The first game I ever reviewed for Defunct Games was an After Burner title two years ago to the month. It was that game that got me into defunct classic games and the systems they play on. Of course, that version on the Sega 32X was one of an obscene amount versions of After Burner Sega made in the late 1980s and '90s. This game, After Burner III for the Sega CD is actually a port of the spin off arcade game called Strike Fighter. It is the first After Burner title to be in 3D, even if it isn't the first After Burner spin-off in 3D (that would be G-LOC).
The basic controls are the same; Vulcan, missiles (which are unlimited this time around), and throttle controls. Even with those similarities, it still feels like a completely different beast. Yet, the game doesn't exactly play like the rest of the games in the After Burner series. For one thing the speed is noticeably slower this time around, and gone with it is all of the excitement and that sense of urgency. Also good as gone are the awesome barrel rolls, they are now slow, hard to do, and completely useless. This seems to have a lot to do with the fact that the F-15 now takes up an unreasonable amount of the screen ... the thing is freaking huge.
Speaking of the giant plane, it actually looks pretty damned good; I'd say better then most early 32-bit airplanes. This comes at a cost though, there is almost nothing on the ground, and you might as well be flying over a piece of card board most of the time. It looks more like one of Electronic Arts' terrible attempts at 3D flight simulators on the Genesis than the colorful world we've come to expect from an After Burner game. But hey, it's not like you can see past the plane to see much of it anyway. Speaking of not being able to see the ground past the plane, you also can't see many of the incoming planes and missiles, you can alleviate this problem (to a small extent) by switching to the first-person cockpit mode, but that takes away what limited excitement that game had because in this view your plane almost seems stationary.
If there is one bright spot to this game, it's the music. All the After Burner songs you know and love are here, but rerecorded with much better technology. You'll either like that, or, if you are a purest, hate it. Either way it's of high quality. Making his return is that annoying guy who screams for you to dodge missiles. Every time you start he screams "Good Luck!!" and you are forced to listen to a jet engine while the game loads. It might be the most annoying loading screen ever. Congruently, the game also has the most annoying death screen of all time; when you are shot down, the screen flashes between solid black and solid white rapidly. This literally made my head hurt.
This game, while superior to many versions of After Burner on the technical level such as the Master System version, is by far one of the worst versions I have ever played. Aside from the sound, none of the "improvements" over the old 2D version work in favor of the game. This game not only fails, but actually managed to give me a headache, and that's at least ten points off right the score right there. I seriously advise you to avoid this game, especially if you are prone to seizures. Trust me, that's not a joke.