Monday, April 4, 2011

Resurrecting Hang-On

John Marine | 4/04/2011 05:25:00 AM | | | |
Besides OutRun, Hang-On is one of the premier classic racing franchises from Sega. Hang-On is all about high-speed sportbike racing on the open road. The choices for games for motorcycle racing fans are far and between. As much as I love cool cars, I also love some sweet motorcycles. I am mostly into sportbikes. Sega has given the green light to revive certain past franchises and past games. If there was another title to get new-age treatment, could the Hang-On franchise be in the near future? I speculate and offer ideas on what would make a proper resurrection (even if for one time only) of the only other popular classic Sega racing series besides any of the 3D Sega racing games. Unless you think today's Sega is a shadow of its former self, this is a great opportunity for Sega to breathe new life into another classic.

This blog post is a look at what it would take to not only bring back Hang-On, but make a proper and complete 21st Century version of this classic franchise.

--- Hang-On in Retrospect ---
The Hang-On franchise has always been about racing on the open road against other motorcycles. There is no competitive position for position racing in the classic Hang-On games. You simply have to reach the checkpoints within the allowed time. Crashing even once can really hurt your chances of beating the entire course.



The original Hang-On was released in arcades in 1985. It would later be released as a home version for the Sega Master System. This game featured only one course with five individual stages.

* The first stage takes place in a mountainous setting.
* The second stage goes through some sort of grassy setting.
* The third stage takes place on highway roads in a desert.
* The fourth stage winds its way through city streets at night.
* The fifth and final stage goes through what looks like a proper race track.

If you crash just once in this game, it seems like your hopes at victory are almost impossible. While there are no licensed motorcycles, the ending suggests that you ride on a Honda motorcycle.

You can play this as a mini-game in Shenmue for the Sega Dreamcast.

Super Hang-On.


Super Hang-On is by far the best Hang-On in the series. This 1987 game took all the elements of the original title and expands upon it. You now can race four different courses taking you all over the world. You can race up to 280 kilometers per hour, but you could go even faster- up to 324 kph! Just activate the turbos when at 280 kph to go faster. This game would be released for the Genesis/Megadrive and even include a special mode that allows you to upgrade your motorcycle. Here is a look at the courses you can race in:

* NOVICE COURSE - race a six-stage tour through Africa.
* JUNIOR COURSE - challenge a ten-stage tour through the roads of Asia.
* SENIOR COURSE - go full speed through a 14-stage tour on the roads and highways of America.
* EXPERT COURSE - challenge a grueling 18-stage tour through Europe, which boast the world's toughest roads.

In addition to picking between four different courses, you can even select from four different rock songs to enjoy your two-wheeled fun. I found some YouTube videos in case you want to listen to these songs yourself. All songs are from the arcade version:

* "Outride a Crisis"

* "Sprinter" (Arcade Version)

* "Winning Run" (Arcade version)

* "Hard Road" (Arcade version)

Super Hang-On simply delivered one of the most impressive experiences Hang-On fans will not forget anytime soon. Here is a sample of Super Hang-On for the arcade:

Hang-On Grand Prix '95.

For the Sega Saturn, there was a little-known title called Hang On GP '95. This is probably little-known for a big reason- it was completely unlike the classic Hang-On games. Whereas you would race in point-to-point fashion in the previous two Hang-On games, you race exclusively on closed circuits and may even make pit stops. On the other hand, you can choose between various motorcycles of various performance characteristics. Bikes are graded on brakes, engine, frame, and grip. Three race tracks are in the game, and each one features both a regular course and a long course.

The game seems very disappointing, especially if you are a fan of classic Hang-On games. It's almost feels like Sega took "Manx TT Superbike" (which was also released for home consoles) and marketed it under the Hang-On. Here is a gameplay sample video for you. Judge this game for yourself based on this video by one of my YouTube friends:

Now that you have retrospect, it's time to look to the future and speculate. But first, here is a little insight from a non-related game. Make sure you're reading the full blog post to know what game I am going to mention. If you aren't reading the full post, click "Read More" to read the rest of this blog post in full.

--- Non-Related: Racing Hero Influence ---
Racing Hero was a game released in 1988 in arcades. It was a hybrid of Hang-On and OutRun. You race on a motorcycle against other motorcycles (and cars) while also selecting what route you want to take. Each country featured two stages. The first stage has you against motorcycles and car traffic, and the second stage is a tougher stage with you versus other motorcycles. You have only 60 seconds to clear each stage. Upon completion of one country (you start in Australia), you choose the next country to race in. You race a total of four countries and eight stages of racing.

Why am I mentioning this game? Elements of this game tie into how I think a resurrection of Hang-On should be. This blog post is NOT about Racing Hero. However, in case you're interested as to what Racing Hero is like, check out "Racing Hero - arcade game by Sega, 1989" on YouTube.

--- Resurrecting Hang-On: General Points ---
So how would you create a new-age Hang-On title? I think as much as the OutRun 2 series was a real testament for OutRun fans, I think equal respect needs to be given to Hang-On fans. There are a number of Sega fans who probably think that today's Sega is merely a shadow of its former self. Because of this, not as many people would think Sega is even capable of reviving a franchise like Hang-On, even if for just one last time.

We need to look at Hang-On across a number of different aspects to determine what is the best way (and the right way) to revive a classic franchise like Hang-On. Nobody wants a disgraceful revival of a classic franchise. What would be the best way to revive a classic franchise like Hang-On? Here are variables to consider:

* motorcycles - what motorcycles should be used?
* locations/tracks - what venues and locales should be featured?
* racing - how do you pattern the racing?
* completion - how do you bring it all together?

Time to take this further.

--- Resurrecting Hang-On: Motorcycles ---
The first order of business is deciding on what motorcycles to feature. If there is one aspect of past racing games, there were not as many racing games that felt like licensed material was needed to sell it. Big contrast to today. About the only modern racing game series to feature non-licensed machines is the Burnout series. Then again, what company would want to see their licensed products go through Hell like in a Burnout game? I think this is an age where there is incentive in featuring actual products in various forms of entertainment to promote and expose products. So therefore, there can be NO faceless motorcycles. No fantasy motorcycles. There has to be real-world motorcycles people can associate with and feel like they are really using something authentic. OutRun 2 featured Ferraris even though most people already know that almost every OutRun game in history has featured Ferrari or Ferrari-like cars.

There is a big contrast between cars and motorcycles that makes this venture different. You can easily tell what a fantasy car resembles by going on its visual cues. You can tell what is a Lamborghini or a Porsche on only a few visual cues. Motorcycles, however, can be tough. You may know it's a sport bike, but who makes it? How can you tell a Honda from a Suzuki on design cues? Because of how anonymous sport bikes can be style-wise, that's why you tend to see more generic sport bikes than you do any licensed bikes in many games. You immediately assume it's a sport bike and not even know what company makes it, and you're not able to readily tell it apart from any other licensed bike.

Unlike the OutRun 2 series, which exclusively features Ferraris, there should be a mixed bag of motorcycles to compliment many varities of motorcycle fans. What should suffice is a general assortment of popular sport motorcycles. The Hang-On games have exclusively been about sport bikes and racing bikes, so it would be rather pointless to ruin the flow with cruisers and choppers. Any featured motorcycles will have to be sport bikes at least in the supersport/middleweight range. So no entry-level motorcycles can be added because it would dilute the arcade feel of Hang-On and take away from the high-speed trills associated with the Hang-On series. As a final extract of this resurrected Hang-On, I am considering racing bikes to go along with this package. A host of road-going sport bikes along with tuned versions and racing versions will make the overall lineup of motorcycles exceptional.

Therefore, the best fit for motorcycles would be a host of road-going bikes along with racing or tuned versions for the best experience. That's right- I'm patterning the choice of motorcycles like in "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast." You have a host of motorcycles to choose from followed by upgraded versions in their own class. This is much like the road-going Ferraris in "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast" being complimented by the OutRun class of Ferraris. And if you will, you can call the upgraded/racing motorcycles as the Hang-On class. Since this game features many manufacturers of motorcycle, I want to make things fun and include a few different (as in DIFFERENT) motorcycles apart from the sport bikes. I have a funky list of unique motorcycles lined up later in this section, so keep reading!

--- Building the Motorcycle List ---
BEFORE I BEGIN: I do not know my older motorcycles, so I will stick to more recent models.

This is not any kind of official list, but some machines to consider when building a proper list of motorcycles for such a game. Now please note- this is not any kind of official list of motorcycles. Instead, more like a mix of motorcycles to help fill each rank. Here are some motorcycles for discussion for each class of sportbike:


This is a makeshift list of motorcycles to feature:
* Triumph Daytona 675
* Honda CBR600RR
* Honda VFR800 Interceptor
* Yamaha YZF-R6
* Suzuki GSX
* Ducati 848
* Ducati 848EVO
* Kawasaki ZX-6R
* Hyosung GT650R
* MV Agusta F3
* Aprilia RS 750 Triple
* BMW F800S


* Honda CBR1000RR
* Yamaha YZF-R1
* Suzuki GSX-R 1000
* Kawasaski ZX-10R
* Ducati 999R
* Ducati 1098S
* Ducati 1198S
* Ducati Desmosedici RR
* MV Augusta F4
* Augusta RSV4
* BMW S1000R
* Bimota DB8
* Benelli Tornado Tre
* Buell 1125R
* KTM 1198 RC8

Hyper Sport.

These are monster machines- high displacement (1100cc displacement or more) and high speed. These bikes are in a class of their own.
* Suzuki Hayabusa
* Kawasaki ZX-14R


Imagine if this new-age Hang-On had a few motorcycles in... just 'cause. This would be my oddball list of motorcycles to feature in this game. These are some bonus motorcycles that would be fun to unlock:
* BRP Can-Am Spyder
* Peraves Monotracer
* Ducati Multistrada
* Campagna T-Rex
* Yamaha Vmax
* Honda VFR1200F
* Harley-Davidson VR 1000

This is a general assortment of motorcycles to fuel interest for a general list of motorcycles.

--- Resurrecting Hang-On: Tracks/Locations ---
A racing game is nothing without places to contest speed at, so how do you come up with a set of venues for Hang-On to be contested? Do you go point-to-point like the classic Hang-On titles? Do you feature a handful of circuits? Or... do you feature a combination of the two?

Take a game like "OutRun 2" and "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast." Both games exclusively feature point-to-point venues. Remember I mentioned Racing Hero earlier? Racing Hero is somewhat like a combination of OutRun and Hang-On. It would be a bit tough to try to bring the appeal of split-road racing since Hang-On games have mostly been about point-to-point racing.


The venues will either consist of real-world venues or specific locations. This will be a general assortment of locations based on four international regions: Pan-America, Europe, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific.

Here are some locations that I think would be great if you're talking about venues to consider for a new-age Hang-On. These consist both of general locations and tracks. Any cities mentioned will likely be locations with roads and trails inspired by the specific locations:

--- Pan-America (North and South America) ---
These are
* New York City
* Chicago
* Detroit
* Appalachian Mountains
* Miami
* Road Atlanta
* Texas Hill Country
* Phoenix
* Miller Motorsports Park
* San Diego
* Laguna Seca
* California Coastline
* Yosemite National Park
* Sequoia Forest
* Portland (Oregon)
* Seattle
* Vancouver
* Toronto
* St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
* Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
* San Luis Potosi, Mexico
* Tijuana, Mexico
* Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
* Mexico City, Mexico
* Machu Picchu, Peru
* Rio de Janerio, Brazil
* Sao Paulo, Brazil
* Interlagos
* Santiago, Chile
* Buenos Aires, Argentina
* Rosario, Argentina

--- Europe ---
These are just a mixed bag of venues to think of if making a Hang-On game in the European sector:
* London, England
* Manchester, England
* Brands Hatch (GP course)
* Isle of Man TT Course (Snaefell Mountain Course)
* Cardiff, Wales
* Swansea, Wales
* Black Mountains (Wales)
* Dublin, Ireland
* Lisbon, Portugal
* Barcelona, Spain
* Madrid, Spain
* Ibiza, Spain
* Jerez
* Circuit de Catalunya
* Gibraltar
* Guernsey, Channel Islands
* Bordeaux, France
* Paris, France
* Bugatti Circuit
* St. Tropez, France
* Marseille, France
* Monte Carlo, Monaco
* Corsica
* Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
* Brussels, Belgium
* Copenhagen, Denmark
* Nürburgring (the Nordschleife)
* Cologne, Germany
* German countryside
* Vienna, Austria
* Swiss countryside
* Grindelwald, Switzerland
* Modena, Italy
* Tuscan countryside
* Rome, Italy
* Mugello
* Misano
* Kotor, Montenegro
* Athens, Greece
* Mykonos
* Thessaloniki, Greece
* Sofia, Bulgaria
* Zagreb, Croatia
* Bratislava, Slovakia
* Kiev, Ukraine
* Vilnius, Lithuania
* Riga, Latvia
* Tartu, Estonia
* Tallinn, Estonia
* Helsinki, Finland
* Stockholm, Sweden
* Mantorp Park
* Oslo, Norway
* Tromso, Norway
* Reykjavik, Iceland
* Moscow, Russia
* St. Petersburg, Russia
* Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
* Baku, Azerbaijan
* Tbilsi, [Republic of] Georgia
* Yerevan, Armenia

--- Africa ---
The Novice Course in Super Hang-On only consisted of six stages. What would be places to consider to go two-wheeling on for a new-age Hang-On? Here are a few suggestions (and I have MUCH more than six):

* Cairo, Egypt
* Aswan, Egypt
* Alexandria, Egypt
* Tunis, Tunisia
* Casablanca, Morocco
* Marrakech, Morocco
* Dakar, Senegal
* Lagos, Nigeria
* Luanda, Angola
* Nairobi, Kenya
* Kenya plains
* Ugandan countryside
* Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
* Johannesburg, South Africa
* Durban, South Africa
* Durban Street Circuit (as raced by the former A1GP)
* Cape Town, South Africa
* Pretoria, South Africa
* Kyalami
* Phakisa Freeway
* East London Prince George Circuit
* Antananarivo, Madagascar
* Port Louis, Mauritius

--- Asia-Pacific ---
This encompasses a broad array of locations: Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Australiasia. So you will see a LOT of places mentioned. Again- think more about the general locaton and area rather than just the actual places:

* Istanbul, Turkey
* Ankara, Turkey
* Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
* Tel Aviv, Israel
* Beirut, Lebanon
* Amman, Jordan
* Dubai, United Arab Emirates
* Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
* Losail International Circuit
* Kathmandu, Nepal
* Thimphu, Bhutan
* Tibet
* Gujarat (a state in India)
* Mumbai, India
* Calcutta, India
* Taj Mahal (Agra, India)
* Columbo, Sri Lanka
* Kandy, Sri Lanka
* Male, Maldives
* Dhaka, Bangladesh
* Chittagong, Bangladesh
* Yangon, Myanmar
* Bangkok, Thailand
* Bira International Circuit
* Sepang International Circuit
* Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
* Jakarta, Indonesia
* Sentul Circuit
* Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
* Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
* Saigon, Vietnam
* Hanoi, Vietnam
* Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region, China
* Macau Guia Circuit
* Beijing, China
* Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
* Taipei, Taiwan
* Seoul, South Korea
* South Korean countryside
* Tokyo, Japan
* Suzuka Circuit
* Kyoto, Japan
* Fukuoka, Japan
* Oita, Japan
* Hokkaido, Japan
* Japanese mountain roads
* rural Japan
* bamboo forest Japan
* Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
* Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
* Philip Island
* Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
* Uluru, Australia
* Perth, Western Australia, Australia
* Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
* Townsville, Queensland, Australia
* Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
* Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
* Auckland, New Zealand
* Wellington, New Zealand
* Christchurch, New Zealand
* Hamilton, New Zealand
* Taupo Motorsport Park
* Suva, Fiji
* Avarua, Cook Islands
* Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

So you want an idea of how to put venues together? I will take multiple methods to explain what would be great method for putting tracks together.

Tracks: The Super Hang-On Method.

So let me envision taking Super Hang-On's model and coming up with a makeshift tour. Remember that just because I laid out the region doesn't mean every venue will be featured. Thes are all if I designed a course.

Tracks: The OutRun Series Method.

Complete one stage and choose the next route. The course you choose will open the way to a different route. Make your tour as easy or as tough as you like.

Tracks: The OutRunners Method.

OutRunners began with one simple stage that allowed you to go on a Western or Eastern tour. This vastly improved the replay value of the game as you could choose between two different routes. If involved in a two-player battle, the player leading the other has the choice of West or East.

Tracks: The Racing Hero Method.

When you complete one set of stages, you have the choice afterwards of two different locations to choose from. This probably would work better with the closed-circuit courses than with a combination of open and closed circuits.

What method do YOU think would work better?

--- Resurrecting Hang-On: Gameplay ---
We have bikes, we have tracks... now how do you bring it all together?

For one thing, the action has to be authentic. Anyone who has played a classic Hang-On game knows how starts are made. The race starts with eight bikes (including yours) in delta formation. Seven bikes are ahead of you. All the opposing bikes will all take off from the starting position, and you will start once it's Go time. Remember that there is no position racing in Hang-On. However (and if you want to follow the "OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast" model), there may be certain events that have you racing against other bikes to try to win the race.

When going solo, you should have the ability to instantly go faster. 280 kph is about maybe 150 or 160 mph (rough math/guessing). So when you reach a certain speed, you can kick in the turbo to go even faster when at top speed. Sega racing games are known for vicious crashes apart from fun racing. So you have to have brutal crashes like head-on crashes, dumping the bike upon hitting something, and things like that. The bike explodes after a crash in the first Hang-On. You just high-side or have the bike dumped by hitting something off-course hard. As you're down, other bikes pass you by.

A new Hang-on doesn't have to be a Burnout game, so there's no need to contend with traffic. You COULD make the open road experience more like Racing Hero where your opposition is other riders and city traffic. It could make the open road experience a bit more realistic than just other bikes on the road. At the race tracks, it is just you and other riders on the track. The goal for this is the same- cross the checkpoints and beat the course.

I am not sure about introducing mini-games like in the Heart challenges of the OutRun 2 series, though. For now, just keep it as a racing deal. Riding two-up can be challenging anyhow.

--- Can/Will This Happen? ---
If there's enough interest as well as a concerted effort to revive the Hang-On franchise (even if for just one last time), then I definitely think this will happen. It's going to come down to how Sega intends to put the entire package together. If Sega can treat this like a proper "thank you" to fans of the Hang-On series, then this will be a sure modern classic. The series has been around for at least 25 years. If games like OutRun and the Sega Rally series get some updated versions, why not Hang-On?

Will it be successful? It all depends on how Sega markets the whole deal and how much they can infuse new life into an old franchise. Motorcycle racing fans need more motorcycle racing games to add diversity to the racing genre.

I had intended on doing a video for this, but I feel it's best to make a blog post to get things started. Anyhow, that concludes another blog post of mine. I may update it in the future with more content if I feel more should be added (and likely will need to). By the way, I may do a second blog post on this topic in the future with a bit more insight in the tracks and locales aspect of a new-age Hang-On. Thank you for reading!

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