I thought 2019 was horrible. Little did I know…
Remember in 2019, before the pandemic, when we cruised around in rocket cars? No. Well, Out Run 2019 is here to remind you of those good times.
In all seriousness, I love Out Run. It was a great arcade title with a terrific sense of speed and a relaxing atmosphere. In the Sega Ages release, you can even turn off traffic, which brings about an even better sense of stress relief. After all, Out Run was more about driving than it was about racing. Get behind the wheel of your Ferrari and hit the open road.
There were many spin-offs to Out Run. Some of them were pretty strange, such as Out Run Europa. Out Run 2019 is one game on Sega Genesis that took the concept to a strange new place: the unimaginably distant future! It’s also probably my favorite of the spin-offs, even if the Ferrari looks like it’s something more out of a dystopian cyberpunk pulp novel than a car porn magazine.
I can never decide if it’s one word or two
Out Run was the seminal raster racer, a type of 2D racing game that used the power of math to make the roads look 3D. I don’t know how it works. I once read an article on the graphical trickery and it lost me when it started talking about trigonometry.
Trigonometry. That’s not math, it’s how you argue with a calculator.
I still love raster racers, though. Even modern ones like Buck Up and Drive and Splitstream. They don’t have to use the actual graphical style, just as long as they have those gentle curves and rolling hills.
I’m making no exaggeration that Out Run 2019 is the most impressive use of the effect that I’ve seen. Note that I probably haven’t seen every raster racer, but I’ll tell you: Top Gear was cool for having tracks that actually looped back in on themselves. Out Run 2019 has bridges. Bridges. I’m not sure how else to get how cool bridges are in a raster game outside of just repeating the word. Bridges.
That’s right. Bridges. You’re driving along, and suddenly the road lifts up and you’re elevated. You can even fall off the edge and tumble to the terrain below. It gets better, though! Sometimes the road splits, and you can either go up onto the bridge or under the bridge. Like, you can see it winding above you and intersecting the road. It’s magic is what it is.
Bridges aside, the gameplay is predictably similar to Out Run. You’re not really in a race, except against the clock. Your goal isn’t to rank, but rather to reach the end of every segment of course before time runs out. The biggest difference that separated Out Run 2019 from its timeless predecessor is that there are five courses to choose from, rather than just the singular branching one.
The courses are of different lengths and have their own configuration of branches, but none of the size of Out Run’s super-course. I’m not even certain why they did it this way, it kind of makes the game easier because you have a shorter sprint to reach the end. Each route is unique, but none of the tracks really have a cohesive theme, so I’m not certain why they weren’t just crammed into a single stage.
Highway to the danger zone
It’s unfortunate that there’s only one car in Out Run 2019, but it does have a manual and automatic transmission. There’s a red car on the cover which reminds me more of the original game’s Ferrari, but instead, you’re stuck with an ugly grey one. Everyone drives grey cars in the year 2019, it hides future dirt.
One addition is the ability to boost once you’ve maintained top speed for a short period. Turning is practically impossible while boosting, but Out Run 2019 smartly hands you straightaways so you can stretch your wings and melt your tires. At that point, it’s a matter of not bumping into other cars on the road, which is much more manageable.
The music is pretty excellent, as well. I don’t think any of it is going to get permanently affixed to my ears like Splash Wave did, but they’re groovy little tunes in their own right. They’re each attributed to different artists in the credits, but I don’t know how true that is. The credits are set up to look like they’re from a movie with listings like “location supervisor” and “director of photography.” Most likely, they were all done by Shigeki Sako, but I’m not familiar with any other works by them.
A fun hour
Out Run 2019 might not be the most landmark game out there. In preparation for this article, I wrapped up medium difficulty in under an hour. It was a fun less-than-hour, and definitely not the first time I’ve played through the game. I’m also a veteran of raster racers. What I’m saying is: it might be best as a weekend rental. Hah! Ugh. I miss renting games.
Still, it’s probably a better use of your time than Out Run Europa or Outrunners. I wish we’d get a re-release of it. There have been about a million Sega collections throughout the years, and not one of them has it? Why? I’d rather play it than Altered Beast. Does Altered Beast have bridges? No. I rest my case.