Andrew Liszewski looks back on the classic game Hang-On – the portable version, that is – and its place at the end of the pre-Gameboy era of handheld gaming. What I like about his piece is that he comes to praise Ceasar, not to bury him.
You see, it's easy to mock Tiger Electronics' old LCD games. The gameplay was bad, limited to the possibilities afforded by the "popsicle-stick shadow play" elements used instead of pixels. But two things were really cool about them.
First, they got great licenses and created beautiful devices out of them. Just look at it! Apart from the actual game, the industrial design is unimpeachable. Think back, older readers – you knew these things sucked, didn't you? And yet they remained cool until the Gameboy came along. So it wasn't really about the game, was it?
Second, the 1980s was full of game marketing that deceptively implied that home versions of arcade games would look great and follow the originals closely. In fact, most conversions were rubbish, tossed off in a matter of weeks. Disappointment. Ennui. But it was impossible to be disappointed by a Tiger game, because they were mostly the exact same game, except sometimes you could shoot. Low expectations guarantees happiness!
The Games We Played - Tiger Electronics Hang-On [Oh Gizmo!]