After Burner Climax originated in arcades and won many people over while satisfying the loyal After Burner fans. Four years later and the game makes the transition from arcade machines to next gen consoles. For those unfamiliar with the game, After Burner Climax is a combat flight game that puts players in the cockpits of various fighter jets. If you have ever played a game like the original Star Fox, then you should have an idea of how the game plays.
After so many years since the game’s debut can an HD remake draw console owners away from the populated market for exceptional downloadable games?
Let’s take a look at the HOTs and NOTs:
After Burner Climax has a simple premise: destroy anything in your view. The screen progresses forward causing your jet to proceed toward the end of the level. The player has control of the plane on a horizontal axis. Moving left and right is best combined with braking and boosting in order to evade enemy missiles or you can make Peppy proud by performing a useful barrel roll. You’re not defenseless though. The bulk of your offense comes in the form of machine guns and missiles. After filling out the Climax meter you will be rewarded with the ability to slow down time temporarily to select targets and blow them up. It doesn’t last long so you’ll have to be quick in the acquisition of your targets. It’s pretty much like having an aerial bullet time.
The main attraction here though is the speed. Keep your jet at full speed the entire time and you’ll have to come up with some split second manuevers to avoid slamming into mountain sides or AA fire. This hectic and deadly gameplay is what makes up a majority of the addicting nature. One second you’re avoiding five homing missiles and the very next second you’re chasing another jet through a tight ravine littered with ground support. The game moves very quickly so it is understabndable that gamers will want to play through the game numerous times to find the best paths and beat previous scores. Actually that’s not the only reason for a second playthrough. Throughout the game you will be given a decision to go to one of two zones, shown on the left and right side of the map, each with their own unique environment. It’s entertaining to explore the choice you decided against on your first run.
The game does a good job of making sure the player’s experience doesn’t become stale too fast. Practice and Score Attack are implemented to allows players to practice and perfect techniques for each level to obtain maximum scores. Many fans of arcade games know the feeling of striving to be the best. Nothing was more satsifying than being able to type in your initials on the arcade machine for all to see and marvel at. Since the downloadable version of After Burner Climax includes leaderboards you are able to feel that same sense of satisfaction after your hours of training has paid off by being able to place your name among the elite. One of the new additions to the game’s content are the EX Options. This was by far my favorite feature.
EX Options are unlocked through multiple playthroughs of the game, which can take about 10 or 15 minutes, and by completing certain achievements. They alter the game in numerous ways. You can turn on a greater amount of credits, and even reach infinite credits, or have your guns fire automatically. There are dozens of options to play with and it will keep many fans running through the missions again and again to unlock new alterations to experiment with.
JUST An Arcade Game
You must remember that this is a straight arcade port. There are very little new features added. So this game is going to suffer from the same things that most arcade games do: lackluster story and repetitive gameplay. Arcade games were designed to challenge players enough so they’d sink coin after coin into the machine. People didn’t blow their quarters for some Hollywood blockbuster story to unfold before them. They wanted addicting gameplay that was fun in bursts. That is exactly how After Burner Climax is. It is addicting and it is easy to get sucked up into its Top Gun-esque presentation, but after too long players will realize that no matter how they approach the same mission for the fiftieth time it will be the same experience. Don’t even bother looking for a story to justify your reasoning for flying in guns blazing. It’ll only detract from the arcade experience that was brought to console owners.
After Burner Climax is a great addition to downloadable games. Fans of the arcade version will love the fresh coat of paint and the few added options. Even I found myself losing track of time in the game after starting it up and I never played the original in the arcade. So even without the nostalgia present I still found a solid and enjoyable experience. Anyone looking to download a game that will twist their minds with an ever changing plot or blow them away with unseen innovative gameplay mechanics should look elsewhere. This is an arcade port and must be looked at from that perspective. If you can accept that then you will find a welcome addition to your collection at a reasonable price.
[Editor’s Note: After Burner Climax was reviewed on a Xbox 360 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher.]