After the blatant failure of Activision to set the homeroom gaming world alight with an awesome version (or lack thereof) of Afterburner, Mindscape also decided to give it a go. Naturally, they faced the same problems Activision did, and it's actually kind of interesting to see how different the two games are.
Because wherein Activision put every effort into making their version of Afterburner LOOK like the arcade game (yet somehow failed to do even that), Mindscape, bless their ambitious little hearts, did everything they could to make the game FEEL like Afterburner. And amazingly enough, they did a fantastic job with the plane itself and simply how it moves. In fact, compared to Activision's effort, the F-14 in Mindscape's conversion looks amazing, and moves even more so. Granted, it's a little finicky when it comes to trying to do a barrel roll, but for a few token seconds, you will feel like you just scored the jackpot.
The first downside will present itself in the rather spartan backgrounds. While it all scrolls smoothly, the ground is also rather spartan; made up of the same tile of graphics scrolling by below the screen perfectly lined up, which makes the game feel kind of artificial. That could have been fine, though, if not for the fact that enemy planes also share a rather irritating trait.
Oh, they'll look fantastic at first too; well defined and zooming by from the sides as they pass you and disappear into the distance.... rather abruptly. And that's when you realize the game's way of firing missiles is rather awkwardly incorporated. To fire one, you have to HOLD the button down, which makes ONE missile appear below your fighter for a couple of seconds and slowly meander in a seemingly completely random direction. Try as I might, I couldn't get that damn plane to fire those damned missiles into those damned enemy planes. And while you struggle with this, you'll also notice that since you can't see enemies far into the distance, you also generally don't see a whole lot of them. Far too quickly, you'll just adjust your strategy of ditching the missiles altogether and resort to the machine gun, and that only compounds the further loss of this version.
When you put the two current versions of Afterburner up against each other, Mindscape's version does take the lead, merely for being less of a chore to play. Sadly, that does not mean that this version is a very good game when it comes down to it.
|GRAPHICS - 5/10|
|The F-14 looks really nice and moves as it's supposed to. Enemy planes also look the part, even if you get the feeling you're shooting down the same fighter jet over and over. Sadly, background are rather spartan and the whole missile firing system looks cringeworthy.|
|SOUND - 3/10|
|The game also sounds slightly less bad than Activision's version, but not by much. If it had a main tune, it was as forgettable as the Activision version, and the sound effects were just as sparse. Since the machine gun isn't firing automatically, at least you won't have to listen to that all the time.|
|PLAYABILITY - 5/10|
|The game controls just like it should, which sounds wonderful until you realize that it forgot to give you anything to do. Sparse enemy fighter opposition makes for lots of static flying, and missiles are generally easy to avoid even without having to resort to the barrel roll. (Or Aileron roll if you're going to be anal about it.)|
|OVERALL - 4/10|
|More than anything else, Afterburner is an arcade game. Which means it's fine and dandy to replicate the excellent controls of your winged avatar in the sky, but it also means you have to throw in challenges hard and fast. In other words, making an arcade conversion that bores the player is quite unforgivable.|