Growing up in the ‘80s was a magical time for video games. It seemed like every month there was something innovative that had never been seen before. The arcades constantly pushed the envelope when it came to graphics and the home consoles always tried to play catch up. One of the biggest competitors from the mid-‘80s through the early 2000s was Sega. They really knew how to bring something new and exciting to arcades and one of my earliest memories of playing a racing game was Out Run. I remember being mesmerized by the bright and beautiful graphics, the fast turns, the multiple paths, and the simple arcade nature of shifting from low to high gear – so simple that a young boy like myself could drive a fast car to the finish line providing I kept feeding the machine quarters. Many iterations of Out Run have released for home consoles over the years, but the arcade version still remains king of the hill and now it’s on the Switch courtesy of the masterminds at M2!
Gamers are likely to fall into two camps with this latest release of Out Run: those that grew up playing the game in the arcades and on consoles, and those that did not. It’s quite possible that this divide will have a direct impact on what you think of this arcade port. Those that grew up loving it will no doubt find a lot to like here and will come away satisfied with the execution. Those that are new to the game will probably wonder what all the fuss is about. That’s often the case with any retro game release – having nostalgia for it will undoubtedly raise one’s opinion. That’s partly why games like these can be so difficult to review. Luckily Sega and M2 have done their homework and delivered more than just a straight-up port – giving more incentive to spend the $7.99 on a game that came out way back in 1986.
For those unfamiliar, Out Run was pretty revolutionary for its time. Sure we had racing game before it arrived, but none looked as pretty as it did. Besides the gorgeous pixel graphics for its time (polygons were not yet in use), the game has a wonderfully addicting soundtrack. Now, if you had played this in the arcade all those years ago I doubt you would have been able to hear the glorious tunes emanating from the arcade cabinet, but I distinctly remember picking my radio station and chilling out to the awesome music. That’s because the place I most played this game was in a grocery store vestibule and they had the music cranked up with no other arcade machines vying for attention. It’s probably one of the first time I paid special attention to music in a video game and is no doubt the birth of my love for gaming soundtracks to this day. With the Switch version you get those same arcade sounds, plus a few remixed tracks for extra pleasure!
Up to this point most arcade racers consisted of turning left and right and that’s about it. Out Run took the normally flat roads and managed to incorporate hills to make the game seem more realistic. It’s not quite as dramatic as the later Sega arcade release, Power Drift (which felt almost like you were on a roller coaster), but it gets the job done. Different parts of the courses included unique scenery and visuals and since the player could choose different branching paths to the finish line, the game had some definite replay value to it. With the Switch version all of this is still true, but you have a host of options at your fingertips to create the type of game session you like. There are different degrees of difficulty to choose from, including top speed, time limits, and more. Upon completing a race you unlock special features that can be toggled on or off. These enhance your vehicle in a variety of ways, from speed, to cornering, and more. Basically it’s completely up to you how you want to enjoy your drive through the countryside and that’s great for beginners and experts alike. There’s even an online leaderboard to keep track of how you stack up.
Short of owning the actual arcade machine, the Switch version of Sega Ages Out Run is the best way to play the original Sega masterpiece. In a world where over 1500 games are at your fingertips via the Switch eShop, it can be a tough sell to someone who has never tried this game before. Indeed, there may be some out there that give it a try and come away unimpressed – especially if they’re younger and have only played current generation racers. It’s great to see that we can still get these classics released at a reasonable price point with a bunch of extra bells and whistles thrown in. Having lived through the era of arcade ports never living up to the originals, I’m always ecstatic to see the actual arcade games finally make their way home. The Switch version is great to play on the go or on the TV! Although it does offer up some replay value thanks to online leaderboards, multiple pathways, and fun gameplay – it’s still the arcade game at heart, which means it’s on the short side. This is a perfect game to play in short bursts.
Sega Ages Out Run Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 9/109/10
- Gameplay - 7.5/107.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
This sure is Out Run, just like you’d expect! Fans of the classic arcade game will find a lot to like here. The bright, crisp pixelated graphics and awesome chiptunes complement the fun and easy to learn gameplay. Newcomers may find the game a bit lacking and short on replay value, but it’s still a hell of a ride.