Once upon a time Sega got the idea that they should put After Burner on every system known to man. It didn't matter if the system could handle it or not, if the system existed, it got a port of After Burner. They even went so far as to get a version on the rival NES (under the Tengen label). Considering that the version on the Genesis didn't run very well, imagine it on the 8-bit Sega Master System.
Actually it looks almost exactly like the Genesis version, at least the planes do. The ground it's self is sparse, like every other After Burner game on an under powered console. The decision to make the planes as close to possible as the real arcade version was a mistake, the combination of that detailed plane, speed (or attempts at anyway), explosions, and oncoming aircraft makes for a frame rate nightmare. It runs at a constant slow rate, it never speeds up, but it also never slows down. Missiles crawl towards your foes, taking what seems like hours to reach their targets, and your aircraft kind of jerks around. It's not so bad that you can't deal with it, but you'll still notice and hate it. The game also unfortunately ditches the head up display; which means you can't see your score until you die. This may be a minor complaint to be sure, but still annoying.
Graphics aren't the only part of After Burner that the Master System can't handle, as you know, the Master System has only 2 buttons. After Burner requires 4 (throttle up, Throttle down. Vulcan, missile), unfortunately, throttle controls got the axe. The tiny Master System pad gets the basics down well enough I suppose, but is it really After Burner without speeding up to avoid missiles and slowing down to duck a pursuing aircraft? I don't think so personally.
Like everything else the sound takes a hit, but luckily for us, After Burners classics song translate very well into 8-bit. Sure, the original versions are better, but I rather enjoyed the versions of the songs presented here, they still manage to get the ace fighter pilot in us all ready for combat. And every one loves good 8-bit music right? RIGHT? The missiles and vulcans are also mildly impressive, nothing that will leave a room of gaping mouths, but not a bad piece of sound work. In case you where wondering, yes, the After Burner guy is there, if only for one line. "GET READY!"
I wish there was more to write about but there isn't; the game is a dumbed down version of an already ridiculously simple game. I think After Burner fans will be mad at the missing controls and speed but maybe slog through it if they are in a tolerant mood. Everyone else who tries it will most likely play it for five minutes, grow bored, and shut of the old SMS. I can't say it's really that bad, it scraps the bottom rung of mediocre, but I can't recommend it. The box art is nice for a SMS game though, maybe you could put it on a shelf or something.