Long live the car crash hearts.
OutRun is an important game in the medium’s history for many reasons, but perhaps its greatest accomplishment is being one of the earliest games to make the player feel cool while playing it. “Cool” is obviously a subjective term (watch the 1995 film Angus for one of the most endearing examinations of the topic), but I can’t think of a better way to describe OutRun’s aesthetic. The player drives an (unlicensed) approximation of a Ferrari Testarossa, which was without a doubt the coolest car (outside of perhaps a DeLorean DMC-12) in 1986 when the game was originally released in arcades. Also cool are the constantly changing locales in the game.
OutRun is, surprisingly for a racer of the era, a game filled with choices. After traversing the California-esque Coconut Beach, you reach a fork in the road and must (quickly) choose your next path. You are presented with this choice after each section, until you eventually cross the finish line in one of five final locations. Similar to Star Fox 64, this structure opens up many possibilities for subsequent playthroughs.
The most important choice however, is made before the race begins: your song selection. The original OutRun contained three tracks: Passing Breeze, Splash Wave, and the legendary Magical Sound Shower. These three tracks are some of the finest ever composed for a video game, and a strong case could be made for each of them being the best of the bunch. 3D OutRun adds two new tracks, which may seem like sacrilege to some, but I really enjoy them. The tracks, “Cruising Line” and “Camino A Mi Amor” both fit stylistically and technically (the songs were made using the arcade game’s native data format).
The track layout and driving mechanics are simple, but rock solid, and the steering is responsive. I really only found myself even slightly frustrated with the game a handful of times, all of which involved coming up a hill to immediately be faced with a sharp turn, causing a crash. These moments felt even more brutal with the 3D turned up. While the game looks absolutely incredible in 3D, I found it to be a much more intense experience. But click that slider off and everything is chill again.
If I absolutely had to choose another word to describe the feel of playing OutRun, it would have to be “chill.” And 3D OutRun is the chillest version of the game ever. As expected from M2’s Sega 3D Classics, 3D OutRun is packed with options that allow the player to completely customize their experience. You can modify the amount of traffic on the road and extend or reduce the timer. Beyond this, completing routes unlocks optional “tune-ups” for your car that do everything from increasing top speed to aiding in cornering. While dodging cars at a high speed is still a blast in OutRun, sometimes it’s also nice to drop the difficulty down and just go for a relaxing drive while listening to some hot tunes with your girl.
Tucked deeper in the options menu are all of the visual and audio tweaks hardcore fans have come to expect from the Sega 3D Classics line. Fiddling with cabinet and sound settings can alter the experience in a multitude of ways - yet another way to get more, excuse the pun, mileage out of the game. 3D OutRun does a great job keeping track of your records, not just for overall scores, but individual section times as well. It’s just a shame that there aren’t online leaderboards, as it would be super fun to compare records with friends.
3D OutRun is an incredible and affordable way to experience not just a legendary racing game, but a cultural moment in time. Whether you’re flipping your car through heavy traffic or cruising along the beachfront bumping Magical Sound Shower, 3D Out Run is a cool, chill, and infinitely replayable classic.