Last Updated on February 7, 2022
I thought it was just a trip out for fish and chips. But passing the Funland arcade in Whitby I saw it – After Burner Climax!
The original After Burner (1987) from SEGA was a massive draw back in the late 80s and early 90s in my home town, Redcar. At least two arcades on the sea front had the motion cabinet, while another had the standing cab. More often than not, however, the motion cabs didn’t work correctly, often leaving you stuck midway through the game. If the cab didn’t work at all, you probably wouldn’t have parted with your 50p.
While the various home computer and console ports started appearing from 1988 onwards (starting with the SEGA Master System), After Burner in the arcades remained the version to play. From memory, the C64 version was terrible (checking on Wikipedia, I see it scored 17% in Zzap!64), so it made sense to save the pocket money and play the game “down the front” whenever my gran fancied a game of bingo.
So, it was a pleasurable surprise to stumble upon the 2006 game after barely finishing a piece of deep fried, battered haddock. Better still, the cabinet moved (as long as the seatbelt stayed plugged in!) and the machine was accepting coins. You can never tell if something is jammed up these days, and unless the arcade uses pre-paid cards it can be a gamble.
Found After Burner Climax in Whitby on Friday – cabinet fully mobile! pic.twitter.com/pMby7hFAF9
— gamingretroUK (@gamingretroUK) January 30, 2022
My daughter recorded the video above from the first minute of play, up to my first death (there were many). The graphics and sound were really good, a smart upgrade on the original. It was also very fast, adding to the thrill! On the other hand, there isn’t a lot of time to appreciate the context of the challenges and gauge who the enemy is (I’m still not 100% certain). Given the game’s release date, it seems unlikely that the enemy would be the Russians.
(Then again, after recent events, perhaps there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.)
A few pound coins later and the rest of the family was ready to leave. My pocket slightly lighter and my mouth gasping for liquid refreshment, we went on our way. After Burner Climax was left vying with a decent fish and chip supper from The Magpie as the highlight of the trip.
After Burner Climax is a pretty rare unit. You won’t find it on eBay, for example, although you may find it swapping hands privately. But if you can find one, it’s worth sticking a few quid in.
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.