Between them, Gran Trak 10, Night Driver and Pole Position invented the racing game, but Outrun set the pace for the genre as we know it today. No mid-eighties arcade was complete without the full sit-down cabinet or - preferably - the motorised deluxe model which rotated and shuddered as your car turned.
The 3D graphics, which borrowed the sprite-scaling engine from Sega's Space Harrier, instantly transformed the driving game into a source of spectacle: something you can still see in the likes of Project Gotham Racing 4 and Motorstorm today. And instead of racing some unknown F1 car along an unknown F1 track, you were racing a proper Ferrari Testarossa through the Californian sunshine, with a laid back mood and coastal, urban and desert scenery to match.
Outrun dominated the arcade racer until the arrival of Virtua Racer, Ridge Racer and Daytona USA over six years later. Clearly inspired by Sega's classic, they set the stage for Gran Turismo, Need for Speed and the various racing behemoths we're playing now.
Of course there has always been a more simulation-minded vein to the genre, starting with Revs in 1984 and continuing through PC favourites like Indy 500, Indycar Racing and Formula 1 Grand Prix to the likes of Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport and GTR Racing. But without the glamour brought in by the likes of Outrun, these would never have appealed to the mass market in the way they can now. We owe it all to Yu Suzuki and this master class in showcase game design.
Mention: Last year's PSP update; a game our esteemed editor loved so much that it broke his PSP.
Don't mention: The wretched Spectrum version of 1987. It ruined many a Christmas with its rotten music and ghastly graphics.