Out Run is the greatest, most influential arcade racing game ever made. There, we said it. Yes, there have been other classics over the years: Daytona USA, Ridge Racer, Virtua Racing, Let’s Go! Jungle and the like. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) But no game has meant as much to the genre as Out Run.
Back in 2015, Sega and wonder developers M2 released a fantastic port of Out Run for the 3DS as part of its Sega 3D Classics line. Now it’s back on the Switch, albeit obviously missing the 3D trickery of the handheld version. Is it still worth getting? You bet your bumpers it is.
For those who’ve somehow managed to go their entire lives without playing Out Run, the aim of Sega’s 1986 gem is a simple one: get to the end of a five-stage course, avoiding cars and roadside obstacles along the way, before your timer runs out. The twist is that at the end of each stage the road forks, letting you choose between two completely different environments to race through next. While most of the skill involved is in your driving ability, then, there’s also a strategic element where, over time, you can figure out the optimal path to the goal.
Once you find out a route that works for you, you may be inclined to just stick with what works and focus on improving your score for the game’s online rankings, but this Switch version of Out Run borrows a nifty gimmick from the 3DS version that encourages you to try out different paths. There are five different finish lines depending on which route you take, and each one gives you a different comedy ending (as in the arcade game), but each also now unlocks a special upgrade for your car.
These can be toggled on and off before a race begins and affect things like your top speed, handling and how much of an impact hitting other cars makes. As a nice touch, each of these upgrades also changes your car’s colour, meaning you’re no longer forced to go with a red Ferrari every time. You can even unlock ‘arcade mode’, which essentially drops the frame rate from the current 60fps to 30fps. It may not look as pretty, but it’s certainly authentic: one for the purists, we reckon.
In its shiny new, non-arcade form, Out Run has never looked better – the lack of 3D aside, of course. M2 has once again done a masterful job of upgrading the game to a solid 60 frames per second, meaning roadside objects zoom past you at obscene speeds in a gorgeously smooth manner. It’s particularly impressive in the stages with larger objects, like the iconic section where you race through an enormous tunnel made up of giant stone pillars.
It’s also now playable natively in widescreen. This isn’t done in the half-hearted way most emulation packages handle widescreen, where the image is simply stretched to make it look like Sonic and chums have been going heavy on the pies for the past few months. Instead, everything keeps its normal dimensions and the edges of the picture are simply extended, letting you see more roadside detail. This immediately makes it the best way to play the game (although, again, there’s still the option to play in the original 4:3 ratio that was in the arcades, if you’re a stickler for authenticity).
Graphics are one thing, but Out Run is one of those games where the sound is just as important. Its iconic three selectable tracks – Magical Sound Shower, Last Wave and Passing Breeze – are obviously here too, as are the two extra tracks that were added to the 3DS version (Cruising Line and Camino A Mi Amor). Four more have been added to this Switch version for good measure, though.
The first is a brilliant Driver’s Megamix that combines all three main tracks. Most interesting, through, are the rearranged versions of Step On Beat (from the Mega Drive port of Out Run), Midnight Highway (from the Master System one) and Radiation (from Out Run 2006), all of which have been recreated in the Sega System-16 style to sound like they would have if they had been in the original coin-op. It’s a fantastic touch that pays homage to the game’s lineage without just chucking in a bunch of random chiptunes from different eras that would’ve sounded completely out of place.
If you’re already a proud owner of the 3DS version of Out Run, this all may be starting to feel a little familiar by now. You’d be absolutely correct: almost all of the ‘new’ features in this Sega Ages version of the game – the native widescreen support, the switch to 60 frames per second, the unlockable upgrades, car colours and arcade mode – were also in the 3D Classics version. The Switch version even includes the option to play with motion controls (to emulate turning the wheel in the arcade game), which was also in the 3DS port (although it works better here because you don’t necessarily have to be turning the screen at the same time).
The only major difference here is those four extra music tracks, meaning if you’re still perfectly happy with the 3DS version, you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out on anything major if you choose not to download this newer iteration. That said, as big fans of the 3DS version, we reckon £5.99 is a reasonable price to upgrade to the Switch’s bigger, higher resolution display, as well as the obvious added benefit of being able to play it on TV, too.
It could be argued that other games in the Sega Ages series have been blessed with more enhancements than Out Run, which is more or less the 3DS version with a resolution boost. But it could also be argued that those games needed it more. In this day and age, in order to be more enjoyable, Phantasy Star needs auto-mapping and its new menu, which better explains all its oddly description-free items and spells. Out Run just needs to be Out Run, and that’s exactly what it does, as well as it ever has.
If you originally missed out on the 3DS port, this is about as essential a retro release as you can get. Out Run has always been an infinitely playable game, and the new unlockables and online rankings only increase its longevity further. Those with the 3DS version will have to decide whether it’s worth buying what’s more or less the same game again in order to play it on their TV, but for everyone else with an interest in retro gaming, it’s a must-have.
Should be a 10 outrun is the game that got me into games I remember seeing the arcade in Blackpool when I was 9 and I was blown away conned my mum and dad into getting me a c64 to play outrun it wasn’t a good port but I loved it and came with an audio tape that I used to annoy my dad with in his car . Any chance of turbo outrun hey Sega?
Outrun wasn’t designed for higher resolution right? So with that in mind, is the 3ds version better (with the 3d)?
I get the feeling editors seems to begin hating the 3ds for no reason
Sold. Gimme gimme gimme. Then give me Out Run Online Arcade.
I have it on 3DS and I've bought it on Switch. The double dipping comes from the enhancements of the Switch itself: much bigger screen and the ability to play it on a big TV screen without seeing it blurry. And in Mexico it cost me less than 4 euros. Sold.
This and Afterburner are pretty much untouchable in my book. Are there any plans for Afterburner.
Why buy this when you can get Horizon Chase Turbo?
When I retire my 3ds I might get this.
@gungho_trucker Afterburner Climax please.
I would love a sequel as well. Out Run 2006: Coast 2 Coast feels like a lifetime ago.
had it on the 3ds but happy to double dip now my 3ds is gathering dust
Brilliant game. 10/10 although I have it on the 3ds. It’s a must have if you dont
Returning to Outrun after 20 years or so is a fun experience. You put it on, start playing and go "Huh, I thought the music was more iconic than this". Then you carry on driving and all of a sudden the cool bit of music kicks in and you just wanna stand up and shout "Yes! This is it! This is it! This is how all music should be!"
@Retupmocnin The games are quite different
Gonna get this when i get in from work! At 6 quid it's worth it just for the nostalgia!
Amazingly I never played this originally - trying to decide if it is one you'd enjoy if you didn't play it back in the day
Excellent 9/10. Review copy provided by Sega. I think I see a connection here.
This is a 10 no question, for the greatest Arcade game of the 80’s
£6 is fantastic value, even if you have it on the 3DS
Honestly the best £5.99 I’ve spent in years.
Considering I would sink 50p a go, every time I went to the Arcade in Silloth (Cumbria, UK)
In my opinion this is the definitive version of Outrun.
Bar owning the actual arcade cabinet.
It is incredible how well this still holds up and even looks given its age (especially with the enhancements).
Having said that, I'm sure the 3DS version had an animated steering wheel and moving arcade background that seems to have been dropped in this version. Did I imagine that? Haven't gone back to the 3DS version to check.
In the age of Forza Horizons, this type of arcade racing game can only be a 9 to retro lovers.
I bought it on 3DS for the nostalgia but it wasn't there for me anymore.
Old arcade racers are thankfully topped by today's racers in every way.
@Velocirapstar I'm sorry? Review copies are provided for pretty much every game on a major site like this, and their scores have nothing to do with that. There are plenty of games on here with terrible scores, which were also provided by the publisher. That's how it works.
Given how many others in the comments are singing the game's praises too, I don't appreciate the insinuation that we've given the game a high score simply because the code was provided. Please don't make suggestions like that in future.
I picked this up again mostly to continue to support M2. They're doing a fantastic job of the Ages series so far.
@Velocirapstar ...mate where do you think this website get review copies from every other time? You know they don’t buy them, right? Always provided by the publisher
I would have bought it again if this version could be displayed in 3D as well; I'm quite sure the Switch is powerful enough to display any old arcade game in 3D (on a compatible TV set of course) in 60 fps... Even some AAA titles were 3D-compatible on the PS3! I'd really like to have this option for Luigi's Mansion 3, even if it limits the framerate to 30 fps for instance.
Good review. I'll stick with my my 3DS version for now.
Will probably have to get this. I loved playing this in the arcade--in the 90s!
@scully1888 If you feel the need to damage control a review of a 30 year old, poorly-emulated, overpriced ROM hack then things are even worse than I thought. And I couldn't care less about what the deluded masses think about nostalgia cash grabs.
A review i actually agree with. Must be a sign----9
@Velocirapstar How is this poorly emulated? Oh wait it isn't.
@RootsGenoa That would mean a complete re-programming.
Agree with the score here, it’s a fantastic port of an absolute classic. I look forward to many evenings on the couch trying to beat my time with Splash Wave belting out the radio, bravo M2.
@Velocirapstar My friend, you're about as edgy as a football. Don't try so hard next time x
I remember playing this loads on the interactive cabinets in the arcade where the steering wheel used to rock and rumble when you went off-road. I love this version, my choice will always be Magical Sound Shower. However the joy-con doesn't seem to rumble when I go off-road? I assumed this feature would be present.
Born in 1980 and bought it because of this review. I remembered it as a good game and sometimes it's better when it stays as a fantastic game in your memory. The last time I felt so bored I played Celeste or Hollow Knight or Dead Cells. Every single Game is praised as a nearly perfect game. 9 means for everyone to me. Not just for some hipsters.
@Velocirapstar “a 30 year old, poorly-emulated, overpriced ROM hack”
@Velocirapstar You seem angry. Try yoga.
@LordVal Err. Judging by nearly everyone's comments, who seem to still live Outrun, I'd wager you are the hipster.
@Velocirapstar „poorly emulated ROM hack“...
Google „M2“ lest you write more dross like that.
Couple small (tiny) niggles. Not as much control over sound settings as on the 3DS and if you input your name on the scoreboard wrongly there’s no going back.
@janpampoen really? You "live" Outrun? That and the Nieuw Brew Hipster brand "beer" proves the opposite.
It also likely doesn't save replays though, unlike the 3DS version...
@LordVal Sorry. Love, not live.
@janpampoen ok. Love is important.
@EmmatheBest you can save replays and watch other people’s from the ranking score boards
@Retupmocnin Because one doesn't have to choose. There's plenty of room for both Outrun and Horizon Chase.
@gungho_trucker In my humble opinion, I don't think Afterburner has ever translated well to home Sure, it might be the code on screen replicated pixel for pixel, but nothing can replicate the adrenaline of slamming the throttle from low to high to ignite your burners. Similar problem paperboy and Super Sprint have.
@Gs69 - Really?! That's honestly really cool! The author mentioned every single other little detail, why didn't they bother to elaborate on that one? :/
Are there any other Sega Ages games with that feature?
@Velocirapstar how all review sites work but I paid for it myself
Hope that helps
Loved the 3DS version, will double dip once there's a sale
@YANDMAN If they're good programmers (and I'm pretty sure they are), they could easily use the work they've done for the 3DS version.
@EmmatheBest Sonic and Thunder Force IV (Lightening Force) both have this feature, so it's only Phantasy Star that doesn't so far.
@RootsGenoa Not saying it can't be done, but the demand for home 3D content isn't there anymore like it was trying to be almost 10 years ago. We barely even get 3D Blu-Ray movie releases nowadays.
@Retupmocnin Because this is the big daddy of the genre itself, and still the best; the rest are just posers. Horizon Chase (also, ‘80s Overdrive) is fun but it’s generic (outside of its visuals of course)
@masterLEON Yeah, I hate it because I’m a huge fan of 3D gaming. People should see how nice Skyrim looks in 3D (and I don’t mean through a blurry VR lens)
@construx Forza Horizon is bloated with pointless content (like a story). Keep that far, far away from my racing games.
Outrun is just pure driving joy and is still impressive how how well it was coded, and since a round lasts about 7 minutes, it never outstays its welcome and so makes it easily replayable (which is great because there’s lots of paths to take) The art direction is still really beautiful too
@gcunit Absolutely legendary soundtrack (and with just 3 songs, originally!)
@Silly_G Also a bloody excellent game
@Warioware The 3DS version has a tilt screen mode that aims to emulate the original arcade cabinet’s leaning mechanics through motion controls . It’s actually really neat to play it that way
@masterLEON In my experience, almost every movie available in 3D in theaters is released as a 3D Blu-ray. The difficulty these days is rather to find 3D TVs... Because of the UHD format mainly, which is a shame because 3D looks better on a 4K TV.
Anyhow, I'm perfectly aware that it has become a niche market but I think it could have been a nice bonus, and an homage to the work they've done on 3DS.
@Velocirapstar "And I couldn't care less about what the deluded masses think about nostalgia cash grabs."
If you think everyone else is crazy, it's you who is crazy.
@Moroboshi876 How did you manage to setup your account to buy from the Mexican eShop? I'm in Europe too but haven't had any luck.
@Jack_Goetz You have to set a Mexican Paypal, that's the trickiest part. After that, you either create a specific profile for Mexican purchases or switch regions in your profile every time you want to buy there.
@Moroboshi876 Ah, I'll have to give it another go with the Mexican PayPal thing. Gracias!
@Jack_Goetz In fact, this is the only way. You have to set a Mexican Paypal account.
@Moroboshi876 Thanks, I've had another go and I seem to have got it working this time! Cheers.
It was a good game for the time period, it has good re-playability and I spent a lot of time in the seat playing this. The real problem here is it that it lacks the ability to dive deeper beyond the initial game play. What really made this game so successful was the arcade setup of an automotive cockpit in the 1980's. This added greatly to the experience and it became the defacto racing game for a period of time.
Now it will be simply an older racing simulator played in a living room or bedroom. That extra tweak of cockpit cocooning is now lost. I do love this game but I think the pricing should be closer to $2.99 or $3.99 at this point.
The Japanese Saturn is the most authentic home version and has a 60fps mode, also has Japan and overseas arrangements and supports analogue control. The car is so iconic in the original game for me, the swapped out main sprite in this and other modern released versions just doesn't sit right.
Just out of interest,who was going to supply the review copy if it was not Sega?.
@Zidentia "The real problem here is it that it lacks the ability to dive deeper beyond the initial game play."
Have you heard of the "gear gacha" exploit where you're able to go off road at full speed, utilizing the full width of the road? It turns the game into another beast entirely. Some call it a cheat, but you need insane skill and you have to memorize all the shortcuts, basically putting in work, to fully take advantage of it. For me, yeah it's a moral debate. But having seen it work in person, I'm intrigued. If/when I get around to learning it, I think I'll use my Japanese account profile instead of my domestic one so I can keep track of both methods separately.
"I think the pricing should be closer to $2.99 or $3.99 at this point."
People say this but, like HAMSTER and Flying Tiger Entertainment (a.k.a. Johnny Turbo's Data East releases), they're following a fixed price model. Regardless of what kind of game it is or when it came out, it's all going to cost the same, like it or not.
Besides, if this was just a straight 3DS port, minus the 3D, the asking price might be hard to swallow. But M2 included proper HD support (all the better for me to record my gameplay), 4 more music tracks than the 3DS version, the best blur filter in existence (in my opinion), motion controls, online leaderboard with the ability to watch other people's replays, $7.99 doesn't seem that bad for all that to me.
The 3DS version is still available so no one's missing out on it. I'll keep playing it too rather buy again.
There are numerous hacks and cheats for the arcade as well as the console versions. There were arcade hacks that allowed you to get into developer mode and change quite a bit including the soundtrack. In its day it was an outstanding game but I would still argue the cabinet experience, especially the later one with the vibrations and movement made the game. There is literally no way to repeat this at home.
As far as pricing I am sure they have a dictum on the marketing. We have the same on most projects but the code is getting old and the added modules do not justify the cost for me especially based on my own contribution of hundred of dollars(maybe thousands) in gameplay tokens/quarters. The filter is not difficult to do and the music tracks, if they are the ones I am thinking of, were already there. They simply unlocked them.
I appreciate your perspective and I hope you enjoy it but I will pass on this one. I am sure somewhere there is still a cabinet in use that I can drop some coins in.
@construx Hot take is hot.
@RootsGenoa Ha haaaaaaaaa that £D onl6y works with the screen that's within the 3DS system. No programmer can make a TV screen emulate hardware liek that.
@YANDMAN The only difference is the way the two pictures are displayed (vertically interlaced on a 3DS screen, horizontally interlaced on a passive 3D screen, alternating on a active 3D screen), but the two pictures that create the 3D effect are the same in any case.
By the way, they talk about a motion control feature on 3DS. Is it an unlockable? Because I don't recall having seen it.
@scully1888 I know I shouldn't try at all. It's impossible to make a Nintendo fan see things for what they are.
@The_Mysteron I didn't use that word.
@Gryzor How about you Google what decent emulation looks like instead of making yourself look like a fool?
@Velocirapstar My friend, please be quiet. You're making yourself look silly.
@scully1888 I am not your friend, you deluded moron. I don't care what you think. Last thing I would do is ask a Nintendo fan how I looked like. This is a comment section & I am allowed to comment here & express my opinion whether you like it or not, you fascist.
I got it and only played 10 mins, but I can already tell how good of a work they did, it's a fantastic port with great extras, like the wide screen mode!! Great job AM2 team!
@Velocirapstar You actually aren't. Commenting on a company's website is a privilege, not a right. Nintendo Life are well within their rights to ban anyone posting abusive or potentially libelous comments, as you have. ❤️
@Zidentia Well, looks like I'll agree to disagree on some things. But:
"...the music tracks, if they are the ones I am thinking of, were already there. They simply unlocked them."
All 4 of the new tracks are newly arranged for this release (as it says in this article). Driver's Megamix Vol. 1 is a medley of Passing Breeze, Splash Wave, and Magical Sound Shower done in the modern synth wave style, meaning they're not reusing existing sound data or constraining the arrangement to OutRun's "hardware" (as they did with the 2 tracks they added to the 3DS version, and included here). Midnight Highway -Playback- is rearranged to System-16-like audio from OutRun 3-D for the Sega Master System. Radiation Nostalgic Ver. comes from OutRun 2006 Coast2Coast, and therefore had to come down to System-16 spec. And Step On Beat -Arcade Edition- came from the Genesis/MD port, but translated to System-16 spec.
But anyway, I've been enjoying OutRun immensely since it was available on the Japanese eShop. I've been making up for lost time since I've never had good access to the game when I was growing up. I already put in over 30 hours! If you're looking for a motion cabinet, the only place I know is Funspot, up in Laconia, New Hampshire. They should also still have their deluxe After Burner II and Space Harrier there, as well. It's been a few years since I've been back, though. Hopefully they're still up and running.
@RootsGenoa Whicj is still somethjing that you cannot replicate on a standard TV screen.
@YANDMAN Well, maybe that's why I mentioned 'on a compatible TV set of course' in my first post (#24) and admitted 'that it has become a niche market' later (#56).
@RootsGenoa Yeah cause i'm obviously reading all your comments to other people.
@YANDMAN And I obviously have to repeat everything in all my comments.
@RootsGenoa So don't answer then.
@YANDMAN I didn't mean to reply again but I just realized that you actually started by replying (#31) to my first comment (#24) on this article. So maybe you're not supposed to read all comments (even though it is recommended to read everything written on a forum before posting), but I'm pretty confident you should have read the post you replied to in the first place.
So please don't make me regret I wrote articles about your work a few years ago...
@RootsGenoa I see no possible way how i could personally make you regret anything.
Maybe I missed out somewhere but people should realize that the Ferrari Testerossa from the original Out Run is not in this port. They changed the Ferrari logo and the car graphics a bit to distinguish it from the iconic 80s era Ferrari. Such a shame as it brings this game down a whole lot for me because the car itself was a big part of the fun. Now you get to drive a Ferrari knockoff instead...
Love this game and a no brainer! Just fun to pick up and have a blast. I still need to finish it!
I have recently got a new OLED tv, and now Outrun with Scanlines looks awful. It looked ok with my previous LED tv
Guess I need to have a play with the settings
Do we know if it runs on 60fps on switch, like it does on the sega saturn edition?
Or is it just 30fps?
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