Out Run (Master System Review)

Out Run was a phenomenally popular arcade game. However, whilst this isn’t a bad game per se, it is another in a long line of disappointing Master System coin-op conversions which could have been good with a few tweaks here and there.  For those of you not familiar, Out Run is a typical, against the clock, racing game.  Jump into a Ferrari Testarossa with your lady (or man if it’s a right-hand drive) and away you go.


Or just don't bother!
Or just don’t bother!


One key difference with Out Run is that you can choose at certain junctions whether to go left or right. This is the only aspect that sets it apart from other mundane racers.


The trip to California took a rather large detour
The trip to California took a rather large detour


The graphics are pretty good for the 8-bit.  The car is well defined and the game feels fast.  However, having been a fan of 1985’s Hang On, this 1987 title looks a little too familiar.  Some of the backdrops look like they’ve been directly ported from Hang On.  The middle stages even use the “rocks beside the road” trick and are sometimes impossible to avoid.


There was another car there a minute ago!
There was another car there a minute ago!


The game is tough, especially if you choose to go right.  This is another aspect directly ported from the arcade, although in this version I was scared into not turning right at all!  I constantly turned left and still couldn’t beat the game.  It’s easy to leave yourself in the “Low” gear.  Once you reach 190km/h or so, you need to change up in order to stand any chance of catching the next checkpoint.  There were constant times when I’d brake at a corner, exit it, then realise about three seconds later I was still in low gear.  Sound familiar?  They should have just called this “Hang On On Wheels”.


Actually, that would be doing Hang On a disservice. The car handles worse than the bike and Sega have made the sound effects worse, it definitely sounds more unrealistic.  Out Run also has some odd visual illusions.  Watch out for the “Desert” stages where the shading used on the road makes the action seem half as fast.  And also the tunnels made out of Stonehenge type fare that induces fear of having a fit.


As with the rocks on the road, give Out Run a wide berth.




If you like this…

Hang On (MS Review)


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