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Japanese arcade flyer of After Burner.
|Genre(s)||Combat flight simulator
Shoot 'em up
|Arcade system||Sega X Board|
After Burner (アフターバーナー Afutā Bānā?) is a 1987 combat flight simulator arcade game by Sega AM2. The game was designed by Yu Suzuki. It runs on the Sega X Board arcade system board and uses pseudo-3D sprite-scaling graphics. The player flies an F-14 using a specialized joystick, with a moving seat corresponding to the joystick's movement in the sit-down cabinet installations. The game spawned several sequels, including After Burner II later in 1987.
The game allows the player to control a F-14 Tomcat jet, which must destroy a series of enemy jets throughout 18 stages. At the start of the game, the player takes off from an aircraft carrier called the SEGA Enterprise, which shares a similar name to the one used in the 1986 film Top Gun.
The jet itself employs a machine gun and a limited set of missiles. These weapons are replenished by another aircraft after beating a few stages. The aircraft, cannon and missile buttons are all controlled from an integrated flight stick.
The game itself was released in three variations: a standard upright cabinet and two cockpit versions, one that tilts left and right, and one a rotating cockpit version. In the rotating cockpit version, the seat rotated horizontally, and the cockpit rotated vertically.  The rotating cockpit version also featured two speakers inside the cockpit at head-level, which produced excellent stereo sound that significantly added to the gameplay experience. All cabinets contained a grey monitor frame with flashing lights at the top that indicated an enemy's "lock" on the player's craft.
Ports to other game systems
The game was ported to numerous consoles and computer systems such as the Amiga, DOS based PCs, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Sharp X68000, FM Towns, Commodore 64, Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, PC, MSX, ZX Spectrum, and Game Boy Advance in an arcade 4 pack named Sega Arcade Gallery. A port of After Burner to the 32X was done by Rutubo Games, and was known as After Burner Complete in Japan and Europe. An unlicensed NES port of the game developed by Tengen also exists.
In Japan, the arcade game was well received. The 1987 Gamest Awards gave the arcade version the award for Best Graphics. It was also the runner-up for Gamest 's overall Game of the Year award, and also came eighth place for the Best Speech Synthesis award and sixth place for the Best Ending award.
In Europe, the arcade game was also well received. Clare Edgeley gave it a positive review in the November 1987 issue of Computer and Video Games magazine, where she stated it is a "fabulous game" that is "Stuffed full of electronics" and "flings you in four directions to simulate the movement of your jet aircraft." She stated, "Words can't do After Burner justice" and "you'll have to give it a shot." She concluded that, although the price of £1 per continue (equivalent to £2.45 or $3.88 in 2015) "is a real pain, stake a couple of quid on it and go for the flight of your life." In the 1987 Christmas Special issue of Crash, Julian Rignall and Daniel Gilbert gave it a more mixed review. They stated, "Sega, maker of Super Hang-On and Out Run, has just released its most impressive-looking game" yet, "an aerial-combat simulation" with "colourful and incredibly fast graphics" that is "possibly the fastest 3-D yet" seen. They also praised the rotating cockpit cabinet which "rocks and rolls as the plane banks and moves" as "very impressive" but criticized the playability, specifically the plane handling and joystick feedback, and the "overpriced" cost of 50p per go (equivalent to £1.23 or $1.94 in 2015). In the February 1988 issue of The Games Machine, Robin Hogg and Cameron Pound gave it a positive review, describing it as the "HOTTEST" Sega "release so far" and "an air combat coin-op of awesome proportions." They praised the "sheer speed" of the "extremely fast blasting action" as "the fastest and most violent to date" and "the layered graphics" as "extremely detailed" and "fantastic" but criticized the high price of up to £1 per play. They concluded it would "almost certainly repeat the success of" Out Run.
The ported home versions were also well received. In Japan, the Sharp X68000 computer game version won several awards from the Oh!X computer magazine, including the overall Game of the Year award as well as awards for Best Game Design, Best Video Game Port, and Best Shooter.
In North America, the August 1988 issue of Computer Gaming World called After Burner on the Master System home console "the first game that uses Sega's new 4MB technology and the enhanced graphic capabilities this added memory provides is abundantly obvious". It cited aircraft depicted in "remarkable detail", "spectacular" scenery, and excellent explosions.
Computer Gaming World 's later review of the PC version in 1992 was much more critical, giving it one star out of five and stating that it was inferior to the arcade version. They concluded that it was "far superior in the coin-op cockpit than it is on the personal computer."
Reviewing the 32X version, GamePro commented that the graphics, sound, and gameplay are all great, but that the only difference between it and the Genesis version of After Burner II are some minor graphical and audio enhancements, making it overall only worthwhile to gamers who have never played an After Burner game before.
After Burner was followed by After Burner II, which was released on the same year. Some consider this game to be more of a revision of its predecessor, rather than an entirely new game, a practice later repeated by Sega for Galaxy Force and Galaxy Force 2.
Although the After Burner brand was long dormant, Sega created a number of aerial combat games centered on the F-14 Tomcat with many similar features, which are frequently regarded as part of the series. These include G-LOC: Air Battle and its sequel Strike Fighter (later rebranded After Burner III in its home release, lending credence to the belief that they are related). Later games associated with the series include Sky Target (which retained similar gameplay and presentation to the original, but with the addition of 3D graphics) and Sega Strike Fighter (an arcade flight combat game which featured free-roaming movement, boasting similar music but with an F/A-18 Hornet as the main plane). 
Appearances in other games
- "After Burner". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 4 Oct 2013.
- "KLOV entry for After Burner". Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- "VGRebirth entry for After Burner Complete". Retrieved 2008-06-06.
- Gamest, The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, pp. 6-26
- Katz, Arnie; Kunkel, Bill; Worley, Joyce (August 1988). "Video Gaming World". Computer Gaming World. p. 44.
- Brooks, M. Evan (June 1992). "The Modern Games: 1950 - 2000". Computer Gaming World. p. 120. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- "ProReview: Afterburner". GamePro (IDG) (68): 60. March 1995.
- "System 16 tech information". Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- "Arcade Flyer for Sega Strike Fighter". Retrieved 2012-04-17.
- Reparaz, Mikel (January 14, 2010). "30 'hidden' references in Bayonetta". GamesRadar UK. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
- After Burner at the Killer List of Videogames
- After Burner at MobyGames
- Contemporary reviews at Solvalou.com
- After Burner at World of Spectrum
- After Burner series screenshots and statistics
- After Burner Station
- Retrospective of the series at Hardcore Gaming 101