About The Game
Neck-breaking speeds, tight curves and world-class competition make Sega's Hang On the most exciting motorcycle racing game around.
Hop aboard your supercycle and test your racing skill against the top riders on earth!
Think you can beat them all to the finish? Prove it!
Hang-On for the Sega Mater System is a conversion of the 1985 Sega 'sprite-scaler' motorbike racing arcade game, which was designed by Yu Suzuki.
Hang-On was a pack-in/built-in game for several models of the Master System when the console launched in Europe in late 1987.
I bought the base model Master System, which only had the 'hidden' Snail Maze game built in, soon after the console launched in the UK. Hang-On (Sega Card) was also bundled with my console.
I didn't learn about the hidden game until I read about it in a gaming magazine months later, so Hang-On was the first game I played on the console, and then it seemed like a good choice for my first Master System review.
As a launch title, Hang-On was a good techinical demonstration of the Master System.
The Master System was marketed on the strength of it's arcade conversions and Hang-On clearly demonstrated the potential of the console.
The graphics in the Master System version capture the look of the arcade game well; the sprites are large and well drawn, the backgrounds are colourful and the scrolling is smooth and fast.
Roadside objects and other riders pass by quickly and are well scaled, creating a good sense of speed.
The gameplay establishes the classic Sega arcade racing template, which was later used in Out Run and Super Hang-On, and several others.
You're racing against the clock rather than directly against the other racers, the other riders just act as obstacles; simply stay on the course and reach the checkpoint before the timer reaches zero to continue racing.
Control of the bike is simple and responsive, the joypad's buttons operate the throttle and brake.
Up/down on the D-pad operates the manual gears (low/middle/high) and the D-pad also controls your steering.
Music is sparse, the title screen plays a short segment of the main arcade theme, there is a jingle on game over, or completing the course, and that's it.
Sounds effects are basic, an engine noise plus white noise to give a wind/motion effect, and an explosion when you crash, all fairly simple but they get the job done.
So Hang-On impresses as a conversion of the arcade game, however, the arcade game has very simple gameplay, with very little depth.
The Master System version simply copies the arcade game without adding anything significant to the basic design.
Many later Sega ports did add new elements to the gamelay for the home version, or in some cases completely redesign the gameplay, sometimes with mixed results.
Ports of Action Fighter, Line of Fire and Super Monaco GP are examples of Master System games that aren't just straightforward copies of the arcade game.
Both the arcade and Master System version feature just one course, split up into five stages, with each stage being about one minute long.
The stages all feel the same, the only changes are purely cosmetic with a different background and palette used in each stage.
The 4th stage is set at night with a distant city lighting up the background; albeit the night time setting doesn't alter the gameplay at all.
Perhaps the designers could have changed the distance at which you could see the other riders at night, or added weather effects to the course; similar gameplay elements can be seen in Sega's older Turbo game or Activision's Enduro.
Once you complete the 5 stages you get a very short congratulatory scene, then it's straight back to the start line to repeat the exact same course again.
The Master System version has 3 difficulty levels, but these don't provide a lot of challenge, even on the top setting (level 3).
The difficulty level only changes the frequency of the other riders, and their driving style (a bit).
The difficulty settings have no effect on things like starting time and time added for reaching a checkpoint.
On the lowest difficulty level the other riders are very passive, they mostly stick to their racing line. On the top difficulty, some riders will move onto your racing line until you get close to them, and then hold their line, they are still easy enough to avoid.
Once the course has been completed on all three difficulty settings there's little else to do except perhaps chasing high scores, I found the low overall difficulty gave me little desire to return to chase down high scores.
Excellent conversion of the arcade game, which was not widely converted to other machines of the day.
Good gameplay with responsive controls.
Graphics and scrolling give a decent impression of speed and create exciting gameplay.
Good choice as a launch game as it showed the potential of the Master System.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Game has very little content so gets repetitive very quickly.
More gameplay elements such as more courses, or some variety in the opposing riders, or environmental/weather effects could have helped add replay value to the game.
The difficulty settings don't alter the difficulty enough or have much effect on the gameplay.
I had fun playing Hang-On back in the day and it was a good demonstration of what the Master System could do.
Returning to the game now to write this review, it still has good controls, and decent gameplay, and the game looks good for its era.
Unfortunately it's not a game I return to very often due to the lack of challenge or content.
A review copy of the game was purchased by Video Game Legacy and reviewed in accordance with the review policy.