Thursday, 15 September 2011

Speccy Capers: Afterburner (Sega/Activision, 1988)

The arcade original was released in 1987 in two flavors: stand up cab, and full rotating sit down cab, which was not only cool, but made people be sick everywhere. The game was great, if a little limited, but it's still a great game. Activision rightly thought so, and decided to port it to the Speccy, Amiga, C64 and Amstrad.

You start off on an aircraft carrier, and fight over water with other aircraft, namely MIG-24's. Your rockets are limited, but your machine gun isn't, and is always firing. Every once in a while, a refueling plane with refill your rockets to maximum for you to continue your fight against the enemy. You'll fight over deserts, forests and other terrain, and there's even a cheeky cameo by the Ferrari from OutRun, including the driver and his blond friend on one of the ground refuel stops, which is quite cool.

To start off with, the graphics aren't bad, even though they are monochrome, and the colour changes depending on the level. There is also some missions that take place at night as well, with the ground being yellow to go with the black for night. The game whips along at a cracking pace, with the humble 128K machine managing to keep up, while still having quite a lot of detail on the aircraft, and there is also some scenery that pops up a lot of the time. As with all arcade conversions on the cassette based machines, it's a multiload (groan!), which is a pain in the arse. Meaning that when you lose your last life, you have to rewind the tape to the beginning of side two to load up the first level. But, unfortunately, it's unavoidable. The controls are great with this conversion, and you'll never find yourself fighting them, and you'll constantly find yourself on the move, what with the enemy missiles coming towards you. The only snag is that sometimes it's quite difficult to pull off the barrel roll, but it's only a minor niggle, and when you pull it off, it will make you feel nauseous. The title screen is great, and resembles the box nigh on perfectly. As with the Speccy version of Thunderblade, there is a boarder, but it doubles as the status bars, and isn't bad really, and you get the red lights from the cab at the top which flash when you're hit as well. The sound is very minimal, with some sort of fart noise for when you destroy enemy fighters and when you fire your missiles. It would have been nice for more sounds, but it'll do.

After a good conversion of OutRun which blew away the abysmal Amiga version, here the Spectrum pisses all over the Amiga version again. Yes, the playing area might be small, but good things come in small packages, and here it doesn't disappoint. This conversion is rather competent, and is good fun to play.

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