Super Hang-on logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

ZKJ was not asked to write Super Hang On for the Amiga. He had collaborated with Chris Wood on the Amstrad and Spectrum conversions of the Sega arcade game and then went on to write the Atari version for Electric Dreams.

But he had been trained as a chip designer and wanted to get his hands on an Amiga, so when the Atari version was finished he embarked upon an Amiga port to produce a game which looked as though it belonged in the arcade.
When he had a running demo, ZZ - whose real name is Zareh - took the disc to Electric Dreams and it agreed to commission enhanced graphics and sound to suit the Amiga's superior hardware.

You race a motorbike through four continents - Africa, Asia, America and Europe. Each is divided into timed stages. Fail to complete a stage in the allotted time and the game is over.

Any extra time is added to the 32 seconds you get for the next stage. You must average more than 280 Km/h to do this. Every second left at the end of the game is worth a million points. This leads to two aims - finish as many stages as possible and score as many points as you can.

This is the best racing game on the Amiga, putting Buggy Boy in the shade. You can play with the keyboard or joystick but the pros will take to the mouse. This lets you control how much the bike leans and keep a tighter rein on turn in - this is the path the rival bikes take so be careful not to hit them. Clipping the side of another bike takes a third off your speed, while a 100 per cent collision will halve your speed. They won't drive into the back of you, so you shouldn't do it to them.

The speed controls can be used to position your bike. You have nitro, accelerate and brake. The nitro boost can be called upon at 280 Km/h to take you up to the maximum speed of 324 Km/h. This delivers a lot of thrust and is accompanied by flames from the back of the bike.

The standard acceleration control can be held down for most of the race, but for really tricky bends you will have to resort to the brake. This defies credibility. Stopping a bike from over 200 mph takes some time doing and the SHO bike stops very quickly.

Zareh tried putting realistic figures into the game but it wrecked the gameplay. While the brakes are super powerful they work progressively, gripping harder the longer you apply them. The change in speed affects the radius of your turn. If you decelerate as you turn, the bike moves closer to the inside bend. Whack a bit on a bit of power and the bike slides out. Use this to steer and you will get through corners very quickly.

You must learn the courses. As you speed over a hill you have no way of knowing what is on the other side. There are signs indicating sharp turns, but these are not always reliable - one or two point in the wrong direction. ZZ says this is based on the roads signs near Eastcote.

The routes are not the same as on the arcade game, for two reasons. Firstly Zareh did not get a video tape of the Africa section until the Atari version was finished, and secondly there are different versions in the arcades. Knowing that the third bend among the cacti is a really sharp one makes the difference between cruising around at a leisurely 130 Km/h and coming to a prickly end.

If you do crash, the accident is spectacular. Depending on what you hit, and how fast you hit it, the game plays one of two different sequences. The arcade offered more, but memory and disc space are limited on the Amiga. The result is that you can end up sprawled out, yet hovering in mid-air.

Still you are too busy worrying about finishing the leg to notice the most minor of graphics aberrations. Finish the course and you are rewarded with an animation as the crowds welcome the triumphant rider. Finish the last one for a clue as to who he is.

For an experienced Amiga programmer Super Hang On is an impressive bit of coding. For a first program on the Amiga it is incredible. Zareh went out of his way to really use the Amiga, although the basic gameplay is the same as that on the arcade machine - the Amiga version is very much better.

The whole game is very much smoother. The road drawing module is the biggest part of the program, only the Amiga version has wide road bars and a track which is in the correct proportion to the rest of the graphics.

This is thanks to the blitter, which is so fast that there is no flicker or slowing of the graphics in tight corners - the hardware can deal with the horizontal pixel scroll the game needs. This makes the movement of the signs around the track super slick.

The copper looks after the colours, which coming from a wide palette can be really subtle. The greys in the road are gentle to give an impressive of speed without it looking as though you are driving along a 20 mile long zebra crossing. The subtle colours have resulted in dramatic skies with extra clouds blitted on.

Having used the blitter and copper there is one more graphics aid to be exploited. Sprites. When I first wrote about the Amiga five years ago I though that hardware sprites would be important. I was wrong, few games use them, blitter objects being more flexible although not as quick.

SHO uses sprites for the nitro flares, dust clouds and the extended time details which need to flash at regular intervals, but the need to do other things overrides the flashing on inferior machines. Only the Amiga makes it possible.

If there is a flaw in the scheme of things it is the sound. Unusual since many of the games which are a simple port have beefed-up audio effects, but while the Amiga sounds are better than those on the ST they are not all they could be.
Perhaps in a game which so clearly demonstrates how good the Amiga is when programmed with finesse, I expected too much from the speakers.

Super Hang-on logo CU Screen Star

Price: £24.95

A fair while has passed since the appearance of this bastion of arcade games in places of amusement around Britain. In fact it's been a while since the conversion was first announced. The 64 version was cancelled, but the Amiga game has throttled its way into the office, and it's well worth the wait. Super Hang On oozes with skilled and patient programming, and it proves racing games can and will work on the Amiga.

The first I saw of any home computer version of SHO was on the ST and I was very impressed then, and although it's very similar on the Amiga it has the advantage of being slightly faster and more playable. That's why you bought the machine, right?

The graphics cannot be called arcade quality when put next to the coin op itself, but they are damn good in their own right. The scrolling is virtually faultless, the hills and general motion of the road come across very well, and you can see what's coming over the hill towards you without having to get into panic. The speed and smoothness at which the static objects at the side of the road update is very nifty and definitely qualifies as the best in the field.

I must mention the low grade engine noises that are generated by the bike. They are a pathetic mix of hums and groans, only compensated for by the great background tracks.

The computer riders are pretty natty, not only good looking chaps but well controlled and not prone to do irrational things. In fact they bank very realistically. The bike's not difficult to control either, left, right and fire are all that's needed. I actually found it easier to play with the mouse as opposed to joystick and keyboard, the only problem being I kept running out of room when it came to a difficult turn. But I guess that's just me (undoubtedly - Ed).

The whole game itself is very well executed, right from the start the options include a control sensitivity setting which proves very useful. Next is the most important option, what piece of music to listen to (the right music is essential to get a good lap time) and then comes the choice of which continent to race in, some of which are harder than others.

SHO is one of the best arcade conversions on any machine to date and certainly one of the best racing games. It has all the essential bits to make a quality game: graphics, gameplay, and ease of use. So drop Out Run if you really want to set a trend this is definitely the simulation to get.

Super Hang-on logo

Electric Dreams, Amiga £24.99

A few years ago a strange machine began to appear in arcades across the country. It consisted of a monitor in the front of a red replica of a racing bike. You were supposed to sit on the bike and lean sideways to steer around the corners. That was Hang-On.

Later a whole new breed of 'moving' race games began to spring up, so Sega came up with another machine - Super Hang-On, this took the original, improved the graphics and sound, added new stages and tunes and gave players a different bike to sit on.

Some proclaimed that the new version was the best racing game ever, 'even better than Out Run' (I wonder where that one came from...), so naturally there had to be a conversion...

And this is it, folks. First off, you can pick mouse or joystick (you can even adjust their sensitivity). Next comes a choice of circuit (6 stages in Africa, 10 in Asia, 10 in America and 18 in Europe) followed by a selection of one of four tunes or sound effects. After all that, it's off to the starting grid...

You've got a single-gear racing bike with the option of a nitro-injected turbo boost for that added VROOOOM, to help you get past those troublesome riders that slow you down and cause you to veer off course when hit.

To win a race, you've got to finish all the stages within the time limit - otherwise it's back to the pits for you, Barry.

Maff Evans I was a great fan of the original Hang-On in the arcades and the few games that I had of Super Hang-On were equally enjoyable. Electric Dreams have done a great job on the conversion, from the large detailed bike sprites to the fast and effective 3D. The feel of the controls seems to have been nicely worked out too, giving a very comfortable steering action to play with. There is little difference in presentation between this and the arcade version, except for the multiload - and that doesn't detract from the gameplay in any way, as it only occurs the first time you pick a new circuit. So all you racers out there, forget your leathers and pick up your mouse (God that was corny).
Gordon Houghton The 3D effect of Super Hang-On makes me feel as through my hair should be blown back by the breeze as I play it. This is its major strength and, let's face it, it's the one that really counts. The power of the Amiga has been used very well, allowing large sprites to be displayed and animated very quickly to give a very accurate rendition of the arcade original. The only thing I'm disappointed with is the sound. The motorbike just drones and the tunes are... well, poor. Still, it's a great conversion and a brilliant game in its own right. Now where's me heavy biker boots...