First, an apology. Sega Week has been and gone, and you could probably do without another few hundred words on a classic that's been dissected countless times before. So I'm very sorry, because I'm about to do it all again: OutRun is on the show floor at this year's EGX, and it's still absolutely peerless when it comes to recreating the bliss of speeding out to the horizon and beyond. This game is as good as it's ever been. In fact, it's the best I've ever played it.
That's because the cabinet that's sitting in the retro section - one that, 33 years on, is still attracting a sizeable crowd - is from the top-end of the four variants that were initially offered back in 1986. It's the deluxe sit-down job, complete with hydraulics and working brake-lights. It's an example of the very pinnacle of the taikan cabinets that Yu Suzuki and his small staff made at Sega in the 80s. It's arguably the very pinnacle of Sega's arcade art.
I've made OutRun's journey countless times over the years, whether that's in one of Shenmue's virtual Hong Kong arcades, via M2's phenomenal 3DS port or more recently its Switch effort. Such platforms can only deliver a sliver of the full experience, though - playing OutRun on the deluxe cabinet is a revelation. It's an all-body experience, a kind of funky alternative to virtual reality that plays to all of your senses.
There's the motion from the hydraulics, of course, that oh-so-generous 26-inch monitor (here with a few characterful dashes of sunset pink that have been acquired over the years) and those glorious super scaler visuals that rush you into the screen, then there's the two speakers on the headrest that pump Hiroshi Kawaguchi's sweet, sweet music straight into your ears. Then there's the cabinet itself, a chibi take on the Testarossa that so entranced Yu Suzuki when he was scouting locations across Europe. The simple process of stepping into the thing ushers you straight into the world of make-believe.
It's an incredible game still, of course, but this deluxe cabinet is a reminder of an art that's been lost a little over the years. We often speak of auteurs now in video games - often mistakenly, I think, but that's an argument for another time - but these were things whose every element were often overseen by their creators. They designed the cabinet, chose the speaker system, even reconfigured the hardware so it could support their own vision. And what a vision it was.
I can't stop going back to the deluxe cabinet that's been sitting there, on free play, all weekend. OutRun wants nothing more than to sell you on the joy of the open road, and this premium version shows with clarity how it does so with a verve, imagination and execution that's rarely, if ever, been matched.