Outrun - Classic Inspection
So what was the definitive home conversion of Yu-Suzuki's Outrun?
I've played the arcade original on many an occasion, and like everyone else back in the day, hoped my respective home conversion came out the closest to Sega's arcade original. Sadly, the CPC conversion was the litter of the runt, and looked and performed like a badly curled poo.
That didn't deter me from hunting down the ultimate home conversion though... In fact i became obsessed in doing so. Over the years I've played Outrun across a vast range of machines including the C64, Speccy, Amiga, ST and Sega Megadrive to name but a few. Over 26 years on, I'm now convinced I've found the ultimate home conversion. Gor blimey! Can this be true? The almost unbelievable answer is yes.
Before we jump straight in, lets quickly take a look into the 8-bit versions. The ZX Spectrum effort actually plays quite well, features some good authentic music, and graphically holds its own. The problem is in the speed department... and although a valiant effort, it just doesn't get the pulse racing when compared with the arcade original. Next up the Amstrad CPC. The car looks nice, I'll give it that, but it's a poor mans Speccy port, running at half the speed... playable, but only just. The MSX versions are slightly better than the Amstrad, but despite the better graphics and sound, speed is still an issue. The Commodore 64 effort looks and sounds the part right from the word go, speed isn't an issue in this version, but the blocky graphics and missing multiple routes might just put some people off. For me the C64 effort is the best of the bunch, only just pipping the Speccy to the finsh line.
I recently discovered the IBM PC version, but seriously wish I hadn't... it really is that bad. As for the Atari ST and Amiga versions, they're practically the same game, and equally crap.
For the consoles, lets kick off with the PC-Engine conversion. This is a massive improvement over the other versions... the programmers have worked wonders, and along with the speed everything feels authentic. The Game Gear tries really hard to impress, but somehow the roads seem barren throughout. Considering this was a Sega console, I expected so much more. The Master System version feels like a great deal of effort has gone into the graphics and speed, and the results are bloody marvelous, a great little conversion. The Megadrive version looks rushed, and is probably the easiest game of Outrun I've ever played. Despite this, it's entertaining and the speed never lets up, could have been a lot better though. The GBA conversion for me isn't perfect, and the controls can be a little twitchy, but you get the feeling the programmers pulled out all the stops. The important thing is it feels, looks and plays like Outrun. Last but not least, The Sega Saturn... well, for me this appears arcade perfect. I'm not sure if its just me, but this seems faster than the arcade original, and every bit as beautiful. My god! They finally did the arcade original proud.
Worst version: Amstrad CPC
Best version: Sega Saturn