Following our recent hands-on report of Sega's OutRun2, we've been quietly excited about Sega's forthcoming Xbox racer.
Gorgeous sun-swept landscapes, sexy girlfriends and a massive new single-player game; if it's pure, pretentious-free racing fun that you seek, then this belated sequel to the classic '80s arcade hit should hit the spot like a pint of chilled pineapple and coconut spritzer on a hot summer's day.
Sean Millard, senior designer at Sumo (the UK developer responsible for the Xbox conversion) certainly thinks his team is onto a hit. We caught up with the man himself to talk about the game's new features, its online play and the more prominent role played by your lady friend in the passenger seat...
Past Sega coin-op conversions have tended to be quite thin in terms of options. This time round, you've chucked in a whole new single-player experience. Feeling generous were we?
Millard: The OutRun2 coin-op is a fantastic fix of instant action. It exemplifies the 'stick another quid in' mentality of an arcade machine. However, when people are parting with 40 quid for a home console game, they need something that offers more of a challenge and something that takes longer to finish.
We've basically added a Missions mode that contains 101 different challenges as well as the significant addition of Xbox Live. This allows the player to race against (up to) seven other players on the different OutRun courses, as well as a few other surprises.
We think that value for money is really important to the average game player, so we've really tried to assess what it is that we'd want to see as players in a console version of OutRun2 and then, working with the existing assets, we've tried to achieve that goal.
Some of the levels we played involved impressing your sumptuous girlfriend. Does she play a much larger role in OutRun2 compared to her virtual anonymity in the old '80s coin-op prequel?
Millard: I think she plays a larger role, yeah. The focus seems to be more on Alberto's [the lead star] relationship with his girlfriend than I ever remember it being in the '80s. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's a nice addition anyway.
She encourages, reprimands, beats and hugs our illustrious hero throughout the game, and we've tried to continue the essence of this throughout any additional content. I suppose the relationship is similar to the way it always was, but in OutRun2, purely because technology has moved on, the girls have the capability to be a bit more vocal than they ever were.
Which is... Nice.
But obviously the original OutRun coin-op has had a big influence on the game?
Millard: I can't speak for AM2 [the coin-up developer], but one look at the coin-op shows a healthy nod towards its past glories. It has definitely recognised it's heritage and updated it in aspects of the coin-op.
So you think all the older gamers, like us, who remember OutRun from the '80s will be over the moon with this new sequel?
Millard: That describes us, as a development team, so I really hope so. It's the original fans that we've really been thinking of. It's a lot of pressure; their expectations are deservedly high. I can't wait for their reactions. I don't think that they'll feel let down.
Obviously there are a lot of street racers such as Need for Speed Underground and Juiced currently vying for supremacy. How do you think OutRun2 compares to its fellow grid rivals? Will it appeal to similar types of games players?