Becoming a jet pilot in real life requires technical prowess and physical discipline. They don’t just let any spastic jackrabbit pilot a fighter jet. For those of us who will never fly a 25 million dollar machine, there’s After Burner Climax, a $3 arcade port from Sega where you can frantically paint the skies with missiles while zooming over oceans and through mountain canyons.
After Burner Climax doesn’t require much in the way of thinking or careful controls. It’s an arcade flight sim on afterburners– the levels last around thirty seconds each, and it doesn’t much matter if you hit all of your targets along the way. Using a virtual analog stick, you can control your aim to target enemy jets, and then unload dozens of missiles by frantically tapping the fire button. There’s also a machine gun, but it’s far less effective and only useful during missions where your target has stealth capabilities.
With this camouflage, they’ll never see us coming!
The game comes with 20 missions, including four branching paths that give you A or B-style decision points. After you’ve played through the game twice, in the span of about 20 minutes, you’ll have seen every mission in the game. Some of these mission stand out, like a canyon run where you have to aim your jet under rocky bridges, or a flyby of a nuclear facility where you have to avoid slamming into hangar doors. Occasionally, you’ll be given a bonus objective, like taking down an armored carrier. But the entire game flies by so quickly, it’ll be over before you have a chance to process what’s happening.
The graphics in After Burner Climax were one of the main reasons to pick this game up on Xbox Live Arcade or Playstation Network, but they’re far less impressive on iOS. The scenery flies by at a very fast pace, and on an iPad 4th generation, the frame rate kept up impressively. But upon closer inspection, the ground looks fuzzy and sparse, and cityscapes look like cut-and-paste light boxes. After Burner Climax also uses a cloud cover effect to obscure the ground in an attempt to transition seamlessly between levels, but this causes the loading screen to chug along, like you’re experiencing graphical turbulence.
Into the blue.
After Burner Climax really only works as a high-score game: You can try to see how far you can get in the story mode, or how high you can get your accuracy rating, before your expensive jet becomes an expensive piece of charred debris. If you approach this game as a flight sim with a full campaign mode, you’re going to be disappointed. After Burner Climax just can’t compare to fully-featured flight sims like the Sky Gamblers series, making this After Burner feel anti-climactic.