Category: Game Changers

Game Changers: GoldenEye 007

GoldenEye 007 (Nintendo 64) (Rare, 1997)

Game Changers is a semi-regular column featuring games which have had a significant impact on me over the years. Games that were so incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring, they changed my conception of what a game could be at the time. Previously, I have written about Out Run, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Red Dead Redemption.

When the first-person shooters first rose to prominence, they were almost entirely non-existent anywhere besides the PC. Console controllers at the time simply weren't equipped to handle movement and aiming together in any kind of intuitive way. That all changed with Rare's 1997 smash hit, GoldenEye 007.

Rare made expert use of the uniquely designed Nintendo 64 controller when implementing the control scheme for the game. They utilized the brand new controller features like the analog joystiq, yellow C buttons, and gun-like Z trigger for more natural-feeling movement and shooting than had been possible before. The brilliance of their control scheme was that it worked so well with Nintendo's oddball controller. A device design that had previously left many fans scratching their heads suddenly made (some) sense. It seemed almost as if Nintendo had designed the controller for GoldenEye, and not the other way around. What's more is that for the first time, a game developer had successfully created an acceptable way to enjoy the wildly popular first-person shooter genre on a home game console.

While the first-person shooter control scheme may not have ultimately achieved perfection until 2001's Halo on the original Xbox, GoldenEye represented an absolutely crucial stepping stone along the path; basically, the only real stepping stone. The game opened up the world of first-person shooters to millions of people who only liked to play games on their television sets. The genius of this timeless classic cannot be overstated and the controls are only but one of the numerous reasons why.

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What Were You Playing 20 Years Ago?

Lately I've been seeing a lot articles on the good ol' interwebs about certain iconic PC titles that will be turning 20 this year. That got me thinking: I've been a gamer for a pretty long time now. What was I playing some 20 years back? What were some of the other guys from Twinstiq playing then? So I'm going to talk briefly about a couple of titles that really cemented me into the PC gamer category, And we'll hear from a few of the crew about what they had going on from that era as well. Join me in my and a few of the crew's ramblings below. Read more

Game Changers: Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360) (Rockstar Games, 2010)

Game Changers is a semi-regular column featuring games which have had a significant impact on me over the years. Games that were so incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring, they changed my conception of what a game could be at the time. Previously, I have written about Out Run, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Street Fighter Alpha 3.

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the Wild West. Growing up, one of my favorite things to do (whenever I wasn't playing games or practicing spinning toy pop-guns like a gunslinger) was kick back and watch some great Westerns on TV. "Back to the Future, part III", "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr", "Tombstone", the legendary Clint Eastwood "Man with No Name" trilogy ("A Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More", and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"), and of course, the John Wayne classics like "Rio Bravo", "El Dorado", and "True Grit" (to name more than a few). These films (and one show) are some of the finest examples the genre has to offer. They are far from the only cinematic representations available, however.

When it comes to games, the options are much less prevalent. When I was young, there were really only two Western games that I found to be any good, Sunset Riders and Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters. Both were multiplayer Arcade titles from Konami and both were really great games. They also both came out in the early '90s and quickly received multiple home console ports.

I acquired them (for my Sega Genesis and Sega CD, respectively) pretty much as soon as I found out about them. I spent a lot of time playing both of them and they still remain two of my favorite games to this day. But the early '90s was a fairly long time ago. Gaming changed a good bit as the years marched on.

Tons of great new games came and went but almost none of them featured an Old West setting. The incredibly few that did were either not available on the platforms I owned or were just not very good. I started to think I might never play a great modern Western game. But finally, in 2010, Rockstar Games released perhaps the greatest Wild West game of all time, Red Dead Redemption.

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Game Changers: Street Fighter Alpha 3

Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Dreamcast) (Capcom, 1999)

Game Changers is a semi-regular column featuring games which have had a significant impact on me over the years. Games that were so incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring, they changed my conception of what a game could be at the time. Previously, I have written about Out Run and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This time, I decided to highlight my all-time favorite fighting game.

My first experience with the Street Fighter series was Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, on the Super Nintendo. The game had come out only a few months earlier and a buddy of mine had just gotten his hands on a copy. He invited me and another friend to a sleepover at his house, and the three of us stayed up all night playing it obsessively. We were all new to fighting games, so we spent hours passing the controllers around, taking turns battling it out in order to learn the basics and familiarize ourselves with the characters. It was a lot of fun.

Over the next several years, I played a few different versions of Street Fighter II (Hyper, Arcade). Eventually, I even picked up a copy of Super Street Fighter II (The New Challengers) for my Sega Genesis. I loved being able to play with the newer characters, especially Dee Jay and Cammy. Even though I enjoyed spending a lot of time with all of the various iterations of Street Fighter II, I eventually grew weary of game's limitations and moved on to other, better fighting games (Virtua Fighter 1 & 2, SoulCalibur, etc).

Fast forward to December of 2000. I was home from college for the holidays and browsing around the local Media Play store for Christmas gift ideas. My brother and I had spent most of that summer playing the hell out of his new Sega Dreamcast (I picked one up for myself by the end of summer break); I decided to hit the games section to see if I could find any potential presents there. I happened across a marked-down copy of Street Fighter Alpha 3. My brother and I had both gotten a good amount of entertainment out of my aforementioned Super Street Fighter II cartridge a few years earlier, so I decided that he might like to give Alpha a try (neither of us had owned a PlayStation or Saturn so we weren't very familiar with that series).

When he unwrapped the gift on Christmas morning, I explained to him that I had picked it out because of our prior shared enthusiasm for Street Fighter II. He looked at it approvingly and agreed to give it a shot. Later that day, we fired it up and inadvertently ignited what would become a life-long passion for all things Street Fighter.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - Dramatic Battle
Poor Adon is no match for the combined might of Ryu and Ken.

The Difference Was Dramatic

As fun as Street Fighter II had been, it was nothing compared to Alpha 3. The beautiful graphics, depth of gameplay, insane number of characters, wealth of content and features, excellent soundtrack...all of it was incredible. My brother and I were instantly hooked. We played the game more or less constantly over the next several months (separately and together). A few months later, I picked up my own copy to play on my Dreamcast up at school.

Each of us beat the game dozens of times, on various difficulty levels, and with a number of different characters. Every time I came home for a break or a long weekend, we would test our newly developed skills against each other to see who had improved more. Sometimes it was him, sometimes me. Either way, whoever held the slight advantage, never held it for long. Every session we had, after playing enough matches to determine superiority, we would always close it out with an obligatory round of the brilliant co-op mode, Dramatic Battle.

Dramatic Battle is one of my favorite features of Alpha 3 (really, one of my favorite features from any fighting game). I honestly think that every fighting game would be vastly improved by including it. There are two different options for Dramatic Battle, plain and Versus. In the Versus version, you can have three players face off in a lopsided 2 v 1 match-up. Unfortunately, we usually only had two working controllers at any given time, so we always just stuck with the regular version.

Standard Dramatic Battle is like a shorter version of arcade mode, but with co-op. Two players fight together, 2 v 1, against a series of six AI-controlled opponents. You can pick any two characters from the roster to play as and you have to fight, in order, Adon, Akuma, Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and finally, M Bison. The opponents in this mode are much tougher than in the regular Arcade mode, but what's cool about it is that you and your teammate each have separate health bars. That means that even if one of you gets knocked out mid-round, the other can continue fighting until either both of you, or the enemy, has been defeated. Just like Arcade mode, if you both lose a match, you can continue right where you left off and try again. After defeating M Bison, you are treated to a staff roll (credits) and some victory music.

Dramatic Battle goes a long way towards breathing some additional life into the standard player vs player/player vs AI fighting game. It's a lot of fun to be able to switch things up and form a team with somebody after having pounded on them (or having been pounded on by them) for a while. There's also something satisfying about having a teammate for support/sympathy whilst taking on occasionally frustrating AI opponents (much more so than having to go it alone). Again, it's just a shame that more game developers don't think to add such a fantastic mode to their fighting games.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - Character Select
Decisions, decisions...

Showing a Lot of Character

The number of characters in Alpha 3 is staggering. All sixteen playable fighters return from Super Street Fighter II (and Akuma). Then you've got Gen, Birdie, and Adon, from the original Street Fighter, and Cody, Guy, Sodom, and Rolento from Final Fight. If that weren't already more than enough to satisfy any fighting game fan's needs, Capcom decided to go ahead and add some brand new characters to the mix. Over the course of the Alpha series, these included Charlie, Rose, Dan, Sakura, Karen, R Mika, Juni, and Juli. Finally, they also decided to throw in two alternate versions of characters, Evil Ryu and Shin Akuma.

In case you weren't keeping track, that's a total of 34 different characters. For a (mostly) one-on-one fighting game, that is an incredibly substantial number of fighters! For comparison, the original Marvel Vs Capcom (which came out around the same time) only had sixteen playable characters, and that was a two-on-two fighting game!

What is even crazier is that, not only are there 34 different characters in the game, but each one has their own unique story, mid-story match-up, semifinal match-up, and ending. Some of them even have unique pre-fight interactions as well (a la King of Fighters). Nearly every single character also has their own unique stage and music. The only exceptions, stage-wise, are Evil Ryu, Shin Akuma, and Juni and Juli (and only Juni and Juli share music). Even the successors to the Alpha series, Street Fighter III and IV, had way fewer stages and characters (IV did eventually surpass Alpha 3's character count, but only by the third version).

With 35 different stage themes in the game (including the training theme and an additional unique battle stage theme), you might expect some of the music to be repetitious or forgettable. But every song in the game stands apart. Each one is upbeat, catchy, and/or appropriately dramatic. Many of them, you just can't help bobbing your head along to (my personal favorites are the ones from Sakura's and Dan's stages). I actually enjoyed the music so much that I recorded it all to create my own soundtrack to listen to whenever I wasn't constantly playing the game. Even now, years later, I still enjoy listening to that music from time to time (I have since purchased an official copy when it became available though).

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - Semifinal Match-Up
Newcomer Karin gets ready for her semifinal match-up against fellow newcomers Juni and Juli. (Together!) How awesome is this game?!?

A World Worth Fighting For

As I mentioned earlier, I had been somewhat of a fan of Street Fighter with II, but Alpha 3 managed to hook me for life. My obsession with the game transformed into an obsession with all things Street Fighter (and Capcom as well, to a slightly lesser extent). I began to collect and play, not only the latest Street Fighter titles, but any games I could find with even a slight connection to Street Fighter. This led me to discover the brilliant Final Fight series (which I had somehow missed), as well as other phenomenal Street Fighter related games, such as Super Puzzle Fighter II and the Capcom Vs SNK series.

I even went so far as to seek out Street Fighter in other mediums, such as the brilliant Street Fighter II animated movie (by which the Alpha series was inspired), as well as the incredibly well-done Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist web series. If you aren't familiar with either of those, do yourself a favor and check them out. Unfortunately, I also discovered the abysmal Legend Of Chun-Li movie, but we can just pretend that cinematic abomination never happened.

For as many great fighting games as I have played since first discovering Street Fighter II all those years ago, none of them have been able to hold my attention like Street Fighter Alpha 3. SoulCalibur 1 & 2, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, and Capcom Vs SNK 2 all came close. I still play those from time to time, along with the most current version of Street Fighter IV, but Alpha 3 will always by my weapon of choice.

Taking everything that Street Fighter Alpha 3 offers into consideration, the beautiful graphics, great music, exceptional content and features (I didn't even mention the incredible World Tour mode), there's really no other fighting game quite like it. It's the first thing I want to bust out whenever I'm visiting with my brother, it's the first game that springs to mind whenever I hear about the latest Street Fighter news (I really wish they would make a Steam version, by the way), and I am always, always down for a couple rounds of Dramatic Battle (just in case anyone's interested).

[Images: Capcom]

Andrew J Amideo

2009-06 O Small

Game Changers: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360) (Bethesda Game Studios, 2006)

Game Changers is a semi-regular column featuring games which have had a significant impact on me over the years. Games that were so incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring, they changed my conception of what a game could be at the time. For the first Game Changers article, I wrote about the '80s arcade classic Out Run. It was one of the earliest games to have such a significant impact on me. This time I decided to write about something a little more recent.

Oblivion was not my first experience with the Elder Scrolls series. After hearing nothing but good things about The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, I went out and picked up the Game of the Year Edition for the original Xbox. I made several attempts at getting into the game, but I ultimately ended up not spending more than a few hours with it.

I enjoyed the music and lore, and a few of the design aspects, but I found the overall experience to be a bit off-putting. The graphics weren't quite as good as I was expecting for a PC port, the mechanics left something to be desired, and I found the menus and quest system to be pretty confusing. It didn't take long for frustration to set in and after that, I felt very little motivation to play it. In short, I was pretty disappointed with my purchase.

I was almost ready to write the whole series off when I started hearing information about the next game that was to come out soon on the Xbox 360. I happened to watch some development videos for Oblivion on an Official Xbox Magazine demo disc. The improvements they had made since Morrowind, as well as some of the new features they were attempting to add to the game, looked pretty incredible.

Then the game released and I saw all the high review scores it was receiving. I was almost ready to take the plunge, but I couldn't forget how burned I had felt by Morrowind. I wasn't keen on the thought of throwing away more money so I decided to give it a rental first, just to be sure.

ES - Oblivion I
So epic!

It Begins

From pretty much the moment I popped the game disc into the tray, I was hooked. The graphics, the grand orchestral score, the intro narrative by Patrick Stewart, all of it was simply amazing. I even thought the title looked cool. The way the roman numeral IV is perfectly contained within the word "OBLIVION". I immediately thought that I was probably in for something special. I had no idea how right I was.

As in other Elder Scrolls games, you start off as a nameless prisoner. During the introductory section of the game, you are prompted to select your character's race, sex, features, skills, and attributes. Then you are on your way. The game opens in the dungeons of the capital city of Cyrodiil. The emperor, voiced by Stewart, is attempting to flee from assassins. As fate would have it, his secret escape route into the catacombs goes right through your prison cell. He stops to comment on your fateful role in the unfolding events and grants you a pardon before heading on his way.

After completing a brief tutorial section, you happen upon him again in the catacombs. The assassins make several repeated attempts on his life, but are repelled by his guards. Knowing that his luck will likely soon run out, he entrusts you with the Amulet of Kings, a powerful artifact that could decide the fate of the land. He asks you to get it into the hands of his sole remaining heir, whose existence and location are a closely guarded secret. Shortly thereafter, one of the assassins finally succeeds in killing him. You dispatch his murderer, head through the sewers, and then finally make your way out into the world. And so your journey begins.

ES - Oblivion
"I can see for miles and miles and miles..."

Looking Good

Playing through the first bit of the game and then finally stepping out into the world, I was struck by just how different this game is from Morrowind. There were so many improvements implemented from that game to Oblivion that you would barely recognize them as belonging to the same series. Plot, graphics, sound, mechanics, menus, the list goes on.

Many of those improvements can be attributed to the much better hardware that Oblivion runs on, though not all. For instance, the opening of Oblivion is much more exciting and dramatic. In Morrowind, you step off of a ship and into a building, where you are asked to fill out paperwork. Yes, you get to play as a fantasy character who has to fill out paperwork. So much fun, right? In Oblivion, immediately out of the gate, you are thrust into the middle of an imperial assassination plot and entrusted with the security of the entire realm.

The graphics in Oblivion are probably the single biggest advancement since Morrowind. The level of detail, the scenery, the draw distance, the color palette, everything looks amazing. The graphics in Morrowind were okay for the time. I would describe them as occasionally nice but for the most part merely serviceable (on Xbox, anyway). The scenery was actually somewhat bland and featureless. Most of the time everything looked flat, sparse, muddy and foggy. Also, the draw distance left something to be desired.

When I exited the sewers and entered the world of Oblivion for the first time, I was blown away by what I saw. The colors, the detail, the realism of it all, it was staggering. I happened to look upward and saw the most beautiful dusk sky I had ever seen in a video game. There were oranges and blues, clouds, and tiny little stars popping out one by one. I turned all the way around and saw miles of lush tree covered hills, water, individual blades of grass, some stone structures, all surrounding me in absolutely incredible detail.

The draw distance in Oblivion was pure insanity! Up to that point, I was used to not being able to see the equivalent of about 75 - 100 yards in most games. Morrowind was no exception. Shortly after leaving the sewers and entering the world of Oblivion, I started to make my way up a nearby mountain. After dispatching a few wolves and bandits, and meeting a traveler or two, I came upon an overlook.

I strolled over to take a look down at the valley below and was awe-struck by what I saw. The view seemed to go on forever. I could see for miles, almost clear across the whole kingdom. It was just like real life! For a split second, I think I even forgot I was playing a game. It felt like I was really standing there on that mountain, looking down at the world spread out before me.

ES - Morrowind
I don't even think I can see to the top of this hill. (Morrowind comparison image.)

No Comparison

The menus and quest journal are way better in Oblivion. In Morrowind, I found everything to be either too overcomplicated or somewhat lacking in sufficient information. One of my only experiences with the quest system in that game was also a bit confounding. After my "playtime" filling out the requisite paperwork, I ventured outside and on down the road, hoping for some slightly more exciting gameplay. All I found instead was frustration.

After a short walk, I came across a man who appeared to be down on his luck. I stopped to talk to him and he told me about a nearby witch who had stolen all of his possessions. He asked me to eliminate her and help him get his stuff back. "Sweet!", I thought. "I'll get to take down a witch and complete my first quest!"

I must have accidentally skipped the part when he told me where to find her because I couldn't for the life of me figure it out. I tried speaking with him again and he wouldn't give me any more information. I checked all the menus and the quest journal for any kind of clue but there was nothing to be found. I then proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes scouring the surrounding area trying to find this supposed nearby witch but I ultimately couldn't find any trace of her. To make matters worse, the guy kept dying every time a stupid animal or monster attacked us.

I really wanted to see the quest through but I started to get pretty fed up with the situation. It wasn't much fun constantly having to reload my saves to keep the guy alive and searching all over that god-forsaken ugly landscape without any luck finding what I was looking for. Finally I had had enough and I just let him die. I tried to move on with the game but after the extremely boring introduction and my horrible first quest experience I quickly lost interest and stopped playing altogether.

In Oblivion, every quest has a page explicitly detailing what needs to be done in order to complete it. Furthermore, there is a very handy marker that appears on the map showing you exactly where to go. Any time I got even remotely lost or confused I just pulled up the quest journal, reread the entry for that particular task, and checked the corresponding map marker to see where I needed to go next. Whereas in Morrowind I was just totally lost and confused, in Oblivion I was an unstoppable quest completing machine. No frustrations what-so-ever.

ES - Oblivion S
As incredible as the art is in this game, the music is even better.

Sunrise of Flutes

The sound design in Oblivion was absolutely brilliant. I don't have any real complaints about the sound in Morrowind but, as with the graphics, Oblivion just took it to another level entirely. Every character is voiced in the game. Every. Single. Character. That totally blew me away. It may not seem like such a big deal several years later but at the time, that was virtually unheard of for a game this size. The majority of dialogue in Morrowind was just text.

The decision to have every character speak in Oblivion really went a long way with regard to realism and immersion. The only real drawback is that Bethesda didn't hire enough voice actors to give sufficient variety to an entire world of characters. Not that they needed to bring in an army of people, but thousands of characters can't be realistically portrayed by just six or seven voice actors (unless it's The Simpsons). After playing for just a few hours, you start to realize that every new character you meet sounds exactly like dozens of others you've already come across. Despite that slight limitation, having all those voices in the game is still much better than not having them.

The music was hands down the best part of both Morrowind and Oblivion. I think it is fair to say that Jeremy Soule is one of the most talented video game composers of our time. His work on Morrowind was exceptional. And with Oblivion, he was at the very top of his game (pardon the pun). The score is variously beautiful, haunting, and foreboding. It is a joy to listen to and it fits the gameplay perfectly. I enjoyed it so much that I eventually purchased the official soundtrack off of his record website, DirectSong. That was about three or four years ago now but I still like to play it every few months or so. The opening track, Reign of the Septims can be listened to at the official Elder Scrolls website (here).

ES - Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim took everything that was awesome about Oblivion and kicked it up a couple notches.


After popping it in for the first time and playing through the opening, it didn't take long to realize what a brilliant game Oblivion was. I couldn't believe how significantly better it was than Morrowind. I was so excited about playing it, I went out and bought my own copy before the rental was even due back. Since that time, I've spent hundreds of hours adventuring all over (and under) Cyrodiil.

I still can't fully wrap my head around the incredible wealth of content Oblivion provides. Even the base game was huge, but then they decided to go and add some pretty substantial downloadable content on top of that. There are those who may remember the Horse Armor fiasco and still get a sour taste in their mouths. Personally, I just think about Knights of the Nine, the Shivering Isles, Thieves Den (and others) and smile. Despite the one piece of content they got wrong, they had a lot of others that they sure got right. Oblivion never got old for me as a result. I still play it today from time to time. The only one reason I no longer enjoy it as often as I used to is because it has since been (mostly) replaced by its even more improved sequel, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Skyrim has its own advantages over Oblivion and is a better all-around game as a result (though I still prefer Oblivion's soundtrack). Despite being clearly superior, none of the improvements made from Oblivion to Skyrim were even remotely as substantial or numerous as those made from Morrowind to Oblivion. That is why no other game in the Elder Scrolls series, or the adventure/RPG genre in general, had as big an impact on me as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In so many ways, it truly was a game changer.

[Images: Bethesda Softworks]

Andrew J Amideo

2009-06 O Small

Game Changers: Out Run

Out Run (Arcade) (SEGA, 1986)

So, Out Run has just hit the Nintendo 3DS eShop. That got me thinking about games that have had a significant impact on me over the years. Games that, for me, were so astounding, so groundbreaking, so incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring that they redefined what I thought a game could be at the time. I decided to start a column that will pay tribute to just those sort of games. What better game to start with than the one that both inspired it and, perhaps, had the biggest effect on me as a gamer?

What the majority of popular arcade games looked like at the time.

A Little Perspective

At the time that Out Run came out, arcades were mostly filled with 2D perspective puzzle/platform games set against a featureless black background. The most popular ones were probably Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. They were fun and engaging but, overall, quite visually simplistic. These were the gaming staples I had grown accustomed to seeing and playing at the arcade. Then, Out Run was released, and my gaming world was turned upside down.

I still remember the first time I saw it. My mom had dragged my siblings and I to a local ice rink. I didn't feel much like skating, so I decided to pass the time in the adjoining arcade. I hit the BurgerTime machine first. It was always good for at least a few minutes of fun. After burning through several quarters, I soon tired of that game. I decided to look around and see what other usual suspects they had on offer. Then, something over by the far wall caught my eye. Something colorful. Something new! Something quite unlike anything I had seen up to that point. Out Run! My first encounter with Sega was a game that instantly and forever converted me into a loyal fantatic.

"Get Ready..."

In All of Its Arcade Glory

It was a 3-dimensional racing game with actual backgrounds! Blue skies! White fluffy clouds! Waves rolling up onto a sandy beach! Palm trees! There was a pristine gray highway stretching out to a vanishing point in the middle of the screen. It was calling to me. Inviting me along on what would surely be an amazing road trip. And that car! That beautiful, shiny red convertible Ferrari! My god, did I love that car! To this day, I still want one. It will be the first thing I buy if I ever win the lottery.

It wasn't just the mind-blowing visuals, though. Everything about this game just oozed glorious, arcadey entertainment. The digitized speech. The fitting sound effects. The excellent driving mechanics. Seeing your car flip through the air and tumble sideways if you accidentally hit a sign or tree. My brother called that "Burton air". I have no idea why. (Snowboarding reference?) Possibly, more than anything else though, was the soundtrack. I still can't help but smile anytime I hear Splash Wave or Magical Sound Shower. Sega was actually nice enough to release a bunch of Out Run music on iTunes last year. To say that I was excited when I found out would be an understatement.

Out Run SMS
Box art for the Master System version.

Master of the House

That day in the arcade was pure magic. I played Out Run until my mom made me quit. Or, maybe it was just until I ran out of quarters. I can't quite recall. At any rate, I played it for as long as I could. Soon after that life-altering experience, my siblings and I were fortunate enough to receive a Sega Master System for Christmas. Most kids got the Nintendo Entertainment System that year. Some guy at Lionel Playworld had convinced my mom that the Master System was going to be bigger. Yes, bigger than the NES. Despite the fact that he couldn't have been more wrong, it all worked out. Receiving my first Sega system sealed my destiny as a lifelong fan. I got to enjoy all the great games the Master System had to offer (there were a few). Also, whenever I wanted to play Nintendo, I could just go over to any of my friends' houses. Literally, any of them. They all had one.

One of the first games we bought for our new Sega console was Out Run. Obviously, on the Master System, it didn't look nearly as good as it did in the arcade. No arcade ports did at the time. On any home system. I didn't care. I was just happy to be able to play Out Run in my own home. The version we bought actually came with a special arcade-inspired joystick called the Sega Control Stick. It was pretty rad. We spent hours fighting over that thing, trying to see who could get the farthest in the game. Soon, it became about seeing who could beat the game. Then, who could beat it on the most routes.

OutRun 2
OutRun 2 was an improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way. But, I will always love them equally.

Beyond And Back Again

To this day, I still love that game (in case there was any doubt). In the mid-2000s, Sega released OutRun 2 for the Arcade and the original Xbox. I played both versions frequently. They later released another version of OutRun 2 on Xbox Live Arcade, for the Xbox 360. Of course, I played the hell out of that one too. Now, with the release of the original Out Run on 3DS, I've come full circle. Its probably safe to assume that as long as Sega keeps releasing new versions of the game (Out Run 3, please. Make it happen, Sega.), I will keep playing them; and I will enjoy every minute of it.


[Images: SEGA, G-Mode]

Andrew J Amideo

2009-06 O Small