I am in a very fortunate position, geographically speaking. While I’m not in Japan, where lots of arcades are available to choose from, the Chicago area does a pretty good job of keeping me busy. There’s Galloping Ghost Arcade, which currently has over 735 arcades and had to move its pinball machines to a whole separate building. Level 257, GameWorks, and even Round1 all have locations throughout the state, not to mention the smaller shops. Given the current situation worldwide, it’s not like you can really go into any of these. But Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle channels that kind of atmosphere in a way that other Sega Ages don’t, and I can’t help but appreciate that.
The obvious part is how Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle captures the actual essence of G-LOC Air Battle. The After Burner spin-off hadn’t had a true port until now. When the arcade version originally headed into homes, sacrifices had to be made. It couldn’t render the planes in the same way. When you’re in the cockpit in the arcade, and now Nintendo Switch, version, it can feel like the sprites mimic an actual 3D experience. The console and Game Gear versions couldn’t do that.
Watching those planes careen, the way your own’s panels move, and hearing those voiced audio cues letting you know you’ve locked on is so impressive. Having what is essentially the “true” version of G-LOC Air Battle on the Nintendo Switch feels right. It also happens to feel like a history lesson. Like even though this game didn’t have After Burner’s success, we can see the strides Sega took with the spritework and how smooth things come together to offer a seemless, futuristic flying experience.
But what really gets me is the Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle Moving Seat. With games in this line, Sega often has different graphics options. For example, you could have none applied, scan lines there, or smoothing effects. Moving Seat presents the game as though you’ve climbed into one of those cabinets that makes you feel like you’re hopping into an actual cockpit, complete with the joystick and throttle. This adaptation begins with Moving Seat (and its unchangeable smoothing option) on, so you get the idea of it.
A sample of the Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle moving seat display. pic.twitter.com/vizfYGSIi0
— Jenni Lada (@JMariye) May 1, 2020
I mean, nothing can feel like the real thing. But the execution here is sound. It’s not intrusive or overblown. It’s there and presented in a way that helps people get an idea of what an actual moving cabinet was like. And, for people who don’t want that, there are plenty of stationary options too.
Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle is an interesting historical piece, to be certain. But the feeling I kept getting while I was playing is how much it tried to evoke the feeling of an arcade. I mean, we have the best version of the game now playable at home. It took a while, but it’s a notable accomplishment. It also has the moving seat option that subtly reminds us what an actual cabinet could feel like. It never gets distracting, but it reminds us of what it could be like when we were in a real arcade, sitting in the seat, and using the joystick and throttle to chase after opponents in a dogfight.
Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle is available for the Nintendo Switch.