Afterburner Climax – Game of the Year 2010


See that blurry picture taken with my camera phone? That’s me purchasing Afterburner Climax on the the 23rd of April. Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy playing it to get around to posting my thoughts on it. Because it truly is that awesome.

But is this just hyperbolic dribble from a Sega fanboy, making the bold statement that this game should qualify as for GotY? Probably. But there’s a method to my madness.

You see, for me there’s a special place in my heart for the classic Sega approach to making a score-attack title. The original two Afterburner games are a double-dose of amazement foe example, and I’ve put more hours than I can count into OutRun. Then you can look at some of spiritual (or actual) sequels to these games that I’ve sunk even more time and money to continue with the classic fix they brought – Galaxy Force, Panzer Dragoon, Gunblade; Outrunners, Power Drift, Daytona, Sega Rally, OutRun 2/2006/Live Arcade (you could even throw Initial D in there as well). Amazing lineup of games that have quantified the definitive arcade experience over the years, and in this sense Afterburner Climax is a completely nonsensical throwback to pickup-and-play mechanics, score attack, increasingly steeper difficulty (arguably unforgiving at times), blue, blue skies and more than a casual nod at Sega’s arcade lineage.

What’s particularly commendable is that the game managed to survive the transition to a home format – I first came across the Afterburner Climax DX cab in… 2008 when checking out one of the few remaining arcades still around the place. The experience was absolutely amazing – having cut my teeth on the Afterburner hydraulic cab back in the day, it was a perfect re-imagining of the original concept but on a modern platform with more current technology.


Despite the lack of the fancy-pants cabinet, it’s still a blast to play – hyper-fast, an orgy of destruction and plenty of hat-tipping to the original games, especially the option to swap between the original YM2151 X Board hardware audio and the new soundtrack put together for Climax. There are plenty of unlockables that can alter the difficulty of the in-game experience too, which is handy if you’re rubbish at the game like yours truly and adds extra incentive for playing through the game over and over again.

And even though it’s not difficult to fire through the game in 10 minutes, I constantly find myself coming back to it every time I put the PS3 on. There’s something immediately refreshing about the no-bullshit attitude the game has – this is an arcade experience, and if you don’t like it, bugger off. No stupid tutorials to explain complicated controls, no unnecessary backstory to slow things down (there is a backstory mind, but it never gets in the way of blowing stuff up), barely any frame-drops or tearing, just pure, high-quality Japanese arcade performance gaming.

Welcome back Sega – what took you so long?

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