Genre: Racing Developer: Sega Ent. Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
Sega managed to find itself a winning franchise with the Hang-On series of games, originally based off of the arcade classic. The series got its home console start on the Sega Master System and was a pack-in game for many of the console’s bundles. There would later be a sequel called GP Rider for the Game Gear and the Sega Master System, later another sequel titled Super Hang-On for the Genesis, and a third sequel titled Hang-On GP for the Saturn. I spent some time with GP Rider, and while I’ve stated in plenty of my other reviews that the Game Gear is a quality-starved handheld with very few games being worth the play time, if you’re looking for something quality to play on your Game Gear, then this one just may be a game worth picking up.
Once you start up the game, you’re treated to a rather nicely done title screen and a catchy tune in the background. You’re given the option of four modes of play: arcade, tournament, Grand Prix, and world tour. Of these, the only modes worth playing are arcade and Grand Prix, as the others are just basically free play modes that are too long-winded. The arcade mode plays just like Super Hang-On on the Genesis where you select one of three or four courses and you race through legs against the clock. The other modes have a set number of laps where you have to race a qualifying lap before starting the real race.
When I first started playing GP Rider I really didn’t like it. I was put off by the difficulty and wanted to quickly write it off. This is a really tough game, but once I started practicing I was able to learn how to handle the constant sharp turns in many of the tracks. After a while, I was able to start winning first place in many of the races. This game is very unforgiving with the timer, and you can only wipe out once or maybe twice at most, or you won’t have enough time to finish many of the races. GP Rider takes a lot of patience and practice with the controls, but thankfully, there are a ton of tracks. Each has a lot of variety, which will keep you entertained, especially if you’re a racing fan.
The downside of the game is that it can become monotonous, and I found myself not wanting to play this for more than about thirty minutes at a time before I got tired of it. It also doesn’t help that there isn’t a lot of music to be heard in the game. Most of the other Hang-On games had music that played in the background during the races but this one leaves you to listen to only the sound of your bike, the brakes, and the sound of your tires skidding on the track. They aren’t bad at all, mind you, and are actually pretty good for the limited audio capabilities of the Game Gear, but it can still grow hard to listen to over a couple of long races.
Despite the simplicity and limitations of the game, I still like it and have to say that it still holds up pretty well, even in this day and age. I will admit, however, that it won’t appeal to everybody. Sega did a fine job with this game, and I really think that it’s worth owning if you still own and play a Game Gear. Be prepared to have patience and be willing to practice before you start to win any races, and this game will make a solid edition to your library. On top of that, the game only sells for a couple of dollars which makes it all the better.
SCORE: 7 out of 10