Koichi Namiki, Katsuhiro Hayashi & Shigeru Ohwada – Super Hang-On (Data Discs Remaster)

5 out of 5

Label: Data Discs

Produced by: Shaun Crook (vinyl master)

Shouldn’t you feel slighted?  Isn’t this only like four tracks?  In reverse order: yes, essentially, but no, you shouldn’t.  Not in the least.  While Super Hang-On does boil down to an EP’s worth of material the length of the songs is more expansive than that which you normally get in 8-bit / 16-bit soundtracks, not to mention the complexity and catchiness of any given tune justifying the listen, and the combination of all the tracks undoubtedly being worth the purchase.

With ‘Opening’ the perfect toe-tapping intro to get us in the mood, Side A’s Outride A Crisis and Sprinter both firmly establish the proggy key and “drum” mastery that defines these tunes, unique in their approaches but both sharing a couple jaw-dropping tempo changes and freak outs.  Side B continues this trend with the ever-so-slightly groovier Winning Run and Hard Road.  The strange dub of the short Goal and blissful (and also short) Name Entry close things out.

Even though I don’t have fond memories of Super Hang-On, my base criteria for these types of things – Can I imagine the game? – is met as soon as the beat kicks in, my thoughts going to cruising down pixelated highways, helmet on, speeding past traffic, walkman turned up with these sweet bleep bleep tunes as the scenery skates by.  As the main tracks mentioned are about five minutes a piece, there’s plenty of time for the composers to take them through a full cycle of ebb and flow, so that when we get to the inevitable fade out, it definitely feels like we got the full expression of the song, and not something clipped for a looped playback.

Data Discs’ Streets of Rage impressed me with its moodiness, and Shinobi – though far from my favorite soundtrack – also had some impressive compositions going on.  Super Hang-On marries the wow-factor of both, and confirms DD’s reputation as the go-to for excellent vinyl remasters of wisely chosen scores.