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Reviews (N-Z)


985 (1 Player)



Overview and game play

Hang-On is a motorbike racing game for 1 player that was popular in the arcades during the mid 80’s. Part of the success of the game is due to the innovative cabinet design of the deluxe version that features a full sized red plastic replica of a high-powered racing motorbike. The player must sit on the motorbike and hold on to handlebars that have brake handles. A monitor is positioned where the windscreen would normally be on a real motorbike so the player can view his/her progress with ease. There is also an upright version of Hang-On, which has the same handlebars as the deluxe model.

One coin is required per game and once the start button is pressed the title screen disappears to be replaced with the starting line of the racetrack and all the competitors waiting to begin. A countdown with lights then follows and the other competitors’ speed away leaving the players on-screen motorbike behind. Rotating the handle towards ones body accelerates the motorbike and squeezing the brake handle slows it down. As with a real motorbike, turning the handlebar left or right will result in the respective movements being made and for sharp turns, one must lean either left or right to achieve a sharper turning curve. This is a fun part of the game, although younger players may find it difficult to move the replica bike about. Some players cheat by putting their feet on the floor instead of on the foot-pegs on the motorbike, to make navigating sharp bends easier. Although good results can be achieved this way, it reduces the amount of fun that can be had and defeats the intended objective of the game.



At the top of the game area is the players’ score, the top score, the stage number and time remaining for the stage of the race currently being played. Hang-On uses a time system whereby one must arrive at the next stage before the time expires to continue playing, regardless of how many crashes the player has had. Colliding with another competitor may result in the players’ motorbike spinning off the track or being bounced in the opposite direction. There are numerous trackside billboards and other objects such as rocks and trees that must be avoided as a collision with any of them results in the players’ bike crashing and time being lost. A nice touch is that when the player has crashed, any competitors s/he has previously passed will race by and the player must catch up with them when play resumes.



The graphics of Hang-On are good for 1985, when the game was released. An established visual trick (in pole position) of using alternating coloured lines on the side of the road to convey speed is present, which is assisted by lines in the middle of the road and trackside objects. The trackside objects, (including adverts for real products such as Shell Petrol) pass by very quickly when at top speed, which adds to the illusion of movement. The players’ motorbike is well designed and an excellent detail is that when the brakes are applied, dust appears to show there is some skidding and the rear brake light on the motorbike is illuminated. Two layers of parallax scrolling are used to display mountains and clouds in the background that scroll smoothly, as the track turns left or right. A particularly good animation is for turning the motorbike around corners, as it turns a little for a gentle curve and more sharply when the player is leaning. There are several animations for when the players’ motorbike crashes and each of them is well executed with a pleasing explosion.




During part of the attract sequence, a short synthesized tune plays as the game title screen animates that is memorable and pleasant. In-game sounds are played as the three starting lights change in a very similar way to another racing game: pole position. A pleasant synthesized background tune is played while the player races and good digitized sound effects are used for skidding, going off road, passing other competitors and for motorbike crashes.



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