I think the series don't really need a big introduction.
It's simply one of my fave arcade racer series, alongside such heavyweights as F-Zero.
Here is a brief over-view of the games in this series:
OutRun (1986; Arcade, Master System, Genesis, ect.)
The original and, imo, best.
The game showcased Sega's advanced "Super Scaler" hardware and had multiple routes, which was pretty innovative at the time.
Besides sporting some fantastic music and looking pleasing to the eye, it also posed a challenge and had a great replay value due to the multiple routes.
It basically has a ageless design and is still a very enjoyable game.
It was ported over to a number of home systems ranging from Sega's own consoles (the Saturn version being best but the Genesis and Master System versions were good too, despite the limitations of those systems) to various home computers and consoles like the PS2 and GBA. (the game was also playlable in Shenmue II)
Trully a magnificent game for it's time that inspired many arcade racers.
Battle OutRun (1989; Master System)
This was a spin-off for the SMS where the point was to ram other cars.
It was okay but nothing that special.
Some pretty good graphics for SMS tho.
Turbo OutRun (1989; Arcade, Mega Drive, Master System, ect.)
The next major OutRun game that wasn't released in the US on a home console.
The point here was to use the turbo booster which made you faster but could over-heat if used too much.
The track design was more linear than original OutRun, with no branching routes.
But the game was enjoyable nonetheless.
It was ported to a variety of home systems, from Sega's consoles (the MD port was a bit of a let down) to various home computers of the time. (I assume the FM Towns port was the best)
Over-all an interesting and enjoyable arcade racer but not quite on the level of the original OutRun, imo.
OutRun Europa (1991; Master System, Game Gear, ect.)
Another spin-off aimed at 8-bit systems.
The point here is to race across Europe (duh), escaping from the police.
The game was not developed by Sega and it featured more playlable vehicles, including a Porsche and a bike.
It was a decent game with some pretty good visuals for the SMS. (game was also released on some other home computers, including the Amiga which has the best-looking version of the game)
OutRun 2019 (1993; Mega Drive/Genesis)
Genesis-only OutRun that was set in the future.
The game received mediocre reception but it was not that bad, imo.
Kinda Sega's answer to the SNES exclusive Top Gear series.
OutRunners (1993; Arcade, Mega Drive/Genesis)
The next major title in the series.
Some great scaling, pseudo-3D graphics, selectable cars, branching routes and a multi-player.
The Genesis version was split-screen by default but it felt a little watered-down compared to the arcade version. (obviously, since the game had some of the best pseudo-3D visuals at the time)
Unfortunatelly, there were no other ports of the game so you might have to use some "alternate methods" to get a chance to play the best version.
OutRun 2 (2003; Arcade, Xbox; SP version - Arcade; 2006 version - Xbox, PS2, PC, PSP)
The first "true" successor to the original OutRun.
And a great game as well, sporting some great graphics for the time and an enjoyable (arcade) physics model.
Many great-looking courses, different selectable cars (all Ferraris), cool music, replay value, ect.
The game was released in more versions - the original on Arcade and Xbox, SP version on Arcade and 2006 version on Xbox, PS2, PSP and PC.
I'd recommend the 2006 version, as it's the most feature-packed and contains both, the original and SP version. (preferably the PC version, which allows for highest resolutions and AA - it's perfectly playlable with a gamepad too)
There was also "OutRun Arcade" released for the current-gen systems which is basically a scaled-down version of OutRun 2006 so I would not loose much word on it. (besides this is "legacy platforms")
Do you enjoy the series and if so - which is your fave one?