The epitome of the 1980s arcade game – instant action, bold sights and sounds and, with the hydraulic cabinet, an overwhelming experience impossible to replicate in the home. That said, Sega have had a lot of practice over the years, porting it to everything from the Atari ST to the Sega Saturn, which naturally receives an arcade-perfect port. The recent sequels, AfterBurner Climax and AfterBurner Black Falcon, are both graphically stunning, full of Sonic blue skies and Super Sonic yellow suns, not to mention the sheer amount of enemies to blow up every second.
If you’ve never played AfterBurner, it essentially set the template for huge numbers of shoot ‘em ups that followed – the Panzer Dragoon series in particular borrows heavily. Piloting your F-14 Tomcats, you obliterate all approaching enemies with your vulcans and lock-on missiles. It’s completely gratifying, and the evading enemy fire with a barrel roll is one of the most satisfying shoot ‘em up moments. AM2’s output in the 1980s produced some of the arcade’s finest titles, and AfterBurner sits proudly with the best.