AFTER BURNER II / Sega / Arcade
After Burner II was rushed to market less than a year after the first After Burner hit the arcades, and it's really just a re-issue of the original game with some extra levels and a couple of small gameplay tweaks. The next in Yu Suzuki's "Super Scaler" series after Hang-On and Space Harrier, After Burner is basically the Japanese arcade take on Top Gun. It's a rail shooter in which you pilot a jet with a view from behind, screaming over a variety of scenery and shooting down about ten national Air Forces worth of jets for reasons never really specified.
Like most of Yu Suzuki's arcade games, it concentrates on cutting-edge 3D technology and an impressive graphical display. And like most of his games, it's hard to evaluate properly because the original arcade release used custom controls that can't really be fully replicated at home. It came in two variations - a standard upright cabinet with a jet-like control stick, and a sit-down cabinet which rotated and rocked.
I never really played the original in the arcades in my youth very much ... I think I tried the sit-down cabinet once, got wiped out in less than two minutes, and was like "WTF this game is for chumps." Still, there's some flaws here that the custom controls couldn't cover. Namely, that enemy missiles come at you so fast and in such numbers that you frequently get shot down before you can even really see what is happening. Home emulations are made harder by a lack of proper emulation of the barrel rolls performed by jerking the stick quickly in a certain way (huh huh huh), which were apparently a key tool for dodging all these goddamn missiles that you can barely see coming at you. The game does sport one improvement over the original game, however - it now has a throttle that allows you to slow the action down somewhat.
Once you come to grips with the controls, the game is passable, but the levels past 5 or so are so crammed full of missiles and enemies that they're next to impossible. Like all of Suzuki's arcade games, however, it's got panache and rockin' tunes, and was an incredible tech demo for the time in which it came out.
* After Burner HQ
* Gameplay Video
* fuck yeah Final Takeoff
* After Burner II for Violin