x=RND(4834)October 31, 2008
Welcome to the first of a regular series of posts where I play a random game generated by Atari Legend‘s featured game sidebar (located at the top right). The rules are simple: whichever of the 4,834 featured games of the AL database appears when I point my browser towards the site, I must play. First up: (drum roll please… ) Turbo Outrun.
I was in two minds when I saw that red Ferrari on the screenshot. You see, I love Sega’s arcade racers, but – as mentioned in the mini review for Super Hang-On (click and scroll down a bit) – the home conversions often suck harder than a testerossa’s turbo inlet, and the original Outrun was no exception. But I was also glad it wasn’t a piece of educational PD twaddle like Body Shop.
- Released: 1989
- Developer: I.C.E.
- Publisher: U.S. Gold
- Genre: Racing
First Impressions: Sega logo, blonde girl, shiny red Ferrari – so far, so Outrun… but wait, is that a map of the U.S. in the background? Interesting. The U.S. Gold logo does not fill me with confidence: I have played their conversion of E-Swat *shudder*.
We’re off! Some differences from the original start to stand out. For a start, we seem to be driving an F40 rather than the old Testerossa – very nice, and we seem to be racing a rival who is driving a Porsche – also very nice. As you can see in the top left corner it is kitted out with what games of this era annoyingly refer to as ‘Turbo Boost’ (thanks to Knight Rider’s Kit I’m sure) which functions more like a nitrous oxide boost, but that’s a petty foible of mine, and I shouldn’t let it mar my opinion of the game. Use this too much and you risk overheating the engine, which is a nice touch. Do you dare use that last bit of boost to reach the checkpoint and risk scrapping your engine?
As bullis1 quite rightly points out in his Atari Legend comment, it is choppy – choppier than Hong Kong Phooey to be frank, and it does detract from the game. Early on everything is all right, but by the time you hit Pittsburgh (with no choice of route, by the way, very un-Outrun) with its multitude of obstacles and other road users (I had four rozzers swarming around me at one point) precision manoeuvring becomes an impossibility when one frame has you a cars width away from something and the next sees you plowing right into it.
This is further exacerbated by the pacing of the game: race for thirty seconds, wait thirty seconds while the next stage loads, race thirty seconds, wait thirty seconds while… you get the idea.
Though I am struggling to find many positive things about the game, it’s not completely pish, and still has enough of the bare-bones of Outrun’s ‘Beautiful Journey’ to give it a little charm and kitsch cool. Unfortunately, not an improvement over the Probe conversion of the original so I probably won’t be returning to it. Maybe I should give Europa a try.