Afterburner review - Sega Megadrive

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Twenty-one areas of US territory have been captured by the evil might of an unknown airborne empire. Thier powerful MiG fighters have decimated the entire US airforce, and now only one lone F-14 Tomcat remains.

Tom is the US Top Gun (mainly because he is the only fighter pilot left) and it's his mission to take to the skies and blow away as much of the empire as possible with the aid of his super-deadly Vulcan cannon and his fire-and-forget Sidewinder missiles. Simply by running the on-screen sight over the approaching MiGs, the F-14's computer system locks on and a missle can be despatched. Missles have a far longer range than the cannon and they never miss. The trade-off is that you get more points by using the more old-fashioned cannon-method.

The action is depicted in sprite-based 3D, with enemy fighters arriving from all angles with Tom's death at the top of their agendas. They have much the same weaponary as Tom, though their missles are a lot less accurate and since Tom is such a good flyer he can dodge them with ease.

The action only lets up when the F-14 makes a routine rendezvous with a tanker aircraft, where more fuel and extra missles are given.

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" The fast and frantic action of the coin-op has been fully captured in this cracking conversion, with the player flying into battle at supersonic speeds, dodging bullets, rockets and planes while simultaneously trying to lock his sights onto the enemy craft and bring them down with his plane's guns and homing missles! The graphics are awesome, with rapid, convincing 3D sprite update - the planes come towards you at incredible speeds! As well as great looks, Afterburner also features brilliant soundtracks and effects, and very touch and challenging action - beating all 22 levels takes some doing! One thing I feel I must say is that Afterburner is one of those games you either love or hate. We at MEAN MACHINES think it's fab, but there will be some who disagree, thinking the plane-blasting action is too repetitive to make long-term play worthwhile. So if you've never seen the arcade game, make sure you have a good look before you buy, just in case! "

" The coin-op version is one of the all-time great arcade experiences (especially in the deluxe hydraulic cabinets), so this Megadrive version certainly has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, Afterburner more than pulls off this gargantuan feat. The graphics are less detailed than the coin-op, but the programmers have concentrated on making the action look superb rather than the scenery. The 3D effect on all of the plans is excellent and there are loads of big explosions to make the destruction that more appealing. The sound is excellent too, with sampled "speech" and effects and some of the best music I've heard on the Megadrive. The gameplay is repetitive, but the high-speed thrills 'n' spills offered by the game more than makes up for it. Afterburner is an excellent conversion and a superlative game in its own right that more than deserves a place in your Megadrive collection. "


Overall Score90%

Retrospective comments


I'll never forget the thrill of playing the Afterburner arcade machine - it really did feel like the future all those years ago. The Megadrive conversion is excellent, but time has not been kind to the gameplay. The gameplay is as shallow as a puddle, with very little difference between the challenges on each level. The graphics are good, and although the sprite scaling isn't as smooth as in the arcade original, the MD does a decent job of replicating it. The music is excellent and sets the tone perfectly. I just wish that Sega had done a bit more with this conversion - it's fun and well worth picking up for a quick blast but I doubt you'll find much meat on the bones.

Dan - 24 Feb 2009, 16:41 GMT

Go Damo! His review sez it all, nice little blast but if you hadn't played the arcade you wouldn't care for it anywhere near as much - "dew meat on das bones"

I remember a sevices up the A1 that had this in for about 4 years, and every trip I took up north resulted in at least a tenner swat in it at 10p a go. Ahhhh, memories.

Mean Machines Issue 8 - May 1991
Arcade Conversion Sega Megadrive
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