Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The non-stop, action-packed, air combat coin-op from Sega is a very hot item at the moment: Activision have the licence to produce a home computer version, the coin-op is proving a financial success in the arcades (see COIN-OP CONFRONTATION in Issue Three of THE GAMES MACHINE) and the Sega console version is now available. A powerful product, After Burner looks set to blaze a considerable trail through the software charts this year.
The objective of After Burner is very simple; fly across enemy terrrtory on a mission of unbiased destruction. Eliminate wave upon wave of enemy fighters, avoid the constant onslaught of deadly incoming missiles and attempt to stay in one piece!
Viewed from behind, the jet (based on the F-14 Tomcat) banks, climbs and dives through the numerous airborne attacks. Each stage takes the pilot through night and day flight, above the clouds, low over the sea and at tree-top height over the enemy countryside.
The craft is armed with unlimited cannon shells (for close range targets) and heat seeking missiles (for use against distant fighters) Aiming is achieved via a gunsight which hovers directly in front of the jet. and a missile sight that automatically tracks individual fighters.
Collision with enemy planes sees the jet explode in a ball of flame; taking a direct missile hit is much more spectacular as the plane goes into a death-dive spewing smoke and flames before ploughing up the scenery below.
It would be foolish to suggest that a conversion of After Burner could retain all the features of the coin-op, and Sega's version is no exception. Notable differences between the console version and the coin-op include the lack of a throttle control, runways to land on or canyons to negotiate, and the omission of a continue play option.
Two Mega Cartridge only:
First impressions of After Burner are promising: the game moves along at quite a speed and the plane sprite is extremely close in graphic quality to Its arcade counterpart. However, the same thing can't be said of the ground features. Reduced to endlessly repeating layers of small waves, trees and clouds, they quickly become repetitive. diminishing interest considerably. The in- game tune is pretty feeble, failing to suit the action and proving instantly forgettable. One aspect of the coin-op that's been captured faithfully is the level of difficulty; it's an immense task just to get through each stage without losing a life. Although the hydraulics of the coin-op are impossible to recreate, the omission of runways and the throttle control limit the game's appeal enormously. After Burner, like Out Run is a mammoth conversion to attempt and Inevitably suffers some way during the translation, On the Sega, the game has the speed and the same style of action, but without the incredible graphics it's little more than a fast and vary difficult shoot 'em up.