Review: After Burner Climax on iOS offers flighty, yet short-lived fun
If you dig flight action, this week was full of nostalgia. You could go to your local IMAX theater and purchase a ticket for Top Gun 3D, or you could spend $3 on Sega's arcade sequel After Burner Climax. No matter which route you take, you're bound to run into a little bit of retro-trippy fun, only to realize that the ride ends too soon.
Like the XBLA/PSN release that came out last year, Climax offers the kind of fun that's good to experience in bursts. It's not a game that'll last hours at a time, but taken in short doses, it's not bad. You start out choosing from a variety of jets; after that, you'll tackle a bunch of missions that'll last you, at best, half an hour. As you proceed through the air, you'll take on enemies utilizing machine guns and missiles. Occasionally, have the ability to activate Climax mode, where everything slows down while you lock on to everyone you can, only to obliterate them in one full-fledged attack.
Sega has proven it can handle complex ports of its console games for iOS-based devices. Crazy Taxi wasn't half bad, and it even came with the original Offspring/Bad Religion soundtrack. Jet Set Radio was manageable too, though the touch-screen controls left a lot to be desired. So, how does After Burner Climax fare? Well, in the middle of the road, actually.
On the one hand, the performance of the game is solid -- for the most part. The game maintains a pretty good speed throughout, even if you're locked on to multiple enemies and doing a barrel roll to evade incoming missiles. However, once you activate Climax mode, things slow down a bit too much, to the point that the controls don't respond on occasion. It's sure to be cleaned up with a patch down the road, but it doesn't really motivate you to use Climax mode as much as the original arcade game did.
The game gets sloppy when it comes to the controls. The flight maneuverability isn't bad (outside of Climax mode, that is), and the buttons respond accordingly, but it's a pain having to take your hand off the weapons for a few seconds to adjust speed. There should've been an easier tool to adjust it, rather than leaving you vulnerable long enough to end up in a fiery crash. It's also nearly impossible to pull off a barrel roll -- something that could've been simplified with the press of a button.
As for the rest of the game, it's manageable. The Airplay support is good, meaning you're not just limited to portable play; the replay value is decent, with the ability to unlock better scores on each stage; and the music can be switched between the original Climax soundtrack and music from After Burner II, which is definitely something fans of the series will appreciate.
For three bucks, After Burner Climax isn't too shabby. It could use a boost in the performance department, especially when everything slows down, and some better control options would've been feasible. That being said, it's good for quick bursts when you just feel like flying high for a few minutes. Make sure you have Kenny Loggins in your playlist…DANGER ZONE!