April 27, 2010

Review – After Burner Climax

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 2:13 pm

After Burner Climax
After Burner Climax has finally made the migration from the arcade to the consoles, serving up visuals in shiny HD that make me use silly two-string words like “retina-melting,” along with twitch reflex action that couples some nostalgic memories of the series with a new trick that really makes the game less of the trip down memory lane you might expect, and much more of a 21st century arcade love song.

The view from the cockpit is a mix of familiar Top Gun styled vistas and arcade fantasy that leaves players buzzing by volcanic islands, city skylines, and through mountainous pathways – all of it at speeds that seem ludicrous at first sight.

On my first run through I felt a bit like a high school lover again, wondering how I’d burnt out so quickly after all the pent up anticipation.

After Burner Climax
While Climax’s visuals make for a very scenic flight, distractions break from every cloud on the horizon. Tiny specks in the distance form into recognizable targets just as a stream of missiles attempt to create an Itano-Circus that leaves only a few precious seconds to gain a countering missile lock while banking left or right to avoid incineration.

The game is bullet-train fast even before leaving some acceleration considerations in the player’s hands, offering the chance to slam into the side of some picturesque mountains while gaining a balance between the potential speed and a sliver of control. I’m lingering on my first few attempts with those words – a little time and patience does help paint the path toward perfection and the fleeting but continual attempt to down 100% of the enemy’s forces.

Choosing from three planes, players follow a path of missions that offer route deviations along the way, passing through just over a dozen quickly paced stages to reach one of two selectable final battles, and various ending scenarios based on the performance.

After Burner Climax
Aside from the overall score, the game is all about how many of these enemies you can take down through missions that may fly by in minutes, but cram everything you’d expect from longer missions into that space – efficiency is After Burner’s shtick. Some missions offer special targets to chase down that move faster than the speed of sound, and promise to keep me busy in small doses for the next six months before I feel ready to invite you over to watch me ace it – aided by EX options that are unlocked and allow the player to switch up plenty of the games features.

At the ready to get the job done is an always able machine-gun for close range targets, and a rack of missiles that restock after use, the player grabbing target locks and firing missiles to home in on the enemy and trying to score as many combo kills from a barrage as possible – a routine many familiar with the series are already well acquainted with.

After Burner Climax
In with the old comes the game’s new Climax gauge, which charges during missions and allows the player to slow time down by draining said gauge, essentially going a bit Matrix and dragging the targeting reticule over as many enemies as possible before releasing the button to unleash some missile hell of one’s own. The trick to this, much like regular missiles, is minding the constant barrel rolls of your plane and still finding time and space to target as many enemy fighters as possible. The controls are sublimely simplistic with three primary fire buttons and acceleration/deceleration the only concerns – it’s strictly a matter of targeting while avoiding the relentless incoming barrage.

In fact, I’ve lost count of how many times I patted myself on the back for taking out one wave of fighters only to be trashed by another wave sweeping through the explosions a second later. When fighters and missiles start coming from behind, well, I’m still working on dealing with that part.

Climax is the first game in quite awhile that feels legitimately close to an arcade title in my living room, fitting in well with my required dose of bullet hell while offering it in a way unique to the series – namely in cutting out all the flight simulation baggage and giving me a purely filmic coaster ride.

If your looking to scratch some twitchy fingers and still subscribe to the religious replay beliefs that were a long running staple of my early gaming years, Climax necessitates further investigation on your part.

After Burner Climax Fun Facts! –

(1)Select between new and classic soundtracks
(2)Flying through a Nuclear launch base is tricky business
(3)Flying above the clouds to have enemy fighters striking from that cover enthralls and enrages me in equal measurements
(4)In three days I’ve still only earned Ending C :(

After Burner Climax
Developer – Sega AM-2
System – Xbox 360 (XBLA), PlayStation 3 (PSN) (PlayStation 3 Reviewed)
Release Date – April 21, 2010 (XBLA), April 22, 2010 (PSN)

*A copy of this title was purchased by Gamesugar for review


  1. From everything I’ve read this game sounds like a return to old-school arcade games: short, hard and sweet. Video and screens of the game look great.

    Just as a suggestion, you should probably include the price point of PSN, Wiiware, DSiware and XBLA games so those that read the review know what it’s asking price is since several people scroll down to the end of a review to see either a score or a summary of the whole review.

    Comment by EdEN — April 27, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  2. Yes, I like the idea of posting the price point as well. It is 800 MS Points / $10 on PSN.

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — April 27, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  3. That’s actually a pretty good idea, I’ll make sure to add it from now on. Thanks for covering this one Ujn!

    Comment by Jamie Love — April 27, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  4. I think AfterBurner Climax will fall into the recent SEGA pattern: awesomely fun game that gets lost in the shuffle/outright ignored by the public. As soon as I saw that AM2 was on this one, I knew it was going to be gold. That team has the golden touch for creating fun arcade games. I need a flight stick. Now.

    Comment by Jeffrey L. Wilson — May 2, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

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