Super Hang-On

by Software Studios: Chris Wood, ZZKJ, Mevlut Dinc
Electric Dreams Software
Crash Issue 49, February 1988   (1988-01-28)   page(s) 11

When you had that Raleigh with stabiliser wheels, no-one would have thought you'd come to this - crouched over a racing motorbike with wheels about to lay rubber across four continents.

You wait at the race's start line, cool, calm and collected. Suddenly the jostling group of bikies that surrounds you is away, scorching off into the distance. You accelerate after them, watching closely the speedo at the top of the screen. When the crucial figure of 280 kph is reached, the bike's turbo kicks in. Then you begin to eat up the other riders as it they were on punctured tricycles.

You're loath to ease off the throttle, knowing that to do so costs you valuable time, but sometimes the situation demands sharp braking. The bike can use all of the road, switching from side to side to avoid the other bikes and apex through the bends of the track.

If your steering isn't all that it might be and you touch another rider, or slip off the main track, speed is lost - and that means valuable time is gone too. And you can't do anything about riders who strike you as they come burning through, losing you yet more seconds.

Worse still, should you make contact with one of the wayside features, an advertising hoarding, a tree or a pile of boulders, you have a wipeout on your hands and the bike is destroyed. No serious injury is involved and you are quickly on a spare, but now time is even tighter.

The clock ticks away all too fast at the head of the screen. Flash beneath the finish gantry before that zero second arrives, and you're on to the next stage with any remaining time carried over. Each successive track asks more of the rider, daring him to go faster and to take more chances before the ever-lowering time limit is reached.

If you successfully ride the six tracks of Africa, you and your machine are transferred to Asia (ten stages), then to America (14 stages), and finally to Europe with its 18 tracks. Each new continent is a greater test of skill than the last, with points building up as you wheelie your way around the world.

After all this, if you feel your bike lacks a little something, you can pep up its capabilities by increasing the sensitivity of its handling - and off you go once more.

Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: large detailed bikes, with jerky but fast animation
Sound: super biking effects
Options: to colour or not to colour, that is the question... plus three levels of control response

'Super Hang-On could easily be called Enduro Racer II - I can find hardly any differences. Riding a road bike rather than a dirt bike doesn't change the game much. Still, there's more colour here than in Enduro Racer - of course that causes some attribute problems, but the extra reality is worth it. If you already own Enduro Racer there's no point in getting this, but it's worth a look if you're shopping for a motorbike aim.'
NICK ... 86%

'After seeing US Gold/Epyx's appalling Super Cycle I was afraid Super Hang-On might be another such arcade great ruined by thoughtlessness. But though it's certainly not up to the standards of Enduro Racer, it's an incredible achievement. The front-end often a cleverly-constructed array of options, though I found only one combination useful: high sensitivity with attributes off. And once you find the right settings the game is a joy, both playable and addictive. The levels of difficulty are just right: it's pretty easy to finish the first two African tracks in your first session, but to get any further requires perseverance and restrained use of the turbo. If you've been looking forward to Super Hang-On you won't be disappointed.'
PAUL ... 85%

'The chance to set your bike's response does a lot for Super Hang-On - you can ride like you want to. And though there are set angles for taking corners, that makes it easier to assess how to tackle each one. The major problem I had was with drunken drivers cutting me up.'
BYM ... 83%

Use of Computer: 87%
Graphics: 86%
Playability: 76%
Addictiveness: 85%
Overall: 85%

Summary: General Rating: Not quite up to Enduro Racer, but a superb and challenging coin-op conversion.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 26, February 1988   page(s) 32

I must say I was a bit worried about this one. (He's a bit worried! The YS Team) I mean, it's something of a concern when one of your fave arcade hits get scrunched onto the Speccy, innit? You think "Good grief, it won't be like Enduro Racer, will it?" and "Oo lumme, it's gonna be all one colour, innit? Green!", don't you? Well, I needn't have worried, 'cos Super Hang On is really good. (Phew! Worry isn't good for you, y'know!

Just like the coin-op version, you are in charge of a powerful motorbike, which you've got to race at top wack across six long and winding race courses around the world. The bike is really hi-tech, with a jet turbo booster which you can kick in when your speed reaches about 270-280 km, and all the usual steering and braking nonsense. You won't be using the brake much, on account of being a bit short on the old time, but when you do apply the brake, the little light comes on n the back of your bike. The way to complete the courses is to make it to the checkpoints in time (a bit like jolly old Outrun, rilly), whereupon you get an extended play and an opportunity to finish the next section. (I only got up to section three with a score of 241,880 before I had to stop playing and start writing.)

Well, I've got to get it out in the open. (Fnark, fwar, gwar!) I like it! It's an utterly wheelspinningly brill bit of arcade fastitude. What I mean is that old Super hard Up must be my fave racing game of the year. (Not difficult as it's the first racing game of the year. Snort! Ed) Far from being the monochrome borefest I had anticipated, it's a fast and colourful game, with all the gut-twisting curves and rubber-burning action of the arcade machine still intact on this version. All the items on the screen have a colour of their own, with some very tricky attribute cheating going on. The graphics really are the best renditions of the Hang On graphics you're likely to get on a wubber keyboard computer. You've even got the same courses to drive around, so arcade Super Hang On experts start with a distinct advantage. The best thing about the game is that it's really hard, (Fnark!) taxing even the most seasoned Hang Abouter, like me. There's nothing worse than a conversion that's too easy.

And so, there we have it. A cut above your average motorcycle race game, but still another one. It's for that reason that it dropped a mark rather than any lack of quality. Skill factor four, Mr Sulu...

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 8/10

Summary: An engine growling motorcycle race game, with all the playability of the original. First class!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair - Article Re-review Issue 59, November 1990   page(s) 78

This one did rather well when it first came out, I seem to remember. It's a very motorbikey sort of game where you've got to race against lots of other bikes round a series of courses. And it's these courses that are the key to the whole thing - they're brill! There are huge hills which you climb up and then plummet down the other side of, and there are even (I seem to remember) hills combined with corners which are particularly disconcerting. Your bike is nice too. Its multi-coloured and leans over superbly on corners. What else? Your fellow riders are pretty hard to beat, which helps. And that's about it really. All in all, then, a straight-forward but beautifully executed bike game with a really nice 'feel' to it. In fact, it's probably the best racing game around.

Drive: 91%
Visibility: 83%
Road Holding: 92%
Overall: 91%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair - Article Re-review Issue 78, June 1992   page(s) 54

No contest. This motorbike game rips the opposition off the road at the first turn. What's it got? It's got the lot - gosh-wow quality, fall-off-your-seat graphics, millions of levels, just-so gameplay and the kind of addictive qualities other racers dream of. Jolly, jolly good.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 70, January 1988   page(s) 12

Everybody, but everybody, thinks that Outrun will be the Christmas biggy. They are probably right. But if there is any justice and common sense Super Hang On is the game that ought to be at the top of everyone's Dear Santa list.

There have been a fair few attempts at racing games on the Spectrum, both cars and bikes, and the best have been tolerably good.

Super Hang On wipes the floor with all those previous games - it goes beyond even Enduro Racer in its achievements.

Almost all racing games work the same way. The bike or car sits in the middle of the road which disappears into the mid-horizon. The illusion of speed is achieved by road-side objects which scroll past and the way the road twists and turns.

The technique remains the same here but it's realised better than ever before. The bike is big and not just single coloured. The sense of movement is achieved with some of the smoothest moving graphics yet seen.

The detail is superb - watch the way the bike exhaust flames red when you engage the turbo boost (a bit like the Batmobile actually).

Even the great graphics don't fully explain the sheer wonderfulness of the game. That's down to something more subtle - the bike response - the way you can control the bike precisely through each curve. Like Revs on the Beeb, the game really 'feels' authentic.

Super Hang-On is also vast. Around six stages on each of four continents. Each continent requires a separate Load and each features distinctive graphics.

You can play the game and finish the first stage of the first continent fairly easily. This is encouraging for those who give up easily, like me. The problem is that it soon becomes extremely difficult to get any further - you are always under a very tight time limit to reach each gate and it was ages before I managed to get as far as the second one.

The faster you hit each gate point the bigger your time bonus. And to keep going and to get through all the gates in a country you'll have to drive like the clappers, never hit another bike (a serious slow-up) and never come off the track which at the very least loses you a few seconds.

Electric Dreams has pulled out all the stops on this one. You can even adjust the sensitivity of the joystick response - more is good for weaving in between other bikes but less is generally safer and easier for beginners.

There's a lot of track to get around and the feel is very true to the original game. It feels fab, it's exciting to play and is easily the best road race game on the Spectrum bar none - and that includes Outrun and Enduro Race.

Label: Electric Dreams
Author: Chris Wood, ZZKJ
Price: £9.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Overall: 10/10

Summary: An absolutely superb conversion of the coin-op. Looks great and it's exciting to play. This is the definitive road race.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 5, February 1988   page(s) 38,39

Get a grip on Electric Dreams.

Tired of always hitting top speed and still not going fast enough? So were Sega apparently, because they fitted the Hang-On bike with a turbocharger for just such moments. The result was the rip-roaring coin-op that ED'S new transworld road-racer is based on.

Starting in Africa you aim to race around the globe, taking in Asia, America and finally Europe in a desperate bid to beat the clock. Bonus time at the end of each section - there are 48 of these in all - helps keep you going, but the odds are stacked against you.

As with C64 Out Run, this is not one game but several. Each of the four continents loads separately, and even on Amstrad disk you'll have to switch the machine off to move on to the next one. In theory the continents are graded in order with Africa the easiest and Europe the hardest, but in practice this is only hallway the case.

You start each continent with 50 seconds on the clock and get another 30 seconds bonus at the end of each section. You'll rarely make a 'profit' on a section by completing it in 'under 30 seconds, so your time will tend to get worn down as you progress across a continent. Thus, in a sense, the 18-section European route is much harder to complete than Africa (6 sections) or Asia (10). The opening sections of the African run are at least as hard as anything in Europe or America however, and the first leg on the Asian route is nothing short of diabolical. The moral is unclear, but don't feel obliged to follow the 'obvious' order.

As well as the usual steering, throttle and brake you have a key (fire button for joystick diehards) which engages that all important turbo - provided you're going fast enough, that is. You can press for all you're worth, but the turbo won't kick in until you're up to 280kph. When it finally does fire up however, things really start getting interesting. The extra 40-50kph the turbo gives you is essential if you're to stay on schedule, but it makes it substantially harder staying on the road and dodging other riders.

Keeping your tyres on the tarmac is pretty important - hitting roadside obstacles costs you precious seconds - but dodging other riders is absolutely vital. Collisions can cut your speed in half, and that'll lose you a good deal more than that turbo assist. Unlike Out Run, you see, the opposition come from behind as well as appearing in the distance. Once you fall below the average speed of the pack you're liable to be rammed by bikers trying to overtake you.

It's a vicious circle: lose speed and you may never get back again, being rammed faster than you can steer or accelerate. Ramming can just keep cutting you back to a crawl, but it can also block you from getting the line you need round a curve or run you off the road entirely. If you suffer from blood pressure problems, the colossal frustration involved here will do you no good at all. It's not just the crass unfairness of it all - no matter who rams who, you're the only one who loses speed - but the extreme difficulty of avoiding collision as well. Without a rear view mirror, you've just got to guess where riders will appear from. Get it wrong once and it could put you out of the race. Addictive stuff to be sure, but you'll be using the abort facility - and a few well-chosen expletives - more than a game ought to require.

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spec, £9.99cs, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Atari ST, To be announced, Spring 88

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 85/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 80/100
1 week: 65/100
1 month: 30/100
1 year: 10/100

Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/10
IQ Factor: 2/10
Fun Factor: 8/10
Ace Rating: 752/1000

Summary: Better graphics on the Spectrum give it the edge on day one, but both versions suffer from excess difficulty in the long term.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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