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Japanese arcade flyer of After Burner.
Jeroen Tel (Commodore 64 US version)
Adam Gilmore (Commodore 64 EU version)
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, MSX, Nintendo Famicom/Entertainment System, PC Engine, Sega 32X, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum|
|Genre(s)||Combat flight simulator
Shoot 'em up
|Cabinet||Upright, sit-down cockpit|
|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 designed by Yu Suzuki for Sega AM2. The player flies an F-14 (with moving seat, in some installations) using a specialized joystick. The game spawned several sequels.
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.
In the arcade version, the jet itself employs a machine gun and a limited set of heat-seeking missiles, in the Mastersystem version there is an unlimited number 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 two variations: a standard upright cabinet and a rotating cockpit version. In the 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. Both cabinets contained a grey monitor frame with flashing lights at the top that indicated an enemy's "lock" on your craft. The cockpit version also was fitted with a seatbelt to hold the player in their seat when the cockpit rotated.
Computer Gaming World called After Burner on the 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. A later review on the computer was much more critical, giving the game one star out of five and stating that it was inferior to the arcade version.
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). 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). 
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, PC Engine, Sega Saturn, PC, MSX, ZX Spectrum, and Game Boy Advance in an arcade 4 pack named Sega Arcade Gallery. An enhanced 3D version of After Burner II was placed on the Nintendo eShop on January 15, 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS handheld console. 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, which was reworked by Sunsoft for their Japanese-exclusive port to the same console.
After Burner Climax was later ported to Xbox Live Arcade and PSN. It was followed by the spinoff After Burner: Black Falcon for the PSP in 2007. After Burner Climax was de-listed in December 2014, leaving the game no longer available for purchase.
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 only worthwhile to gamers who have never played an After Burner game before.
Appearances in other games
"After Burner" is a stage hazard in the final stage of MadWorld, shown as a replica jet spewing flames that immediately incinerate any enemy thrown into them.
The music from After Burner appears in a remix in Chapter 8, entitled "Route 666", of Bayonetta (2009, developed by PlatinumGames and published by Sega). This remix is reused in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on the Bayonetta stage, Umbra Clock Tower.
The song of After Burner II appears in the 2010 rhythm game, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade as a playable level sung by the character MEIKO.
Appearances in other media
The arcade game appears in the 1990 HBO movie "By Dawns Early Light" in the flight ready room of the B-52 bomber pilots, the lead character can be seen playing the game (his Tomcat is crashing). The arcade version appears in the 1991 movie, Suburban Commando, starring Hulk Hogan (as Shep Ramsey), who plays the game in an arcade scene, however he and a child who were playing it, were acting like it was a space shooter game instead. The deluxe cabinet also appears in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, being played by John Connor as the T-1000 searches for him at the Galleria.
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