Platform: Sega Master System (SMS)
Year Released: 1987
Last Played: 2/1/2016
Remember visiting the arcades back in the 80s or when you were younger (ok and still sometimes as an adult) the familiar, bleeps, chings, kabooms, wakka wakka’s and wait for it…… “Get Ready!” Yes that was the familiar sound coming from the Out Run game cabinet. Out Run seemed to be in nearly all of the arcades i visited as a youngster and is a game that will remain in my fondest of memories. Alongside other outstanding Sega games from that era Out Run has made its way into many hall of fames and now i have decided to dig out one of my favourite home ports of the game. The Sega Master System version.
Digging out my Sega Master System copy of Out Run I take a look at the box and smile to myself. Boasting “The Two-Mega Cartridge” on the front of the box and a nifty little drawn red car leaving a pile of dust behind in its wake, i was not surprised to realise it doesn’t give me any information about the game. As with many of the earlier Sega Master System games, the box art never really gave away what you were getting from the game until you either looked at the two screen shots on the back of the box (maybe more if you were lucky) and managed to work out what the game was like or spending your pocket money on it and cross your fingers it. But this is Out Run after all, a Sega port of a Sega arcade game and back in the 80s Sega were on fire with Master System arcade ports.
Clunking the cartridge into Master System i am greeted with the title screen. Starting the game for the first time in a few years i forgot about the clever way of picking the game music. I have to select one of three tunes from the in car stereo. Passing Breeze is my choice of tune first time round and now presented at the classic “Start” screen. As the count down begins i notice there is unfortunately no “Get Ready” like in the arcade version but i can understand for a home version of any arcade port at the time, it was amazing what they managed to fit onto the cartridge without worrying about adding voice sampling.
OK so from the off its finger pressed firmly down on the accelerator or button 1 on the Master System pad (remember the cool arcade machines, with force feedback steering wheel and gear sticks?) and im off. The graphics are pretty decent for a SMS game, the colours are vibrant and the game runs at a good pace. Things are slightly different than the arcade version of course, noticeably the lack of another road and the amount of detail in the scenery. But this is an 8bit home console port after all. The music is great and sounds as close to the arcade as i can remember. Zipping passed on coming cars and weaving through a fairly easy going first stage, i realise that the time for this section was almost up and the extension line was nowhere to be seem. Looking around the screen i realised i was still in low gear and like the arcade version i needed to manually change to high gear after i hit a certain amount of speed. Epic Fail !
Removing the look of shame, taking my head from my hands and this time remembering the simple driving mechanic from the game; to my amazement the second play through was going much better! Yes i know should have read the manual (come on, we all dont bother to read old game manuals…..err do we?)
As with the arcade version of the game, the Sega Master System is split into five stage with a timer set to complete each stage. If you manage to complete each stage (or cross the extension line) any time you have remaining will carry on to the next stage. Also as you are about to finish a stage you get a choice of two routes in which to move onto the next stage. I’ve heard if you pick the left route this is normally an easier path to choice but mixing the routes you will see much more of the games well designed stages and making a total of five possible endings. Amazing from memory all of these have been included in the Master System version. So its important to do as well as you can in the earlier stages.
After plying through multiple times and try various routes i realised i had lost a few hours. This gain this reminds me of why i am so found of this game and how good this conversion of a classic game it is. Out Run on the Sega Master System was as close to the arcade as you could get at the time and still plays well today. It cannot compete again remasters on the PlayStation 2 or the original arcade version but you will find yourself losing a couple of hours playing it. Out Run is a game that needs a few play through’s to get warmed up and you will soon realise which course works best for you on each stage. It is not a racing game like other Sega games but a driving game, you need to use skill and determination to beat the game but most importantly its dam fun!
Final Verdict: Own It!