Outrun Europe

U.S. Gold

Status: No Download, Findability: 5/5

Many of you will own Outrun Europa on the C64, but not this first version created back in 1988/89. This version was under the name of Outrun Europe and not Europa. It was also a rather different game.

Outrun Europe was originally drawn up for U.S. Gold as an unofficial sequel, and was started by Neil Coxhead who had joined Probe Software at the time. A design proposal was presented to U.S. Gold, who accepted it and allowed Probe to continue with their work on the project. GTW has the proposals which you can download below.

Outrun Europe was fully completed, but nearing the game’s completion, SEGA launched their own sequel entitled “Turbo Outrun”. U.S. Gold now had the dilemma of whether to release their own unofficial sequel, or to put that on hold and convert the Turbo Outrun game.

U.S. Gold chose the latter, so Probe were moved onto the development of Turbo Outrun instead with Steve Crow and Mark Kelly at the helm this time. Apparently one of the reasons was also because it was a bit naff according to the programmer, Neil Coxhead. Bits were apparently used from Outrun Europe to build up Turbo Outrun though.

When Turbo Outrun was released, attention turned back to the delayed Outrun Europe game. In comparison to the awesome Turbo Outrun, it was deemed now not good enough. It needed to be re-written.

Neil by now had more experience since the first game, and re-did the game and design from scratch. It resulted in a far better game released in 1991. The first version was never seen and would gather dust for many years.

Many years later, Neil sold all his development disks on Ebay, where a cracker/collector known as Mr Fox brought it along with several other disks. Video of the game in action was provided to GTW, with the promise of the game being fixed up and eventually released.

From the video clips, we can see a few bugs, but also Jeroen Tel’s music included – along with sound effects that can be put on. It does look good, though some parts of the game’s movement is a little jerky and plain.

The interesting bit about the music is that Turbo Outrun’s intro music was in fact meant for Outrun Europe. The proof is in the music demo download below, submitted thanks to Martin from Stadium 64. Also it is documented in the HVSC STIL file that some tunes used in Outrun Europa were actually intended for Outrun Europe. This is all but confirmed now by the video clips, as this intriguing story draws to a close.

Unfortunately it has been almost 20 years since the video clips were made, and there has been no progress on making the game available after several attempts.  It seems that the collector has no intention of making available, which unfortunately we see from time to time.  Hopefully some day we may find something of the game via other means and release properly for people to check out and enjoy.

For now, check out the official game proposal download below which Probe sent to US Gold to get approved. You will find that it proposes a rather different game to Outrun Europa which was eventually released.

Contributions: Mr Fox, The Overkiller, Joerg Droege, Neil Coxhead, Martin from Stadium 64, Jazzcat

Supporting content

Creator speaks

Neil Coxhead speaks to GTW about work on Outrun Europe…

“Actually, I’ve just looked through your web page again and I brought it back to me in a better light than I had in my mind.

The game was done in a mixture of bitmap mode and character mode which is why the screen update is quite slow, which is what spoils it really. But it enabled the car sprite to be much better looking that it would have been otherwise (not that that makes it a good decision). I was proud of the horizon background 2 dimensional scrolling when going round corners and up/down over hills. The backgrounds were very nicly drawn by Steve Crow in character mode.

The roadside objects and other cars were multiplexed sprites which is why they are thin and but they move very smoothly. And they didn’t sort very well (or at all) with the main car. The tunnels I think worked quite well, it was a bit of trickery to create the effect (combination of changing horizon background and roadside colour I think).

The presentation looked pretty good (apart from the well done screen), probably bitmap mode again. We had an in-car radio with changable tracks which GTA has ripped off since. Music by ex Maniacs Of Noise’s Jeroen Tel was good.

So visually and technically it was not bad, but gameplay wise it was horrible. Outrun Europa was all character mode which was much faster to draw and so the gameplay improved. I also did Sega’s Galaxy Force for Activision around that time, and that had a good character mode based 3D engine which I was proud of.

When I sold the development disks on eBay to Mr Fox a few years ago (instead of chucking them in the bin as I nearly did) I never imagined they would actually end up being reanimated. Perhaps I should have binned them !”

Neil Coxhead.

Update history

  • 08/12/22 – A big tidy up of the write up (probably originally written when I was 16!)
  • 17/12/19 – Embedded videos of game running.
  • 30/06/14 – Music demo added thanks to Jazzcat
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