As a SEGA fan, my loyalty has been tested to the breaking point at times. Let’s face it, SEGA has had to make some tough decisions and has made some terrible games over the years, especially over the last fifteen. In 2007 SEGA had lost much of my loyalty after turning out a rash of bad games including the infamously awful Sonic the Hedgehog. Then one day, I walked into a local arcade, played After Burner Climax for the first time and all was well. It takes a hell of a game to get over an experience like Sonic 2006, so that alone should speak to Climax’s quality. The experience this game provides is exhilarating, combining dizzying speeds and beautiful visuals with shooting so furious it’ll numb the trigger finger. By the time this game is done with you, your adrenaline will be pumping. The action this game provides is almost non-stop, forcing you to constantly adapt to new situations and mission objectives amidst an endless waves of bogies flying around you at every moment.
These missions range from chasing down stealth bombers invisible to your missiles, to defending friendlies from incoming bogies, to flying through a massive military facility in a way reminiscent to Return of the Jedi’s Death Star tunnels. The game also adds some new features meant to mix up the After Burner experience, including a choice of levels at several points and the game’s namesake, “Climax Mode”, a new attack function that allows the player to target dozens of enemies at once and unleash a massive barrage of missiles. Climax has all of the best elements of SEGA’s arcade pedigree, not wasting a single moment of the player’s time on fluff or filler.
Climax has all of the best elements of SEGA’s arcade pedigree, not wasting a single moment of the player’s time on fluff or filler
Of course, I’m sure every SEGA fan worth their salt has already played this game on Xbox or Playstation, so let me just come out and say it: you have not experienced After Burner Climax until you have experienced the game’s deluxe cabinet. As fun as it is on its own, it’s the experience that the cabinet provides that makes this game truly memorable. No console experience can match the sheer immersion the cabinet provides as it shifts with every move of the joystick and shakes with every hit your aircraft takes, all the while blasting the game’s memorable soundtrack and sound effects in your years.
Climax comes in three different cabinet types, all of which I’ve played over the years. The one I’ve used most commonly, the standard with side to side motion, looks pretty good with blue lights lining the back of the seat, and a sharp, stylized, colorful decals covering the machine. The Deluxe version looks spectacular, with a plastic jet fighter stuck to the back of the seat, a massive HD plasma screen, and additional tilting in all directions, as opposed to the standard cabinets side to side motions. The Deluxe version is easily the best of the three cabinets, offering superior immersion distinguishing it not just from the other versions of Climax, but most arcade experiences. The cabinets move flawlessly to the game’s tight, responsive controls, providing a superb experience.
After Burner Climax was a much needed comfort for SEGA fans after Sonic the Hedgehog. It served as a great reminder of what SEGA was all about: blue skies, twitch action and good times. In the wake of games like Alien Colonial Marines and SEGA’s shift towards PC strategy games, it’s a great reminder of what SEGA could do not too long ago, and what they could continue to do in the future. If you come across an After Burner Climax cabinet at your local arcade, check it out. You will not be disappointed.