Apologies for the bump but this thread deserves another entry. Here it is:
Along with Virtua Racing, Outrunners is another one of Sega’s arcade racers that celebrated its 25th birthday in 2017. This, the third Outrun game, ran on Multi 32 hardware for more detailed sprites. It was also the first game in the series to allow the player to select from multiple cars (eight, to be precise, each with its own set of drivers), all of which were based on various real-world vehicles, but subtly altered due to licensing issues, and introduced multiplayer support for up to eight(!) players. It also had two sets of routes for the player to follow (westbound and eastbound), and some tracks were accessible from both sets. Speaking of which, the use of the Multi 32 hardware made them look better than ever. And in another first, the player could change the background music (which included remixes of songs from the original OutRun, alongside some new tunes) during a race.
Here’s a playthrough of the arcade version using the red car, the Speed Buster, on a westbound route ending in the Atlantic Ocean. Back in 1992, it would have looked stunning, but given that it came out shortly after proliferation of 3D graphics, it’s easy to see why it wouldn’t stay in the spotlight for very long:
Of particular note is that the Speed Buster closely resembles the Ferrari Testarossa from the original game, right down to a two-speed gearbox when using a manual transmission.
Being a 32-bit arcade game in a 16-bit world did not come without its drawbacks, though. The Genesis port had degraded audio and graphics, and required a split-screen format similar to Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge. It did, however, give the player a CPU opponent to race against in single-player races, and also had an additional mode that the arcade version lacked: an Original mode in which you raced a series of opponents for pink slips, culminating in a final showdown with the Virtua Formula from the aforementioned Virtua Racing - again, another feature exclusive to the Genesis port. Win that race and the Virtua Formula - the absolute best car in this version of the game - is yours to keep. Here it is:
Regardless of the port’s hardware limitations, it’s just as fun to play as the arcade version. Sadly, those licensing issues also mean that this is the most recent OutRun game that can be rereleased - although a full-on high-definition remake with 3D graphics, complete with redesigned cars (to suit the present era) new game modes, and even online multiplayer for the home ports (if there are any), would make more sense. Given the fact that there are very few arcade racers on current-gen consoles, it would be a refreshing return to escapism in a sim-obsessed world.