Reviewed: May 14, 2006
Released: April 25, 2006
Sega’s OutRun franchise is turning twenty this year and Sumo Digital is celebrating this milestone by release OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast for the Sony PSP. This version not only manages to incorporate all of the gameplay and content from the console versions, but it delivers a much more appealing visual presentation and it's short races and quick challenges are perfectly suited for handheld portable gaming.
Coast 2 Coast is the ultimate evolution of the OutRun franchise, incorporating the tracks, cars, and music from just about every installment in its epic historic run. This is great news for those of you who have never played an OutRun game, but veterans of the series will probably find too much familiar ground here. Especially considering that much of the content is lifted directly from the $19 OutRun 2 that released a year or so ago. Then again, you can't fit those games in your pocket.
The PSP is not exactly hurting when it comes to racing titles, but all too often we get straight-up ports of games that are way too ambitious for a handheld. So if you aren't looking to tweak your ride in a hundred ways or become master of an underground street racing syndicate then Coast 2 Coast might just be the pure arcade racer you've been looking for.
You can’t deny that Coast 2 Coast comes with loads of content including 30 tracks pulled from previous titles that can be driven in reverse for a total of 60 courses. It’s the same landscape and cities we’ve been driving for years now with a few minor tweaks for those with the discriminating eye.
The core format is the same as always with a pyramid structure of zones arranged like bowling pins. At the end of each zone you choose left or right and that takes you to the next zone, allowing you the limited freedom to plot your own course through the Coast 2 Coast world. Of course the clock is always ticking, so top speeds and careful driving are crucial to getting to that checkpoint and earning those previous bonus seconds.
Coast 2 Coast is all about flexibility when it comes to how you want to play. You can play the new single player game or relive your misspent youth in the arcade by tackling the OutRun2: SP game, which is basically a pixel-perfect port of the coin-op. There is also a respectable multiplayer game for split-screen or online gaming.
The single player game offers a lengthy series of challenges that requires you to either win races or perform certain racing feats. There are also Heart Attack challenges where your demanding girlfriend will want you to risk your shiny Ferrari by driving dangerously, only instead of PGR kudos you get hearts.
Heart challenges are pretty fun and varied. You might need to drift or drive in a striped zone or possibly pass a lengthy convoy or simply pass a sequence of staggered cars. You might have to break yellow lines stretched between cars or avoid falling meteors or UFO tractor beams. The better you do the higher your grade and each challenge makes up part of the zone score and all the zones are averaged together for your final grade.
The Flagman is your other taskmaster and his challenges are usually of a speed variety, either winning races or driving better and faster than a rival driver who is trying to steal your girl. Racing fast requires precise drifting and careful slipstreaming of rival racers and civilian traffic as this is the only “boost” you get in OutRun.
The structure is nice in that once you have passed through a zone during a normal race you can then revisit that zone and play the individual challenges in that zone to perfect your score and increase your overall world average. In fact, some challenges aren’t even available until you unlock them by obtaining higher scores.
Physics and control are definitely arcade and tweaked for fun. Drifting is totally intuitive and with a bit of practice you can keep a sustained drift for upwards of a minute or more. The analog pad offers smooth steering but the D-pad seems to work just as well. I was able to drift using either with equal proficiency but the A-pad was slightly better for precision steering and weaving through traffic. Collision detection can be a bit iffy with the computer almost always coming out ahead.
Coast 2 Coast looks great on the PSP. The graphics are polished with no jaggies or shimmering and really pop off the PSP screen. The car models look great and there are some nice real-time reflections that were inconceivable 20 years ago, as well as tire smoke and debris that kicks up when you veer into the grass, dirt, or sand.
The Vegas zone has nice water puddles with reflections and a few zones vary the time of day including two spectacular night zones, one with fireworks and another with a star-filled sky that is quite dazzling. There are twisting mountain roads, paths through dense forests, cities, beaches, deserts, and many more creative racing levels.
The menus are nicely laid out and easy to navigate whether you are picking or painting your car or choosing from any of the dozens of energetic music tracks.
You’ll either love or hate the music in OutRun 2006. It’s basically a compilation of just about every tune from the entire series of games, some of it remixed, but all of it hauntingly familiar if you have ever played an OutRun game. You’ll have to unlock a lot of it, but the clever radio interface lets you sample and pick your music before each race, or just hit the randomize button and be pleasantly surprised.
The rest of the sound package is all of the retro sound effects we’ve heard and come to expect from racing games and the OutRun series. It sounds great with a quality set of ear buds - even the sound of passing cars whizzing past is somehow recreated with only two channels..
Coast 2 Coast is a great racer that is perfectly suited to the PSP. There is at least 20+ hours of solo gaming and then you have wireless multiplayer for local and Internet to keep the racing alive forever. There is a modest attempt at offering some bonus material as incentive to perfect your scores in the solo game, but since most of the 150 showroom goodies are merely a few new cars or alternate paint jobs, it’s not terribly enticing.
Whether you are a veteran or a racing novice, it will take you less than a single race to master the controls, and once you do there is a lot of pure racing fun to be had in a primitive, yet quality package. The races are perfectly timed and even the design of the game seems geared for the PSP making OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast much better on the handheld than the major consoles.