In 1986 Sega released a follow up of sorts to the company’s highly successful Hang-On game from the previous year. Utilizing the same processor technology of that acclaimed motorcycle game, Out Run was born and became a massive hit for Sega.
Like Hang-On, players drove through various stages as quickly as possible, accumulating a score before time ran out. Out Run featured various stages, each with its own background – much like Hang-On.
Besides the obvious fact that players drove a car, the games did differ in other ways, such as the set-up of the course map. Players were not stuck with the same map and same stages every time they played the game. Instead, Out Run had a bit of a choose your own adventure aspect to it where players picked a fork in the road at the end of each stage
This accumulated in one of five different finish lines, each with its own little ending movie which was a nice touch. Players could select which song they wanted playing through the car’s stereo – a unique novelty at the time. The game also featured hills and dips – aka elevation changes – something not seen in Hang-On.
Master System Icon
When initially released for the arcade, the game was offered in a variety of cabinets, with the most deluxe version including a sit-down car complete with steering wheel, gear shifter and pedals. Regardless of which cabinet was on site, players flocked to Out Run in the arcade and made it a huge hit.
But equally as massive was its success on the home console. Out Run was thee racing game for the Sega Master System. The two were synonymous with each other in the late 1980s. If someone owned a Master System, chances are they owned either Out Run or one of the game’s numerous sequels.
Smooth gameplay, crisp graphics, and replay ability kept gamers glued to their picture tube televisions. Variety was also a key factor. With the aforementioned forks in the road, players could alter their route each time they played, keeping things fresh. This was a feat few video games achieved in 1987.
Of course, Out Run’s car choice didn’t hurt either. What adolescent kid didn’t want to own a Ferrari Testarossa Spyder after playing the game? It was the first time I remember playing a video game with an actual real-life road car as its star. And even if Out Run wasn’t the first game to do this, it definitely sticks out in my mind as the most memorable.
It was just me racing a Ferrari down a scrolling road with my passenger’s hair blowing virtually in the wind.
It would be hard to argue that Out Run is the most well-known racing game Sega ever produced. It introduced an entire generation of kids to racing games, hooking some of us on the genre for life.