkpoint and the odd thud as you hit another car but that’s about it. Still, when the tunes are this good who wants to hear sound effects! But still the Amiga version can never be compared with the Arcade version, in the end US Gold should have tried much harder.