Revitalizing a Classic: Playing Ace Combat Zero on the Steam Deck
When I was much younger in the mid 2000s, I used to spend countless hours in front of my CRT playing with my PS2. It was a simpler and much easier time, as it was for many during our childhoods. I look back at those moments with fondness and I cherish those memories dearly.
Adult life is one that does not let you just spend time like that, but I have found something that does allow me to maximize my game time and to be able to explore old classics in a completely different way: The Steam Deck. This small console-like PC by Valve has drastically changed the way that I look at games, but lately I have been using it to go back and replay Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War (ACZ).
This, to me, has been a mind-blowing experience to be able to play what is essentially a portable PC with PS4-ish capabilities that is able to emulate everything from the NES all the way to the Nintendo Switch, with everything in between. I used EmuDeck to install all the emulators and, after setting them up, I immediately booted PCSX2 to check out how well it ran ACZ, and I was amazed by the results.
The game ran at a solid 60 frames per second at three times the native resolution, regardless of how crowded the situation was in-game. Running it a 3X resolution will give you the best image quality, but you will take a hit on battery life; which is the reason why I ran it at 2X resolution for most of my playthrough. The game still looks much better than if it were to have no upscaling at all, which would leave it to run at a very small resolution of 480p!
That being said, I wanted to talk more about how much my experience changed thanks to being able to run it on the go. To me, this was basically a childhood dream: to be able to take my home console with me to play wherever and whenever I wanted. I can only imagine what 7-year-old me would think if I told him that in his mid 20s, he would be able to get that exact console he always wanted, specially one that would let him play with his new PS2 anywhere he wanted, including his favorite game.
Seeing Galm's intro flash in front of me, late at night after a long day of working on projects, studying for university and doing some freelance work, was an experience that brought me back a decade and a half. I felt like a kid again while playing through Glacial Skies, with my Draken and Pixy on my left wing. It put a dumb smile on my face.
Over the next few days, I kept playing ACZ and managed to finish the entire game with no problem, all with an average of 6:30 to 7 hours per battery charge, which meant that the Steam Deck not only was able to run it smoothly, but efficiently to boot! I found next to zero problems during my run, with the only noticeable graphical glitch being the MPBM explosions during the last mission, which didn't affect my experience at all.
If you own a Steam Deck, or any other hand-held PC like the ASUS' ROG Ally, then I would highly recommend giving ACZ a try. It is one of the best arcade flight games ever made and one that left a mark on me and many others. Now, you will be able to take that experience on the go without breaking the bank, all thanks to the PC handheld revolution and the excellent team at PCSX2 that maintain and develop this wonderful emulator for us to use!
About the writer: Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000s, leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities, but only started being active around the mid 2010s. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as the co-founder and writer ever since. Twitter | Discord : Cubeboy