After Burner

After Burner

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Taking arcade flight simulation to new altitudes, Sega’s After Burner was so realistic that some versions actually required you to strap in. Grabbing control of your joystick and hand throttle, you held the reins of a well-armed F-14, ready to battle enemy planes, bases and anything that stood in you way.

Gameplay was relatively simple: shoot everybody else and don’t get shot. Flying head-on from a perspective directly behind your jet, you were bombarded by wave after wave of enemy planes. The trigger button on your joystick fired a barrage of machine-fed rounds, but if you managed to “lock on” to a target, you could fire heat-seeking missiles with the button on top.

But (there’s always a “but”) you weren’t the only jet with “lock on” capabilities. With a flashing warning from the red lights on the top of the console, your rear radar let you know you were being tailed. With a few zigging and zagging evasive maneuvers (even an occasional barrel roll), you could shake the pursuing fighter, sucker him in front of you, and blast away.

After each stage, your stores of fuel and ammo would be replenished either by a mid-air refueling or by the occasional chance to actually land and take a breather. The game’s 23 stages took you through mid-air dogfights, ground raids and dangerous flights through tight canyons, offering plenty of threats to your initial three lives.

The gameplay was impressive for its time, but After Burner was a technological marvel, too. All consoles came equipped with stereophonic sound and a joystick that rumbled with every collision, and deluxe models added even more realistic features. Several consoles arrived in arcades as semi-functional cockpits, allowing players to strap in, gear up and hold tight as the cockpit pitched and rolled forward, backward and to the side, all under your control. A few select machines in entertainment meccas like Las Vegas went even beyond that, allowing free movement in a spherical orbit. Spinning upside down didn’t make playing any easier, but it certainly made the advanced game worth the extra cost.

Arriving at the tail end of the Cold War and the Reagan years, After Burner was an arcade hit, an interactive version of flyboy fantasies like Iron Eagle and Top Gun. The souped-up versions remained a major attraction well into the 90’s, proving that jet-jockey glamour never really goes out of style.

Arcade Machine Release History

1987 - Afterburner

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