This is a straight port of Climax as the arcade game remains intact from beginning to end and not much modes have been added in the console versions. There are still three planes to choose from of various colors and you're ready to roll through all the 20+ stages (you're not going to go through all the stages in one run as there are branching paths) in mere minutes as long as you can stay alive. Even though it is still simple to pick up and play locking on at the opposition firing away missiles at will, it is still a brutally difficult game at default settings as you are bound to got shot down numerous times before figuring out when to dodge missiles and enemy patterns. The big addition to Climax compared to past After Burner games is the ability to slow down into Climax mode, which is basically bullet time allowing to quickly lock on enemies during this limited period and taking all of them out. Also in this entry is specific emergency orders, in which there are bonus missions to take out specific aircraft for more points. Completing these will matter on which ending you'll get after a single run through the game, which doesn't take long (more like ten to fifteen minutes). At default settings, the game is indeed hard as I mentioned earlier, but there are EX Options that can be unlocked performing specific things a number of times allowing the game to become easier such as more lives, a bigger cursor, and more. There's also a Score Attack mode with infinite lives where you have the opportunity to get a high score with no EX Options on. All in all, After Burner Climax is still a blast to play on a controller as much as a flight stick at the arcades.
It is also important to mention how beautiful this game looks four years later. The in-game action looks and runs very smoothly at a consistent frame rate of 60 frames per second with barely no slowdown at all. Seeing all the carnage you unleash on the opposition is a great feeling especially when your aircraft is going at ridiculously fast speeds like a true fighter jet. For those that get easily dizzy when playing, this game may not be for you especially with a game going so fast along with all the barrel rolls your aircraft will do to avoid enemy fire just like the arcade experience of the moving seat. As for the music, it is your classical Sega-like rock music you expect out of their arcade games, which is good for the most part, but the in-game chatter of your comrades can get a bit annoying telling you to brake and such. If you don't want the default music on, there is an option to turn on the After Burner II music straight up from these days for old-school purposes along with that "fire" sound effect every time you fire missiles.
After Burner Climax is one of those arcade games you would want to play in short stretches as a normal playthrough would take less than fifteen minutes at the most. Since it is that short, it is always to nice to play here and there unless you're willing to go after those high scores to climb up the online leaderboards on score attack mode. At first, the game will be difficult to complete in one go as the EX Options does make things way easier to rack up a high score and stay alive. Even four years later, the game still looks great and arguably better than most retail games out today since it is Sega AM2 as they know how to make the arcade experience as smooth as they can especially with 60 frames per second even when going as fast like a true fighter jet. If you want classic arcade style gameplay, then there is no hesitation to buy After Burner Climax at its ten dollar price tag.
Score = 8.5/10
- Classic arcade-style gameplay (feels like a true Sega arcade game)
- It looks and runs beautifully at 60 FPS when at the aircraft's fastest speeds
- EX Options make the hard game easier for those that can't pass it in default settings
- The game is really short (10-15 minutes), so after numerous playthroughs in one session, it can get old, so its better to play it in short stretches
- The in-game chatter can be annoying hearing them every second