Sunday, 8 July 2007

"Like Manx, but worse"

It seems that I can never separate myself from my beloved Saturn. No matter how much work I have, or how busy I am, I still can't resist to play on my little box of retro goodness. After the passion for 2D beat'em ups, followed by a strange obsession with obscure Japanese titles no one ever heard about, lately I've been all into the racing genre. As most gamers I have the essential titles for the Saturn, like Sega Rally (best racing game ever), Daytona USA (2nd best, although I miss the CCE version), Sega Touring Car (shit) and Manx TT, but lately I've been craving for more exotic titles, that offer something different, you know?

In the past few days in particular I focused more in motorcycle games, instead of cars, and after some time spent with Manx I needed something more. And that's where Hang-On GP '96 comes in.

This title is none other than the sequel to on of the most important racing games of the past, the original Hang-On. I recently talked about it on an article about Yu Suzuki for PTGamers, but since I doubt many of you can read portuguese, I'm going to resume it. Basically Hang-On was a fucking amazing game for it's time, with gorgeous graphics (by the 1985 standards) and an awesome gameplay, along with an arcade cabinet featuring the very first force feedback system.


But right now we only care about Hang-On GP, right? Well, if I could resume the game to a single catch-phrase it would have something been this: "Like Manx, but worse". But of course there's a lot more to it than this, so let's see exactly what this game is all about. For a start, HO GP is more into the simulation style instead of pure arcade. Unlike Manx, where you just have to know when and how to turn, HO GP lets you to balance your weight on the bike, do powerslides and even change the tire grip to match track conditions.


With that said, if you thought Manx was hard, well, HO is harder, specially because if you touch the walls of the track your bike will jump in the air and until you're back on top of it you'll loose a lot of time/positions. Anyway, most hardcore fans of the genre will like this kind of depth in the gameplay (not me...).


It's a shame the same amount of depth wasn't put into the playing modes. When you start you just have the usual practice and championship modes, with the later being just a single race mode, really. There are only 3 tracks, but at least they made 2 versions of each one, with the more complete version being available after you beat the shorter one. There's also a hidden bike (you have several at your disposition) and an endurance mode, but like most racing games of it's era, HO GP ends really quick.



The graphics are nice, though (it's a shame that I can't find screens with more quality). Unlike Manx, which had a more sober colour palette, HO GP has the type of vibrant colours you'd expect from a SEGA game. The framerate is also stable and all the tracks, bikes, etc... are well designed.



Although I usually don't talk about the sound, since in the Saturn era most games just have "ok" soundtracks, I really need to talk about the sound of the bikes in HO GP. It's fucking annoying and it makes my ears bleed! No, I'm not exaggerating, it really is a fucking high-pitched whine that will drive you crazy! Thank Segata my tv has a mute button...

Overall this is a good game, but I think that only the motorcycle aficionados will enjoy in it's full glory. Despite this, if you already have Manx and want something similar, give Hang-On GP '96 a try, you wont regret it.

As always, good bye and good games ;)

8 comments:

The Elderly said...

I've never owned a motorbike game, played plenty of demos, could never get used to the leaning and steering bit, the graphics remind of the first time I saw the motorbike arcade games complete with mock up bike, I was enthralled.

gnome said...

Never owned a motorbike, but I can testify to this posts sheer quality. Another excellent write-up! Now, gimme a Saturn. Please?

NebachadnezzaR said...

Hmm...we could always start a "give a saturn to a gnome" fund..

gnome said...

Excellent idea. And then the give gnome his own pron production company campaign...

fatherkrishna said...

Great review, and absolutely spot on in terms of analysis! I have both games and they were bought and played in the same order as you have. I love Manx, and I think it's as good in terms of a bike sim as Sega Rally is a rally sim.

I was excited by the prospect of Hang On '96, but very disappointed when I played it. It seemed vastly inferior to Manx... Indeed the sound of the bikes was truly awful and the major problem witht the game for me.

But the playability was not as natural as Manx, and I never played it again...

I was going to write a comparative review of the two, but you beat me to it! Well done again sir! :)

The Elderly said...

(throws €2 in the give a gnome a pron production company fund)

fatherkrishna said...

Gnome pron productions... I'd buy that for a dollar! $$$$$ :)

The Elderly said...

..okay we've got €2.73 ...... well it's a start... I wonder if Gnomes Familly would like to make a contribution.... I'll phone his mum