Another of my childhood favourites, Super Hang-On is a nonsensical-yet-endearing motorbike racer from the 1980s. I recently revisited this creaking bastard through the Wii’s Virtual Console service, and came away reasonably entertained. Begrudgingly, against my will, but it wasn’t as painful an experience as these geriatric games often are. (A lot of them are the gaming equivalent of that vindictive old crone in the retirement home, who shrieks incoherently at the staff and always smells of piss.) I’m pleased to report that there’s only a hint of senility about Super Hang-On, and just the faintest odour of urine.
(Alas, that’s the best I can do with regards to selling this fossil, so let’s move on rather swiftly.)
As with Nintendo’s pitiful panorama of turd Excitebike, you are Anonymous Biker Dude 1. You select a course, and are staring at the badly-drawn ‘80s ass of your dude and your opponents. The countdown completes, and Anonymous Biker Dudes 2 through 8 promptly disappear into the distance. The sight is fairly what in the name of Satan’s scrotum just happened? I don’t know what in hell those guys are riding, but it’s uncool to the nth degree that I don’t have one too the first time you see it occur, I’ll concede. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that this is no conventional racer. Your aim is to pass through a series of checkpoints in the fastest time. Your standing with regards to the others is immaterial, indeed placing isn’t recorded. In the logic-resistant world of Super Hang-On, you pass the same seven bikers about a thousand times each en-route to the goal. (My hypothesis regarding this phenomena is that your group of opponents from the starting line had recently indulged in a particularly questionable meal, and were hurrying off for a thunderous dump. Where the endless stream of clones factors in, I can’t imagine.)
These devious doppelgangers exist only to send you sprawling on your ass in a precious-time-wasting Superman dive of pure humiliation. You can’t go more than three inches down the track without one of these asses showing up. They intentionally slow down, just to obstruct you. Even the slightest contact will hideously mangle you and send you careening off the road surface. The actual track is just a tiny part of the visible area, there’s a veritable eternal wasteland stretching off into the distance beyond it. (This is the kind of enigmatic place ancient mapmakers would indicate with a simple here be monsters or some such. There’s some scary shit here.) Tiny trees adorned with about three leaves apiece, the ugliest-looking hedges imaginable (the jaggies could fatally stab you in the balls from across the room) and other assorted ephemera stand sentinel. Should you stray off the track, you’ll either slow instantly to a pathetic dead snail crawl or hit one of these obstacles. It’s irritating, it’s a bitch, but it’s almost worth it to see the ludicrous crash animation.
Super Hang-On makes little sense. If we’re not technically racing, what are all these other bastards doing here? (Judging by their viciousness, I suspect a vast motor vehicle-based prison rehabilitation scheme gone dramatically awry. Like Spartacus and his slave army. If they had motorbikes, I’m a little historically-challenged.) Damn criminals in the road, stopping me cruising down a narrow dirt track at speeds that could send your balls retreating back into your body. There’s also the fact that it seems our man can only turn by scraping his knee along the road. Oucharoonie. (You’ll never see me use that word again, so revel in this fleeting instance. Revel I say!) I certainly hope he has health insurance. Finally, the question I’ve been asking myself since I first saw them half my life ago: what the hell are those signs emblazoned with the weird bird? They’re only there to break my face in a 500mph collision, I’m sure of it.
Here’s some footage of the game, recorded by rabid Youtube racer VirtuaStig:
Article by Chris Littlechild
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