After Burner: Black Flacon marks the return of one of the greatest arcade flyers ever released, After Burner. It’s been quite a while since 1987, so it’s good to see the old girl with her flying wings on. After Burner: Black Falcon launches into the skies for one more dogfight in 2007.
After Burner: Black Falcon starts off using a graphic novel approach to the storyline with cinematic slideshows of images and bubble captions. In Black Flacon you can choose to be one of three ace pilots each with their own introduction and background history. Before I get into the particulars, I want you to be prepared to grate some cheese because these three are as stereotypical as you can get.
The first choice in the menu system is Billy Blaze, call sign Sonic. Billy Blaze cares about one and that thing is speed. Out of Petaluma, California, Billy will instantly remind Top Gun fans of Tom Cruse as that cocky, Maverick styled character. The next character is Bull, or Harrison Duke. Bull is the big tough guy complete with aviator shades. Bull is the brute force of the team, After Burner explains as it goes into his over indulged background. The last character in Black Falcon is the female pilot, Tomiko Rossellini, call sign “Shinsei”. This character will capture the eye of the male gamers with her stunning cell shaded looks. Tomiko favorite jet is the Tomcat, how surprising.
From the main menu in Black Flacon you can start you’re into the battle with missions; visit the showroom to take a closer look at all the available aircrafts 15 in total. In the begging only five are unlocked, that being the F18 Hornet, F14 Tomcat, F15 Eagle, AV-8 Harrier, and the A10 Thunderbolt. If you’re not an avid jet connoisseur that probably means nothing, although once you see the planes you will probably have an idea of their class and name. There is also a selection to check your pilot’s stats which runs down everything from your rank and number of crashes to your rounds fired in action and your gas guzzled. For stat freaks this is great and helps boost up a sense of accomplishment when reading over your triumphs.
The last selection is the multiplayer selection and the obligatory options menu. The multiplayer is a bit thin but it’s more than I expected, which was none. If you have the urge you can play through the levels with co-style which a friend blasting away at the enemy or play a game of cat and mouse with each other. I doubt multiplayer gaming is a reason that people would want to play an After Burner game for; it’s just not that type of game. Even though it could have been pumped up a little more, I think it would have been a waste of time and I’m glad Planet Moon Studios focused on the single player mission first because its rock solid.
When starting the missions you will only have one unlocked with a list of missions that get unlocked later on in the game. Once you select a mission, you are given a rundown of the main objective along with a number of bonus objectives to complete. After the mission is confirmed you have to pick you aircraft you want to use which in the begging only means the F14 Tomcat, or the A10 Thunderbolt. The rest of the jets have to be unlocked, or purchased through money you earn in the game. It’s quite a lofty goal to want to unlock all the jets, but if you’re up the challenge, Black Falcon welcomes you. The jets are also upgradeable with weapons that can be attached like rockets, or an extra payload. You can even customize your jets paint job, which mirrors the plane selection of locked and pricey upgrades. The more you play Black Falcon the more the game opens up. Planet Moon did an admirable job balancing money earnings with a lot of unlockables. If you gravitate towards Black Flacon you’ll be hooked for a long time.
The missions themselves are fast paced in the traditional After Burner styled gameplay. The action is arcade all the way wth the thrusters to the max and bullets crying out of the chamber. The aiming is all done by auto targeting for missiles and free shooting for the guns. The controls are very smooth matching the games impressionable graphics. After Burner: Black Falcon is a great looking game that is well rounded with a high level of polish and attention to detail. Once you’re locked into the action it will keep you glued to the screen right up to the moment you finish the mission. The missions can be repetitive because you’re basically just shooting things with the exception to a few other concepts like forcing an enemy to land. Black Falcon is a straight ahead shooter, and it’s comfortable in those shoes. Planet Moon Studios has the mix right with all the barrel rolls, and locked on missiles you need for a half hour of fun.
After Burner: Black Flacon only faults revert to its original roots which can be expected because gaming over the years has changed. Sometimes we expect more then mindless shooting and blowing stuff up and then sometimes we don’t. In Black Falcon you won’t find a great deal of depth to the game mechanics, missions, or concepts and that’s the point. Load up, forget about the last ten years of gaming and revert to the olden simplistic days of games with no purpose only to deliver fun. If you forget about everything around you except your itchy trigger finger then Sega has done their job of successfully revived a classic franchise to its former glory.
Planet Moon Studios from California have reprised the After Burner franchise proudly with their PSP exclusive Black Falcon. Black Falcon is an updated version of the arcade game that does everything right, without loosing the original essence of the game. Packed with a lot of unlockables, and upgrades, Black Falcon is one action shooter that gamers should take some time to investigate. I’m glad Sega gave After Burner another chance to take off; this is one game that will be staying in my collection.
Gameplay: 7.5, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 5, Mojo: 8. Final: 7.5 / 10