First, I’d like to say that this isn’t a “proper” review. I got to spend some time with the game this weekend, enough for some impressions… vroom-vroom! How was that? Just kidding. Anyway…

I’ve found that SEGA’s games have always had a very distinct look, feel, and sound about them. It’s as though there’s a certain something I can’t quite pin down that essentially says “this is a SEGA game.”

Now, I don’t mean the kind of SEGA game which has trod its properties into the ground and rushed a title out the door to meet a movie’s release date. I mean SEGA during its finest hours, such as the SEGA Genesis, or the Dreamcast.

Many Dreamcast games had a certain SEGA “feel” to them, and I found it especially noticeable in titles such as Sonic Adventure 2 or Crazy Taxi. And it’s this sort of feeling that I get with their latest entry into the world of downloadable games, OutRun Online Arcade.

Playing OutRun Online Arcade really takes me back to when SEGA may not have been King of the World, but they were still plenty of fun to hang out with. The graphics are very nice, though you may be hard-pressed to notice as you’re speeding by everything in the Ferrari of your choice at insane speeds.

The sound is also great, including the somehow distinctly SEGA-ish voices, and especially the music. It’s great stuff to drive to, and it’s the kind of classic SEGA fare which one might be embarrassed to listen to out in the open, but still feels so good when you’re just playing around for fun.

I’m no hardcore OutRun veteran; I’ve played the past games on rentals and arcade units alike, but not enough that I could tell you if any tracks have been reused. That said, I did find the racing to be challenging, but sort of the good kind of challenging which compels you to try again. The game shows you what percentage of each leg of the course you’ve driven through, which adds a greater sense of positive reinforcement. “96 percent? So close… if I can shave a few seconds off next time, I can nail it!”

Finally, I had a little bit of difficulty learning what seems to be an essential skill: Drifting. At the speed you come up on some corners, it can prove to be nearly if not entirely impossible to take the turn without running off the road unless you learn how to drift. And regretfully, I didn’t see anything which explained how. Fortunately, I happened upon the method (release the gas, tap the brake, then hit the gas again as you turn, if you were wondering). Once you figure out how to do that, the game becomes that much more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, I’ve not yet been able to attempt the Heart Attack modes, where you perform certain feats for the affections of your lady companion, or the online mode, as I lack an Xbox LIVE Gold account at present, and so I’ll have to refrain from commenting on those for the time being.

But at 800 Billy Bucks, you’ve undoubtedly done worse, and the demo alone is worth getting a taste of what the game affords. This is arcade-style racing at some of its finest, and comes far closer to the SEGA you remember, rather than the SEGA you now know.

Originally published on Kombo.com.

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