From Sega Retro


Hang-On Title.png
Publisher: Sega, NEC PC-8801 Pax Softnica, MSX Pony Canyon
System(s): Sega Hang-On hardware, MSX, Sega Master System, NEC PC-88
ROM size: Arcade 856kB,[1] Sega Master System 32kB
Genre: Racing

Release Date RRP Code
Arcade World 1985-07[2]  ?
Sega Master System JP 1985-10-20 ¥4,300 C-502
Sega Master System EU 1990 £? 4580
Sega Master System EU (Card) 1987-08 £9.99 [3]Media:Raze UK 11.pdf  ?
Sega Master System DE (Card) 19xx  ?DM  ?
Sega Master System IT 19xx  ?£  ?
Sega Master System AU (Card) 19xx $? 4080
Sega Master System TW 19xx NT$? K-303
MSX JP 1986 ¥?  ?
NEC PC-8801 JP 1986 ¥?  ?

Hang-On (ハングオン) is a 1985 arcade game developed by Sega AM2. One of Yu Suzuki's designs, Hang-On is notable for being the first full body experience arcade game, as some cabinets were shaped like bikes that the user had to ride on. It was built on the arcade Sega Hang-On hardware that later powered Space Harrier.

The object of the game is similar to OutRun - keep racing until the time runs out while making sure not to hit any other racers or obstacles.

The arcade version of the game includes advertisements for Bridgestone, Shell, Garelli Motorcycles, TAG, John Player Special cigarettes, Forum cigarettes, and for "Marbor cigarettes". The advertising for cigarettes both in Hang-On and the later Super Monaco GP was criticised as these games were also marketed for children. Many re-releases of these games omit these adverts.


It was the world's first full-body-experience video game, introducing motion control, and it was one of the first arcade games to use 16-bit graphics and Sega's "Super Scaler" technology, allowing pseudo-3D sprite-scaling at high frame rates.[4] The title is derived from when the biker is turning and has to "hang on" to the bike while the bike is leaning, which Suzuki had read in a Japanese bike magazine, though Suzuki learned later the technique was called "hang off" in North America. Nevertheless, he chose to keep the former name.[GameCenter CX, Episode 10, Fuji TV, 2003]

The pseudo-3D sprite/tile scaling was handled in a similar manner to textures in later texture-mapped polygonal 3D games of the 1990s.[5] Designed by Sega AM2's Yu Suzuki, he stated that his "designs were always 3D from the beginning. All the calculations in the system were 3D, even from Hang-On. I calculated the position, scale, and zoom rate in 3D and converted it backwards to 2D. So I was always thinking in 3D." [6] The original arcade version was controlled using a cabinet resembling a motorbike, which the player moved with their body. This began the "Taikan" trend, the use of motion-controlled hydraulic arcade cabinets in many arcade games of the late 1980s, two decades before motion controls became popular on video game consoles. [7]

Commercial Performance

The game was a commercial success in the arcades. In the UK arcade charts published by Computer & Video Games, it was the #2 arcade game of 1986, based on its performance at a London West End arcade. It was second only to Konami's Nemesis.[8]

Sequels and Re-releases

Hang-On was ported to the Sega Mark III as a launch title (along with Teddy Boy Blues) in Japan. Consequently, it was brought overseas to the Sega Master System and also made available on launch in Europe (where it was distributed on Sega Card with launch Master System consoles in several regions). The Master System Hang-On later became a built-in game and in 1990 was re-released on cartridge, also in Europe.

In North America, the Master System Hang-On was never released on its own, instead being part of Hang-On / Safari Hunt (built into some Master System consoles and also released on cartridge) and later Hang-On / Astro Warrior.

Hang-On was also made available for MSX computers, and was succeeded by Super Hang-On in 1987, which gained wider recognition as it was ported to more systems, including the Sega Mega Drive. A similar game known as Hang-On II was released for the SG-1000.

Hang-On is featured as a mini-game in both Shenmue and Shenmue II. It is also possible to buy a Sega Saturn port of Hang-On in Shenmue under the Sega Ages label - this version was not released in real life, but as similar games such as OutRun and Space Harrier were re-released for the Saturn, it is entirely possible that a version of Hang-On was planned too.

The Hang-On bike is a hidden vehicle in Power Drift. An unlockable gear in Sonic Riders will play the Hang-On theme when used, as will inputting the name "H.O" in the high score table of Daytona USA.

Critical Reception

Arcade Version

Upon release, the arcade game was critically acclaimed. It was reviewed by Clare Edgeley in the December 1985 issue of Computer and Video Games. She stated that Hang-On "is the most realistic racing game to hit the arcades for a long while." She described it as a "fantastic" and "thrilling ride" on a motor bike "you have to sit on" that is "life size" with "the throttle and brake" where "they would be on a real machine." She criticized the "expensive" price of 50 pence per play (equivalent to £1.32 or $2.09 in 2014) but noted, "with practice you will be able to stretch it for miles." She stated "the most unique feature is the act of cornering" where "you have to physically lean the bike over" and the "bike on screen follows suit" while not doing so has the bike "career straight off the track" but noted it requires "a bit of muscle power". She concluded that it combines "superb graphics" with "the physical act of riding a bike" and is "great."[9]

The arcade game also received a positive review in the February 1987 issue of Sinclair User, where it was reviewed again by Clare Edgeley, retrospectively. She stated that Hang-On "launched on an unsuspecting world" with a "totally new dimension of gaming", a "motor cycle which you could sit on and tilt from side to side to corner the bends." She described this as "Amazing" and "Such a simple idea" that she was "surprised someone didn't come up with it earlier." She noted that, when "cornering, the angle you need to tilt the bike corresponds to your speed", where "the faster you take a bend, the greater the angle you have to tilt the bike, and then remember to bring it back to the level for the straight", and the need to "dodge hazards and other bikers" by tilting "the bike slightly" to "slide out in that direction." She also noted that, since its release, Sega "seems to have cornered the market" for "bike simulations" with Hang-On and Enduro Racer.[10]

Master System Version

See Physical Scans section for table of review scores

The Master System port was also well received, with an average aggregate score of 80% at Sega Retro based on five reviews. The September 1987 issue of Computer and Video Games gave the Master System version ratings of 8 for graphics and 8 for sound, with an overall score of 9 out of 10 for playability. The reviewer Paul described it as "head to head, high speed action" that "comes free when you" buy "the Sega System." He noted each "course is four kilometres long" and "the distance remaining is displayed at the top right-hand corner of the screen." He stated he was "wrong" to think it "would just be the bike version of World Grand Prix" and concluded, "Speed merchants who fancy a head to head challenge against the clock, go for Hang On." [11]

The January 1992 issue of Sega Pro gave the Master System version a generally positive retrospective review, giving it a 78% score. The praised the "fast moving action" where "you race around tracks trying to knock up record times." They criticized it, however, for lacking "some of the nice touches of the Mega Drive version," but concluded that Hang-On for the Master System is "still a damn fine racing game" and "very playable." [12]Media:Segapro UK 03.pdf


Promotional Material

Physical Scans

Arcade Version

Arcade, US (deluxe)
Arcade, US (upright)
HangOn Arcade US Marquee.jpg
Arcade, US (sit-down)
HangOn Arcade US Marquee.jpg
Arcade, ES

Master System Version

Sega Master System 80 Sega Retro Average 
Based on 5 reviews
Publication Score Source
83 №71, p77
80 №77, p121
80 №2/40
80 №23, p57
78 №3, p47Media:Segapro UK 03.pdf
Master System, EU
Cartridge version
HangOn SMS EU cover.jpg
HangOn SMS EU Cart.jpg
Master System, JP
HangOn SMS JP cover.jpg
HangOn SMS JP Card Back.jpgHang-On SMS JP card.jpg
Master System, EU
Card version
HangOn SMS EU cardcover.jpg
HangOn SMS EU Card.jpg
Master System, DE
Card version

HangOn SMS DE cardback.jpgHangOn SMS DE card.jpg
HangOn SMS DE manual.pdf
Master System, IT
Card version
HangOn SMS EU cardcover.jpg
HangOn SMS IT Card Back.jpgHangOn SMS IT Card.jpg
Master System, AU
Cartridge version

HangOn SMS AU Cart.jpg
Master System, TW

MSX Version

HangOn MSX JP Box Front.jpg
HangOn MSX JP Cart.jpg

NEC PC-8801 Version

NEC PC-8801, JP

Games in the Hang-On Series
Hang-On (1985) | Hang-On Jr. (1985) | Hang-On II (1985) | Super Hang-On (1987) | GP Rider (1990) | Limited Edition Hang-On (1991) | Hang-On GP (1995) | 3D Super Hang-On (2013)
Hang-On related media
Albums Yu Suzuki Produce Hang On/Space Harrier (1997) | Super Hang-On 20th Anniversary Collection (2007)