Tony Wilkins looks at the Mega Drive sequel to a classic game
Funny thing about sequels; in the movies sequels tend to not be as good as the original. There are countless sequels to great movies that are absolutely dreadful and we would be here all day if we tried to list them all. In gaming however sequels tend to be better than the original with player feedback often being taken in to account to know what worked and what didn’t. Sadly in gaming there are exceptions and this is one.
Out Run was one of the truly iconic games of the 1980s beginning life as a full arcade experience complete with little car to sit in before exploding on to the early home consoles such as the Sega Master System. Sales were high and awards such as the Golden Joystick Game of the Year were plentiful. The plot was simple enough; a guy and girl in a Ferrari 355 Testarossa racing against the clock through idyllic countryside. It embodied what we wanted from video games – escape to the kind of action filled world we always dreamed of. It was a critical and commercial success and was destined for sequels.
There were a few on the Master System and some of the other consoles it was ported on to but the most loyal fans waited patiently for it’s leap on to the 16-bit Mega Drive (Genesis) console. The more sophisticated system promised to build on the experience but Out Run 2019 didn’t deliver on that promise at least not for me. I was disappointed with this title for several reasons. Firstly the graphics are blocky and clumsy looking compared to some equivalent games of the day; the two tone speeding ground being my biggest annoyance. This has the look of a Master System game at times and I feel like the Mega Drive’s ability was not utilized to the full. Gone is the Ferrari it being replaced with a Batmobile-style rocket car (perhaps the blonde is still there with you behind the golden brown windows). I understand it’s the future and they were going for a Blade Runner look but what harm would it be to at least make the car red to show some lineage to the Ferrari? Strangely the car on the cover is red so someone in the art department caught on to the idea. Actually the look of the game was a throwback to the fact that originally this was it’s own game for the Mega CD called Cyber Road but then it was renamed Junker’s High for a Mega Drive (Genesis) release before finally becoming Out Run 2019 as part of a marketing ploy.
One thing that hasn’t changed are the controls. The brakes are still only used on occasion with it being enough to handle all but the sharpest of corners by easing off the throttle. Even then you will probably find yourself go flying off the track by a near ninety degree corner that just appears out of nowhere. If you ever glance down at the speedometer you might be stunned to see speeds of around 400mph. It is fast especially when the booster kicks in but I think that saying you are doing 400mph+ is stretching it a bit far. Actually the US version is tweaked to display speeds of over 600mph while the Japanese version has a realistic speed of around 200mph. Whatever the speedometer displays the gameplay remains the same.
I won’t go as far to say this game is bad. I understand that it does have a fan base of its own but I will not be joining its ranks. Bland is the word I would use to describe it. I don’t feel like it improves on the original 8-bit games very much and so for me it is something of a missed opportunity.
Thanks for reading…