The logo used from 2004 to present
|Genre(s)||Combat flight simulator|
|Publisher(s)||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|First release||Air Combat|
30 June 1995
|Latest release||Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown|
18 January 2019
Ace Combat[a] is a hybrid arcade-style flight action video game franchise mainly developed by Bandai Namco Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The development team within Bandai Namco responsible for Ace Combat games is referred to as Project Aces. The franchise emphasizes fast-paced action and dramatic plots and has established itself as one of the longest running arcade flight action franchises. As of 2018, the Ace Combat franchise has sold over 14 million copies, making it Bandai Namco's sixth best-selling franchise, behind Tekken, Pac-Man, Gundam, Tales, and Super Robot Wars.
The main series of games takes place in a fictionalized world populated with fictional countries with details loosely based on real-life locations, events, and wars. One of the main selling points of the series is the ability to pilot a range of aircraft that include accurate or slightly modified representations of present-day military aircraft, prototypes that never saw actual battle, and completely fictional boss-type superweapons. There are small hints of the continuity between the games, as some characters and events are referenced from one game to another.
|1997||Ace Combat 2|
|1999||Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere|
|2001||Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies|
|2004||Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War|
|2005||Ace Combat Advance|
|2006||Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War|
|Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception|
|2007||Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation|
|2009||Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion|
|2010||Ace Combat: Joint Assault|
|Ace Combat Assault Horizon: Trigger Finger|
|2011||Ace Combat: Assault Horizon|
|Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy|
|Ace Combat: Northern Wings|
|2014||Ace Combat Infinity|
|2015||Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+|
|2019||Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown|
- Air Combat (1995) is the debut entry of the series, being released as a launch title for the PlayStation in North America and titled Ace Combat in Japan. Air Combat is the successor to a 1993 arcade game of the same title. The game was produced by Kazumi Mizuno and centers around a terrorist organization seizing control of Skully Island. Air Combat introduced the series' arcade-like gameplay, a contrast to most other flight sim games at the time. In 2005, Air Combat was released for Japanese mobile phones under Namco's game subscription service.
- Ace Combat 2 (1997) was released for the PlayStation, and created out of Namco's dissatisfaction with Air Combat from a technical standpoint. Designed by Masanori Kato, Ace Combat 2 follows a squadron of fighters named Scarface, who attempt to liberate the continent of Usea from a group known as the Usean Rebel Forces. The sequel builds upon its predecessor in several ways, adding new mission types, playable fightercraft, and multiple difficulty options. Ace Combat 2 was re-released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 through NamCollection, a Japan-exclusive collection of Namco-developed PlayStation games.
- Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere (1999) was published for the PlayStation, being the last game in the series for the console. While the previous two games carry a modern-day aesthetic, Electrosphere uses a more futuristic, science-fiction motif, such as having one mission take place in outer space and focusing on a war between two megacorporations competing against each other for power. Electrosphere is heavily-reliant on story, with branching stage paths and anime-style video emails with full voice acting. The North American version of the game cuts down much of its story and content to accommodate for financial constraints.
- Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (2001) was the first game in the series to be developed by Project Aces, then-known as "The AC04 Project". It was released for the PlayStation 2 and renamed Ace Combat: Distant Thunder in Europe. 04 returns to the gameplay structure of Air Combat and Ace Combat 2, with fast-paced action and variety in mission objectives. The plot chronicles a pilot named Mobius 1, one of the few of his squadron remaining, through an on-going war between two countries after an asteroid wipes out much of the planet's population.
- Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (2004) was released for the PlayStation 2, renamed Ace Combat: Squadron Leader for Europe. Produced by Kazutoki Kono and Project Aces, The Unsung War is one of the most expansive titles in the series, with over 50 playable aircraft and 32 campaign missions, along with fully-animated cutscenes. In 2018, Bandai Namco Entertainment re-released The Unsung War for the PlayStation 4 as a pre-order bonus for Ace Combat 7, with slight modifications to make it run properly on the console's hardware.
- Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War (2006) was released for the PlayStation 2. It was the last Ace Combat game developed by Namco before their assets were folded into Namco Bandai Games, who published the game outside Japan, just a week after its launch in Japan. The Belkan War serves as a prequel to The Unsung War, combining ideas and mechanics from both it and Shattered Skies. The story, which is told through retrospective narration, revolves around an economic crisis within the country of Belka, leading to a war over Belka's territory and resources.
- Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation (2007) was released for the Xbox 360, marking the series' debut on a Microsoft platform. It is the first Ace Combat title to implement online multiplayer and downloadable content, which have become staple inclusions since. Its story involves a sudden attack on the continent of Anean and the subsequent efforts by Anean's armed forces to retake back their country. Alongside a standalone release, Namco Bandai bundled Fires of Liberation with the Ace Edge, a flight stick designed by Hori specifically for the game, and a custom Xbox 360 console faceplate.
- Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (2019) was published for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC through the Steam distribution platform, being the first mainline installment in ten years. It was created based on the commercial success of Ace Combat Infinity, with its mechanics being borrowed from both it and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Designed by Project Aces and headed by producer Kazutoki Kono, Skies Unknown features multiple additions to the series, such as multiple gamemodes, enhancements to the ship tuning concept from Ace Combat X, and virtual reality support through PlayStation VR.
List of games
- As of 30 January 2008, the worldwide sales distribution was 31.7% in Japan, 43.9% in North America, 23.8% in Europe, and 0.6% in Asia.
- As of July 2018, the franchise boasted a total of 14,000,000 sales.
Ace Combat 2, 3, 04, 5, Advance, Zero, X, 6, Xi, Assault Horizon Legacy, Northern Wings, and 7 all take place on an alternate version of Earth in a reality dubbed "Strangereal", featuring different geography and countries. The planet is located in the same solar system as the real-life Earth but replacing it entirely. This reality was later included within Bandai Namco's United Galaxy Space Force shared universe. In this alternate version of Earth, the planet had been affected by the fragments of a large asteroid impact in 1999, which had devastated cities and left impact craters, creating a 'strangereal' gaming landscape.
Ace Combat: Joint Assault, Assault Horizon, and Infinity take place on the real-life Earth. While Joint Assault and Assault Horizon were more realistic, Infinity utilized many elements from the Strangereal series.
In July 2018, Bandai Namco published a consolidated timeline of the major games that take place in the Strangereal universe, and which in-universe years they occur. Due to the consolidated timeline, it is unknown whether or not the events in Air Combat, Ace Combat 2, and Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception are still canon. The consolidated timeline goes as follows:
- 1995 - Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War
- 1999 - Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroid impact
- 2003~2005 - Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies
- 2010 - Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
- 2015~2016 - Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
- 2019 - Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
- 2040 - Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere
The Japanese Ace Combat was renamed Air Combat in the North American and European releases of the original game. The second game was initially set to be released as Air Combat 2 in the U.S., but by the time of release the game (and series) switched to using Ace Combat internationally.
In NTSC territories, the fourth installment of the series is known as Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, while in PAL territories the game is known as Ace Combat: Distant Thunder. The Spanish version of the game is known as Ace Combat: Trueno de Acero, which can be translated as Ace Combat: Steel Thunder.
The NTSC version of the fifth installment of the game is known as Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, while the PAL release was renamed Ace Combat: Squadron Leader.
In PAL territories, the word "Zero" in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War was removed, making it the first game since the series introduction to not have a significant name change in PAL territories.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy in English-speaking territories was originally titled Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble in Japan.
Although typical aircraft model kits can be customized and detailed according to specific plane designs in each game, the Ace Combat franchise also has its fair share of specially-produced model kits. The earliest-known models were the R-101, R-102, and R-103 Delphinus aircraft from Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, sold as resin kits in the late 1990s at Wonder Festival; Hasegawa produced the R-101 and R-103, and Tokiwa Aircraft Create produced the R-102 in collaboration with Chawanmushi Ceramics School. Tokiwa Aircraft Create and Chawanmushi later produced more resin garage aircraft kits from Ace Combat 3 and other Ace Combat titles until at least 2008.
Hasegawa continued the trend with a 1:72 F-14 Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War limited-edition kit modeled in a cherry blossom paint scheme in April 2011 and a similarly-scaled kit of Assault Horizon's fictional aircraft, the ASF-X Shinden II, in July 2012. The line has since been followed by the F-22 Mobius 1 and Su-37 Yellow 13 from Ace Combat 04, the Grabacr Su-47 and F-14 Razgriz from Ace Combat 5, the Strigon Team Su-33 and F-15E Garuda 1 from Ace Combat 6, and the Ridgebacks ASF-X from Infinity. Various items in the company's line of model aircraft kits are also available in special color schemes depicting characters from The Idolmaster franchise. These schemes were available as downloadable content for Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.
In March 2006, Bandai produced a 1:100 kit of the fictional ADF-01 FALKEN from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. In June 2019, ADF-01 FALKEN Plastic model kit are planned to get a re-release. The pre-order for this re-release version start since 27 March 2019.
With the release of Assault Horizon in 2011, Project Aces created Aces At War: A History, a special artbook detailing the content from Ace Combat 04, 5, and Zero from an in-universe perspective, as well as production commentary. This was packaged with the special editions of Assault Horizon released in Japan. Aces At War: A History would later be updated and rereleased as part of a special edition of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.
In March 2012, ASCII Media Works released Ace Combat: Ikaros in the Sky. A tie-in novel for Assault Horizon, Ikaros tells a story of series character Kei Nagase as she participates in the JASDF's ASF-X Shinden II fighter program.
- Nelva, Giuseppe (18 July 2018). "Ace Combat 7 Gets New Official Website Ahead of Upcoming Reveal". DualShockers. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Buchanan, Levi. "Ace Combat Soaring to iPhone". IGN. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2009.
- Roper, Chris (11 January 2010). "Ace Combat: Joint Assault Announced". IGN. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "NAMCO Bandai Games | Ace Combat®: Northern Wings". Namco.com. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012.
- Ichinoya, Hiroyuki (30 January 2008). "『エースコンバット』シリーズ全世界累計1,000万本突破！" [The cumulative worldwide sales total of the "Ace Combat" series exceeds 10,000,000 units!] (in Japanese). Bandai Namco Games. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Sinclair, Brendan (8 May 2012). "Dark Souls sells 1.19 million". GameSpot. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- @PROJECT_ACES (30 June 2020). "【 #ACECOMBAT シリーズ 25周年記念④】" (Tweet). Retrieved 30 June 2020 – via Twitter.
- BANDAI NAMCO Games Inc. "UGSFシリーズ 公式サイト". Archived from the original on 9 April 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- "Oops". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 98. Ziff Davis. September 1997. p. 132.
- "幻想連邦機構 国立博物館 ガレージキット館・非キャラものコーナー". Usi.kir.jp. Archived from the original on 22 June 2013.
- "幻想連邦機構 内閣府 執政官の日記帳". Usi.kir.jp. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018.
- "1/72 Ace Combat ASF-X Shinden II by Hasegawa | HobbyLink Japan". Hlj.com. 2 January 2012. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012., either as a regular JASDF unit or as Kei Nagase's personal plane.
- "The Idolmaster | HobbyLink Japan". Hlj.com. 2 January 2012. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014.
- "1/100 ADF-01F: Falken (From Ace Combat) by Bandai | HobbyLink Japan". Hlj.com. 2 January 2012. Archived from the original on 29 May 2012.
- "ADF-01F Falken (Plastic model) | Hobby Search 1999". 1999.co.jp. 25 May 2019. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019.
- "エースコンバット アサルト・ホライゾンの国内限定版！？" [A domestic limited edition of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon?!] (in Japanese). Bandai Namco Games. 3 August 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- "ララビットマーケットACAH限定版の最新情報を入手！" [Get the latest information on the Lalabit Market limited edition of ACAH!] (in Japanese). Bandai Namco Games. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Robert Workman (8 November 2018). "'Ace Combat 7' Gets Special 'Aces At War' Bundle". ComicBook.com.
- "エースコンバット イカロス・イン・ザ・スカイ｜エースコンバット アサルト・ホライゾン". ah.acecombat.jp. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
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