OutRun Europa – First Impressions

No suitable Game Gear box art, and the copy I purchased was the cart only.

So I was at a local game store the other day when I glanced in one of their display cases and noticed sitting front and center in a stack of Sega Game Gear games was OutRun Europa. Having recently spent some time with OutRun Online Arcade I decided to pick it up and see what it was like.

First off, the game is not developed by Sega, nor was it even published by them. The game was developed by Probe Software (a British studio no longer around) and published by U.S. Gold (a British publishing house that shares the same fate). It came out on a variety of platforms in the early nineties, mostly British computers but it also saw release on the Sega Master System and the Game Gear, the version I purchased.

Rather than simply driving, OutRun Europa features a very light story element. All I could gather from the game however was I had had my vehicle stolen, so I stole someone’s motorcycle to chase down the thieves, which is ironic since by doing so, I was a thief, whatever. I guess there is a different vehicle for each stage, but I wasn’t able to make it past the first stage, and it isn’t the game’s fault.

Alas my Game Gear was pretty much useless. The sole speaker on the system didn’t work and the headphone jack didn’t give me the full soundtrack. This is a shame because I watched clips of different versions of the game on YouTube and the soundtrack was good. The major problem with my Game Gear was the screen however. It was hardly legible and adjusting the contrast didn’t help. I could barely read the heads-up display or even see the pickups on the road.

While the stages were fairly lacking in detail, the Game Gear still had some impressive visuals.

So I didn’t get to play a lot of OutRun Europa, but I was able to piece more and more of it together from playing it a few more times and scouring the internet for information. I did like the handling of the motorcycle from what I played although I could’ve done without the pickups. These pickups gave me shields, boost, and maybe ammunition in later stages. There was a fork in the first stage but it doesn’t have a format similar to most other OutRun games, that is to say it doesn’t have multiple branching paths. I wished I could’ve played more to see the different stages and vehicles (a Jet Ski?!) but I won’t be able to until I get another Game Gear or a different version.

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