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Super Hang-On


super-hang-on-1.png (5836 bytes) super-hang-on-2.gif (9178 bytes) super-hang-on-3.png (8313 bytes)


Of all the companies to make arcade games while I was growing up, Sega was by far my favorite. Just the sheer breadth and quality of what they put out was second to none for me (sorry, Namco fans). One of my favorites of their works was the motor cycle racer Super Hang-On. The selection and quality of tracks at the time just kept me coming back for more and more, par for the course for a game by Yu Suzuki.




While four tracks may not seem like much in this day and age, 20 years ago it was a pretty decent number of tracks to choose from. Ranging from Africa to Asia to Europe to America, Super Hang-On had most of the continents covered, with each track being of a different level of difficulty and length. There was also the ability to select one of four songs to listen to while racing, similar to what was found in one of Sega's other popular racers, Outrun.



On a base level, Super Hang-On had a somewhat similar feel to Outrun in terms of how vehicles handled, but it was very much its own game. It had a feel of being a tad more serious about racing, whereas Outrun felt a little bit more lighthearted (in this writer's opinion, anyway).  It also had a music select option at the start of a race, just like Outrun. The range of challenge that the game provided from Africa to Europe was spot on for its time as well, and completing Europe actually felt pretty darn good.


Personally, I preferred the arcade version of the game simply because it had a controller like a motorcycle steering wheel. It was a bit novel from the other racing games with car wheels on them. One of my fondest memories playing the game was back in college, when the school's arcade had Super Hang-On but the breaks didn't work. A friend and I kept playing the game until we could finish every track without ever using the breaks. It was an interesting experience, albeit it a tad expensive.


Today, racers are often ultra-realistic polygonal affairs, but Super Hang-On was a centerpiece of a bygone era in gaming. Despite the graphics being sprites, the game still tried to give the sense of being in a 3D world as players learn where all of the turns were on a track while avoiding the other bikes on the road. There were plenty of other games that did this, especially from Sega, but this one in particular always stood out for me. It had a good mix of challenge, courses, and fun controls. Plenty of other bike racers have come and gone, but Super Hang-On is still at the head of the pack for me.


July 29, 2011

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