Game Size: 512K
Game Type: Third Person Jet Combat SHMUP Arcade Conversion
Other Ways to Play: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Atari ST, FM Towns, Commodore 64 (US and UK made ports), DOS, MSX, NES, Sega 32X, Sega Saturn, Sharp X68000, TurboGrafx-16, ZX Spectrum
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 button compatible.
Price I Paid: 8+ ??? (First copy had a different game in the box. That I already had of course. This has happened to me twice now.)
Price I Would Pay: 5 Dollars
Condition: Game, Case, Manual
Game Rating: OK
My History: Bought for this collection project. Played original arcade version in late 80s-early 90s.
Wow. Twice the cartridge size helps this game a ton compared to its sort of sequel Thunder Blade from last review! In many of the ways Thunder Blade was awful After Burner is not, so you should probably take this review with a grain of salt. It might just be more what I am comparing it to than its' own qualities, of which there are not exactly a ton.
Much like Thunder Blade this game is a cut down port of the arcade title which is in of itself little more than a tech demo third person arcade flight shooter. The SMS takes out the throttle control from the original and also removes missile stocks, making them unlimited. Also you don't see your score except on death or in between stages. Thankfully unlike Thunder Blade you have more correct flight controls.
Every few levels you are scored on the number of hits you inflicted shooting at the various barely scaling enemies who fly around you or shoot missiles at you that can sometimes be shot down but at least for 10 or so of the game's 18 shortish stages are better avoided by just turning hard left or right and staying that way until they stop firing at them where you can then shoot your burst auto firing main gun or possibly the lock on to shoot homing missiles.
Beating the boss plane with its even heavier slowdown than the game normally suffers or locking onto the refueling plane allows you to turn in those hits for a massive bonus score, usually around 2 million or so whereas normal scoring is around 100 thousand points a stage. At 4 and 15 million points you get an extra life. Given the sheer amount of poorly scaling enemy missiles that seem to hit or miss you at random outside of the constant turning trick this is really not enough.
Like Thunder Blade there is a preset number of unreported continues if you hold up and both fire buttons on the Game Over message though your score and hits counter drops down to zero.
(Next 8 screenshots are from Kega Fusion emulator.)
Not the cinematic opening of Macross Do You Remember Love? on the Saturn but.. its 1987 what do you want?
"You can be my wingman any time Maverick!"
"Great you can help me be free of my Thetans. You can find them in my butt!"
GODDAMNIT SLIPPY YOUR ADVICE SUCKS!
Nope, Sega still thinks your score shouldn't be seen while playing.
This image can be summed up with one word: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!"
Sadly this isn't Spy Hunter so I don't dock for some sweet ass weapon upgrades. Sega Scalers: Because Power Ups would be MORE FUN AND WE HATE FUN HAVE ANOTHER AWFUL SONIC GAME.... *Ahem*
Airplane go DOWN DA HOOOL. :(
Next four shots are from a Genesis.
Uh oh. Level 6 boss. Somehow manage to hit three targets to win. I am still trying to figure out HOW one beats it other than flying erratic and hammering on the fire buttons.
You lose your high score if you die and use one of your continues. This is as high as I got with some tricks I figured out without having to continue.
These last shots are from a Master System proper.
While the graphics and sound are decent the gameplay suffers due to the framerate and the lack of differently sized sprites to simulate scaling. Missiles are constantly homing in on you and you generally don't have time to react outside of memorizing the attack waves or just spending most of a stage turning hard left or right until the trick seems to stop working around the 12th stage. You also have a radar of sorts but it doesn't really do much.
It's another cut down port of an arcade game that wasn't exactly filled with gameplay depth to begin with. Take out the technical wow and the kiddie ride outside of the supermarket cabinet effects and you really have to make up for it. Sega did not. In fact they even removed some gameplay with making missiles unlimited. And have I griped about not actually seeing your score while you play?
EDIT: While doing a little web browsing on this snow and ice laden day I discovered that the throttle control might not have been in the arcade title until After Burner 2 which is more or less a remixed and enhanced version of the original with an additional number of ports. If you would like to learn more http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/afterburner/afterburner.htm will serve you nicely. (In general I try to avoid rereading or reading for the first time reviews of these games so my own opinions will be less clouded by others.)
Master System Play: Outside of the usual SMS video output it plays just as good. And honestly? The SMS Control Pad is actually the BEST controller to use. Just get a Turbo fire dongle or your hand will know pain. Such terrible, terrible pain.
Rating: Well it isn't completely bad but it VERY VERY far from good. I am not sure if it is just because it is a vast improvement over Thunder Blade or not but I guess it is.. OK. Still not really a must play or worth your time but it won't make you want to hit yourself in the genitals with one of those big hard rubber mallets or anything. You can do a lot better but you can do a lot worse too.
Next Time: We keep to some arcade conversions but this time we aren't just out to kill things. join me in March for SHOOTY RESCUE MONTH as we play Alien Syndrome and Choplifter!