2 Tickets to Bird Land: A Super Hang-On Review.
I’d been planning on downloading Sega’s 1987 high speed racer Super Hang-On ever since it was made available for the Virtual Console back in May but held off until this past weekend. As incredible a display of willpower as that may seem, the real reason was that I’d already achieved platinum status on Club Nintendo a long time ago and made myself promise to not buy any new games until the year reset at the end of June. That’s how mediocre prizes get won, there fellas. Anyway, as a kid this was a game that definitely stood out in arcades due to the fact that you had to straddle a “motorcycle” to control the damn thing. The gameplay was shallow for sure but also a lot of fun and incredibly addictive (so long as there weren’t any girls around to see you make a complete ass out of yourself). “I wonder how well it holds up after all this time?” you may be whispering to yourself at this very moment.
Well, I guess it’s a good thing we’re around to answer big questions like these for you because after finally taking this thing for a test drive myself, you’re about to find out right after the jump!
As I mentioned before, the racing itself is very simplistic but in this guy’s humble opinion, that’s actually part of the game’s strength. Arcade titles are of course known for providing quick, visceral, pick up and play experiences and it’s in this respect that Super Hang-On absolutely shines. The goal is simple:
Drive as fast as you fucking can to get to the end of the track before your game is over. Boom.
Four continents represent the various difficulty settings but in addition to that, the game has easy, normal, hard, etc. settings which can be adjusted on a newly implemented menu screen. Some may consider playing the easy course on easy as a bit of a little bitch move, but whatever. Even in that mode Super Hang-On provides a challenge that even the most seasoned player won’t be able to blow through. What surprised me and that I didn’t remember at all was that each course actually can be completed. There are goals and ending screens for all four areas. For whatever reason I assumed that like most arcade games a high score was the perpetual motivation and that does factor into this game of course. It’s just that once you realize that had you not crashed into a street light or been knocked off the course by whatever faceless chucklehead, you would have FINISHED the track instead of running out of time one second too soon. A truly face-tearing off worthy experience that will equal your ass glued to the couch for longer than you’d care to admit to anyone. At your disposal is a boost that appears once you reach 280 mph and holding down the appropriate button will indeed help you stockpile critical seconds during straightaways, but God help you if you’ve got your thumb on that thing down during tight corners. Especially toward the end of each track as they narrow down and more and more drones appear for you to navigate around. This game is made of some tough stuff that will keep you coming back for more like a damn junkie.
As far as visuals, just have a look. Arcade perfection in glorious
1080 480p resolution. As another nice customizable option, you can change the screen size or even add artificial scan lines to provide a more “authentic” arcade cabinet experience. The graphics themselves definitely reek of the late 80’s but in this game’s case that isn’t a bad thing. Not even a little bit. Retro-style sprite based graphics have become quite fashionable in recent years and Super Hang-On certainly benefits from that trend and comes off downright charming as a result.
The main thing worth noting is that Sega has been kind enough to include a myriad of control schemes in this port. The Wii-mote works great by itself as does the good old WaveBird, but it’s also nice to see motion controls added in an attempt to recapture the feel of the arcade original. That’s right! This late in the life of the Virtual Console, we’re actually getting a taste of the service’s potential. While the actual implementation adds up to basically a glorified novelty, it does work well enough to show off to your friends and c’mon: It’s the thought that counts.
So, is this game worth your hard earned time and money? Absolutely. And despite the relatively steep asking price of 900 Wii points ($9.00 American money), you’ll quickly find that were you plopping in quarters back in 1987, this game has already paid for itself in the first sitting.
3.5 out of 5 Ghost Mushrooms.