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OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast

Finally, Coast 2 Coast is a mammoth mode that melds all of these different challenges. You pick from a number of flagmen - the rotund chaps who wave you off the starting line - or girls and complete their missions.

The flagmen pose racing type missions, with you sprinting through the stages against a number of rivals in a race to finish first, with drifting challenges appearing along the way.

For each girl, you'll have to meet a different kind of demand. Clarissa likes thrills, and sets missions that need speed to complete; Jennifer goes for technique, and wants you to perform inch-perfect drifts and cornering; Holly likes her men with brains - she throws up maths questions that you have to solve, or makes you drive through a particular type of icon on the track.

Get it wrong, and the girls will make sure you know how disappointed they are.

There are roughly 100 different missions in Coast 2 Coast mode, the most challenging of all pitting you against 99 rivals in an epic race over 15 stages to the ultimate goal.

OutRun 2006 isn't an average racing game and, even though the gameplay may sound simple and old-school, there are few games - and even fewer racing games - that are so utterly pleasing, yet so easy to get involved with.

OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast pulls up on PSP, Xbox, PS2 and PC on 31 March, and if this hands-on preview reads like a review without a score, that's down to the reliability of OutRun; you know what you're getting, and it's always good.

The series might have its doubters, but we'd like to bet that Coast 2 Coast will convert more than a few newcomers to the cult of the arcade racer. It's going to be oh-so-excellent to watch it happen.

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