A-JAX / Konami / Arcade

A-Jax is Konami's weird hybrid of Afterburner (with lesser scaling technology) and Xevious. Unfortunately, it's inferior to both and has little to recommend it.

It's very strange that these two game modes would be mashed together; A-Jax was released six months after Afterburner, so I wonder if Konami tried to clone it quickly but didn't feel confident in the project standing on its own, so they attached it to this unrelated helicopter shooter they were already working on. Just a theory of mine, but one that would make some sense. It would certainly explain why the game opens with a cutscene of the fighter jet taking off from an aircraft carrier, then you're suddenly above the carrier piloting a helicopter for some reason.

If you force me to pick one word to describe A-Jax, the one that immediately comes to mind is "bullshitty." It's a festival of cheapness - your hit box is bigger than already rather big helicopter, bombing ground targets is finicky as hell, enemies love to slip out projectiles at the last second, and death kick-back can take you through a mini-boss again after you've already beaten it and progressed a little ways onward.

Given the annoying difficulty, I wonder if most players even made it to the Afterburner clone! It's Konami's best crack at emulating Sega's Super Scaler tech, but it's pretty much just limited to scaling the background clouds to give an impression of diving on an aircraft carrier. It actually looks fairly cool, at least until you abruptly stop above the carrier and just kinda weirdly hover in place over it while fighting.

The graphics are serviceable for 1987, though there's nothing real remarkable here other than the budget scaling and the nice color gradient explosion when you uncork a helicopter bomb. Good music from the Konami Kukeiha Club and deep bassy sound effects, but they're wasted on subpar shooter design and a project that looks like a last-minute Frankenstein thing rushed to market.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video