I have memories of playing the Original OutRun at the local amusement arcades many years ago when I was a smaller and less hairy young boy. I also remember a couple of years later getting a copy of OutRun for the Amiga which wasn’t a brilliant port of the arcade game at least let me play the game without having to shove lots of silver coins into a greedy gaming machine whilst the grinning amusement owner looked on and planned how to spend my pocket money later that week. The Amiga version wasn’t developed by Sega but ported by a third party and as such wasn’t the best representation of the original as it could have been but still cool for a home computer. Apart from a brief play of OutRun 2SP at my local ten pin bowling centre a year or so ago I’ve must have not played OutRun properly in over fifteen years. Thanks to Sega and Sumo Digital I now have played through OutRun Online Arcade for the Xbox 360 and all those memories of the original OutRun have come flooding back because it captures all of the magic from the original and mixes it with my typical everyday life. Nonstop racing through traffic along scenic American Coastlines, Mountain Routes and Skyscraper filled cities with the girlfriend by my side, she loves the thrill of the race and I love driving fast in one of my 10 Ferraris. Sometimes it’s hard to see where OutRun ends and my real life starts. All OutRun fans will already know the unique racing structure that you must compete in.
You start off in your Ferrari at the beach and end up at one of 5 goals (A to E, A being easiest and E being hardest). Your race is splits into four choices where a fork in the track forces you to pick either left or right. Choosing left takes you onto a easier path heading towards A while the right takes you through a harder path towards E, however at any fork you can switch back from a harder route to an easier route (or vice versa) which will take you to the middle goals (B, C and D). It may sound a little complicated but that’s probably me not explaining it right, think of it as an RPG where your decision good or bad affects your outcome, well in OutRun choosing Easy or Hard can be just as critical. As you only have a limited time to complete each checkpoint you need to drive fast, choose your route wisely because if you don’t complete it fast enough it’s Game Over. So whilst the different routes vary in difficulty with such things as; twisty turns, level or traffic and weather effects, each are actually roughly the same distance and take around a minute to complete (depending on how quick you are obviously).
OutRun Online Arcade is split into two modes, Single Player and Online Multiplayer. Single player as you’d expect just asks you to race to the finish as quick as possible in a choice of 10 different Ferrari’s, they do handle a little differently but not enough to really worry about which one you choose, after all this is an arcade game not a simulation. Also in Single player is Heart attack mode which is a little different because now it’s not just about getting to the finish line as quick as possible. Now your girlfriend gets demanding and not only wants you to finish each stage quickly but complete a little challenge too, sometimes it’s as simple (and easy) as passing cars or passing and not hitting other cars but quite often you’re asked to drive through rings or collect coins laid out on the track, this can become difficult when you have to time your slides perfectly around a corner to collect them all. Ideally you want to score a rank of AAA on each to gain the most hearts from your girlfriend but this is quite a tough feat and scoring AAA on every possible router will take lots of practice, but it’s quite fun so that’s not a problem. Multiplayer online allows you to create or join a race with up to 5 random people or other OutRun owning friends, it’s pretty fun to be racing online when you know it’s just your speed keeping you in front or lack of speed keeping you behind, unlike my usual racer Mario Kart Wii there are no weapons to help (or hinder) you here. In these modes races generally consist of you driving full throttle with the occasional bit of braking to assist you power sliding (I bet that phrase isn’t cool anymore) around long corners without losing too much speed or crashing off into the scenery. Downloading OutRun Online Arcade is just as simple as any other Xbox Live Arcade game and within minutes I was ready to start racing, sadly I don’t have an Xbox Steering Wheel but even so I’m a pretty nifty racer with a joypad.
The online leaderboards are a nice addition but don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll knock off the crazy Japanese racers at the top, they play all day and are unbeatable. It’s best to stick with trying to compete against your friends. With some other cool racing modes such as Time Attack and 15 courses mode as well as the 12 achievements to earn there is a nice amount of replayability here. In the look departments OutRun Online Arcade looks just as good as the arcade version of 2SP as far as I can recall, there’s usually lots going on in the pretty detailed environments with only slight slowdown on occasions. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the best looking racer on Xbox but considering its age and file size (remember it doesn’t come on a DVD) it holds up rather well.
All the popular OutRun music is here but if you’re expecting a lot from the sound effects then you’ll be disappointed; apart from a few bumps, screeches and cries from your girlfriend there’s not much to listen out for. Overall OutRun Online Arcade for Xbox 360 is a very solid and cheap arcade style racer, if you’re a motor racing purist and like your action realistic then stay away but if you like fast no nonsense racing against the clock then OutRun could very well be for you. I really enjoyed OutRun Online Arcade and award it 7 out of 10.
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