After Burner

From Sega Retro


After Burner Title.png
After Burner
Publisher: Sega
System(s): Sega X Board, Sega Master System
ROM size: Arcade 3.19MB[1], Sega Master System 512kB
Genre: Shoot-'em-Up

Release Date RRP Code
Arcade JP 1987-07-17[2] ¥?  ?
Sega Master System JP 1987-12-12 ¥5,800 G-1340
Sega Master System US 1988-03 $?  ?
Sega Master System EU 1988-03 £24.95 [3]Media:ACE UK 07.pdf MK-9001-50
Sega Master System AU 1988 $? MK-9001-50
Sega Master System BR 19xx $?  ?
Sega Master System KR 19xx ₩? GB-4340

After Burner (アフターバーナー) is an arcade game designed by Yu Suzuki and developed by Sega AM2 in 1987.

After Burner stands as one of Sega's most successful arcade games, building on the momentum started earlier in the decade with Hang-On, Space Harrier and OutRun. It was one of the earliest games (if not the earliest game) to utilise Sega X Board technology, allowing for the easy scaling and rotation of in-game sprites, producing pseudo-3D graphics. It is also remembered for its then-revolutionary sit-down cabinet design, complete with a horizontally rotating seat and a vertically rotating cockpit, controlled (like the game) by the integrated analog flight stick, with the cabinet's motion corresponding to the joystick's movement. Upright cabinets were also available.

The game itself was released in three variations: a standard upright cabinet, and two cockpit versions, one that tilts left and right, and one a rotating cockpit version.


In After Burner, the player pilots an F-14 Tomcat-inspired jet through 18 levels, destroying enemies with machine gun fire and a limited supply of missiles. Similar to Space Harrier, it is an "on-the-rails" shooter - the plane will travel continuously into the screen, with players only able to adjust its X and Y coordinates.

The objective in After Burner is to survive through each of the 18 stages, usually by avoiding enemy missile fire, however "bonus" stages, which occur every six levels, require the player to dodge scenery and not crash. Shooting down enemies is technically optional, although alleviates the risk of being destroyed. The player has a limited supply of missiles which are refueled at various intervals throughout the game.



After Burner was originally designed to have melodies play over the "After Burner/Red Out" and "Final Take Off" music tracks, but these were taken out of the final game, potentially through fears that they'd be drowned out in a busy arcade environment. Though these versions were never heard in the arcades, they adapted for the album Sega Game Music Vol. 3 After Burner in 1987 (appearing in other albums since), and have been brought back as options in later games (for example, 3D After Burner II).


The original After Burner was released exclusively in Japan, however the western world would receive an updated version of the game, After Burner II in the months which followed. After Burner II is extremely similar in design, bar a few minor tweaks (such as a throttle control, extra levels and slight changes to the missile system), so much so that people often consider it to be a more "complete" version of After Burner than a direct sequel. Due to the similarities and shared cabinet designs and artwork, After Burner II is frequently confused for the original After Burner. A similar relationship would develop with Galaxy Force and Galaxy Force II, also produced by Sega AM2.

In its original form, After Burner was only ported to the Sega Master System, however many ports of After Burner II were released under the name of After Burner for home consoles and computers, including the Amiga (twice), Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, FM Towns, MSX, PC Engine, Sharp X68000 and ZX Spectrum.

It was also ported to the Sega 32X by Rutubo Games and went under the name of After Burner Complete.

After Burner in its original form was also released as part of Sega Arcade Gallery for the Game Boy Advance.

Critical Reception

See Physical Scans section for review scores

Arcade Version

In Japan, the arcade game was well received. The 1987 Gamest Awards gave the arcade version the award for Best Graphics. It was also the runner-up for Gamest's overall Game of the Year award, and also came eighth place for the Best Speech Synthesis award and sixth place for the Best Ending award.[Gamest, The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, p. 6-26]

In Europe, the arcade game was also well received. Clare Edgeley gave it a positive review in the November 1987 issue of Computer and Video Games magazine, where she stated it is a "fabulous game" that is "Stuffed full of electronics" and "flings you in four directions to simulate the movement of your jet aircraft." She stated, "Words can't do After Burner justice" and "you'll have to give it a shot." She concluded that, although the price of £1 per continue (equivalent to £2.45 or $3.88 in 2014) "is a real pain, stake a couple of quid on it and go for the flight of your life."[4] In the 1987 Christmas Special issue of Crash, Julian Rignall and Daniel Gilbert gave it a more mixed review. They stated, "Sega, maker of Super Hang-On and Out Run, has just released its most impressive-looking game" yet, "an aerial-combat simulation" with "colourful and incredibly fast graphics" that is "possibly the fastest 3-D yet" seen. They also praised the rotating cockpit cabinet which "rocks and rolls as the plane banks and moves" as "very impressive" but criticized the playability, specifically the plane handling and joystick feedback, and the "overpriced" cost of 50p per go (equivalent to £1.23 or $1.94 in 2014).[5] In the February 1988 issue of The Games Machine, Robin Hogg and Cameron Pound gave it a positive review, describing it as the "HOTTEST" Sega "release so far" and "an air combat coin-op of awesome proportions." They praised the "sheer speed" of the "extremely fast blasting action" as "the fastest and most violent to date" and "the layered graphics" as "extremely detailed" and "fantastic" but criticized the high price of up to £1 per play. They concluded it would "almost certainly repeat the success of" Out Run.[6]

Home Conversions

The ported home versions were also well received. In Japan, the Sharp X68000 computer game version won several awards from the Oh!X computer magazine, including the overall Game of the Year award as well as awards for Best Game Design, Best Video Game Port, and Best Shooter.[7]

In North America, the August 1988 issue of Computer Gaming World praised After Burner on the Master System home console.

Computer Gaming World's later review of the PC version in 1992 was much more critical, giving it one star out of five and stating that it was inferior to the arcade version. They concluded that it was "far superior in the coin-op cockpit than it is on the personal computer."[{{{1}}}]

While reviewing the 32X version, GamePro praised the game's graphics, sound and gameplay.

Production Credits

X Board Version

The arcade version of After Burner II has no detailed credits screen, instead aliases of the developers are seen on the backs of clothing in the ending sequence:

Kio, Yu, Bo, Kim, Hiro, Asu, MK, Bin, Mr, Sada, Ken


Promotional Material

Physical Scans

X Board Version

Arcade 82 Sega Retro Average 
Based on 3 reviews
Publication Score Source
82 №49, p98/99/100
83 1998, №2, p104
80 №73, p82

Master System Version

Sega Master System 71 Sega Retro Average 
Based on 13 reviews
Publication Score Source
70 №7, p51Media:ACE UK 07.pdf
80 3/88
51 №1, p47
№4, p89
90 №77, p122/123
60 №4, p54
81 №4, p20/21
70 №2/20
51 №23, p40
40 №23, p55
93 №1, p18Media:Segapro UK 01.pdf
Master System, US
Afterburner ms us cover.jpg
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Afterburner sms us manual.pdf
SegaAdventure SMS US Poster Back.jpgSegaAdventure SMS US Poster Front.jpg
Master System, EU
Afterburner ms eu cover.jpg
Afterburner sms us cart.png
Master System, EU
"no limits" variant
AfterBurner SMS EU nolimits cover.jpg
Master System, EU
® variant
AfterBurner SMS EU r nobarcode cover.jpg
Master System, JP
AfterBurner SMS JP Box Back.jpgNospine.pngAfterburner ms jp cover.jpg
Afterburner ms jp cart.jpg
Master System, AU
AfterBurner SMS AU cover.jpg
After Burner SMS AU Manual.pdf
Master System, AU
No barcode variant
After Burner SMS AU Cover.jpg
After Burner SMS AU Cart Top.jpg
After Burner SMS AU Cart Back.jpgAfter Burner SMS AU Cart Front.jpg
After Burner SMS AU Manual.pdf
Master System, BR (Older)
Afterburner ms sa cover.jpg
AfterBurner SMS BR Cart.jpg
AfterBurner SMS BR Manual Alt.pdf
Master System, BR (Newer)
AfterBurner SMS BR Box Cardboard.jpg
AfterBurner SMS BR Cart.jpg
AfterBurner SMS BR Manual.pdf
Master System, KR

Games in the After Burner Series
Arcade Platforms After Burner (1987) | After Burner II (1987) | G-LOC: Air Battle (1990) | Strike Fighter (1991) | Sky Target (1995) | Sega Strike Fighter (2000) | After Burner Climax (2006)
LCD After Burner (LCD) (1988)
Sega Mega-CD After Burner III (1992)
Sega 32X After Burner Complete (1995)
Sega Saturn Sega Ages After Burner II (1996)
Sony PlayStation 2 After Burner II
PlayStation Portable After Burner: Black Falcon (2007)
Nintendo 3DS 3D After Burner II (2013)
PCs Sky Target (1997)
After Burner related media
Albums Sega Game Music Vol. 3 After Burner (1987) | After Burner (1990) | Strike Fighter (1991) | Yu Suzuki Produce After Burner II (1997) | Yu Suzuki Produce G-LOC/R360/Virtua Racing (1998) | After Burner Climax Sound Track (2006) | Retro Game Anthology #5 -AFTER BURNER in DREAM- (2007) | After Burner 20th Anniversary Box (2007)
FILM After Burner (video) (1987) | After Burner / Super Hang-On (1987)