OutRunners was seen as a return to form for the Outrun series. The first game had multiple routes to take and was primarily a time based racer. While the second game had a more serious approach to racing. OutRunners wanted to bring back the same gameplay from OutRun, mainly the choice of routes during races. OutRunners brought multiplayer to the normal OutRun formula, where multiple arcade cabinets were used for this purpose, allowing up to eight players to race against each other.
A race in OutRunners begins in a central location, and each time you come across a checkpoint you are able to turn left or right to change your route. OutRunners takes you through locations all around the world, and the routes will take you across different hemispheres of the world depending on your route. In a two player game you are racing another person the end of a race, and who ever is in first is able to choose the route the race may follow. In a single player game you do not compete against a computer controlled opponent. Single player races are played similarly to the original OutRun where you are simply racing the clock.
There are multiple vehicles to choose from in OutRunners which is a first in the series. In the arcade release there are 8 different vehicles to choose from, and each has its own specific statistics. The statistics mainly cover the speed and handling of a vehicle. Each vehicle also bares a resemblance to some real live vehicles. The cars include Easy Handling, Smooth Operator, Bad Boy, Quick Reactor, The Road Monster, Mad Power, Wild Chaser and the Speed Buster. Each car is also piloted by two different characters to add a bit of personality to the cars.
A returning aspect of OutRun to OutRunners is the music in the game. In the original you were able to choose the music that you wanted to hear throughout your game. In OutRunners there is entire radio station where you can change the music to your liking. The music used is usually associated to the different locations throughout the game.
The 32-bit Sega System Multi 32 arcade hardware was used:
- Main CPU: NEC V70 (32-bit @ 20 MHz)
- Additional CPU: Zilog Z80 (8-bit @ 8.1 MHz)
- FM Sound Chip: Yamaha YM3438 (@ 8.1 MHz)
- PCM Sound Chip: Sega MultiPCM (@ 8.1 MHz)
Data East ported OutRunners to the Sega Genesis, and it retained all the same gameplay and elements. The graphics however had to be scaled down in order to fit the systems hardware. This version was given a bonus secret vehicle that was not in the arcade version, and that was the Vertua Formula form Virtua Racing.