The best part about getting to dig into retro compilations is to every now and then finding an old, dusty gem that I somehow never knew about before. Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle is the latest of these — created by legendary arcade game designer Yu Suzuki, it’s what you come to expect from late 1980s and early 1990s Sega-created games, that is, lots of action, impressive visuals, and some kind of unique gimmick to help set it apart from the bustling, colorful noise of arcade halls back then.
In G-LOC Air Battle’s case, its uniqueness comes from the sheer beauty of its retro graphics and how well M2 converted the arcade cabinet experience of playing that game down to the Switch. This is a game about piloting experimental fighter jets in high speed, with short levels that have you locking on and destroying a variety of targets, much like Suzuki’s own After Burner. Differently from that game in G-LOC, though, is that you’re piloting in a first-person view from the cockpit, and the cabinet at the time mimicked that by having the entire thing move along with your piloting.
While that’s nothing particularly new to arcades up to that point, how M2 converted that really makes this port of the game soar well above previous conversions of similar games. Similarly to other Sega Ages titles, there’s a number of different borders to pick from when playing, with the default one being a simulation of the arcade cabinet that pivots and moves as you play. It’s a small touch surely, but it makes all the difference as you play. And if you somehow end up disliking it, it’s easy to switch away (although not at all recommended by yours truly) from it to any of the other options that include all manner of screen ratios and filters.
When it comes to basic gameplay, G-LOC Air Battle is nothing out of this world nowadays, to be brutally honest. You move your aiming reticle and lock onto bogeys, firing your generous supply of missiles at them, be them air or ground targets. Of course, you also have to keep tabs on your six and not get shot down yourself, but given that the shooting sections are so quick, only having you shoot an X number of enemies, it’s simple to just jump back and try again without much effort on your part aside from plopping in another virtual quarter and pressing start (aka the same button!). You can also fire a machine gun that can be set to auto-use if you prefer.
Depending on the difficulty setting you end up going with, playing G-LOC can be even simpler. On easy, you don’t even have to worry about the throttle and just handle all the destruction coming from your supersonic jet. If you decide to go on higher difficulties however, things do get expectedly dicier, but I’m sure an ace like yourself can handle it.
My favorite addition to this outside of the really cool cabinet effect from the default border is the Sega Ages mode, which boils the action down to even quicker shooting sections as you move from location to location handling different mission parameters in search of higher and higher leaderboard scores. This is a really fun way to get to explore what G-LOC Air Battle has to offer in quick succession, making it an even better game to play on the go even more so than its main arcade mode.
As I touched upon before, this is an extremely impressive game visually for the time it was released, and it even looks downright good for today’s standards to pixel art looking at it on the Switch screen. Everything’s sharp and colorful, and the jet graphics for your ship for as cartoony as they can seem to anyone used to today’s close to photo realism in flying games, it’s surprisingly effective at conveying what the game’s going for, and that’s a lot of speed and mayhem, Maverick.
The Sega Ages catalog has seen its share of sure-fire hits with games like Phantasy Star and Sonic The Hedgehog, so it’s particularly cool to see Sega dig in deeper into their history with less known titles like G-LOC Air Battle sooner rather than late into the collection’s run. Thanks to the loving work put into its presentation by the emulation wizards at M2, you shouldn’t miss the chance of tracking this game down and adding it to your Switch library if you’re into collecting quality arcade ports.