|Source // We Love It|
It's hard to not think "Oh, it's like OutRun then?" when you first see Super Hang-On. The two titles sharing a designer, Yu Suzuki, might have a little something to do with it, but there are differences between them.
Enough differences to warrant an inclusion on the 1001 list? Wheel have to have a look, won't wheelie?
Too forced? Too forced.
I'm playing the Sega Mega Drive port of Super Hang-On and it is pretty damn good. There are two modes, Arcade mode, which pulls the stages and settings from the arcade version, and an 'original' mode, which offers some bike customisation and a rival to compete against.
The arcade mode is split into four locations, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, each having a different number of stages within, and different levels of difficulty (long story short, Africa is short and simple, Europe is big and tricky (how topical)).
Like OutRun you can choose some background music before being let loose on the roads. Thankfully they're closed off from traffic that isn't on two wheels, but the other riders seem to only be present for decoration and the odd bit of distraction. You'll need to avoid them, obviously, but at the end of the day it's you against the clock.
Each stage ends with a checkpoint, and the faster you get through them, the more time you'll have to reach the next one. Going off road and crashing into whatever you find there - signs, trees, the usual - will obviously slow you down, and too much of that will mean never reaching the end of the stage in time.
To help, you have a boost available to you but only if you manage to max out your speed at 280kph. It seems to be in effect until you crash or otherwise lose too much speed, but it'll be available again as soon as you reach that top speed. You don't even need the boost to feel a sense of speed, as the bikes feel nippy enough from the start.
Until you try out the original mode, which was painfully slow in comparison.
Taking place on lapped courses, your goal each race is to beat your rival and not have to spend any winnings on repairs for your bike. I had absolutely no idea where my rival was in relation to me until the end of the first lap when a timer flashed up in front of me, showing them to be a few seconds behind. Great.
I then crashed, saw some bikers overtake me - none of whom appeared to have any indication that they were my rival - got back into the groove and finished. Did I beat my rival? A simple little menu screen graphic said yes, yes I did. Great.
It was in this mode where I noticed a kind of sluggishness to your rider getting back into position after turning into a corner, for example. On the one hand it looks natural, but on the other I'm wondering if I should be compensating for it, and timing my left/right inputs better in order to work with it and use it to my advantage.
I might be overthinking it - it might just have been happening because the race was slow enough for me to notice.
I like the idea of a sort of career mode, but where the arcade mode is all about speeding through the scenery, the original mode is about a slow build up of skills and bike parts. It just sapped the energy I had for Super Hang-On right out.
You don't need to slog through any sort of career in order to have fun with Super Hang-On. I'd recommend not even bothering with it. It's only on the Sega Mega Drive port so far as I'm aware, and it's the best port of the bunch (though if you close your eyes when you screech around a corner, it does sound like a space shooter rather than a racer).
It doesn't have the choice of difficulty system that OutRun has, but it does offer a choice of difficulty based on region in a similar manner. It doesn't have the scale of OutRun in my opinion, but an increase in the number of stages you go through as the difficulty increases brings with it more varied backgrounds and tricky sections of track to navigate.
I think you'll either prefer OutRun or Super Hang-On. For me it's got to be OutRun, but there's no reason to avoid playing Super Hang-On at all. Similar yes, but with its own little takes on the genre, it'll keep you going until you crash again and again on whichever stage you decide to give up on.
That sounded a bit pessimistic, sorry. Hang on, because you're in for a ride...
The tilt controls of the sit-down arcade machine wouldn't be seen in any port until Super Hang-On was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013.
Super Hang-On, developed by Sega AM2, first released in 1987.
Version played: Sega Mega Drive, 1989, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1987 (Al82: Retrogaming Longplays & Reviews)