Right, well firstly i’m gonna expect a barrage of emails from people proclaiming to own this game… and many of you will own Outrun Europa, but not the first version which was created back in 1988/89. And 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 US Gold, and the game was started by Neil Coxhead who had joined Probe software. These were written in a proposal to US Gold, who accepted it and allowed Probe to continue with their work on the project. GTW actually has the proposals sent to US Gold, which you can download below.
Outrun Europe was completed, but around the nearing of the game’s completion, Sega launched their own sequel to the popular racer, entitled “Turbo Outrun”. US Gold now had the problem of whether to release the unofficial sequel, or to put that on hold and convert the Turbo Outrun game. US Gold chose the later option, feeling that this was the way to go, and so Probe were moved onto the development of Turbo Outrun instead with Steve Crow and Mark Kelly at the helm this time. Outrun Europe was unfortunately got a flying axe, and apparently also because it was a bit naff according to the programmer. Bits were apparently used from Outrun Europe to build up Turbo Outrun.
When Turbo Outrun had been released, attention could now be turned back to the Outrun Europe game… It was felt that the first version (Which was complete), was not good enough and much poorer compared to Turbo Outrun. US Gold may have felt that the game would have gone backwards instead of forwards.
Another point to make is that although the game was initially penned as Outrun Europe, there was a later name change to Outrun Europa, which sounded better to the developers. Really this is Outrun Europe, otherwise known as Outrun Europa V1.
Anyway… Neil Coxhead had obviously had more experience since the first game, and redid the game from scratch. Creating a much more realistic game, and even the element of spy’s was added. The game was finally released in 1991, receiving good grades. But… the first version was never seen… Neil recently sold all his development disks on Ebay, and now a Mr Fox owns all the sources, including Outrun Europe.. a different game. Neil informed GTW that the game was terrible, and no where near as good as the final game that you all have.
Well, we now get a chance to see what the game was like for the first time, as Mr Fox had recorded some exclusive video clips of the game running (passed over kindly by Joerg Droege, supplied by The Overkiller).
The game is fully completed apart from a few bugs, and features music by Jeroen Tel which can be found in HVSC and to download here. There is also sound effects playing the game along with the music, which is selectable as far as we can tell from the video clips. It does look very good, though some parts of the game’s movement is a little jerky and plain. It will be of some great interest for Outrun fans to check this missing version when it eventually is released… no matter how good or bad the game may be.
The interesting bit about the music is that Turbo Outrun’s intro music was in fact meant for Outrun Europe. And the proof is in the Music Demo download above, 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 around 10 years or more 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 above (Prod doc) which Probe sent to US Gold to get approved. You will find that it proposes a rather different game to Outrun Europa which was released!
Contributions: Mr Fox, The Overkiller, Joerg Droege, Neil Coxhead, Martin from Stadium 64, Jazzcat
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 !”
- 17/12/19 – Embedded videos of game running.
- 30/06/14 – Music demo added thanks to Jazzcat