I Like To Go Fast: Outrun 2006: Coast To Coast

By Kieron Gillen on November 25th, 2008 at 12:32 am.

I returned home on a Saturday night. The good lady was out, cavorting with Germany. I scanned my videogames and searched for something to sooth the anger that twisted in my fevered brain. An obvious solution prevented itself. Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast. I’ve been playing it ever since. And for some reason, my steam profile hasn’t been logging its hours, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say, it’s far too much. But what is Outrun 2006 and why is it so awesome? I’ll reprint my PC Gamer review and some modern assorted thoughts beneath the cut. In short – it’s only twenty dollars and it’s one of the greatest arcade racers ever.


Important things first, just in case you’re only going to be with us for a sentence: This is the best Arcade Racer on the PC in living memory. It’s another reason to be thankful that Sega have moved into PC publishing, as we can finally get to play games as pure, as polished and thrilling as this. For those used to the more real-physics-based approach that’s underlined even the most arcade of the PC racers, there’s immediate culture-shock to deal with. Crashes are a momentary nuisance. Powerslides are approached as abstract art, the back end of your Ferrari swinging around as if it thinks it’s in a particularly grindy hip-hop video. It revels in its unrealism. No bad thing.

To talk about an ideological comrade in arms, Sensible Soccer isn’t about simulating football, but the idea of football. The meticulous movement of a ball around the pitch, how that tugs on the other team’s formation and the precision of a perfect tackle in Sensible are only seen in the real game in its most immaculate, transitory moments. Similarly, Outrun 2006 isn’t about simulating racing, but the idea of racing. Velocity, over-taking and hurtling around a mountain-side track with a perfectly executed powerslide. If Plato designed games, he’d design games like this.

Its arcade nature is best showcased in more alternative forms of play, shown most often in the the Heart-Attack mode, where rather than simple racing you’re trying to satisfy the random whims of the girl in your passenger seat. Crash into all the cars. Dodge all the cars. Only drive in the red bar. Avoid UFOs. All unrealistic. All glorious. Its disdain for the real also enters its sexual politics. For example, the levels where you have to stay ahead of another car to stop your girlfriend splitting up with you. In real life, of course, it’s far more likely your girl will dump you if you constantly come first. Everything reminds me of the old games journalist’s line which has fell into disuse in the modern age – “There’s enough “realism” in real life”. Amen, brother, preach it.

Problems? While its strong design aesthetic makes up for most of its lacking in this department, it’s clearly a cross-developed game for the last generation of consoles and as such a little shabby looking. Also, its difficulty level may be a fraction too low – though for those in the audience who may have this as their first real arcade racing experience, this is no bad thing. And, ultimately, there’s no way I’m going to give a game which abuses the English Language with a title like “Coast 2 Coast” the ninety. Oh – and you’ll almost certainly want a gamepad of some kind to get the best out of it.

But this is an arcade game par excellence, as inviting as the open road and just as compulsive. And when you’re riding down an open freeway, a beautiful beach on one side and a beautiful girl on the other, there’s few things in life finer.

I’m still terribly amused by the hyper-cheesy ejaculatory gag half-way through.

I was actually attracted to Outrun’s reboot by… well, the first thing which drew my attention which was the urinal-wall advert in my pub local at the time when Outrun 2 (of which Outrun 2006 is an update) came out. Basic painted image of the game with a bit too much ill-designed text spouting UK-Resistance-esque Blue Sky In Gaming prose – all about a feeling of driving down beside a beach with a girl in your arms and you being thirteen again – remember that! – when you were thirteen and didn’t hate yourself every time you looked in the mirror and trudged off to a job you despise. Well, that was the subtext. Point being, it was a cheaply done advert trying to tweak some vestigal retro longing for this classic in a pissing pub-bound man. What actually attracted me to it was the sense that, through the terrible execution, they were onto something.

I stress, the only “terrible execution” in Outrun 2006 is in that advert.

The second thing was the Reverend Stuart Campbell having a big apoplectic love-fest over Outrun 2. First he writes a review. Secondly, he writes another one a week later with a McLusky-referencing title. And then it was on sale on Play for a tenner. I could hardly resist.

Didn’t click in the first session so I put it aside.

I was aware that it was a speed-of-play thing. I knew there was something to it, but with the mass of stuff I want to play, I rarely get a chance to get back. The problems of a generalist. But over the years, I’ve known Stuart is almost never (I can’t think of an exception) wrong about something he loves. Something he hates? Sure. All the time. He’s a man with defined aesthetic preferences. But when he puts his back behind something, there’s some core game there which is worth investigating.

So I was overjoyed when Outrun 2006 came to the PC and I could persist a little with it and see what I’d find. And, as the review above shows, it totally clicked. In fact, it clicked immediately, which makes me wonder whether than hour with Outrun 2 was the training sequence for me or whether I just was in a bad mood when I played it. Who knows? Who cares? Outrun 2006 is was much fun as I’ve had with a racing game on the PC since the first Midtown Madness.

If you put aside all the different ways you can progress through the game, it’s main appeal is its purity. You have basically two moves available to you. One is driving normally, which allows you to accelerate and slipstream other cars to get a boost. One is hand-break turning like a fucking lunatic which allows you to take whatever corner the world throws at you and makes you look enormously cool. With any given situation, you choose what will best keep your momentum up.

(Unless you’re playing one of the lunatic random challenge missions, in which case anything goes)

There’s a purity and a joy to Outrun 2006. Yes, a couple of years later and its graphics are starting to look a little like Dreamcast graphics felt like in 2002. But, much like the ‘cast, it manages colour and wit and SCALE and FUN out of nowhere. It’s a romantic game, a game in love with being a videogames, and what videogames what once were and what they can still be – except now they can strike more acutely on their targets. And…

Okay, enough wank. The challenge missions. You’re driving across the Outrun-areas, getting challenges like ramming other cars and dodging and sliding and similar. And then you hit a section where meteors are falling from the sky randomly, and you’re trying to dodge between them. And the repeated bits where UFOs arrive, and you’re trying to work your way around their abduction beams while the blonde lady sitting beside you yelps “INVADERS!” excitedly.

She’s a total joy. At the start of this Outrun 2006 binge, playing early Saturday morning, I’m zooming down a hill in the invigourating San Francisco level when she just purrs “You are soooo cool” or similar. And I nod my head modestly to one side, then the other, before coquettishly replying: “Yeah, I am pretty cool”.

Outrun 2006 made me flirt incompetently with my PC. That’s a videogame.

And look – a whole article about Outrun and I didn’t even wax poetic about the music. That’s how good it is.

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85 Comments »

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  1. Aimless says:

    It’s clearly console rubbish though, yes? If it hasn’t come out of a former Eastern Bloc country and doesn’t require me to manually edit configuration files to get it running, frankly I’m not interested.

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    Japan’s kind of a Eastern Bloc country.

    (Admittedly, its developers are from Sheffield)

    KG

  3. Vriebert says:

    It is totally awesome and a game I’ve played on and off since it came out, but anyone who plays any other driving game will hate it. Be warned: the physics system is so abstract and so dedicated to high-speed powerslides that basic things like turning back down the track are forbidden. It’s more like Audiosurf than a racing game.

    I think the only good music is the “splash wave” remix, but it’s good enough that I don’t mind only ever playing that track.

  4. Aimless says:

    Well, my criteria might have been slightly disingenuous. Especially as the fan has gone on my graphics card, meaning the only thing my PC is running at the moment is a risk of catching aflame.

    I’ve never heard a bad word said against Coast 2 Coast so I may have to give it a try. The PSP version might have to do for now though, what with the whole fire hazard thing.

  5. Saflo says:

    My Steam profile hasn’t been logging my hours properly, either. I apparently beat Half-Life in a record 7.1 hours this week!

    On the upside, I don’t look nearly as much like a pathetic friendless loser who plays video games all day.

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    Stuart’s comparison to Scalectrix was right on the money.

    KG

  7. Smee says:

    Thank heavens you mentioned Midtown Madness. By chance, I’m playing through that again at the moment, and the two elict very similar responses in me.

    “It’s high noon in the windy city…”

  8. Pags says:

    I got my gran to play Midtown Madness once. The joy in her face – after she realised you didn’t have to be a polite driver – was indescribable.

  9. Hypocee says:

    I still own it, I still hate it after ‘all’ these years, and I still hate myself a little more for doing so.

  10. Tannrar says:

    As soon as I have the money to spare, I’m getting this.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Down Rodeo says:

    In real life, of course, it’s far more likely your girl will dump you if you constantly come first.

    Oh, Kieron. I know you acknowledged it but still… I am not sure whether that is a genius line or an horrible one. I seem to remember reading this review first time around anyway… not sure though. I have plenty games to get on with what with having no time as it is. And L4D. Oh, shivers.

  12. Stuk says:

    I didn’t even notice that line! Ha, genius :D

    I’ve got an urge to pick this up as well, but it’s only £5/£3 on Play/Amazon rather than £15 on Steam, so I may have to pick it up from one of those and suffer the slow mail. :(

  13. Thiefsie says:

    Those screen shots are basically videos of the game in action. You need one where you are going straight and the rest of the game could be animated with those 3 screenies.

  14. Radiant says:

    Yes! This game is awesome.
    But I implore you!
    Go get Ridge Racers on the PSP. If you have a jones for an arcade racer then double up on Outrun [pc] and Ridge Racers [psp].
    RR is an incredible pared down arcade racer. Which revolves around Boost vs Speed vs Sliding.
    Sliding builds up your boost, the faster you slide the more boost you gain but sliding slows your overall time down.
    Working down your fastest lap time 1 hundreth of a second at a time is the stuff of arcade racers dreams.

  15. Chris Evans says:

    I have constantly avoided downloading this on my Steam account, I guess I just haven’t read anything about it so haven’t wanted to waste the time downloading it.

    I may do now though thanks to KG!

  16. Saflo says:

    I thought it was Midtown Madness, but I’m wrong – does anyone remember an SNES racing game with brightly colored cars and exaggerated jumps and all that sort of stuff? I remember a yellow VW beetle being on the cover.

  17. hydra9 says:

    Sold.

  18. Pags says:

    Saflo: it certainly sounds like you’re describing Midtown Madness (right down to the yellow VW Beetle on the cover) except that wasn’t on SNES… so I’m very confused.

  19. Saflo says:

    Yeah, that’s weird. I’m almost positive it was an SNES game from the mid-90s, though.

  20. Saflo says:

    Okay, I was way off. It was “San Francisco Rush” for the N64. Glad I kept this from keeping me up all night.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Rush

  21. LewieP says:

    More fun than real cars.

  22. Nimic says:

    My Steam profile hasn’t been logging my hours properly, either. I apparently beat Half-Life in a record 7.1 hours this week!

    On the upside, I don’t look nearly as much like a pathetic friendless loser who plays video games all day.

    You’re lucky! My Steam shows me having played 60 hours the last two weeks.

  23. RaFannie says:

    The arcade version ran on a XBOX hardware with extra RAM, so technically the PC version is the port of the arcade version making it superior slightly.
    I knew Sega was crazy when the decided to port Virtua Tennis 3 instead of Virtua Fighter 5 to the PC.

  24. Bas says:

    I made it to the #1 leader board position, and then Company Of Heroes came out. Went on to that, came back, and nobody was playing it online to let me try and climb back to the #1 spot. Boo. :(

  25. Krupo says:

    All those random twitter messages from this weekend make sense now.

  26. Garrett says:

    This item is currently unavailable in your region“. Well, that’s just great.

    When will publishers stop doing Steam releases in a piecemeal fashion? Except for cases where licensing rights for a particular region cannot be resolved, games should be available on Steam worldwide on the release date. This functionality essentially introduces region-locking to PC games, which would have been a laughable idea only a few years ago. This sounds like a very fun game, but without access to the Steam release there’s no easy way for me to buy it if I decided to. :(

  27. Sheepye says:

    I was on holiday with friends in newquay when bored during the day found this in an arcade, 4 way co-op racing.

    THE MOST ADDICITING GAME EVER.

    Seriously, we wasted as much change as possible on this each day afterwards as you could be hungover or what and feel cooler than the ice caps with 4 people simultaneously powersliding and overtaking each other.

    Never found out what the solo experience was like though, cheers kieron for showing us this.

  28. Tei says:

    I don’t get why some race games lack the ability to kill pedestrians, or destroy the enviroment, to me is like tantamount to race games. Any race game has to start with carmagedoom, and built into it. Not start in some obscure simplictis state and evolve to carmagedoom.

  29. dartt says:

    In real life, of course, it’s far more likely your girl will dump you if you constantly come first.

    For the younger readers, Kieron is referring to ejaculation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ejaculation

  30. pkt-zer0 says:

    So, how does this compare to the old Motorhead game from ’98, the best arcade racer in not-so-recent memory?

  31. wiper says:

    (Admittedly, its developers are from Sheffield)

    So, an Eastern Bloc country.

    I bought Coast 2 Coast by accident, back in the day. Well, not by accident exactly. I bought a second-hand copy of Outrun 2 back when that cost a fiver (and Coast 2 Coast £20), but when I got home I found out the [major retailer] had accidentally put Coast 2 Coast in the case. I felt a bit guilty about keeping it for a few seconds, but then I played the game. It was heaven. A gorgeous title for t’ Xbox, there was nothing quite as satisfying as reclining on the clutter of cushions that was our couch, and racing around the random, shifting landscapes on our massive (by my standards) widescreen TV. Glorious. A few weeks of heaven.

    Unfortunately, a few months later I moved house, and lost the TV; my Xbox became redundant overnight, and so I gave it to my brother, along with all my games. I miss Outrun.

  32. Heliocentric says:

    Just got it new off the cheapest vendor on google shopping search for my son. £4.44 including a massive 1.99 delivery. A shame steam is never competitive on anything but its focus titles. As i’d love to use it even at a markup but 200% extra is too much.

  33. Wolfman says:

    Motorhead! Now that is the best PC arcade racing game of all time! None of this Outrun rubbish! All I need to do now is get my copy of it back from my brother who stole it just for the Olof Gustafsson soundtrack.

    -wolfman

  34. MacBeth says:

    Mm, Motorhead was ace at the time… full of ‘teh shiny’

    Couldn’t get it to work on Win2K though, as I recall, and I don’t think I have the disc any more…

    …looks hopefully at GoG…

  35. Adam Hepton says:

    Whistling Magical Sound Shower while I read this, me.

  36. Fitzmogwai says:

    I didn’t buy this at the time because of Steam’s ludicrous regionality, but if it’s available now I’ll have another go, in between bowling £50 notes into open fires.

    In other news, Sega Rally. You know it’s right.

  37. AndrewC says:

    Sega Rally cured my herpes.

  38. Jp1138 says:

    How can it cost 20$ on Steam and only 7€ on play including shipping? I love Steam, but I don´t understand its pricing policy.

  39. Kieron Gillen says:

    Because play have boxes they’re trying to get rid of.

    KG

  40. unclelou says:

    I already feel like an outcast after reading these comments, but I really couldn’t stand Outrun at all. It combines the lack of complex controls of arcade racers with the lack of arcadey thrills of sims, giving you the worst of two worlds. I guess if it works for you it probably gets you “into the zone”, but it just didn’t work for me at all.

    I *did* love the new Sega Rally though, with a passion, so maybe there’s still hope for me.

  41. AndrewC says:

    Sega Rally drilled down to the water table and saved everyone in the village a three hour round trip every day.

  42. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Important things first, just in case you’re only going to be with us for a sentence: This is the best Arcade Racer on the PC in living memory.”

    It’s a great game and everything, but, dude, what about Trackmania?

  43. Brian says:

    I bought this game on Steam a couple of years ago but it just hard-locked my operating system after a few seconds. I emailed Sega’s support and it took them a month to send me an automated response about cleaning my Dreamcast. I’d gotten a refund from Steam before it arrived.

    I only wanted to know one thing about this game and neither my play experience nor Kieron’s review have answered it for me! How’s the music??

  44. Kieron Gillen says:

    Ginger Yellow: As an Arcade Racer, it’s better than Trackmania.

    KG

  45. Hi, I are commenting on ur post lol says:

    No it’s not. :p

  46. Hi, I are commenting on ur post lol says:

    Ok, to expand a little:

    Trackmania is the purest arcade racer around. It’s fast, it’s spectacular, it’s insanely unrealistic, it’s got a bunch of wildly different cars, and it’s all about the battle against the clock.

    You don’t get more “arcade racer” than that, at least not if you use the term in a derogatory manner and also imply that arcade racers have to have lousy and loose handling. Which is just stupid sim-elitism.

    So yeah, as an arcade racer, Trackmania is vastly superior to this and the other “recent” Sega racer on the PC, Sega Rally. They’re both fun, but not Trackmania-fun.

  47. Hi, I are commenting on ur post lol says:

    Uh, “if you _don’t_ use the term in…”. Edit button plz?

  48. Rodafowa says:

    We went on holiday to Somerset two months after getting Coast2Coast on the PS2. Picking our way around a windy leafy b-road on a glorious summer’s day, as we went around a corner my wife piped up from the passenger seat “You’re so cool!”

    I laughed so hard we nearly went into a gorge.

    I love this game so much.

  49. Kieron Gillen says:

    Trackmania doesnt have UFO abduction.

    KG

  50. Urael says:

    Amazon had one in their Used and New bin for the princely sum of £3.68 (total). As one of the few remaining people on planet Earth who doesn’t like Steam all that much (rant for another day), this pleased me, oh yes indeed.

    Cheers, Keiron. I’ve bought this solely on your evocative witterings above. If it’s rubbish, I’m going to send you the burned and melted disc as a reminder not to toy with my emotions.