Opinion

Racing Game of the Week #2: “OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast” (2006)

Gimme all your lovin’
All your hugs and kisses too
Gimme all your lovin’
Don’t let up until we’re through

-Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard
“Gimme All Your Lovin'”

 

FF3-NES-WhiteMage1.png “The following is a contributor post by the Purple Prose Mage.”

OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast (published by SEGA) was released for consoles in Europe on 31st March 2006. The re-release of “So Sick” by Ne-Yo was the UK No. 1 single, while Ice Age: The Meltdown opened at the top of the Northern American box office.

It is not to be confused with OutRun 2, the arcade game that was ported to Xbox. No, OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is not simply a port but an updated version of the game with more content, like extra cars and modes. They’re very similar games, but not the same game.

But it’s still an OutRun game. So it retains the progression structure of racing against the clock through 15 different stages. And what stages they are! Each of them takes a different theme and blows it up to superlative proportions: the Deep Lake is the deepest you’ve ever seen, the Cloudy Highlands are as cloudy as can be and the Snow Mountain is nothing but.

All of this in a Ferrari, one of the most prestigious car brands of all time. Ferrari. The very name communicates an iconic reputation of fun. This game may be the greatest product placement every produced, due to a unique licensing agreement between Ferrari and SEGA. If Gran Turismo is “the real driving simulator”, then OutRun is “the real driving stimulus” by being the best possible demonstration of how driving a Ferrari really feels. They sweep you off your feet, just like you, the player, taking your girlfriend for a ride. They seduce their drivers, just as the game seduces its player; before you even know it, the pure joy of playing it has overwhelmed you and it may take until the very end of a session to realise its effect. They defined what it meant for a car to be “cool” in the 1980s – the same decade in which the original Out Run (1986) debuted. For those of us who had pictures of them as our pinups, playing this game is as close as most of us will come to sitting at the wheel of one for real. It’s likely to cause most of us to make some quite disturbing noises when we put the hammer down. For us, playing this game is the kind of special privilege that most people simply won’t ever understand.

Compared to Out Run (1986), OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast vastly improves on the drifting physics. Mishandled before, the powerslide is brought front and centre to be the main aspect of the game. The stages are most exciting in the corners. The stages are also mostly corners. And yet, it never feels like competing in a real Japanese drift contest. It never feels heavy. In fact, it feels light as a feather. There’s almost no centre of gravity, so the game is completely stress-free. Manoeuvring around a hairpin turn becomes like ballet, the corners of the car pointing as far as it can go, before gently swinging back round with the general movement of the car.

It may have been developed in 2006, but it remains visually comparable to its contemporaries because it doesn’t take its look too seriously. It’s ecstatic, brash and bright. It looks like a high-resolution transfer of a handheld game – and, incidentally, the PSP release is also highly praised – with a summer shine. There’s no dirt at all.

Sometimes life can be boring. OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is like an ice cold orange juice in a desert. It doesn’t need sweeteners, it’s completely authentic. It’s made for the heart and to be loved. It’s so simple that it’s almost inexplicable. But that simplicity is most what makes it so enjoyable.

Out Run was the first video game that allowed the player to select the background music – and one of those tracks was Magical Sound Shower. As part of Out Run‘s soundtrack, it inspired the synthwave genre, which is also known as “outrun”. In OutRun 2006: Coast 2 CoastMagical Sound Shower reappeared in a new arrangement.

To play us out now, here’s the SEGA Sound Team Band performing Magical Sound Shower live at the Game Music Festival 1990:

 

The Purple Prose Mage rewrites his author’s blurb every time he publishes a post because he keeps changing his approach to things. He’s currently working on a documentary about the Driver series for its 20th anniversary this year (follow).

 

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