Sunday, February 15, 2009

After Burner II

NEC Avenue / Sega

This into-the-screen shooter is a bit of a fan favorite, but while I like it well enough, I'm not crazy about it. It's very reminiscent of Space Harrier, but it doesn't stand up well in comparison. SH gives players lots of cool enemies to deal with, and its levels are delightfully wacky and colorful. After Burner II's jets-and-fields theme just isn't as appealing to me.

More importantly, I need to utilize a little strategy while I'm playing SH. AB2's gameplay, even outside of this comparison, is too facile: shoot and dodge and shoot and dodge and--SPEED BURST--and shoot and dodge. When I first beat SH, I felt like it was the ultimate result of the practice and planning I had put into the game. No, it wasn't especially difficult to do, but I did feel that the experience was a rewarding one. By contrast, when I first beat AB2, I felt like it was simply because I had bothered to start up the game enough times that making a successful (and perhaps lucky) run through all twenty-three stages was an inevitability. I didn't feel like I had pulled off anything particularly significant or that I had achieved something as a result of earnest effort.

Still, AB2 certainly has its merits as a fairly exciting little pick-up-and-play title and delivers some really nice music, most notably the catchy bit that typically accompanies the transition from the second stage to the third.

The game offers decent action (but lacks SH's cyclopean mammoths, unfortunately).

Nighttime scenes and neat explosions do help a bit.

Make pit stops and receive aid from friendly giant aircraft.

Bust shit up in the bonus stage, and streak through the last few levels.

Enjoy the action for what it's worth, touch down safely, and go play a better Sega game... like Space Harrier.

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