Revisited: Super Hang-On

This past Thursday, the Wii’s Virtual Console service was graced with a port of the arcade version of Sega’s Super Hang-On – one of the most well-known motorcycle racing games of the the late-80’s through the 90’s. It was instantly recognizable in arcades due to its large motorcycle-shaped sit-down cabinet (and equally large stand-up cab), fast-paced gameplay, and for offering a selection of memorable tunes.

Now, twenty-five years after its original release, it’s time again to Outride a Crisis.

I’ve been waiting for this game since arcade support was announced for the VC service back in 2009, and I am so glad to now be able to say: this release is 100% arcade-perfect. The game engine runs flawlessly with an assortment of options – all the appropriate dip-switches (for toggling difficulty, time length, etc.); screen size adjustment; the ability to add scan-lines for an even more authentic feel; and perhaps most important of all: motion support.

I was remarkably happy about the addition of Wiimote steering. A large part of the appeal of the original game was the fact that your bike was steered with handle-bars instead of a play old joystick, and while the experience of sitting on a plastic crotch-rocket is missing, the Wiimote’s steering capabilities created a sufficient swarm of nostalgia. It may take a bit to get used to the sensitivity (small corrections are a must), but after a few minutes of practice the game played exactly how I remember it playing almost two decades ago. Players who would rather have a more traditional experience are in luck too, with support for the Wiimote’s d-pad, the Nunchuck, and the Classic Controller.For those of you who have played the Genesis or other home ports of Super Hang-On, you will notice a noticeable improvement in the music. The arcade hardware was obviously capable of more complex sounds – so while the same memorable tunes are there, fans of the home ports will surely find the arcade’s versions to be equal if not better.

It’s important to note, though, that the arcade version only has a simple racing mode (across four difficulties, which correspond to four different tracks). The home port, which most people are more acquainted with, featured an in-depth career mode allowing for bike customization, among other things. If this mode was your main appeal for Super Hang-On, keep in mind that the arcade version lacks it – and appropriately so, since arcade games were generally created for quick sessions than lengthy careers.

If you want to feel a rush of nostalgia like me, and have a dang fine game at your disposal to boot, show Sega your support and download Super Hang-On on the Wii’s Virtual Console service. Its price of 900 points may seem a bit high, but I personally feel the ability to play the game with the originally-intended motion steering more than makes up for the cost – especially since most emulators can’t mimic that experience like the Wii can.

Mama wouldn't let me have a motorcycle. This was the next best thing. Even better than a motorcycle.