We are just ending our After Burner week with this new entry to our Round Table series where people on staff talk about a specific topic. This week we will be talking about our fond and not-so-fond memories with the After Burner franchise. Like always, if you guys want to tell us about your beloved memories with this AM2 gem, we would love to here them in the comment section below. Fire!
After Burner Week
In the mid-nineties the rise of 3D gaming left many of SEGA’s older franchises behind. While most were either abandoned or received largely forgotten two dimensional entries, some were completely reinvented for the third dimension. Though it doesn’t bear the After Burner name, Sky Target was in fact the first 3D entry in SEGA’s After Burner franchise. Released in 1995, the arcade version of Sky Target never achieved its predecessor’s success, failing to even leave Japan. Western gamers wouldn’t get to play Sky Target until SEGA ported the game to the Saturn in 1997, where it would be quickly forgotten.
At first glance, After Burner looks like the perfect candidate for a transition to the third dimension. After all, the game is already trying to simulate 3D play. In reality, Sky Target’s design decisions actually perfectly illustrate why so many SEGA franchises struggled (or failed) to make the 3D jump to begin with. Sky Target would introduce many drastic changes to the After Burner formula, many of which would find their way into 2006’s After Burner Climax. Do these design decisions work, though? Does Sky Target live up to the reputation built by its predecessor?
In an era where most home gaming consoles were couldn’t produce anything more than simple 8-bit sprites, video game companies did have to occasionally get a little…creative with their marketing. This goes double for Tiger, whose LCD games were about as immersive as…well I don’t think there is anything less immersive then a Tiger LCD game. So naturally, Tiger encouraged the kids of the eighties to imagine their own arcade experience! After all, who needs stereo surround sound, fluid super scaling graphics and a full motion cabinet when you have the power of you mind?! This kid certainly doesn’t. He even brought his own flight helmet!
To be fair though, throwing a kid into a jet fighter was a pretty common way to market the game. SEGA took it a step further with their Master System commercial. This kid didn’t just imagine flying through some hazy clouds, he imagined a whole damn plane! The kid from Suburban Commando, which we highlighted earlier this week, even took it a step further by completely changing the setting of the game, complete with some new enemies.
If there’s anything I miss about games from the 8 and 16 bit era, it’s how vague their stories and characters were. Sure, I love having deep, interesting characters and engaging stories in my games, but an unfortunate side effect of this is that we can’t let our imaginations run wild about the nature of the game’s world and characters anymore. Oh well, I guess we’ll always have the imaginary jets of our childhoods at least, right?
Like any beloved SEGA franchise, After Burner has had its share of cameos. Unfortunately, unlike Fantasy Zone and Sonic the Hedgehog, these cameos have been few, so we did have to stretch things just a little bit to fill out this weekly five. As they say though, quality matters over quantity, so even though After Burner’s cameos have been few, they’ve often been quite great. So grab a snack, sit down and enjoy as we look through After Burner’s five best only cameos.
When After Burner blasted into arcades in 1987 it quickly became a smashing success, emerging as one of SEGA’s top franchises. Naturally, SEGA endeavored to port the game to every single piece of home gaming hardware under the sun. Famicom, Master System, Commodore 64, DOS, you name a gaming platform that was still relevant in the late 1980s, and chances are that platform got a port (or two) of After Burner.
Unfortunately, none of these systems were capable of doing After Burner’s explosive graphics and frenetic game play the justice they deserved, and so these ports fell short. It would take eight years for home consoles to catch up to SEGA’s arcade technology. Once they did SEGA wasted no time in finally bringing After Burner home in the form of After Burner Complete, an exclusive to SEGA’s brand new, ill-fated add-on, the 32X.
It may be hard to believe nowadays, but there was a time when After Burner was once a pretty big deal. It helped the Master System find success in Europe and Australia, it was advertised on television and it even received a cameo in one of the highest grossing films of the nineties, Terminator 2! We’re not going to talk about that though, because you’ve probably already seen it. Instead, we’re going to focus on another science fiction movie released the same year as T2 that practically nobody saw: Suburban Commando. We’ll also mention a certain popular reviewer of nostalgia who took a look at it back in 2009, and later took a look at one of After Burner’s commercials in a separate video a few years later. The video above features both clips. Take a look, then join me for more after the break!
After Burner’s soundtrack ranks among the most iconic in the games industry. We’ve already featured two versions of After Burner’s main theme on a Tuesday Tunes a few years ago, so today we’ll be showcasing something a little more obscure: an unused track from Gunstar Super Heroes. Released for the Game Boy Advance in 2005, GSH was originally supposed to include numerous tracks referencing classic SEGA titles, including Altered Beast, Galaxy Force and of course After Burner. Unfortunately, all of these tracks were cut at the last moment, but some hackers managed to pull them out of the ROM and slap them onto the internet.
If the Gunstar Super Heroes rendition of Final Take-Off isn’t your cup of tea, I’ve also included the original version of the track from the SEGAAGES Album. Check it out after the break!
We at SEGAbits love us some After Burner, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’ve written about the franchise a few times before. Before we kick off our week of features, we’d like to point you towards the previous After Burner features we’ve written. Also, be sure to check out the video above to see AJ Rosa’s quick take on After Burner Complete for the 32x!
SEGA made a name for itself in the eighties thanks in no small part to the incredible talents of Yu Suzuki and his team at AM2. Though the company saw numerous successes throughout the decade ranging from Zaxxon to Fantasy Zone to Altered Beast, it was AM2’s innovative tetralogy of super scaler powered games that would make SEGA a big name in the arcades. From 1985 to 1987 SEGA released a crescendo of innovative mega-hits, including Hang-On, Space Harrier and OutRun, culminating with the release of After Burner.
Much like the rest of its brethren, After Burner was a resounding success, spawning numerous updates and spiritual successors. This week, we’ll be giving you a taste of what After Burner has to offer. First, we’d like to present an overview of the franchise for the uninitiated.