After Burner was a staple in arcades in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was almost impossible to go to an arcade and not see an After Burner machine. In Terminator 2, John Conner plays After Burner in the mall arcade. It’s an iconic game from that era.
Part of its draw was its attractive cabinet. You wanted to play this game for the experience. This was not something that could be replicated on home consoles. You also wanted to play the game for its exciting visuals. The screen was always full of enemy planes, explosions, and machine gun fire. When you flew low the ground, you could see individual trees and hills. When planes flew near you, you could see their camouflage paint jobs. The movie Top Gun, which came out around the same time, made jet fighter games particularly popular at that time. But for kids who only owned an NES, the main option was the atrocious officially-licensed Top Gun game.
<Nelson Voice>Ha ha.</Nelson Voice> If you were one of the minority of kids who owned a Sega Master System and could play After Burner at home rather than Top Gun, that was one of the few times when you’d be the envy of NES-owners, regardless of the quality of the SMS version (it was eventually released on the NES, but it was was a late, bad, low-profile release).
I bring this up because After Burner:Climax was just released for XBox Live Arcade, and it’s a great example of releasing a classic game the right way. They didn’t just give us an emulated version of the original arcade game, or the Sega Genesis sequel, or the Playstation 2 sequel. They gave us the most recent version of the game and enhanced it for our modern consoles, and it’s great:
After Burner:Climax is ideal for anyone who wants to play an After Burner game on a modern console. HD, widescreen, achievements, and downloadable for $10. That’s how it’s done. I have a long list of Sega arcade classics that should get the same treatment.