Rev it up and start again

Turbo Out Run logo

FOLLOWING on the heels of Outrun, or more probably overtaking it in the outside line, comes the sequel, now with added turbo boost.

The first problem is with the plot, which seems very complicated. As far as it goes the underlying premise seems to be this: You have to drive your F40 (which is a Ferrari, not a yet) very quickly indeed from one end of the USA to the other along a giant six-lane motorway.
On the way you must avoid hitting things and press the fire button every so often to employ extra-super solid rocket booster things probably left over from the last Columbia, erm, Atlantis launch.

There is something else to do with some girlie and another car which you have to stay ahead of or she runs off with the driver. Maybe she likes to feel the power of his engine. To be quite honest it would be a bit of a relief is she did. If she weren't so ugly she might put you off your steering.
It would all make more sense if you were trying to outrun the tune, which is pretty painful.

Tarmac stretches ahead you to the far horizons. If all goes to plan you should be having breakfast in Los Angeles - all macrobiotic stuff, of course. But first you must brave the mind-numbing terror of grit on the road, negotiate the snowbound interstates and wind your way along a freeway which seems to have been designed by an inebriated nomad with no sense of direction.

The race is split up into four stages, where remaining time is converted into an unfeasible number of points and super hi-power add-ons are added on by teams of trained adder-onners. The choice is between extra grip tyres, an even bigger engine or an even better turbo. I can't say I could tell the difference, to be honest.
This is also the point at which the girly usually decides to run off with the other bloke. Bah, women - who needs ' em!

Another puzzling thing is the way, just after engaging interstellar overdrive and reclining back in your acceleration couch, the odd back-and-white cop car strolls past.

The animation is a bit jerky, but you won't notice it when you're going Mach 5 through Chicago. Otherwise the graphics are acceptable, though not entirely stunning.
All the hazards and layouts of the 16 stages have been carefully transferred from the arcade machine. This is not a great recommendation since the original wasn't very. Original, that is.

Interestingly the processed rain forest accompanying the game suggests that the turbo be used sparingly, when in actual fact it seems a physical impossibility to finish most levels at least one stab at the fire-button.

Although certainly better than Outrun the first, and reasonably converted from the arcade, Turbo Outrun does nothing to lift it above the crowed of good racing games at the moment.


Turbo Out Run logo

US GOLD £19.99 joystick

One of the best car driving coin-ops a couple of years ago had to be Sega's Out Run, a game that boasted superb graphics and terrific playability. US Gold grabbed the rights and put out a not-too-hot conversion of the game which sold surprisingly well considering the poor quality of the translation.
Sega's attempt to cash in on the original appeared last year in the shape of Turbo Out Run and once again US Gold have acquired the rights. Two years ago the car of the moment was the Ferrari Testarossa, which was featured in the coin-op: last year it was still a Ferrari, but one of the limited edition F40s (with a price tag of over £600,000 it is no wonder they did not make too many of them!).

Drive your F40, viewed from behind and slightly above, through 16 stages of American cities and countryside which continually scroll towards you. The idea is to make it to the end of the stage before the time limit runs out and you lose one of your four credits. This is not particularly easy when you consider just how convoluted some of the stages are and the number of other road users there are to avoid. Colliding with them causes your car to lose speed and, consequently, time as you build it back up again.

The road users may be annoying but at least they do not cause you to go flying through the air and lose vast amounts of time, which is exactly what happens when you collide too heavily with the roadside obstacles such as trees and bill boards. Just clip one, however, and you might only go into a spin which is recoverable from without too much trouble.

To help you through the stages your car is fitted with a turbo button which can be hit to get that extra bit of boost. Unfortunately it cannot be activated any old time, because when it is on your engine heats up and as soon as the gauge displayed on the top right of the screen reaches the top it cuts out and cannot be turned on again until the engine has cooled sufficiently. You will find you really need the turbo boost just when you cannot have it; for example when you are being chased down the road by the police.

Lots of the original game features are also included in the sequel, like the occasional route choice. There are some extra features too like tumbleweed and wooden road barriers to drive through and humps in the road that bounce your car around. The biggest difference, though, is the ability to upgrade your car ever four stages: you can have a more powerful engine, super turbo boost and better tyres, but note, you can only have them fitted once. Make it right across the states from New York to Los Angeles and you can go back and do it all over again.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Typical coin-op tunes and occasional spot effects, both of which are fine. The graphics are fine too although a little jerky, but there is plenty of detail. There are some nice graphical touches like the blizzards and sand storms that blow across the road in some stages. Looks good.

JUDGEMENT

A vast improvement on the original conversions. Still not a brilliant game because although there is a better impression of speed it is still lacking. You do seem to be flung around the corners rather erratically, too, and the collision detection is a bit iffy at times. All in all it is not a bad racing game but it is not outstanding either.


Turbo Out Run logo

US GOLD
Price: £19.99

It is daggers out time I am afraid to say. The Amiga version of Turbo Out Run, potentially conversion of the year, has turned out to be nothing more than an over-hyped piece of average software.

The graphics are all very nice, nice that is until they start moving; but the speed that the graphics update barely rivals the 64 version.
The gameplay also falls pretty much flat on its face. If you are on a level with an icy road you do not expect good road handling; but I think this has been taken just a little too far when you can predict which corners you are going to career off.

On the positive side, all sixteen levels have been included, each with its on sound track. The open top Ferrari, our hero and heroine terrorising the highways have been faithfully recreated, right down to the sparking turbo. You still have the choice between manual gear change (fire to change gear up or down, and space for turbo), or auto gear change and the fire button for the turbo.

Despite all this (which adds up to a pretty incomplete package) Turbo Out Run will undoubtedly end up a Christmas number 1, or close to it, just on the strength of name and licence. Sad when you look at other more deserving products.


64 UPDATE

CU Screen Star This is what the game should be like - high quality graphics, fast scrolling, excellent sounds and a multitude of features.

Journey from New York to Los Angeles in sixteen stages. En route you face storms, wet roads, snow flurries and innumerable other cars, including the white Porsche, whose driver steals your girlfriend should he beat you in a stage.

Visually, Turbo Out Run 64 is extremely impressive. The graphics are well drawn, update fast and manage to retain the feel of the arcade version. Accompanying the graphics are several tunes, each with its own style and very rarely repetitive.

Every now and then you get the option to change or improve your tyres or improve your engine or turbo, with little mechanics obligingly shown attaching the parts to your car. At the end of the game you are shown a map charting your progress across America, again featuring excellent graphics.

In complete contrast to Turbo on the Amiga, the 64 version provides a fast fun game and conversion that will even please the sceptics. Price £9.99 cassette and £14.99 disk

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GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
LASTABILITY
88%
87%
90%
89%
89%

Turbo Out Run logo

Best not to mention the word Outrun to anyone from US Gold. It's not exactly had bundles of fun with the various er... You Know What licences. First there was You Know What, which was pretty lousy. Then there was You Know What Europa. Nuff said. Tempting fate and saying 'third time lucky' quite a lot, US Gold are back with Turbo You Know What. Sean Kelly and Jackie Ryan prepare their go-faster stripes and fluffy dice for an Outrun outing. (Whoops).

Arcade conversions. Not much can say about them really. As a rule, they generally involve very fast, kicking someone's head in, or shooting lots of people and/or spaceships. They're usually very simple too, 'cos the instructions have got to fit on that little space on the cabinet between the fire button and the 'reject coin' slot.

Turbo Outrun falls into the 'driving very fast' category, and the main objective is to... er... drive very fast in a Ferrari across America, taking in some of the more scenic states and, it seems, just about every weather condition from blistering desert to freezing mountains. And that's it, scenariowise. Usual joystick commands, usual scrolling scenery, other cars and scenic routes. Oh, and turbo boost and stage bonuses as well.

Using turbo is a temporary means of making your car fo faster than Fergie into a cake shop, but use it carefully 'cos if you use it too often (like more than twice in any one stage) it'll result in your car overheating pretty darn quickly.

Using turbo also means that some bends will be just about impossible to get round 'cos you're moving like a bullet, so it's best to use it on sections of road with which you are familiar. Should five sections be completed, then a bonus screen appears giving you a choice of more add ons than Ken and Barbie's Barbecue Set. These fall into such categories as a high tuned engine, super grippy tyres or leather upholstery (One of these isn't true).

Has US Gold improved on its previous You Know What outings, or is it yet another old banger? Let's take a test drive.

Amiga review

Sean: I must admit that burning rubber, driving Ferrari Testacullas and snogging girlies is my idea of an evening well spent. So it's not surprising then that quite a few shiny coins found their way from my pockets into various Outrun arcade machines up and down the country. When U.S. Gold released Outrun however, nothing changed cos it was pretty, er... naff. Fortunately, Turbo Outrun is 10 billion times better and absoflippin'lutely fab.

First of all, let's do the graphics: nice, big, chunky and colourful. There's tons of variety in the sections, from daytime blizzards to nightime sunsets and starry nights over Minneapolis, and that's just the first handful. The scrolling is smooth and fast, and excellent for the Amiga, although it gets a little jerky when there's a lot on the side of the tracks.

The music, it has to be said, is horrid. An awful tune, played with what sounds like a sample of a cat being converted into a tennis racket. Still the in-game sounds are good, the usual old vroomy sounds with car horns and police sirens thrown in for good measure.

On the ol' addictiveness and playability front, Turbo Outrun is absolutely brilliant. The little extras, like the turbo, make the game different from the usual racey ones and hitting turbo just as a police car reaches you, is fab.
Okay, it's yet another drivey game. But it's addictive and it's got an extremely good learning curve. It's great fun to play and without doubt a vast improvement on the previous Outrun incarnation. If racey games are your particular bag of spanners, then there's absolutely no reason not to buy Turbo Outrun for your Amiga. Well, there is if you have an ST, but then you could always buy the ST version, couldn't you?

Atari ST review

Jackie: I must admit that I was expecting Outrun Turbo to be lousy. I saw an early version a while ago and wasn't very impressed. Fortunately US Gold has worked wonders in the meantime, and Turbo Outrun on the ST is, considering the limitations imposed on it by 16-bits et all, really really brill.

The sound though, it has to be said, is not brilliant. It was an awful set of tunes in the first place, and they haven't been improved at all by squeezing them through the ST's sound chip. Fortunately for all its sound inadequacies, the ST was born to scroll, and it certainly does it fabbily in Turbo Outrun. Mind you I must admit that I was sligt=htly alarmed at the jerkiness of the scrolling at first. I reckon it would've been much better to have lost some of the incredibly detailed trackside graphics and use the saved memory to get smoother scrolling. Still after a while you become oblivious to the jerky scrolling, as the addictiveness factor takes over.

A big point in the favour of Turbo is the decent colouring and graphics, which are about as accurate as you're gonna get this side of an arcade entrance. All the elements squodged together (we won't mention the music) actually make a pretty darn addictive whole. Everyone in the office had a quick look and sneaked a quick go when they thought no one was looking, and if that isn't a recommendation of quality, I don't know what is.

Unfortunately, the scrolling lets it down a little but it's still a brill game. Not excellent but brill, and no one should be disappointed if one Mister Santa Claus leaves a copy under the tree on Christmas Day. Stop


Turbo Out Run logo

US Gold, Amiga £19.99

Last month the Commodore 64 saw a Ferrari F-40 burn its way across the States to reach the Gold Medal finishing post. Now, with a roar, the F-40 burns out of the garage with a 16-bit engine under the bonnet. Destination: the open road!

It's the Cannonball Run revisited as Turbo Out Run sees you participate in one loooonnnng race across the States from New York to Los Angeles. You're in your flashy open top F-40 with a beautiful blonde for company when some upstart dude in a pathetic Porsche 959 (spit!) challenges you to a race just for the hell of it. It's time to show these inferior car owners what real horsepower is - after all that's what the F-40 is here for, isn't it?

Turbo comprises 16 stages, taking you and your lady through nearly every type of terrain you could imagine: snowy roads, sand blasted tracks, car congested city freeways - in fact anything which is officially classed as tarmac!

There are barrels in the road, barricades to break through, sandstorms, snowstorms, Sunday drivers to bump up, and cops to outrun with the Turbo temporarily accelerating you to rocket speeds.

Every fourth stage you get to improve the car's internals with a better engine, up-rated Turbo, or hi-grip tyres ('tires' for this game). Beat the timer for each stage and you may well win the day, but more importantly beat that poncy Porsche and you may get to keep your fickle girlfriend (until Richard Noble roars past in Thrust II!).


Phil King This is nowhere near as technically impressive as the 64 version. The graphics aren't as appealing and the 3-D scrolling is a bit jerky. Sound is good, with a nice tune and some nice effects, though not really amazing for the Amiga. Still, it is playability that counts, and this is where Turbo scores highest. The game is a lot tougher than on the 64, sometimes frustratingly so, but all the compulsive racing action from the coin-op is well implemented and certainly fast enough. In short, Turbo is a neat conversion, but not quite a brilliant one.
Robin Hogg Turbo Out Run on the Amiga is as fast as anyone could want, with some excellent and highly atmospheric graphics throughout. Cars mill around and bump you with a bit more leniency than the C64 game, but the police cars are much tougher, really ganging up on you. This, combined with stricter time limits makes for a much tougher game than the 8-bit version. To compensate there's some lovely sound FX, such as the wail of police sirens and the Porsche beeping its horn as it overtakes. While Amiga Out Run lacks the awesome 'my computer can't do that' technical achievement of the C64 one, it's still a top-notch conversion and very close to the coin-op. Great to look and play, Amiga Turbo is a first class racer.