There was a time, before Out Run was released in September 1986, when video games were yet to discover the joy of just driving. Back then, the reference point for driving games was Pole Position, which came out in 1982 with a host of innovations: colourful pseudo-3D graphics instead of a top down view, a qualifying lap and a track based on a real circuit, a fully seated cabinet with a steering wheel and a gear shift. It was competitive and unforgiving: if you hit another driver or a roadside obstacle, your F1 car would immediately explode.
Out Run was nothing like that. It was laid back and casual, offering a leisurely drive more than a race. It had blue skies and stunning scenery and a convertible Ferrari. It was welcoming, rather than challenging. “Unlike rigid racing games, I was able to create a new genre of driving game where you would drive one-handed with a beautiful girl by your side, listening to the car stereo while leaving the competition in the dust,” explains Yu Suzuki, the legendary game designer behind Out Run and a host of other influential games including After Burner, Virtua Fighter and Shenmue.
“All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925