Conversion Wars #1: Out Run (part 3 of 3: console ports / scores)

(Note: please see parts 1 and 2 for the rest of the ports.)

Not many more to go, now. :) First, let’s look at the Sega Master System port:

We’ve already seen two versions (MSX2 and PC) that appear to be based on this one. All of these are colorful, fast and smooth, but the sprites are smaller than average, the roads seem a bit “empty”, and the music, while decent, isn’t as good as that of most of the US Gold ports. Still, in terms of “fun”, I’d rather play this port than any of the US Gold ones, except perhaps for the C64 one.

Now for the NEC PC Engine (Turbografx 16 in the US) version:

Now we’re talking. :) Have you noticed that, until now, we didn’t have even one Out Run port that looked and played like the original? Even on relatively powerful systems such as the Amiga? This one, however, succeeds. It’s fast, smooth, good looking, and really feels a lot like the arcade game. If there’s anything not great with it, it’s the music, which is again not as good as in most of the US Gold ports.

Considering that the PC Engine is an 8-bit console (though much more powerful than, say, the NES or the Master System, and able to compete with the 16-bit ones), this port, then, is easily the best 8-bit version of Out Run.

But what about 16-bit? Can’t such a machine do at least as good, if not better? Up to now, we didn’t really see it; the best 16-bit version so far would be the PC one, followed by the Atari ST port. Both of them are disappointing in different ways, and neither really looks or plays like the original. Fortunately, there’s yet another 16-bit version, this time for the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis for the USians), which can do this:

Great port, isn’t it? Fast, smooth, great looking, and plays like Out Run. It’s hard to notice, as it’s so close to the PC Engine version, but the objects seem to be more detailed, the frame rate looks a bit smoother, and there appears to be a little more graphical detail. It would be hard to ask for a better port. Only the music — again — could have been better, but this is probably related to hardware limitations.

No, it isn’t exactly the same game as the arcade, but it’s not that you’d expect such a thing in a home console at the time, right?

Well, in a few years, you would be able to expect it. You’d just need to have a Sega Saturn, and you could play Out Run like this:

This one isn’t really a great achievement, as the Saturn is far more powerful than the original arcade. But I’ve included it here just so you can see what kind of system would eventually be required to have a “perfect” version of an 1986 game at home. :) Also, it finally gets the music right. :)

Well, this is getting long, so here are the scores:

FaithfulnessHardware UseFun
ZX Spectrum332
Commodore 64254
Amstrad CPC221
Atari ST322
Commodore Amiga312
Sega Master System443
NEC PC Engine455
Sega Mega Drive455
Sega Saturn55 (*)5

(*) No, the Saturn isn’t used to the fullest, but, as mentioned in the intro, that’s OK as long as it’s a perfect port.