The SEGA 3D Classics are back!  The rest of the world can finally start enjoying what Japanese gamers have had access to for more than a year, and After Burner is leading off this second wave.  Part II is a reworking of the original, with a few extra levels and some other nice additions.  It’s a great way to play the flight simulating arcade hit.

3D After Burner II - Get Ready!

Get ready for some fancy flying.

This Top Gunesque shooter from the legendary Yu Suzuki shows what a trailblazer SEGA was during the heydays of the arcade scene.  Visually the colors, scaling, sprite work, etc. all amazed back in the day, and thanks to the fresh 3D treatment still manage to impress in a fresh way.  The music fits the gameplay like a glove, and is an iconic compliment.  It’s just a great package that continues to offer enjoyment, especially for those with fond memories of it.

If you’ve played any of the other 3D classics (and hopefully you have) you’ll know to expect a wealth of options.  This game is certainly no exception.  While some are minor, they reflect the sort of care that anyone (even non fans) should appreciate.  Experimenting will be needed, as there’s no real explanation for some of the less obvious options.  The game has a pretty good manual – I wish M2 had expanded it to detail all the options they’ve included.

3D After Burner II - crash

Time to buzz a tower?

The most helpful are those influencing the challenge.  The default difficulty reflects the game’s quarter munching origins.  Thankfully it can be tailored to modern sensibilities – though your turbulent explosions as you careen toward the ground are still cool.  Others alter the graphics, with different cabinet settings that are fun to play around with.  The assorted audio options allow adjusting as you see fit, and I definitely suggest lowering the constantly annoying voice over yell of “Fire!” The music deserves the bulk of your listening attention.  Controls can be tweaked to various settings, and the game even supports the Circle Pad Pro.

3D After Burner II - special modeSome of my highlights playing through this game included trying to barrel roll by threats that approaching the aircraft from behind (which really makes the 3D shine!) and the unlockable special mode.  The latter adds a burst gauge, an additional rescue plot, and more.  It ups the content of the package as well as the difficulty – no continues!

For as much as I feel Afterburner II is a great game though, it’s not perfect.  The realistic combat enemies and locales lack in creativity compared to the fantasy or sci-fi settings of SEGA’s other shooters.  Its variety is less too – even with 20 plus stages they whiz by very fast, with no branching paths or the like.  And the chaotic nature means it’s often hard to tell (and appreciate) just what exactly is going on and respond appropriately.

3D After Burner II - gameplay

Target-rich environments.

If you’re nostalgic for SEGA arcade hits, 3D After Burner II is your type of game!  It’s such a shame that it seems destined for the eShop only – is it really that risky to bundle all these classics in a physical collection ala Japan?  Still, it’s better to have it digitally (and late) than not at all.  And with games like Fantasy Zone and Outrun to follow, there’s plenty more to be excited about.  Thanks to M2 for their efforts with After Burner, and the other SEGA classics.