Sega, much like Capcom, has a special relationship with the '80s and '90s videogame generation, a legacy that is built on the solid foundation stones of memorable games and characters.
But whereas the Resident Evil creator has managed to retain that magic for its modern day releases, rarely do we see the glimmer of the Sega of old. So when something like Afterburner Climax rolls round, we have to sit up and pay attention.
Birthed in the arcades in 2006, this combat flight shooter is a direct sequel of the 1987 original, retaining all the intense reaction-based arcade gameplay and blasting it with the visual sheen afforded by today's arcade technology. Developer AM2 polished off proceedings with a massive moving, rumbling cabinet that reflected the on-screen action.
Even with the living room downscale and cabinet replaced with rumbling pad, Afterburner loses not a jot of its character and we'd argue that taking away the distraction of the your spine being loosened by the vibrations actually allows you to appreciate the game's finer points. These include the Climax mechanic itself.
It looks and sounds impressive when you've got two subwoofers blasting it into your body, but this slow-mo initiation multiplies your single missile lock-on and gives you time during the lightning-fast gameplay to target and take out entire squadrons of enemy fighters. Your hit ratio is calculated at the end of each stage and combines towards your overall score and online Leaderboard ranking.
It's old-school gameplay, learning enemy attack patterns and increasing your reaction time to dodge incoming missile waves, and branching stage selections à la Outrun let you mix up your subsequent run-throughs.
However, while Afterburner does include unlockable game changing extras and a Score Attack option, for thrills-a-second gameplay we fear the enjoyment will burn out rather swiftly. Yet given it's two quid a pop in the arcades, the just-under seven quid XBLA version comes out trumps. Go for it.
Truly climactic entertainment
- Fast and furious
- Looks fantastic
- Improves motor functions
- EX Options increase longevity
- Options could be more extensive