3D After Burner II (Nintendo 3DS) Second Opinion Review

By Albert Lichi 17.02.2015 2

Review for 3D After Burner II on Nintendo 3DS

The year was 1986 and "Top Gun" had just released in cinemas. It was a smashing success and the world had developed a huge fascination with jet fighter planes as a result. Yu Suzuki of SEGA stated, "The movie 'Top Gun' influenced me. Originally I'd wanted to make a game with war planes before watching that movie. My initial inspiration was [the anime by Miyazaki] Laputa: Castle in the Sky. I'd thought about capturing that science fiction anime-like feeling." Other than being inspired by the hit film, Yu Suzuki also expressed that he wanted the game to have a more universal appeal, "SEGA's 'body experience' game wasn't intended solely for the Japanese market but was due to be exported to Europe, US and the rest of the world. It would need to be understood by an international audience. So I switched my plan and gave it the shape of an F-14. Americans seem to have a preference for realistic graphics on-screen rather than Japanese anime-like fantasy worlds." Thus, After Burner was born and would go on to be a great success in arcades thanks to its unique experience where players used a specially designed joy-stick, complete with moving seat. About one year later, After Burner II was released with some improvements. While more of a revision than an actual sequel, After Burner II became what many consider to be the definitive fighter jet arcade action game and would get ported to countless platforms and was even playable in Shenmue II. Now After Burner II is on the 3DS eShop, how does this old jet fare? Cubed3 straps itself in and soars into the danger zone once again, following the initial look at the game, firing up for this 3D After Burner II C3-2-1 review.

3D After Burner II is a very fast and hectic game with a lot of action happening on the screen all done with 2D spritework used to give the illusion of 3D. While quaint by today's standards, this was very cutting edge back in the 1980s and, compounded with a cabinet that was a full body experience, there was nothing quite like it. When shrunk down to portable size, how does 3D After Burner II hold up visually? Quite good, actually, and when played on the New Nintendo 3DS, the 3D effect can maintain itself even when players mash on the Circle Pad for those hard banks and barrel rolls. The effect of the 2D assets being used with the New Nintendo 3DS looks quite surreal at first - these flat looking flourishes are given a tangibility and the added depth of field gives 3D After Burner II an even greater sense of accuracy and improves the gameplay. This is very noteworthy for a game like this, which was always flat and tried its best to emulate 3D but now can finally spread its wings. It is especially impressive when there are approaching missiles coming from behind the player's field of vision and the game manages to create a great sense of tension.

Screenshot for 3D After Burner II on Nintendo 3DS

Controls are as tight and responsive as ever, even without the joystick. The objective is pretty simple - fly through stages and shoot down as many targets as possible, all the while avoiding oncoming fire. It is very much like a bullet-hell shooter in ways but with physics and controls that emulate flying an F-14 jet. There are also plenty of control options, too, some that will use the extra control nub on the New Nintendo 3DS and even an option to use the touch screen for aiming. No matter what, though, there is always a very slow and precise option with the D-pad that is great for moving the cursor ever so slightly should the analogue thumb-pad be too unwieldy for those very precarious shots. During the action, players will have control over the throttle and boosting of the after burners to give the jet a lot of control when dodging enemy cruise missiles. While probably not 100% accurate to real fighter jet combat, this does give a very clear distinction to most jet combat games on how players manage their fuel when soaring through the many locales. When a level is complete, resources get restored via a very cool looking animation of a refueling plane feeding the player's jet. It is this kind of attention to detail that makes games designed by Yu Suzuki so memorable.

After the initial 21 stages 3D After Burner II has to offer, there is a bonus mode to unlock that features the burst system from the fan favourite After Burner Climax, where players can activate a slow-motion effect that adds a huge extra layer of depth to the game. In this mode there are no continues and it requires gamers to maintain a steady flow of earning extra lives. It's a great addition to an already excellent game that is a great twist on such tried and true gameplay. The levels are also different in this extra mode, but sadly there is no level select feature. Possibly a balancing issue due to the fact it would make the mode too easy and players would be able to cheese the system. SEGA is pretty generous to add such a bonus to a game that is older than most players these days. Would newer players be interested in a game like 3D After Burner II? Possibly. It does have a higher learning curve than most games on the eShop these days and they would need to have an appreciation for 3D After Burner II's historical context, seeing how it was from 1987.

3D After Burner II is a game that comes highly recommended. For $5.99, 3DS owners will have one of them best arcade action shoot 'em ups with a bonus mode, various control options, and superb use of the 3DS' stereoscopic 3D. For such an old game, it is remarkably fast and fluid and is a testament to the greatness of SEGA back in the 1980s - a reflection of its cool attitude that contrasted from Nintendo's family friendly image. After Burner II's hydraulic power moving cabinet may never be available to users ever again, but the sleek, dazzling veneer lives on in the 3DS port, with its new upgrades that make this bird still fly high.

Screenshot for 3D After Burner II on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

3D After Burner II may be a product of its time but it is a time worth remembering. There is some pretty good action that is not too common on the 3DS. Thanks to all the options included, it has become a much easier game to finish but, for those who crave a greater challenge, the bonus mode offers something unique to the original release. It goes to show how such an old and quaint title can still be very gratifying when all the right elements are in place. Simple and easy to use tight controls with high speeds can result in some fine gameplay that all the most advanced hardware and specs in the world can't ever accomplish.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Our member of the week

Well I thought Top Gun must have inspired the man, so I mentioned it in my own review but I had no idea Yu Suzuki himself ever confessed it publicly XD, so that taught me that at least. Good to have multiple reviews of such games Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
Well I thought Top Gun must have inspired the man, so I mentioned it in my own review but I had no idea Yu Suzuki himself ever confessed it publicly XD, so that taught me that at least. Good to have multiple reviews of such games Smilie.
I love finding interviews from the designers where they express their inspirations.  It helps create a lot of context sometimes when analyzing the game they made. 

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