Power Pack Disk K: Black Lamp and Outrun

Disk K
Black Lamp

So Black Lamp, for me looking back after playing so many games, exists in a similar place to Verminator, in that it’s very pretty, the art is lovely, but it doesn’t really go anywhere, it doesn’t flow. The intro screen is pretty, with decent chip music. Press fire and it drops you straight into the game.

The sprites are large and well-drawn, backgrounds are detailed if perhaps not as colourful as you’d like and they’re a bit cluttered so you can’t be sure what’s what. The frame rate is slow, and navigation is tricky as everywhere looks quite samey. One other problem is that frankly there is no way to actually avoid some of what’s coming at you owing to such a limited range of movement.

Outrun

Outrun comes with a certain notoriety – we all know it’s a terrible port. But I played the hell out of it as a kid. In part for the brilliant music (even if it is a chip tune version – and yes Super Hang On is better). In part just because I’m driving a god damn Ferrari in gorgeous locations. In part because when I went to any arcade I always gravitated towards the racing sims. If only I knew then that I’d be 40 and have a ridiculous VR rig with wheel and pedals at home when I grew up, and that I’d get to race against actual F1 drivers.

The game runs with all the speed of an arthritic snail, poorly coded as it was, but it looks lovely. The cars, the palm trees, the spectators, it all takes me to a wonderful place that’s hard to explain to someone who’s never played it. I’d forgotten the disk access between stages.. that was a ballache. The big gimmick of branching stages is present, providing a bit of longevity and no doubt that helped get some more coins out of people.

Overall, it’s a poor conversion of a great game, but Super Hang On is better.

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