SEGA Ages: G-LOC Air Battle (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 30.04.2020

Review for SEGA Ages: G-LOC Air Battle on Nintendo Switch

The slow but sure trickle of SEGA arcade classics being re-released on Nintendo Switch continues with G-LOC Air Battle. The refers to the real-world phenomenon called "G-force induced Loss of Consciousness," which is something that can happen to pilots of actual fighter aircrafts. This Sega Ages release is perhaps more interesting than most, since it is one of the precious few to have never received an arcade perfect port of any kind, making it very desirable indeed for die-hard fans of the company. It did receive ports to contemporary consoles, meaning the Game Gear, Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis, as well as some computers of the era, but was never made available officially in the modern age. That was until this release for Switch at least. Granted, this is far from offering the same kind of immersive feel that the famous R360 full-body experience arcade machine could provide. However, to finally be able to enjoy the closest thing to it, both in the comfort of the home, and on the go, is something any fan of SEGA should rejoice about. So how did that turn out?

Though the name does not suggest this fact, the style of the game and the overall theme makes it undeniable that this one is part of the After Burner series. This time however, the action is not viewed from a third person perspective, but rather from inside the cockpit of what looks like an F-14 Tomcat aircraft. Every now and then the camera will go back behind the fighter when it is being chased down by another, but, most of the time, the cockpit view prevails. G-Loc is structured as a succession of short missions, almost always consisting of destroying a set amount of enemy units. Depending on the mission, those could be other aircrafts or gunships on the water, or other types of enemy installations.

There is a constantly running countdown, akin to many racing games of the time, where completing a mission will extend the play-time remaining to the player. Should time run out, it's game over and a new credit must be inserted in the machine to keep playing. Conversely, players have infinite lives and a damage meter, so at least some attacks will not destroy the fighter on the spot. However the respawning time functions as a penalty anyway that may be just the difference between a game over and a time extension in the end. The control stick steers the air fighter, just like in the original arcade version, offering a great degree of fine control over the aim of the reticule on the plane's targeting system, as well as the vehicle's movement.

Screenshot for SEGA Ages: G-LOC Air Battle on Nintendo Switch

The F-14 has a Vulcan gun with infinite ammo, while missiles, requiring enemies to be locked onto with the aforementioned targeting computer, come in limited supply, which partially gets refilled between each short mission. Enemy units mostly just fly in front of the player, and must be taken down, when they're not just waiting on the water or sitting on the ground in the case of gunships and enemy factories and the like.

So players chain short missions that always consist of much of the same thing. The gameplay loop of G-LOC Air Battle does feel repetitive, as these things often did back in those days. Being an arcade game, it was never meant to be enjoyed for extended periods of time, but rather something unique to entice players passing by the machine in an arcade to drop a few coins into for a momentary thrill. Ported to Switch, this feels just the same, and is also best enjoyed in short bursts. With this design philosophy in mind then, it still succeeds completely at delivering a thrilling experience for the span of a single play-through, unless some players become so engrossed by the score-chasing nature of it that they keep going for a better score in order to reach the top of the online leaderboards, which have been, smartly indeed, once again been brought to this SEGA Ages release.

Screenshot for SEGA Ages: G-LOC Air Battle on Nintendo Switch

Visually speaking, by the standards of 1990, this one does appear slightly more impressive than its predecessor After Burner, but also somewhat slower paced. The scenery seen below the aircraft is more detailed and less chunky looking, but it also appears to be placed much further down, and so it does not appear to be zooming towards the camera in quite the same way. If After Burner had the player zoom across landscapes close to the ground, this one often takes place in the stratosphere by comparison.

There are some missions involving flying over a river, for example, taking down gunships, but those still feel slower than anything from After Burner. This does lend the action a less hectic feel overall, and the absent sense of speed is something that some people will definitely miss. This was true of the original arcade instalment, but that one had the advantage of being the first game to utilise the R360 cabinet, offering players a sense of thrill unlike anything at that point, surpassing the likes of After Burner and Space Harrier. Without the R360 however, this loses some of its spark.

Screenshot for SEGA Ages: G-LOC Air Battle on Nintendo Switch

As is always the case with SEGA Ages releases, M2 went the extra mile to include an alternate version to be enjoyed on the system, called Ages mode. In that the player has a faster lock-on than in the regular arcade mode, to fire missiles at enemy targets - plus a bigger supply of said missiles from the outset. Missions are played back to back as well, in the same way, but with only one credit to get as far as possible. Sadly, however, that's about it in terms of extra gameplay opportunities. Fans of the SEGA Ages line of products will find here the expected settings, like the possibility to play the Japanese version or the international release, which vary in some of the smaller details, and there are lots of options to tweak like an arcade cabinet view, scan-line effects to toggle, a music player, and difficulty options that can be fine-tuned to best suit the player's liking.

In the end, though, while the experience itself is very pleasant and devoid of any technical or control issues, it does feel like more could have been done with it to make it more fleshed out for modern tastes. Nevertheless, this is a more important release than it may seem, because this is one of the much too few examples of SEGA Ages re-releasers than fans should care about: a SEGA game which was for all intents and purposes lost to the ages and brought back to be experienced again with the convenience of being on a modern system.

Daytona USA next please?

Screenshot for SEGA Ages: G-LOC Air Battle on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

While it falls a bit short in terms of content and variation of gameplay, EGA Ages: G-LOC Air Battle is still pleasant enough to play today, albeit in short bursts - just like in the arcades. Furthermore, by virtue of being one of the very few entries in the SEGA Ages to have only rarely or even never received a proper faithful conversion to console, this is an important type of release that SEGA should feel encouraged to pursue. There is much to be loved about its back catalogue, but there should be more to the SEGA Ages line than mostly Master System and Mega Drive ports or the sempiternal Super Scaler titles that people have seen ported numerous times already. This is an additional step in the right direction SEGA!

Review copy provided by Sega America

Developer

M2

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 30.04.2020   North America release date 30.04.2020   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date 30.04.2020   

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