Being a successor to Hang-On, the objective and controls of the game are the same. To race passing checkpoints and not letting the time run out while avoiding other racers or going off track.
The main difference in gameplay is that the player has 4 tracks to race on, each one having a different number of checkpoints, but in total, each stage is roughly half the length of a stage in the original Hang-On. Africa is the easiest and shortest out of the four courses (6 stages). Asia is the second easiest and is similar in length to the course from the original Hang-On at 10 stages long. The Americas is the second to toughest course, containing 14 stages and Europe is the hardest course, being 18 stages long.
When the player starts a race, they have their choice of 4 songs that will play during the race, a feature borrowed from OutRun. Also unlike the original game, the road is not completely flat, with gradual inclines and declines to both vary the scenery and hide transitions between stages.
The most common version of Super Hang-On is the Sega Mega Drive version released in 1989. This version was released early on in the console's lifespan and appeared in several Mega Drive compilations namely Mega Games I, Mega Games 6, Mega Games 6 Vol. 2, Mega Games 10 and 6-Pak. A near perfect port of the game was released for the Sharp X68000 computer in Japan in the same year.
Super Hang-On was altered and released as a full deluxe simulated-motorcycle cabinet later as Limited Edition Hang-On in 1991.
While often thought to be a very close conversion, the Mega Drive version of Super Hang-On makes a number of cutbacks, with fewer opponents on-screen at any one time, each sharing fewer animations (for example, there are eight visible riders on the starting grid of the arcade version, while on the Mega drive there are only six). The Mega Drive version also features less scenery and operates at a slower frame rate (which is decreased further when too many objects are on-screen at once).
As with most conversions of super scaler games to home systems of the day, a lack of native sprite scaling means that for most ports of the game, sprites of differing sizes are substituted in where necessary. This leads to a choppier experience than the arcade version.