I remember it well: it was the spring of 1988 and the fair was in town. The arcades were singing with sounds from JAMMA's finest era - Double Dragon's coin drop noise punctuated the chatter of Operation Wolf's plastic Uzi. Magical Sound Shower blares from a stand-up OutRun, sitting right next to a dog-eared Hang-On cabinet that no-one ever plays. But there was something new - a brand-new sit-down with a jet fighter control stick and a throttle lever. It was 50p a credit, but it was glorious. It was After Burner.
After Burner Climax is a hyper-realistic recreation of how it feels to fly a jet fighter plane in every eight-year-old boy's imagination. Forget the multitudinous dials, switches and levers that clutter studious flight simulators; SEGA AM2's latest is a celebration of the economical. You have a machine gun, an unlimited supply of missiles and a plane that barrel rolls in perfect, elegant tumbles at the snap of a single analogue stick.
Wherever realism presents a barrier to joy it has been discarded without second thought, in the way that only a developer who makes arcade games that must grab a player's attention within 10 seconds of an attract mode sequence can truly subscribe to. You may not have a bleached-blonde girlfriend fist-pumping the clouds at every fiery enemy takedown, and the high-speed detail of the open road has been swapped for the blemish-less sweep of the stratosphere, but in spirit and colouring, this is OutRun in the sky.
It is, then, something of an anachronism: the sort of primary-colour explosion of joyful simplicity that SEGA has left behind for Sumo Digital to lovingly reclaim for those who remember the Japanese giant's brightest creative period. After Burner Climax - released this week on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network - is, after all, a four-year-old game, the fourth in the dog-fighting series, and one that originally came bundled with a servo-equipped chair in arcades.
SEGA's announced that After Burner Climax will be available on Xbox Live Arcade on 21st April and on PlayStation Network a day later on 22nd April.
SEGA has finally confirmed that it will release AfterBurner Climax on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade this spring.
AfterBurner Climax revived SEGA's eighties jet-fighting classic for the arcade in 2006, in much the same way as OutRun 2 had done for the evergreen racer. Unlike that game, however, Climax has not yet made its way into the home.
However, an XBLA and PSN conversion was suggested by both common sense and an Australian Ratings Board classification last year. The game was recently confirmed for release in Japan, and an ESRB rating earlier today promted SEGA's US and European arms into confirming the news.