Retro Redux: Outlander

Outlander TitleIf you were to ask me what the defining films of the 80’s were, the Mad Max films would definitely be in the short list I would call off. Nothing was greater than seeing Mel Gibson be a total fucking hardass through the Australian wasteland. My favorite of the original trilogy was the second movie, The Road Warrior, and that’s what this game was based on. This game is NOT to be confused with the shitcore NES Mad Max game.

Outlander is not officially a Mad Max game. Its developer, Mindscape, lost the Mad Max license near release, and instead of biting the dirty dick on its investment, it just scrubbed the game of trademarks and released it as Outlander. Mindscape also developed the NES Mad Max train wreck, however, they took advantage of the superior hardware of the SNES and Genesis and made a third person driving/beat ’em up game that did the series justice.

Outlander Driving

Goddamn gyrocopters could be a headache.

Third person driving/beat ’em up sounds weird? It’s not really, it’s more or less two separate games combined into one. Outlander consisted of driving over an extremely long road course full of bandits and obstacles trying to slice your fucking cockles off. At your disposal was a sawed-off shotgun, a front mounted machine gun, and roof-mounted surface-to-air missiles. All of this controlled fairly well too – at least on the SNES, which is the perspective this review is written from.

The Y button accelerated (and cruise control is always on), X decelerated, A shot your front mounted machine gun, and B fired your surface-to-air missiles. The L and R button would fire your shotgun out of your left or right windows respectively, and when enemies were on either side of you, a corner window would pop up showing the perspective of Not-Max and his shotgun for aiming.

Outlander Sideview

Smile motherfucker!

While driving, there was two main stats that you needed to keep an eye on – health and fuel. Running out of health, obviously, means the end of Not-Max. Running out of fuel means you have to transition to the game’s sidescrolling beat ’em up portion to collect more fuel, health and ammo. I actually found the most success in the game by voluntarily pulling over and fisting bandits in the dick for some dog food and ammo, rather than waiting until my car ran out of fuel.

Outlander beat em up

Right in the cockles!

Admittedly, this portion of the game is kind of clunky and unresponsive. These levels also have land mines strewn about that can be extremely hard to see due to the foreground objects. This may be intentional to emphasize the importance of watching the ground, but it can be frustrating nonetheless. As you progress, you’ll eventually come across general bullshittery such as being flanked by crossbowmen who don’t know how to stop shooting you in the fucking face with bolts.

Outlander is a test of endurance. While the actual gameplay isn’t extremely difficult (but difficult it is), it can easily take you a few hours to drive through the game, and there are no good stopping points. If you’ve got to take a break, either take advantage of your emulator’s save state function, or pause the game and hope your console doesn’t fuck up while you’re gone. There are no continues, no level codes, no check points. If you die, sucks to be you asshole, probably should have avoided death.

Hey dumbass, if you don't wanna die you probably shouldn't violently wreck your vehicle.

Hey dumbass, if you don’t wanna die you probably shouldn’t violently wreck your vehicle.

Despite its flaws, I feel that Outlander was a great game for its era, and one I still revisit from time to time. It’s brutal, unforgiving, and true to the name it doesn’t carry – Mad Max. If you’re a bad enough dude to make it to the final level, you get to drive a tanker truck like during the ending scenes of The Road Warrior, and it’s every bit of a bitch as you’d imagine it being. At the low cost of roughly $5, Outlander is definitely worth adding to your collection.

Good Ole Score: 7 out of 10.

Good Ole Score: 7 out of 10.

Pros:

  • Brutal, post apocalyptic driving action.
  • Great use of mirrors and alternate views.
  • Good control scheme.
  • Unique driving mechanics and graphics for its time.
  • One long, grueling drive through multiple areas of the wasteland.

Meh:

  • Music is acceptable at best.
  • Pixelation due to system limitations sometimes make avoiding obstacles difficult.

Cons:

  • Sidescrolling beat ’em up portion controls clunky.
  • Not a big variation of enemies, both while driving or walking.
Brandon

About Brandon

Brandon (AKA Maphreal) belongs to the dynamic duo of podcasters here at Good Ole Gamers and is a proud member of the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race.

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