After Burner (NES Review)

We’ve had a look at the Master System version (and still can’t bring ourselves to review it) so of course we wanted to get our hands on the NES version.  How did a Sega staple arrive on the NES? Well, in amongst all the fully licensed versions (C64, Atari, Amstrad to name a few), Tengen have developed this one, not necessarily with Sega’s permission…


Anyway, we don’t care how it’s got here, let’s see how they did.  They didn’t do very well!




The year is 1989, a good two years after the fully licensed versions came out.  The first flaw smacks you straight in the face.  As with many unlicensed games, retakes, spin-offs –whatever you call them, the presentation is non-existent.  The main screen looks a lot like the MS version but there are no options and you go straight to the action. Presumably to ensure the action runs a bit faster on the NES, Tengen have miniaturised everything.



This means two things – one, the game doesn’t look anywhere near as good as the MS version and two, there is room for an awful lot more enemy planes on the screen.The gameplay feels slightly more balanced than the MS version.  The annoying screen tilt when you edge left or right still exists but avoiding missiles is a lot more easy as they don’t appear to come out from absolutely nowhere.  However, it is less forgiving when your plane gets hit by missiles as just a graze can down you.


The guns in this version are useless but the missiles with lock on feature (no speech of course) is fun – until you run out of them. The complete lack of a HUD means you’d have to somehow memorise how many you’ve got left (the refuel fighter on this version says 150, er, so countdown from there…) or as will probably be the case, revert to flying out of the way of every damn thing until the next level starts.



Which is tough.  Which is very tough.  You have three lives and no continues.  Surely Tengen would have seen this was a flaw in earlier versions?


A disappointing remix that only fleetingly offers NES owners a bit of coin-op nostalgia.  If you manage to reach the later levels on this, you would have been king of the arcade.



Scroll to Top