The music to Out Run is probably the best ever video game music, in my humble opinion. It was one of the things that really helped make the game the class act that it was. And many would say that Out Run was the shining beacon of mid-80s arcades. It was what Hulk Hogan was to wrestling, what the A-Team was to Saturday TV and what Back to the Future and The Goonies were to 80s family movies. When you thought of 80s arcade games where I grew up you just thought of Out Run as being the top dog. The class act. And the iconic music played a massive part of that.

I love the music so much that I actually managed to convince my wife to drive up the Pacific Highway in Malibu on our honeymoon in a convertible car playing the Out Run music on full blast on the stereo. It was a white Mustang instead of a red Ferrari and my wife is brunette, but it was still pretty close!

One of the most groundbreaking parts of the game was the ability to choose your own music. No other arcade game had included that feature before. And the tunes, composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi were fantastic. A laid-back selection of Latin/Caribbean beach music to have as the soundtrack to your driving. It was as much a part of the game as the red Ferrari or the blonde sitting next to you. Out Run was an extremely good game at the time but it still perhaps wouldn’t have been what it was without the car, the blonde and particularly the music.

There are many debates online as to which track is the best. Many people have their favourites after playing the arcade game regularly. The majority tend to go for Magical Sound Shower and that is the one that has been covered the most by bands and orchestras alike. Coming in a close second is normally Passing Breeze. In third place Spash Wave perhaps doesn’t get as much love as it should as it is a very different kind of track opting for a more Miami-style feel rather than the Caribbean steel drums.

But my experience of the music was a bit different from the arcade regulars. I normally only got to play the game when on holiday or on school trips so I didn’t really get to learn the difference between all of the songs. My main exposure to the music was through a cover cassette on the classic UK magazine Computer and Video Games in Jan 1988. Here is the cover and the feature from that issue.

C+VG Page 1     C+VG Page 2     C+VG Page 3

I still have the cover cassette to this day.

Out Run cover tape

I’m surprised the tape still works after playing it so much. In recent years I’ve discovered that this is exactly the same version of the music that you got on the Side B of the cassette with the 8-bit home versions of the game (in the UK at least) which I never actually owned myself. You popped the cassette into your tape player whilst playing the game and you felt like you had state of the art audio in your game! Genius.

Out Run game tape   Out Run game box

These tape versions have an Out Run megamix where the three tracks are mixed together and quite severely edited to fit into a 6 minute track. The whole intro of Magical Sound Shower is cut out, for example, and it misses out the the first minute and a half of Passing Breeze. This is the version of the music that I know off by heart and it’s why I still sometimes find it hard to recognise which track is which when I hear the intros of their full length versions.

If I had to pick my favourite track from this cassette megamix I would probably pick Passing Breeze. But when I hear the full Passing Breeze track in the arcade I don’t like 50% of it. I just like the bits they edited into the megamix. Magical Sound Shower, however, has some great bits which didn’t make it onto the cassettes so that is what I would normally go for when playing it in the arcades.

The order of the tracks on these cassettes are…

Passing Breeze 0:00
Magical Sound Shower 2:00
Splash Wave 4:09

Press play, sit back and feel that ocean spray in your face.

What are your thoughts about the Out Run music?