Famitsu Ace Combat 25th Anniversary Special - Part 1

Translation Posted: July 8th, 2020

On July 2, 2020, Famitsu published a colossal 25-page special feature in their weekly magazine to celebrate Ace Combat's 25th anniversary. In it, the Famitsu staff discussed the various appeals of Ace Combat, highlighted noteworthy aspects from each title in the series, and held a round-table discussion with Kazutoki Kono, Manabu Shimomoto, Masato Kanno, Masashi Koyanagi, and Kosuke Itomi. In part 1 of our translation, we take a look at pages 30 - 35 which describe the things that make Ace Combat unique and appealing as a game. 

Page 30-31

Special Issue: Ace Combat Series 25th Anniversary

There is a [game series] that has sent out countless numbers of players into the sky for a quarter of a century (=25 years). Its name is “Ace Combat.” It established the flight shooting genre and is a popular, monumental series loved by fans all over the world. This “Ace Combat” series welcomed its 25th anniversary on June 30. To celebrate, we have delivered this 25-page special issue. By looking at the appeal of the series, showcase of related titles released in Japan, and a round-table discussion by the development team, we unravel the reasons why “Ace Combat” has been loved for so long.

Page 32 - 33

The appeal of “Ace Combat” that sends out a multitude of pilots into the wide open sky.

The Ace Combat series, a series which has released 8 numbered titles on non-portable game platforms for 25 years since the first game. The 4 elements that cannot be ignored when talking about the appeal of these works have been passed down continuously to the latest title, “ACE7,” and have seen drastic evolutions with each game.

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Realistic aircraft and hangar that heightens the sense of immersion

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Picture 1, 2, 3: The games were developed for the PlayStation up until the third title, but one can see that the overall graphics has improved with the release of a new title. Picture 4, 5: From the fourth title, the hardware was switched over to the PlayStation 2. The fighter jets that evolved greatly due to the specs of the next-generation hardware look good even today.

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Realistic aircraft and hangar that heightens the sense of immersion

“I want to fly a realistic fighter jet.” Answering to the insatiable cravings of the fans, and improving quality with each new work. Through license agreements with major aircraft manufacturers and building a cooperative relation with the JASDF, they put in the smallest of details. In the newest title, the exterior and cockpit internals were minutely recreated, and the sense of realism was dramatically increased. Even the hangar where you choose your plane and prepare to sortie is an important element in heightening the player’s excitement. The easy to understand explanations for the aircraft and special weapons that use graphs and images is one major factor in getting beginners hooked to fighter jets.

Pictures 6,7: “ACE ZERO” has great visuals, but “ACE6” on the Xbox 360 increased the realism even more. It made us think about even further possibilities. 

Picture 8: “ACE7,” which was developed with current operational aircraft in mind, takes pride in being the most realistic and highest quality in the series.

The aircraft that were created by challenging the limits of the hardware were the pinnacle of craftsmanship at the time.

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The Ace Combat series has seen a huge evolution in the visuals of the stages as well. Not including the timing of the switch to the next generation hardware, you can tell there is an increase in quality from consecutive games on the same hardware like from the 1st game to the 2nd game, and from the 4th game to the 5th game. Furthermore in the newest title “ACE7” which touted a theme about “a revolution of the sky,”  they were successful in rendering complex weather changes in real-time. An unique system where the changes in weather directly affects the control and performance of the aircraft was implemented. The player had to pay attention to not only the enemy aircraft, but the weather as well when fighting, and the feeling of tension was greatly increased.

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The fixation to make the sky more realistic with each title

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Picture 1, 2, 3: Though these were all PlayStation titles, one can sense the extent of the graphical evolution.

 

Pictures 4, 5: The high quality graphics in the 4th title were improved even more in the 5th title. Buildings, nightscapes, and depiction of snowfall became increasingly more beautiful, and the visual clarity has improved.

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Realistic aircraft and hangar that heightens the sense of immersion

Picture 6: The degree of perfection of “ACE ZERO”s graphics, created from the know-how cultivated from the 4th and 5th titles, was guaranteed.

Picture 7: By changing the hardware from the PlayStation2 to the Xbox 360, the quality of the stages were next level. The resources that allowed for the large-scale air battles were also the result of the hardware specs.

Picture 8: Simply flying through the stage is fun in the polished beauty of the newest title.

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The best graphics in the series show the beauty and scariness of the wide open sky.

Page 34

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3

Ravine/tunnel missions that challenge the player’s skill

A difficult stage where one mistake will lead to death

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There are several kinds of missions in the Ace Combat series. The one that is most likely burned into the minds of many players are ones with ravines. The feeling of extreme tension from grazing past narrow canyon walls, the sense of liberation when escaping into a wider area. And the feeling of accomplishment when safely clearing the mission.

Pictures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: In tunnel missions where you are surrounded by walls on four sides, the tension is heightened even further. Though it is not straightforward, the feeling of liberation and accomplishment when you clear it is even better.

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Pictures 6, 7, 8: As one progresses through the series, varied tunnel missions make an appearance. Though the newest title has a high difficulty, you are able to restart from checkpoints and can be said that it is easy to practice.

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Page 35

APPEAL

4

Enemy Superweapons that heightens the story

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Enemy superweapons that can completely change the battle are an element that cannot be left out when talking about the series’ appeal. With the Sky Fortress in the first title, various kinds of superweapons have appeared in each title and harassed the player. Most of the numbered titles take place in a fictional world called “Strangereal,” but these superweapons were created so that it would not be outrageous if they existed in reality and matches the time period and story of their respective game. Also, the massive size of most of these superweapons is another nice point. In missions where you face off against these enemies, you get to experience the fun of attacking massive targets and have a sense of accomplishment when you demolish them.

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Pictures 1, 2, 3, 4: They are described as superweapons, but they all look different. The one from the 1st title is called the Sky Fortress, but looks like a massive wing-shaped aircraft. Then in “AC04,” a massive railgun called Stonehenge appears (details discussed later).

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Pictures 5, 6, 7: In “ACE5” there is the Arkbird, in “ACE ZERO” there is the XB-0 Hresvelgr, and in “ACE6” there is the P-1112 Aigaion fictional superweapons. They are extremely large compared to fighter jets, and overwhelms the player.

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Superweapons with outstanding offensive and defensive capabilities

Instances where a superweapon appears in multiple games!

Stonehenge, which appeared in “AC04,” saw the light of day in the newest “ACE7.” Once a target for the player to destroy, its role in the newest game is the trump card in shooting down the arsenal bird. In the mission where you defend Stonehenge during the mid-phase of the game, those players who have cleared “AC04” would surely have strong emotions.

Picture 8: In “ACE7,” the large unmanned flying wing Arsenal Bird is one of the superweapons and stands in your way. The Arsenal Bird carries multiple MQ-101 unmanned fighters and uses large numbers of these drones to apply pressure to the player.

Japanese to English Translation

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