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Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol.10: After Burner II
  opened by paleface at 02:28:44 07/07/04  
  last modified by paleface at 14:15:43 07/08/04  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_3D; loc=JPN]
Now this is the way to do a remake: handsome graphics reminiscent of the original while taking advantage of 3D rendering power and blissfully smooth framerates, blistering arcade action, and an Arrange mode with new ways to play.
Of course, as a budget game we can't expect the Arrange mode goodies to be extraordinarily extravagant, and actually I'm surprised that they didn't up the enemy firepower, but on the other hand you get to pick from four or five new jets, each with slightly different handling--the Stealth Bomber is great at dodging missiles, the Warthog is slow but has a better vulcan cannon, and so forth.
The root game is plenty accurate to the original arcade version, at least as far as my poor memory can recall. I never did play the arcade version all that much--I didn't have the change to blow on a few seconds of excitement in those fancy full cockpit games. They've done a good job of recreating that feeling here, however, with sounds that sound just like what I remember, especially that the joyful missile lock sound, and sensitive handling on the analog stick--the way your jet shudders and pitches up when hit really did make me feel like I was back in one of those hydraulic cabs for a moment, and I didn't even have vibration turned on.
Of course, the game itself, none too deep, relies on incredible twitch reflexes, a good bit of luck, and the ability to fire off precisely the number of missiles as you have lock-ons, all the while dodging incoming swarms of jets, bombs, missiles, and even bandits and missiles on your six. Often all at once. The remake recreates these overwhelming moments in gorgeous gradiants of sky color and ground fog, monumental missile smoke trails and a great deal of three dimensional ground detail (somewhat repetitive, but in the spirit of the original, certainly). Your jet smokes past it all at awesome speed, and it's a genuine rush to bang the throttle to max (you can set it on the right analog stick), fire off the batch of missiles and do a barrel roll while town, Roman ruins, deep jungle or arctic tundra flashes by meters below your aircraft.
That being said, the rush doesn't really vary through the game's 20+ stages. The plane types differ a bit, and sometimes you have more missiles up your wazoo, and certainly the colors of ground and sky go through some beautiful shifts, but don't come to the game hoping for much more than frenetic stick-waggling and missile-button mashing (is there any real use for the vulcan? It's just something to press when you're out of missiles, right? Even the Warthog can barely knock anything down with it), because you won't find it. Well okay, the soundtrack is kind of fun in that mid-80's way.
The game does not support a digital stick; you can't even get past the memory card check without analog control. I suppose the original arcade version had analog rather than digital control, so this makes sense (and is unfortunately consistent with the Sega Ages Space Harrier--see entry 351), but it would have been nice to have the option to play with an arcade stick anyway. Ah well.
  paleface 14:15:43 07/08/04
I should emphasize that this game is way hard; in later stages I'm lucky to live for 10 seconds. I wonder if anyone has come close to single-crediting this game? That would be an amazing thing to watch.
You can't really play it for score though, because it lets you keep your score after continuing, which is unfortunate. Well okay, you could play it for score if nobody continued while playing on your memory card--I guess I'll have to try that eheh. It seems to award you more "rank" medals next to your initials if you used fewer continues, though that could have been coincidence.

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