If someone told me they were creating a new OutRun with 3D graphics, I’d be extremely skeptical. OutRun was not merely a raster racer through and through, it’s the God-empress of raster racers. I would think that adding some depth to that would hurt the appeal. Not so, because OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is about as faithful as I could imagine.
To be clear, OutRun 2006 is sort of the sequel to the sequel. OutRun 2 was released in arcades in 2003, and followed up with a port to Xbox in 2004. Afterwards, OutRun SP was released in 2004 as an upgrade to OutRun 2. OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is a console (and PSP) combination of the two titles. It is the ultimate version, and I have no idea why it hasn’t been ported since. Probably the Ferrari license. It’s always licensing.
Magical Sound Shower
I feel like OutRun 2006 is unexpected since the racing genre had long moved on from the seminal 1986 arcade title. What I thought would have happened is some soulless simulation racing game with the OutRun name slapped on. Instead, OutRun 2006 is OutRun. The only thing that really changed is that now the graphics are in 3D. New mechanics and progression are piled on top of it.
The setup is the same; you take the wheel of a Ferrari, with your girlfriend sitting next to you. Then, you take off on a journey across a branching course. While there are rivals on the road this time around, you’re not required to pass them. You merely have to get to the end of the course before your time expires.
That’s easier said than done, but the addition of drift is a welcome feature. The drift is that special kind of unrealistic that we’ve seen in the Mario Kart series. You can throw your car into a drift by pumping the break in a turn, and then it’s stuck there until you deliberately steer out of it. You can snake back and forth with it, in a way, never having to leave it at all. It’s an amazingly perfect fit for the series.
Or, at least, that’s the regular mode. There are two of these big branching courses: OutRun 2 and OutRun SP. That’s already a lot of course, but to ensure that you don’t put the game down immediately after completing a run of each, there are alternate modes. There’s something of a campaign that have you completing smaller missions and beating rivals in a race. That’s probably the best way to gather Out Run miles that can be used to unlock more Ferraris and additional tracks on the soundtrack.
The most unique is perhaps the Heart Break Mode. While the OutRun games have classically had you travel alongside your girlfriend, this time around, she tells you to kill. Okay, I’m being slightly facetious. She doesn’t just tell you that you must commit vehicular manslaughter by crashing into other cars, sometimes she tells you to evade aliens or run into ghosts. If you’re unable to fulfill her perfectly reasonable demands, or even if you’re just too slow, she’ll start physically abusing you from the passenger seat.
I really think the protagonist of OutRun could do better. A woman who leaves you because you don’t wreck your high-performance sports car by turning it into a murder machine is probably not worth your time. I get wanting a little excitement, but my idea for excitement is going through the Popeye’s drive-thru.
There’s a wide spread of what you can unlock, from over a dozen Ferraris to remixed and classic tunes. Considering Splash Wave is unequivocally the best piece of music ever composed for a video game, it’s unusual that there are even other tracks available. However, there are three versions of Splash Wave, including the original. That’s immediately the best soundtrack ever assembled.
My biggest complaint is that it takes a long time to unlock new gear, and that means you’ll be driving the same courses a lot. Regardless of how much unique mileage is in the game, you’ll always have to drive the first stretch of road, and frequently need to see the second areas. As much as I love OutRun, I feel the formula works best in small sessions as opposed to grinding through it to unlock more stuff. You can choose individual slices of tracks, so you’re not just racing the same ones repeatedly, but I feel shortening the experiences drains Out Run of some of the things that make it special.
I may be repeating myself, but I didn’t think a 3D OutRun would really work, let alone one that was created in the ‘00s. I suppose it’s important to remember that in the late-’90s and early-’00s, Sega was creating some of the most unique games that hit the market. Even if some of them aren’t the best (I don’t like the Sonic Adventure games, I’m sorry), titles like Crazy Taxi and Panzer Dragoon Orta were in a class of their own. They just don’t make games like these anymore.
Speaking of which, it pains me that we haven’t gotten ports of any of the games I just mentioned. It feels like Sega was on an apology tour, and we chose to forgive and literally forget. OutRun is even worse since we’ve received ports of the original title but not Turbo OutRun, OutRunners, OutRun Europa, OutRun 2019, or OutRun 3-D. Considering Sega is one of the better companies when it comes to making its classic library available, this seems like an issue that needs addressing. Especially when it comes to OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast.
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