US Gold Ltd
1987
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
£8.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

13
Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

Hugely ambitious tasks that never quite came off:

- Raising the Titanic.

- Crossing the Atlantic really fast in a speedboat.

- Going out in not entirely blistering heat in the Antarctic when your name is Scott.

- Outrun? Well, though it's by no means a disaster, one feels that US Gold may have overstretched its programmers a little on this one.

Outrun in the arcades came in a number of forms. There was the ultimate version which jerked around in a hydraulic fashion as you sat in it, and various in/betweenies until you got down to the bog-standard cabinet version. It's main appeal, at least in the novelty stakes, was the way it lurched and bucked at every corner and dip in the road. OK, for a kick-off you have to scratch 30% of Overall Greatness - you're not going to get that on your Spectrum.

So what's left? Another 3D road-race? Well, not exactly. Outrun sits you in a Ferrari Testarossa - a shiny red slab capable of 185 mph, on an American interstate heading into an unspecified horizon. The road curves left and right in usual 3D fashion. And it also dips and rises very nicely.

Simply creating the style of graphics used in the coin-op on the Spectrum is clearly impossible, and moving them at the sort of speed necessary to give a feeling of exhilaration is asking for miracles.

All that considered. Probe - the programmers - hasn't done too badly. Your car is recognisable as a Ferrari, you can identify the other vehicles and the road twists and turns and rises and falls.

The biggest problem is the combination of speed and numbers of graphics. As you can see from the screens, there are some serious-sized objects around, and if they total more than about four, the poor old Z80 begins to cough and protest and slows down noticeably.

To remedy the problem a little, the numbers of objects have been trimmed, and the game generally moves at an acceptable, if not gob-smacking pace.

An interesting feature of Outrun is the way you can, at least to a certain extent, decide where you are going to drive. Every few kilometres you'll find a branch in the road. You've got to decide which way to go. Usually there's a route which is easier than the other, so it's a question of remembering to try each route to see which is the fastest.

If the game had been released as Sunday Driver, or something, everyone would have been bowled over by the graphics and the speed, which are pretty good for the Spectrum. Instead, everyone feels at a little bit diappointed that it's not closer to the original - impossible task though it was.

If you can manage to forget how great the original arcade version looked, vou may end up pretty impressed by Outrun though.

Label: US Gold
Author: Probe Software
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

A tall order falls short of expectations though not by much. It's still about as close to the original as anyone could expect.

8/10

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PROGRAMMERS

PROBE is one of the country's larger development teams, employing around fifty programmers.

SOFTOGRAPHY : Xevious (US Gold, 1987), Enduro Racer (Activision, 1987), Metrocross [US Gold, 1987), Brave Starr [Go!, 1987), Rygar (Go!, 1987)