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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hang-On Series

John Marine | 10:17 PM | |
In 1985, SEGA released Hang-On. The Hang-On series is all about full-speed motorcycle racing. Just like OutRun, Hang-On is purely an arcade racer. Because of this, one needs not worry about this game being overly realistic in any such way. Just twist the grip, ride hard, and hang on! This blog post takes a look at this classic franchise. If you enjoyed OutRun, Hang-On might be among your loves of Sega racing games.

--- Hang-On Series at a Glance ---

One of the most popular motorcycle racing games or motorcycle racing game series is SEGA's Hang-On. This game series has been one of the finest motorcycle racing games in history. The pure (and dangerous) appeal of going full-speed on two wheels makes for an intense racing experience. Before the MotoGP games, Tourist Trophy, Moto Racer, or any other game or series took flight, it was SEGA's Hang-On series that set the standard for motorcycle racing fun. That is, unless you're a Nintendo fan who enjoyed what Excitebike brought to the table. The Hang-On Series consisted of four games:

• Hang-On
• Hang-On Jr.
• Super Hang-On
• Hang-On GP '95

Hang-On garnered two (actually, three) arcade variations. The games even found their way to home consoles. The original Hang-On didn't have much in the way of interesting graphics. You could tell you were going to the next stage when you don't see anything in the horizon. Super Hang-On had some elevation changes that made things interesting when going full speed. Usually, you know you were heading to another stage in Super Hang-On when you went uphill and then went downhill to see the background of the next stage. Hang-On GP '95 is completely different. Rather than open-road racing, the racing took place on closed circuits.

No matter what, Hang-On epitomized motorcycle racing and the thrills of racing on two wheels.

--- Hang-On Series: Game-by-Game ---

The classic Hang-On games are all about stage-by-stage motorcycle racing. You must go from the starting point of the very first stage to the goal of the final stage. Successfully clearing an individual stage gives you extended time to complete the rest of the course. Running into other motorbikes on the road will cause you to slow down. If you go off-course and hit something, you will fly off your bike, and your bike will explode. If you are going to crash, allow yourself one major crash. Try to otherwise avoid losing too much time trying to clear the course.

Hang-On (1985).

The original Hang-On features one race with five individual stages. To reach the next stage, you must first clear the current stage. Completing one of the stages gives you extended time so you can clear the next stage. Your goal is to clear all five stages taking you through five different environments. One major crash could really complicate your quest to clear all five stages. Enjoy full-speed motorbike racing at speeds of up to 278 kph (about 172 mph)!

This game found its way onto the Sega Master System in its 8-bit form. If you have a Dreamcast, you could play Hang-On as a minigame in "Shenmue." Here is a video sample of Hang-On:

Hang-On video sample (6 minutes, 09 seconds long)

Hang-On Jr. (1985).

Not much is known about "Hang-On Jr." When I did my research online and on YouTube, Hang-On Jr. is somewhat an 8-bit version of the original Hang-On. One thing I did notice was that Hang-On Jr. had water puddles. A water puddle would obviously slow you down if you ran over it. You may look at this video on YouTube if you want a sample of "Hang-On Jr.":

Hang-On Jr. video sample (3 minutes, 32 seconds long)

Super Hang-On (1987).

Super Hang-On offered an experience to really explode the appeal of the Hang-On series. You can choose between four routes and four different songs. You can also really turn up the speed with some extra full-speed power when at top speed. There are four different tours you can take part in. The Novice Course takes you on a six-race journey around Africa. The Junior Course takes you through a 10-race tour of Asia. A 14-race tour of America comprises the Senior Course. And if you're seeking the ultimate challenge, race the intense roads of Europe in the 18-stage Expert Course. You advanced to a new setting after each second stage. So when you clear an even-number stage, the next stage of a course will be a different environment. You could have raced in a city stage, and the next one would be in a mountainous setting. As with the first Hang-On, you want to keep your mistakes to a minimum. You may still have a chance to complete the course if you take a major crash. If you crash in Super Hang-On, you will simply fly off your bike if you take a major crash, unlike your motorcycle in Hang-On.

Super Hang-On was in arcades as well as for systems such as the Sega Genesis/Megadrive and the Commodore 64. The Genesis version had a separate game mode that allowed you to compete in a series of races where you earn money towards upgrading your bike. I decided to feature this embedded video to showcase "Super Hang-On" to all of you (click on the link to this video to view on YouTube):

Super Hang-On video sample (3 minutes, 35 secongs in length)

Hang-On GP '95 (1995).

For the Sega Saturn, there was a game that was a big diversion from the traditional Hang-On games. Hang-On GP '95 is more about circuit racing than any open-road motorcycle racing. Any purist of Hang-On would have been disappointed about what what this game offered as opposed to what the original Hang-On games provided. On the other hand, Hang-On GP '95 allowed you to do something you could never do in any of the original Hang-On games: choose between multiple bikes. Each bike you used had varying levels of performance. Also unlike the past Hang-On games, this game is in full 3D. You could even do pit stops around the game's courses.

You have a certain amount of time to complete a certain number of laps around each course. Clear the checkpoints to gain more time in your attempt to complete the race. You must pass every other bike to try to win the race. Have you what it takes to win the race? This game will be a unique and different challenge apart from any traditional Hang-On. If you want to see this game in action, here is a sample video you can view on YouTube:

Hang-On GP '95 sample video (5 minutes, 12 minutes long)

And that covers the four Hang-On games.

--- Hang-On Series: Final Thoughts ---

There isn't really any motorcycle racing game series all about pure speed. So therefore, enjoy Hang-On as much as you can. It has the open-road thrills of OutRun while also providing intense motorbike racing action. Maybe OutRun has lasted longer, but there is no denying what Hang-On brought to the table with its incredible racing action. Hang-On, you might say, was the Tourist Trophy of the '80s.

Hang-On Resurrection?

Could it be possible that Hang-On will be resurrected with a sequel? I don't think so, unfortunately. It would be great if there was a (hypothetical name) "Hang-On 2" much like there was an "OutRun 2." I'm sure Sega would not disappoint in providing an authentic and complete experience even if with fancified 3D graphics, HD gameplay, and more. Dream on for any sort of resurrection of this franchise...

I did one post in my main blog (John's Blog Space) regarding a resurrection of "Hang-On." Maybe in the future, I will update my thoughts on a resurrected Hang-On for here in this blog.

So I go from one Sega racer to another. I hope you enjoyed my blog post. Well, that's all from me. Thank you for reading!

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John Marine said...

Thanks for sweet comments!

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