Some games like to ease you into the action. A short tutorial, some easy-to-kill henchmen…a snarky sidekick to teach you the ropes… that sort of thing.
Other games like to be named After Burner Climax. The only thing it teaches you are the ABCs of air superiority:
Now, maybe I’m just terrible. I can accept that. After all, my childhood memories of the original After Burner games consist of jumping into the giant faux cockpit, randomly tilting it to get dizzy, then having my dad tell me I can’t have any more quarters if I’m not even going to try.
By that standard, I should have dropped out of college in the second semester! But who’s making all the quarters* now, huh, Dad? The guy with the BA in English!
Right… After Burner. So, this game is incredibly difficult. Not because it’s hard to understand or the controls are tough to get used to. Mainly because, at any given time, I have absolutely no clue what the hell is going on. Things are exploding (including my plane, every 30 seconds), I’m rolling around, flying upside down…. there’s some kind of nuke… I think. I mean, just…. just look at this, and you tell me what just happened, other than “digital euphoria.”
Regardless of the difficulty, this game is brain-seizuring-ly fantastic. The graphical and audio detail are astounding. The water, trees, buildings, and explosions look miles ahead of things I’ve seen in full retail games, and that’s saying a lot when you have about 14 nanoseconds to see any given aspect of the game (other than your plane crashing into the ground). The gameplay is ridiculously fast, yet feels simple and intuitive. It’s a $10 roller-coaster without guard rails that you can keep playing until 80s vintage arcade cabinets come back in style.
In other words, buy it now. And for God’s sake, give me some damn pointers.
*Author may or may not be paid in actual quarters.