Famitsu Ace Combat 25th Anniversary Special - Part 2

Translation Posted: July 16, 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 2, we take a look at pages 36 - 49 which takes a look at all of the games in the series released in Japan and the unique elements each game brought to the series.

Page 36

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Ace Combat

Release Date: June 30, 1995

Platforms: PlayStation

The origin of the “ACE” series released 25 years ago

The first title in the series worthy of commemoration. It was originally made as a port of the arcade shooting game “Air Combat 22” but was released under the name “Ace Combat.” Other than the main mode where you fight as a nameless mercenary, it also had a split-screen versus mode where you fought against another player. Additionally, you could play minigames using secret techniques.

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Though a game in the early days of the PlayStation, you could experience aerial battles that packed a punch. The sequels would inherit this fun of flying fighter jets.

Suppress the coup d'etat as the leader of a mercenary unit

The player is portrayed as a pilot in “Phoenix,” a mercenary unit hired by the loyalist forces to suppress the coup d’etat. Callsign is “Phoenix 1.” The setting for this world is not mentioned and is different from the world of Strangereal that was created later. The flow of watching briefings, selecting aircraft, and sortieing was solidified in this title, but there were also elements where the player chose the next operation based on the situation and the difficulty changed based on their results.

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The basic flow of the game has been inherited by most games in the series. The element of selecting wingmen before sortieing was also established.

Compilation of 16 real-life aircraft

With the F-22 adorning the packaging as the top of the list, 16 real-life aircraft were introduced. In “Air Combat 22,” there were no differences in the performance of each aircraft, but in this game, each aircraft had different statistics. Additionally, new aircraft were able to be bought with credits awarded after completing missions, and unneeded aircraft were able to be sold. Performance differences between aircraft and a system for buying/selling of aircraft were used in most of the games in the series, but this title also had some unusual elements like a fuel gauge.

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Missiles and guns are the only weapons! The only weapons equipped are missiles and guns. Its simplicity made it easy to play as a shooting game. Though every aircraft is equipped with these weapons, the destructive force capable differs with each aircraft.

Notice the flashy aircraft livery!

The aircraft in “Phoenix” are distinct with their flashy color scheme reminiscent of an acrobatic squadron. You get this exclusive color scheme regardless of the aircraft chosen, but you could fly aircraft with the same color as the enemy using secret techniques.

Check! The music was also popular

In the “Ace Combat” series, the music used in-game is also highly regarded. After “AC04,” majestic orchestral sounds mainly liven up battles, but rock music was used in this title. The change in music trends with each title is another neat point. The music recorded for this game was able to be enjoyed in the sound settings screen, and almost all tunes were able to be listened to if you put the game disk into a CD player.

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The many songs liven up battles!

Page 37

Ace Combat 2

Release Date: May 30, 1997

Platforms: PlayStation

Improved graphics from the previous game!
The development and awareness as a military organization is also intense.

Though it was another title on the PlayStation, the graphics of the 2nd game were dramatically improved. The conscious progression and decision [to present the player and their allies] as a real military organization also intensifies the player’s feelings. Additionally, with the introduction of the Usean Continent, the basic form of Strangereal, the world that is seen throughout the series, is established. A commercial that featured the advertising slogan, “A super genuine airplane [make-believe] experience,” which would represent the theme of all games in the series, was also much talked about.

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The pre-rendered opening and ending movies are fantastic, and hard to believe they were made back then.

A new mercenary unit challenges the coup d'etat 

Due to the actions of military officers of various countries on the Usean Continent, a coup d'etat force was formed. The Unified Forces were unable to suppress them and formed the mercenary unit “Scarface.” The player takes part in multiple missions as a pilot in this unit (callsign “Scarface 1”). Unlike the previous title, the mission progression became linear but had branching paths, and there were 3 different endings as well.

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There were 3 types of endings: Normal, Bad, and Good. The endings were determined by actions taken in the later missions.

A new mercenary unit challenges the coup d'etat 

Along with real-life aircraft, this game allowed for the use of fictional aircraft, which are a staple of the series, for the first time. Planes like the “XFA-27,” said to be the Unified Force’s trump card and unmanned “ADF-01” were extremely popular and have appeared in later titles. Also, this was the first appearance of a Kei Nagase, and acted as a wingman. It is a different person in each title, but people with the same name played an active role [in their respective titles].

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This was the first game that supported analog controller inputs. It was easier to control than using the directional buttons, and became the regular control scheme.

Check! “Named Aircraft” flown by aces

Named aircraft are aircraft with special names flown by enemy ace pilots. Though stronger than nameless enemies, you gain various perks for shooting them down. This additional challenge, which has become a staple of the series, was added in this title and shooting down named aircraft allows you to gain different medals. Once you acquire all the medals, a “MODEL DISPLAY” feature is added in the options menu, and allows you to view you and your enemy’s aircraft. 

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Intense dogfights with named aircraft and the fun of completing all medals were already established in “ACE2.”

Page 38

An ambitious work that incorporated high quality animated scenes and influenced later titles

A title that went far into the sci-fi route as opposed to the relatively realistic previous games with real-life aircraft. Screenwriter Dai Sato’s settings and scripts were used, and Production I.G. was in charge of the animation parts. The flow of working together with creators and production teams [outside of Namco] was born with this game. The series began focusing on storytelling from this title as well, and the depth [of storytelling] has increased with each new release.

Ace Combat 3 Electrosphere

Release Date; May 27, 1999

Platform: PlayStation

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Graphics become even more beautiful

The graphics are the best among the PlayStation titles and are highly regarded. The animated parts were created digitally in full and were high quality as well.

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By using multiple endings, it holds the largest number of missions in the series. You can even fight in outer space.

The appearance of fighter jets in this unique setting

The aircraft in this game are vastly different from other titles. The fighter jets in this game are called “aero-coffins,” and are controlled by neural connections linked to the pilot. For that reason, there are no real-life fighters, and all were fictional. Additionally, it used its own unique system for acquiring new aircraft, and instead of buying them, you were given a selection based on your affiliation or state of progress.

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A predecessor to special weapons, a weapon selection system was introduced. By using different weapons for different purposes, more strategy was involved and the sense of exhilaration when shooting down an enemy was increased. Additionally among the fictional planes, there are names and shapes that suggest they were modeled after real life fighter jets.

Utilizing multiple endings for the story

The story’s setting is on the Usean Continent in the year 2040, where large multinational corporations have gained prominence and the power of nations have declined. The player plays as Nemo, a pilot in the Special Armed Response Force of the Universal Peace Enforcement Organization “UPEO” (able to be changed), and is drawn into a conflict between mega-corporations and a battle to reform the world. Its biggest characteristic is the use of multiple endings for the story. The scenarios and missions branch off depending on the actions of the player, and became a splendid work where you could see the full picture by playing through the five different endings.

Check! The world of Strangereal is the setting

With fighter jets controlled by neural connections, a story that progresses through a giant network, nanomachines, megafloats, and geofronts, this game is filled with many sci-fi elements. It was quite different even among the numbered titles, but with the development of “ACE7,” it was officially announced that it used Strangereal as its setting. “ACE7” is also embedded with many easter eggs connected to this title as well.

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Depicting a majestic world through multiple works

This is a timeline summarizing the events of the various titles chronologically. After the outbreak of the Second Continental War, the Intercorporate War occurs in 2040.

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Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies

Release Date; September 13, 2001

Platform: PlayStation 2

A new challenge in the “ACE” series with Director Sunao Katabuchi in charge of production/script

The first game for the PlayStation 2 that saw a large evolution in graphics and system. Also was popular for the side story between missions whose production and script were managed by anime director Sunao Katabuchi and created by STUDIO 4°C. Director Katabuchi and STUDIO 4°C also were involved in the creation of the next title. Additionally, the name Strangereal, which generically describes the series’ fictional world, was born from words that described the design concept for this game

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Lively radio chatter that enlivens aerial battles

This game also saw a large change in radio dialogue. Enemy and friendly NPC dialogue could now be heard during missions, and allowed you to really feel the effects of your actions.

Incorporation of missions with a point-system

A game that is set on the Usean Continent that has been thrown into chaos due to the fall of meteorites, and depicts the actions of the pilot “Mobius 1” of Mobius Squadron. Implemented in this game are new stages where you focus on getting points, and increased the value of strategy even more by letting the player consider which targets to aim for first.

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Point-system missions are those that require you to gain a certain amount of points within the time limit. Rank evaluations are determined based on the number of points.

Other than the HUD and third-person view present on previous titles, you could now switch to the cockpit view. The cockpits built into each aircraft are a must-see.

The fictional aircraft “X-02” first appears

The fictional fighter “X-02” affectionately known by fans as the “Wyvern” was born in this game. It becomes available to the player after meeting certain requirements and was able to use multi-lock long-range air-to-air missiles (XLAA) and quick maneuvering air-to-air missiles (QAAM). The X-02 would also show up in later titles like “ACE5,” “ACE ZERO,” and “ACE X,” and earned quite the popularity.

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The X-02 was developed by Erusea as an air superiority fighter for both its navy and air force. It boasts outstanding performance and the variable geometry wings change position in response to the aircraft’s speed.

Like the 1st and 2nd games, this title used the system where new aircraft are obtained by buying them using credits rewarded from completing missions. Special weapons were also able to be purchased. This was a development of the weapon selection system in “ACE3” and there are many varieties of special weapons. Attacking enemies is made easier by using different weapons in response to the type of mission. Additionally, it was now possible to resupply during the mission and allowed for the repair, resupply, and changing of special weapons.

Check! Powerful special weapons could now be equipped!

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 With the addition of special weapons to the lineup of things that could be sold/bought, the joy of strengthening your favorite aircraft increased. It also increased the fun of fully completing the game.

Page 40

Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War

Release Date: October 21, 2004

Platform: PlayStation 2

A masterpiece that depicted the greatest aerial battle with a majestic and intense story

The 5th numbered title with Director Sunao Katabuchi in charge of the story, concept, and script. There is a heavy focus on the story in this title, and gorgeous 3DCG movies and playing feature songs at key moments enlivened the game. Additionally, it was available as a port for the PlayStation 4 version of “ACE7” as a pre-order bonus (currently past the available date).

The system for radio transmissions, powered up

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The addition of a wingman organization system is another point to look at. You were able to issue commands to your wingmen, and the corresponding radio lines heightened the feeling of fighting together.

The protagonist is a new pilot in Osea’s “Sand Island Squadron,” callsign “Blaze.” There are members with unique mannerisms in the same squadron, and you were able to enjoy the back-and-forth between the distinctive characters through the radio system, which evolved even more from the previous works.

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This game produced many famous scenes and quotes. The last moments of the carrier Kestrel is a must see!

Multiple fighter jets fly through the sky using their real names

By obtaining licenses from aircraft manufacturers that also allowed the use of the names of each aircraft, the  “Ace Combat” series features many fighter jets with their formal names and nicknames. It seems obvious now, but the strong partnership with the aircraft manufacturers actually started with this game. Along with Lockheed Martin from “AC04,” they were able to form new partnerships with Boeing, BAE Systems, Dassault, and other major aircraft manufacturers.

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The number of planes that appear in this game is also substantial. Until “Infinity” was released, it had the most number of playable aircraft for about 10 years. Fictional planes were also flyable, along with real-life aircraft.

Check! A legendary ace is reborn in the arcade mode

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The amount of missiles and remaining time were increased when you shoot down enemies, and was a feature only available in the arcade mode.

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Anyway, defeating enemies is fun!

Page 41

A title depicting a war in the series’ past, worthy of the name “Zero”

The last game on the PlayStation 2 for the series, and one that depicted the “Belkan War” that was talked about in “ACE5.” It was created with a documentary in mind, and used live-action for the characters that appear in the movies. System-wise, the wingman commands from the previous game were improved, and you could now command them to attack air, ground, or be discretionary when telling them to disperse. The system where you were able to select special weapons for each plane from “AC04” saw a come-back in this title as well.

Ace Combat Zero The Belkan War

Release Date: March 23, 2006

Platform: PS2

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New ways of illustrating the story

The story progresses via a documentary that reflects back on the Belkan War. The interviews with important characters that are inserted between missions use live-action [actors].

The “Ace-Style Gauge System” unique to this title

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A game that depicts the actions of a lone mercenary (callsign “Galm 1”) feared as the “Demon Lord of the Round Table.” In order to make the dogfights between the ace pilots more prominent, the “Ace-Style Gauge System” was implemented. The ace-style changes based on the player’s actions during the missions, and changes certain radio lines and which ace squadrons show up. The ace styles are “Knight,” “Soldier,” and “Mercenary,” and is an element that makes subsequent playthroughs fun.

When enemy ace squadrons appear, their name and emblem is displayed in a cutscene, heightening emotions.

A linked element that uses the memory card for the included aircraft!

Like with most of the series games, the flyable aircraft and special weapons were obtained by using credits earned from completing missions. The number of aircraft you can purchase increases as you progress through the game, and fictionals like “AC04”s X-02 and “ACE5”s ADF-01 appear as well. The high-performance fictionals are treated as hidden aircraft, but the game has a delightful feature where if you use a memory card with “AC04” or “ACE5” save data on it, these aircraft show up on the available aircraft list at a much earlier stage.

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Perfect hangar. In the beginning, you can sortie with either the F-5E, J35J, or F-1. By completing more missions, aircraft like the F-15C, A-10A, F-18C become available, and motivates collectionism.

Fly a fictional aircraft in the wide open sky! Aircraft like the X-02 and ADFX-01 are high-performance, but their cost reflects that as well. You cannot buy them immediately, but makes dogfights with enemy aces easier once you acquire them. Surely there were many who gained credits to be able to fly them earlier?

Check! An element to see the enemy aces’ way of life

In the “ACE STYLE” option in the menu screen, you can browse through flight data, ace style, medals, and information about the aces you shot down. In this game where emphasis was placed on battles with enemy aces, their background information was also fully developed. Including the aircraft flown and name used when you shot them down during the mission, the age, sex, nationality, and even a short introduction for each ace is displayed, and there is enjoyment in thinking about the aces’ way of life.

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There are over 150 aces that you can encounter in all of the missions, and is quite the number. There is a hidden drama for each and every one.

Page 42

Ace Combat X Skies of Deception

Release Date: October 26, 2006

Platform: PSP

Among titles released for Japan-only, this was the first title for portable platforms. With Strangereal as its setting, it depicts a war between the Federal Republic of Aurelia and the Democratic Republic of Leasath on the southern Osean continent. This game featured a unique system (explained later) for its story missions, and also placed emphasis on its versus mode that allowed for a maximum of 4 players to face each other simultaneously using the PSP wireless capability.

Check! A work depicting preceding events also appeared

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“ACEXi” that was released in December 2009 was an iPhone/iPod Touch app that depicted events prior to this title. It tells a new story centered on the actions of “Falco Squadron,” one of the more well-known units in the Aurelian Air Force. Using the features of the hardware, a new [control] method where moving the device left/right/up/down would turn and pitch the aircraft was implemented. You could fly your favorite aircraft intuitively.

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The route selection changes the missions

The versus mode using connection capabilities of mobile games is also intense!

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There are missions where you fight against superweapons, a staple of the series. In this game, Leasath’s Super-large Strategic Flying Boat “Gleipnir” makes an appearance.

The player takes part in missions as a leader spearheading the Gryphus Squadron of the Aurelian Air Force (callsign “Gryphus 1”). A “strategic AI system” is incorporated in this game, and mission details, enemy tactics, and endings change depending on the route chosen by the player. Additionally, there are multiple fictional aircraft that appear in the game and add a flair to the story and battles.

Ace Combat X2 Joint Assault

Release Date: August 26, 2010

Platform: PSP

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White-hot aerial battles that take place over real-life cities all over the world

As a follow-up to “ACEX,” it was released on the PSP as another game suited for portable devices. It used the real world as its setting for the first time in the series, and you had the ability to enjoy dogfights over cities all over the world like Tokyo, San Francisco, and London. Additionally, the connection capabilities were utilized even further and an eight person versus mode or 4 person campaign co-op mode was made possible.

Flyable fictional fighters and enemy superweapons appear, and these elements liven up aerial battles.

The protagonist is a fighter pilot of a private military corporation. During a certain joint military exercise, the forces are attacked by an unknown armed group and thrown into war. In addition to fighter jets, this game added reciprocating engine powered propeller aircraft as well as a flyable passenger jet, and surprised fans.

Aircraft with reciprocating engine became flyable

Also distinctive was the unique rendering system that made aircraft look larger than they did in previous titles.

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The cockpits, designed with ergonomics in mind, look incredible even today.

Several new elements that heighten the quality of the story and aerial battles

The story takes place in Strangereal and depicts a conflict later known as the “Emmeria-Estovakia War.” The protagonist is a pilot in the “Garuda Squadron,” callsign Garuda 1. You are able to sortie with wingmen accompanying you, and are able to command them to attack and provide cover. As a new element, you are able to call for support and when the call is made, allied forces in your operation area perform a powerful allied attack and provide support.

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Ace Combat 6 Fires of Liberation

Release Date: November 1, 2007

Platform: XB360

Implementation of the series’ first online battles

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A maximum of 16 players could participate in the online mode by connecting to Xbox LIVE. Along with team battles, battle royale, and siege battles, a 4 player co-op mode was also available. 

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Intense tactics only available in a PvP setting were the appeal of the online modes. Rankings and results were also recorded in ranking mode and was a major reason for the enthusiasm.

This title also incorporated “High-G turns” and “deflection shots.” The former is a rapid turn that sacrifices stability, and the latter is a technique that increases missile homing by predicting the enemy’s movements.

Check! A surprise collaboration with “The Idolmaster?”

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Dance with the idols through the air!

The DLC for this game included items created in collaboration with the popular Bandai Namco property “The Idolmaster.” Large prints of idols on fighter jets had exceptional impact! It was a hot topic among Idolmaster fans as well as “Ita-fighter jets.” Later titles also saw the release of these idol jets.

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The stats of these fighter jets were changed to match the personality of the idols painted on them as well.

Page 44

Ace Combat Assault Horizon

Release Date: October 13, 2011

Platform: PS3, XB360

Another “Ace Combat” that reformed the story and systems

A title exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and the first game for the series on the former. In addition to the exhilaration of aerial battles, you can experience ecstasy from the presentation of various destruction effects such as the aircraft being ripped apart right in front of you and the splattering oil. Like “ACEX2,” the story takes place in the real world and is worthy of special mention. You can also enjoy the thrilling scenarios crafted by American best-selling military author Jim DeFelice.

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The presentation of the destruction of an enemy plane that has been shot down is intense and greatly increases the sense of exhilaration.

The pilot and crew changes in response to the mission

The protagonist of the campaign mode is US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Bishop (callsign Warwolf 1). In missions where he sorties, you fly fighter jets like previous games, but you fly as different pilots as the story progresses. Depending on the mission, you can fly a bomber, attack helicopter, or gunship and even take the controls of a door gunner.

Attack helicopters excel at hovering and focusing fire on a target, and fares well against tanks and infantry. For the gunship, you play as a gunner and annihilate enemies and installations while switching between 3 weapons.

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The online mode where you could play with multiple players was also well fleshed out

The online mode that was popular in “ACE6” was also featured in this game, and was possible to have a maximum of 16 players participate. Including co-op modes, there was capital conquest where you split into two teams and fight, domination where you capture and defend bases, and deathmatch where you fight for kills and points.

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Even in the online modes, you could fly fighters, attackers, bombers, and attack helicopters with differing capabilities. By using each craft’s advantages, you could turn the tide of battle in your favor.

Check! New elements increase the sense of exhilaration!

A new system called “close-range assault” was used in this title. This system had two types of modes, a “Dogfight mode (DFM)” for anti-air and “Air strike mode (ASM)” for anti-ground targets. DFM activates when chasing an enemy aircraft, and allows you to chase them down as long as they remain in firing range. Additionally, enemy planes will sometimes use DFM against you, but counter maneuvers allowed you to turn around the situation. On the other hand, ASM was a mode solely for anti-surface attacks, and by following the path displayed on the screen, it allowed you to mop up entire groups of ground targets in one pass.

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The feeling is of an ace pilot! By mastering close-range assault, enemy aircraft and ground targets become easy to destroy. The over-the-top theatrics also liven up your feelings.

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Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble

Release Date: January 12, 2012

Platform: 3DS

The series’ first and second titles are reborn on the Nintendo 3DS

With the setting of the first two titles as the basis, this game added new characters and episodes and reorganized the events of the 1st and 2nd games. It was the first game in the series released on the 3DS, had pleasant controls that used the touchscreen, and offered intense aerial battles with the 3D stereoscopic view. It also had a “maneuver system” that allowed you to get behind enemies with one action to make it easier to play for newcomers.

Enemy rival squadrons that add flair to the story

The player becomes the legendary pilot in Scarface Squadron and fight against the coup d'etat forces. There are enemy squadrons among the enemy as well, and multicolored rivals appear and challenge you to battle as the story progresses.

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Distinctive rival squadrons like the chivalrous Lancer Squadron or the female-led Cocoon Squadron show up and harass the player.

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As you get near an enemy, the gauge in the bottom right of the screen starts to fill up. If it fills up completely, there’s a chance to activate the maneuver system!

Strengthen your favorite planes through customization

By shooting down certain enemies, “tuning parts” can be obtained. These parts are required items when customizing your plane. There are four types with the engine, wing, armor, and cockpit, and equipping them increases your aircraft’s speed and stamina, among other things. Other than further increasing your aircraft’s advantages, you can modify a plane meant for dogfighting to a ground attacker and supplement shortcomings.

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If you use the same aircraft a lot, different colors and freely customizable liveries become available.

Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble+

Release Date: January 29, 2015

Platform: 3DS

The “Ace Combat” geared for the 3DS gets a new look and powerup!

This game is a new version of the previous “ACE3D” that added various new elements. With the addition of “Nintendo Special Collaboration Aircraft” that used popular Nintendo characters as motifs like Mario and Bowser, it also was made compatible with the additional features of the New Nintendo 3DS. Maneuvers using the C stick and ZR/ZL buttons beame possible and the playability has gone up compared to the previous work.

Check! A dream collaboration with Nintendo!

Many unique collaboration aircraft like the red and blue F-22 <MARIO> and the A-10 <KOOPA> that has Bowser’s face painted on the nose were introduced. The aircraft also had their stats adjusted to reflect the character that they represented, and in the case of the A-10 <KOOPA>, it is more stable and has more powerful attacks than the regular A-10.

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By adopting a free-to-play model, newcomers take to the sky one after another!

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Developed as a PlayStation 3 exclusive, the biggest feature of this game was that it used a free-to-play system for the first time in the series. It started service on May 20, 2014 and remained operational for around 4 years until March 31, 2018. Along with the co-op modes that allowed for a maximum of 8 players, it had an offline campaign mode and you could play either depending on how you felt.

Ace Combat Infinity

Release Date: May 20, 2014

Platform: PS3

A world that combined Strangereal and reality

The world in this game is unique in that it has Earth as the setting but also introduces Strangereal elements like the asteroid Ulysses and the meteorite destruction weapon Stonehenge. It had both real-life and fictional jets that have appeared in previous games up to that point, along with reciprocating engine aircraft, and could be called a festival game that brought in all kinds of elements from the “Ace Combat” series. New systems like aircraft sets that allowed you to sortie efficiently were also added.

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Previous games had you select an aircraft then a special weapon, but this game allowed you to sortie by choosing aircraft sets that you set up previously. This cut down on the time spent before sortieing.

An online mode where you fly around the sky with your companions

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The online co-op mode had a maximum of 8 players that were separated into an allied and rival team of 4 that would fight for the highest score. In addition to the satisfaction of considering tactics in a PvP setting, there were other merits like getting rewards like emblems after completing missions.

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Various emergency missions would pop up during operations as well. High scores were able to be achieved by clearing these missions, and made victory that much closer.

Check! Large changes with frequent updates

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Team Deathmatch is a mode where you split into teams of four and battle for the higher team score by shooting down the enemy team’s fighters one after another. In exchange for points that are awarded by winning, event-limited rewards can also be acquired.

There were multiple version updates during its long operating period, and along with the addition of new missions and aircraft, various events were carried out as well. Later in its operation, team deathmatch events were held, and intense, white-hot dogfights could be enjoyed using different rules than the online co-op battles.

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The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

Release Date: October 16, 2008

Platform: Wii

A unique work that a portion of the PROJECT ACES team went full force on

 

“The Sky Crawlers” is a popular short story series by Hiroshi Mori. In 2008, an anime movie was created with the name “The Sky Crawlers” directed by Mamoru Oshii. This game “Innocent Aces” is a flight shooting title created by PROJECT ACES based on the novels and movie. Throughout the game, you can see the details put in by PROJECT ACES that resembles the “Ace Combat” games.

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By completing many kinds of missions, the story progresses.

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Instead of jets, airplanes with reciprocating engine fly through the sky

A multitude of fighter jets appear in the “Ace Combat” series, but reciprocating engined aircraft that use propellers to generate thrust play the major roles in the war. Unlike fighter jets that carry missiles, reciprocating engined aircraft mainly use machine guns when attacking targets. For that reason, flight controls tailored to these planes and systems that made hitting with guns easier were implemented.

Reciprocating engined aircraft differ in type based on the position and number of propellers. The right has the propeller in the rear and is a pusher-type Sanka Mark 2, and the left is a Seiei which is a two-engined attacker with a propeller on the front and rear.

A revolutionary system that allows anyone to dance magnificently through the air

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Unlike missiles that have tracking capabilities, bullets have to be aimed well in order to hit. In order to solve this problem, the Tactical Maneuver Command (TMC) was added, which allows the player to circle around the enemy with the press of a single button. By using this system, even newcomers to the flight shooting genre could easily enjoy the white-hot aerial battles of reciprocating engine aircraft.

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This game’s control method with the Wii remote and nunchuck is also unique. The nunchuck acts as the control stick and the Wii remote acts as the throttle, so pushing the nunchuck turns the aircraft and tilting the remote back and forth causes the aircraft to accelerate/decelerate. Because of this, you are able to intuitively control the aircraft, and distinguishes itself from the “Ace Combat” series. Additionally, by using a GameCube or classic controller, you can control the plane as you would in the “Ace Combat” series. It is very nice that it allows you to choose the control scheme based on your playstyle.

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Check! Adoption of a unique control method

There are many variations of the TMC as well. There are maneuvers like somersaults that does not consider the position of enemies, so you can enjoy different uses for these maneuvers during dogfights.

The TMC activates with the press of a button. Your plane does acrobatic maneuvers while circling behind the enemy. Afterwards, all you have to do is straighten out your aircraft, line up the target in the center of the crosshairs, and fire.

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Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown

Release Date: January 17, 2019

Platform: PS4, XB1, PC

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The first numbered title in 12 years, a game desired by many pilots

With this newest title, it would be 12 years since the last numbered title. Heralding a theme of “revolution of the sky,” this game uses the latest technologies to realistically present various types and shapes of clouds. Additionally, Director Sunao Katabuchi is once again head of the script. It is also studded with references to past wars and connections to “ACE3,” its content is worthy of being called a compilation of the “Ace Combat” series.

A war surrounding the Space Elevator, depicted from both perspectives

In the campaign mode, a war surrounding the Space Elevator between the Osean Federation and Kingdom of Erusea on the Usean Continent is depicted. The protagonist is a pilot in the Osean Federation (TAC name “Trigger”), but it is not a simple story where there is a clear moral distinction. By depicting the story from both Osean and Erusean perspectives, a deeper human drama can be enjoyed.

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The numerous life-or-death encounters with Mihaly, the ultimate ace that has served on many battlefields for a long time, is another must-see aspect of this game. In a setting where unmanned aircraft are gaining prominence, the intensity of manned aircraft can be felt.

Real-life aircraft become even more realistic

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With the cooperation of the licensers, both the exterior and cockpit details are recreated realistically. Additionally, laser weapons were added, as well as the ability to perform post-stall maneuvers like Kulbits and Cobras.

Beautiful nature bares its fangs against the player

A portion of the missions have clouds that produce ice accumulation, lightning strikes, and turbulence. In these stages, various effects can occur such as the obstruction of your field of view and malfunctions in the control of your aircraft. In this game, several natural phenomena serve as a threat to the player, but it is also possible to use these as allies and fight. By flying into the clouds that lower visibility when being chased by a missile, you can use the reduced effectiveness of the enemy’s radar and decreased missile homing to your advantage.

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A new system was implemented for obtaining new aircraft. By spending mission reward points, new aircraft, custom parts, and special weapons can be acquired.

The series’ first VR mode is added

For the PlayStation 4, the series’ first VR mode was implemented. In this mode, the player challenges themselves to 3 missions made specifically for PS VR, and is able to fly 4 different aircraft by playing through the missions. Missions include a dogfight after launching from an aircraft carrier, a thrilling counterattack after taking off from a bombed airbase, and a dogfight using the height difference of a mountain range. The hangar is also able to be experienced in VR, and you are able to view the aircraft from angles you couldn’t before, by looking at the wing by standing under it, or getting on a ramp and peering into the cockpit.

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Be careful of lightning strikes in missions with bad weather. If lightning strikes your aircraft, malfunctions in the FCS (Fire Control System) and aircraft controls occur and becomes difficult to fight for a short period.

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By completing the 3 missions, you can also enjoy a VR airshow mode. You can appreciate the thrill of watching fighter jets fly in various formations and perform maneuvers.

Check! A world that expands with DLC

The DLC is still available for purchase, with favorable reception. By buying them, you are able to fly powerful fictional jets and can challenge yourself in special missions that have new gameplay mechanics.

DLC #1 “ADF-11F Raven Set”

The large unmanned fighter “ADF-11F Raven” developed by Erusea becomes flyable. It can be equipped with laser weapons, quick maneuvering missiles, and small UAVs, and these special weapons are included in this set.

DLC #2 “ADF-01 FALKEN Set”

The “ADF-01” is a large fighter with the nickname “FALKEN (falcon).” It has high stealth characteristics and can be equipped with a laser weapon and thermobaric bombs. 3 special weapons and the Sol skins for the Su-30M2 are also included.

DLC #3 “ADFX-01 Morgan Set.”

The “ADFX-01 Morgan” was a fictional jet that first appeared in “ACE ZERO.” It is equipped with an excellent electronic warfare system and can be equipped with a high powered laser weapon and multi-purpose burst missiles. Also comes with the Mihaly skin for the Su-30SM.

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DLC #4 “Unexpected Visitor”

DLC 4-6 are presented as special missions that depict a story not told in the main game during a certain time period. In the 4th DLC, “electronic warfare aircraft” show up that improves the lock-on and missile performance of your aircraft.

DLC #5 “Anchorhead Raid”

In the 5th DLC, you take part in an assault on the Erusea’s naval forces. You are able to unilaterally attack targets for a period of time after the start of the mission, and can resupply and change out special weapons by using the return lines.

DLC #6 “Ten Million Relief Plan”

The objective is to find and sink the massive submarine “Alicorn,” which is armed with a 128 caliber, 600mm rail cannon and nuclear rounds. After a large anti-air battle an anti-ship battle with the Alicorn awaits.

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Japanese to English Translation

TaskForce 23

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Skyward Flight Media LLC (2020)