Pain. Damp. Dark Pain. Simeon King winced as his senses slowly began to return. His brain struggled to make sense of the shapeless blurs his eyes were recording. His head ached as if there was an axe embedded in it. He moved his hand to his skull to check. No axe, just a bump.
He suddenly realised he was lying in half an inch of water, and painfully dragged himself to a vertical position, coughing as he rose. Documents. Simeon virtually tore his jacket to shreds as he quickly rifled through the pockets. Gone. Even before he had climbed the stairs and kicked open the door that separated him from daylight, he knew his Ferrari F40 would have gone the same way. Damn.
Struggling to find a payphone that still had a receiver attached, he called directory enquiries. "British Secret Service, please," he said, mustering what politeness he could. Checking his pockets, he realised the swine had taken his pocket money too. 'Z' wasn't going to be happy at Unit 6's most senior operative making a reverse charges call...
"He hung up," fumed Simeon King incredulously. "The great fat nerd hung up."
"Pardon?" said the old woman in the hat.
"Oh shut up," said King, pulling the phone out of the wall, and barging past her to the roadside. They didn't believe him. They would have traced his call. They'd be sending someone to 'terminate' him. He was on his own. He'd have to retrieve the documents and deliver them as planned. But how?
Suddenly his nose started to flash. Of course! The documents had been impregnated with a molecular tracking signal. He looked around for transport. An unattended motorbike. He didn't have a driving licence, but what the hell?
"Excuse me, young man," said the old woman in the hat. King turned angrily, punched her on the nose, and ran to the waiting bike.
"Lucky they left the keys in the ignition and the owner's manual hanging from the handle-bars," he muttered to himself, as the engine roared into life.
It was a bright, clear day. The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben looked resplendent in the background. Funny, thought Simeon to himself, this is Warwickshire. Oh well.
Another bike drew up alongside him. The rider looked across at King, grinning menacingly. (Though King couldn't see that, because the bloke was wearing a helmet.) The mysterious cyclist swerved, shoulder-barging King into a bush. King yanked the bike back onto the road. An enemy agent? One of his own side? Who cares, the guy was dead meat.
Simeon drew his bike up alongside the other chap's, and swerved. Once. Twice. Three times. The enemy bike hit a lamp-post and exploded. Simeon laughed, but his nose wasn't flashing as brightly as before. The signal was getting faint. He hit the big red button on the handlebar, and kicked one of the bike's limited nitro boosts into action. Blimey, he thought, whizzing past a crap red mini at 254 mph, this is fast!
Barrels littered the road. That's dangerous, thought King, picking one up. only to find to his amazement that it was filled with vitally needed petrol. He picked up another, smaller one, to find it contained an extra charge for the nitro boost. How odd!
Suddenly his wandering thoughts were interrupted by a police siren. Cripes! Either 'Z' had called the cops or someone objected to his cycling round narrow country lanes at 200mph plus (on a stolen bike).
"Pull over," came the crackle from the tannoy on the roof. "Joyriding is neither big nor clever. Please pull over, so we can nick you and beat you up."
King put the pedal to the medal. The cop car swerved violently, trying to ram him off the road. This isn't very friendly, thought King to himself, but if they catch me I'm finished. He couldn't afford to get caught behind the rozzer-mobile. He swerved across to the side of the road, and shot through on the grass. Phew!
Simeon made it to London with less than a second to spare, but the baddies had moved on, down south.
More motorbikes, minis and police cars came and went, till King eventually reached Dover. He raced along the white cliffs. His nose was fading again - they'd taken to the water. Stealing a jet-ski off a small child, King followed suit.
Rocks. Buoys. Other boats. It was like Picadilly flippin' Circus in the Channel. Then a big helicopter showed up. Lucky that kid had a rocket launcher fitted, thought Simeon to himself. He made it across the channel easily, and found a discarded Porsche in the car park at Calais. A wave of deja vu flooded over him as the sirens of the foreign fuzz pierced the quiet of the French countryside.
It would be Spain next, then a powerboat ride across the Mediterranean. If he was lucky, he'd find his Ferrari in Italy, and catch the bad guys in Germany. He'd have to hurry, though, and he could be pulled over by the police at any time. He had four chances to make it through.
"It's a hard and badly-paid job," muttered King to himself, pondering the secret agent's lot. "If only I'd listened to mummy, and become a postman instead."
His pathetic reminiscences were soon cut short as another police car came into view...
The Out Run series of arcade cabinets have been converted to the CPC by US Gold with varying degrees of success. The original Out Run, a smash hit in the arcades (largely due to being the first car shaped sit-in cabinet), was a complete stinker on the CPC, being just about the slowest game of all time (it scored 37% in AA30).
About a year later US Gold announced it was releasing Out Run Europa as the follow-up. It then changed its mind (not before Your Sinclair had put Europa on the cover, though, ho ho!), and decided to release Turbo Out Run first. This game was a lot faster than the first one, but still pretty dull. Collision detection was poor, and there was only one car and the clock to compete against (64%, AA52).
And now, at last, we get Out Run Europa. Has the wait been worth it? Certainly has. US Gold have had the good sense to use only the basic idea of the original arcade game (racing across Europe), and have constructed a whole new game around it. The version of ORE being coded in 1989 featured just the Ferrari Testrossa (the car in all the other Out Run games). The version now in front of us has motorbikes, jet-skis and all sorts. And buckets of speed too. Nice one. (84%, AA76)
If only Super Monaco Grand Prix had been this fast! Out Run Europa is smooth, too, and really playable. You won't finish it in a hurry, either!
Get to Spain.
Very fast, very colourful, and nice to look at.
Reasonable engine noise, sirens and explosions.
Grab Factor 90%
The opening stage is the best of the lot.
Staying Power 81%
Five different vehicles to drive, and seven stages.
Getting stopped by the police can be frustratingly hard to avoid, but the speed and variety win through in the end.