After Burner is a combat flight simulator originally brought to the arcade by Sega. It appears the folks at Tengen wanted to give an “up yours” to Nintendo and they chose to bring this unlicensed port to the NES.
Unfortunately, they did not quite capture the magic of the arcade with this adaptation. In After Burner the player controls an F-14 fighter to destroy enemies through several stages. The F-14 takes off the aircraft carrier SEGA Enterprise and it is equipped with machine guns and a limited supply of missiles. You can bank right or left, tilt up or down, and you can even do barrel rolls. You can even fire your afterburners to get a momentary speed burst in your chase of enemy planes. One of the key elements of the arcade game was the speed at which your F-14 maneuvered. This element is missing from this port. It just doesn’t move quite as fast. The other thing that made the arcade so attractive were the detailed landscapes over which your figher flew. That is also missing on the NES version. The graphics simply are not up to par compared to the arcade. Even your plane is relatively small and its color tends to blend it with the background. Control is not a problem but you’ll find that avoiding enemy missiles is quite difficult. Maybe this is why the game doesn’t play as fast as in the arcade. The one thing that did survive from the arcade game in pretty good condition is the music. You can at least enjoy the same soundtrack while playing this home version. While playable, After Burner just falls short of the original.