Even in its handling of player failure, Out Run's use of music is very smart. Beat any of the top-10 time records, you got to enter your initials into the high-score screen.
"Oh my God, that high-score screen! That was like heaven!" my brother said.
Set to the soothing bell tones of "Last Wave" and a relaxing tide of synthetic white noise, the Out Run high-score screen was a vivid gradient texture of twilight hues and tree-lined boulevards.
"Please listen to this song at the end of summer, when you are all by yourself, in the dusk, at the beach," Hiro says from the liner notes.
It is this image, this feeling that Hiro's words suggest, that has always been very meaningful to me. When I was young, that high-score screen was like a window into a place where life maybe was a little easier, perhaps a little more laid-back and carefree, a dream that I always knew I would one day work very hard to make happen.
"And now you're living your Out Run dream," said my brother. "Palm tree silhouettes by the beach in the sunset and everything." I smile and dip a tortilla chip into the spicy salsa. While my life is far from carefree, and the novelty of living in LA by the beach wore off a while ago, I still try not to take it for granted, taking time to appreciate that I'm very lucky to be where I am.
Sega really captured something special with Out Run, a timeless, universally appealing title, nothing less than a true icon. Few games succeeded at bringing the player into its breezy, hyperbolic vacation fantasy, immersing players in the essence of being the laid-back cool dude in shades, with the sexy, blonde girlfriend, cruising to exotic locales in a red Ferrari in the sunshine. Like Composer Hiro from AM2, I, too, feel that words don't fully describe what the game represents to me, but Out Run will always stand out among its august arcade lineage as an entertainment experience like no other.
Edward Moore is currently a Senior Game Designer at Pandemic Studios in sunny Los Angeles. Prior to this, he served as a Game Designer at Electronic Arts and Irrational Games in Boston. As a first-time contributor to The Escapist, Ed looks forward to future opportunities to share his geeky gaming insights with you.