Freeware Garden: Red Hot Overdrive

High Action Road Racing Adventure! (Outrun's convincing marketing blurb)

I’ve been looking for a decent, freeware 16-bit-esque racer in the style of Outrun for quite some time now and kept bumping into unfinished prototypes, bad ideas, boring implementations and short one-level offerings.

Thankfully and due to the wonders of the internets, I found a terrific one in the most unlikely of places: the Adventure Game Studio forums. A place where people are bound to talk about their mouse driven point-and-click adventures and not racing games of the Red Hot Overdrive variety.

Don’t get me wrong now. The AGS forums is a lovely place for us who care for hardcore puzzles and not-action, but, apparently, also a place where adventure engines get to be twisted into lovely things that evoke the days of the Amiga.

Never try this at home. Or, well, on the road.

Red Hot Overdrive is a brilliantly old school game that definitely looks the part. It has you driving a shiny, beautifully illustrated red Ferrari that’s stuck to the lower part of the screen, while desperately trying to overcome lorries, pick up trucks and sedans, and avoiding all sorts of things you’d never find on a highway. You know, things like cows, piles of dirt and snowmen. And all this, crucially, to the soundtrack of one of four music tracks you get to pick.

As the ’90s tradition dictates, merely touching anything will essentially stop your car, thus making hitting the allotted time limit all the more difficult. Indeed, this is a time trial in which checkpoints have to be reached and stunningly scrolling, procedurally generated roads have to be navigated. Roads leading through the diverse if standard variety of environments from deserts to snowy mountains, which, come to think of it, is kind of odd. Unless you’re driving through Chile.

Lush retro visuals and a type of gameplay I had sorely missed aside, Red Hot Overdrive also packs a few ideas of each own. Like the gas stations that can refuel and patch up your Ferrari. Or the aforementioned procedural bits and the fact it admits that honking does nothing.

Then again, nobody cares for innovation when they are having this much fun.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Arnvidr says:

    I was never much into Outrun when I was a kid, rather spending my time on the aforementioned adventure games, or maybe some Captain Comic, but now I feel an itch to go looking for a modern version of the Lotus 3 game, which I remember being fairly fond of. I might even still have it in some ill-hidden backup.

  2. Harlander says:

    Holy cats, that’s made with AGS? That’s “guy made a Wolfenstein 3D-esque raycaster in Klik ‘n’ Play” levels of accomplishment.

  3. Eukatheude says:

    Outrun? Whoever made this, from the screenshot alone, clearly spent a lof of hours playing Lotus Challenge 3 (the refuel thing is lifted from there if I recall correctly). As I did. Instadownload. And thanks for pointing out these great games. I end up having almost no time for playing them but at least it’s always good to know they exist at all.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arnvidr says:

      And now I realise that my comment above might have been really off, since this game might be what I would have gone looking for.

      • Eukatheude says:

        I’m definitely going to try to find Lotus 3 online. Maybe it still runs, surely it can be made to.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Lotus 3. Now that was a game :)

    • MickMick says:

      Definitely more Lotus than Outrun right down to the Cassete Deck select your track screen.

      Downloaded and played it, Lotus Challenge 3 is superior so if you have an itch get the real thing on DosBox.

  4. Eukatheude says:

    Looks fuzzy, but these kind of games rarely push the envelope.

    (it’s a pun I think few here will get, but I look forward to being pleasantly surprised)

    • lowprices says:

      I hope somebody gets it and explains it soon, it’s driving me round the bend.

      • Eukatheude says:

        Key word is “overdrive” and my pun basically has nothing to do with gaming (except a couple of games maybe)

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          An audio thing isn’t it?

          Fuzzy overdrive?

          Edit: I’m so wrong you’re embarrassed to reply.

          • Eukatheude says:

            Nope, you’re correct. I had guitar (or bass in my case) FX stompboxes in mind.
            You missed envelope filters though!

          • Eukatheude says:

            Nope, you’re right. I referenced FX pedals for guitar, or bass in my case.
            You missed envelope filters though.

  5. YogSo says:

    I’ve been looking for a decent, freeware 16-bit-esque racer in the style of Outrun

    There’s this thing called CannonBall: The Enhanced OutRun Engine which I discovered thanks to a commenter here a few months ago. It even supports the Japanese ROM which adds a few new courses.

  6. Baggypants says:

    Looking at the download page it’s only scored 62% on Puzzles and Pacing, I might give this a miss until a better paced arcade racer puzzle comes along.

  7. kwyjibo says:

    Guys, just get an emulator and pirate Outrun. Worth it for the soundtrack alone.

  8. Kefren says:

    I liked Outrun, but preferred Buggy Boy (C64 or Amiga).