Various Artists – Outrun (Data Discs Remaster)

4 out of 5

Produced by: Shaun Crook (vinyl master)

Label: Data Discs

The Outrun experience is, of course, notable for being just that: An experience.  Different from most racing games, the arcade version featured a full, sit-in, moving cabinet which, combined with the low-to-the-ground camera and some branching driving options, provided something a bit more immersive than the norm.  What else was part of that?  The music.

Some may remember the option of changing radio stations in your car in GTA as being pretty awesome at the time, but Outrun pre-dated that with its own switchable stations.  There might have only been three tracks to choose from, but it was still part of the whole effect, and the laid-back jams encouraged the sort of tune-out-and-drive m.o. of the game.

Which completely ports over when you isolate the tracks.  Each of the three main songs on the A side (from the arcade version) has an island-cool, tropical, bouncy tone to it, but with a peppy beat that occasionally hits a funky breakdown, keeping you head-bobbing and in the zone.  The compositions might not range too far from this general template, but they’re amazingly effective regardless, most stretching on for 5+ each and wrapping back around to their main, memorable themes.

The B side includes tracks from other versions of the game, although if the wiki list is complete and accurate, it seems the Master System versions were left off.  We do get a track from the Mega Drive edition – which is short, and sort of the most disappointingly ‘video gamey’ out of this bunch (it sounds like a racing game track and not the Hawaiian shirt / sunglasses dream-like vibe of its peers)  you’d), but that’s followed by the excellent additions from the 3DS, which take the whole island thing and modernize it just a tad with some extra oomph.

The mastering, as per Data Discs consistent standards, is clear and full, making this another stellar and totally worthwhile entry in their catalogue.