Ace Combat

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This article is about the video game series. For the first game in the series, see Air Combat.
Ace Combat
Ace Combat Logo.png
The logo used from 2004 to present
Genres Combat flight simulator
Developers Namco, Access Games, Project Aces
Publishers Bandai Namco Games
Platforms Arcade, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, Xbox 360, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Microsoft Windows
Platform of origin Arcade
First release Air Combat
Latest release Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus
January, 2015
Official website

Ace Combat (AC; エースコンバット; Ēsu Konbatto) is a hybrid flight simulation action video game series featuring 18 games published by the Japanese company Namco Bandai Games and produced by Project Aces, an internal development team. The series emphasizes fast-paced action and dramatic plots, and has established itself as one of the most successful arcade flight action franchises.

Most games of the series take place in the same fictionalized world populated with fictional countries with details loosely based on real-life location, 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. Longtime fans of the series are rewarded with small hints of the continuity between the games, as some characters and events are referenced from one game to another.

The first three titles in the series were released on the Sony PlayStation system (Air Combat also known as Ace Combat in Japan, Ace Combat 2 and Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere). Three subsequent titles were released on the PlayStation 2, (Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War and Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War). Two titles were released on the PlayStation Portable system (Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception and Ace Combat: Joint Assault). One title was released on the Xbox 360, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion was released on the Apple iOS in 2009. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was later released on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems. Namco Bandai later revealed working on a new Ace Combat title for the Nintendo 3DS, which revealed to be Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy. In 2013, they revealed Ace Combat Infinity, the first free-to-play title in the series, which was released in 2014 exclusive to the PlayStation 3.

In 2011, Namco retconned the Ace Combat series as the opening act of the United Galaxy Space Force series, an effort to combine all of the company's sci-fi game franchises into one long continuity. The other franchises include Galaxian, Ridge Racer, Star Luster, StarBlade, Bounty Hounds, and New Space Order.


With the exception of Ace Combat: Joint Assault, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, and Ace Combat Infinity (all set in the real world), the franchise takes place in an Earth-like world dubbed Strangereal, with different geography and countries. The planet is also located in the same solar system as the real-life Earth, with the same Sun, Moon, and apparently constellations; one particular constellation, Crux, plays a major role in the plot of Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. The only geographical similarities between Strangereal and the real-life Earth is that Antarctica covers the planet's South Pole, an archipelago shaped like New Zealand is near it, and there exists a Greenland-shaped country in the north aside which appears to be a part of Northern Canada. Strangereal also contains scattered and/or distorted Earth landmasses, such as a distorted Mediterranean near the equator, and Svalbard and Britain-like islands in the north. The longitude reading for the planet is based on a 360-degree system which is oriented west.

There are four major landmasses in Strangereal where most Ace Combat games are set and are separated by several major oceans and large seas, called Osea, Anea, Verusea, and Usea. Air Combat (after retconning), Ace Combat 2, Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, and Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies are all set in Usea. Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation takes place in Anea, just north of Verusea. Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War reveals the entire Strangereal world map for the first time, with its major combatants, the Osean Federation and the Union of Yuktobanian Republics, facing each other across the Ceres Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean, touching Osea, Usea, and Verusa. The Cascade Ocean is the second largest ocean, touching Osea, Anea, and Verusa. The Arctic Ocean covers the North Pole, and the Pacific Ocean lies below the Ceres Ocean.

A main historic event that takes place in Strangereal is the fall of the large "Ulysses 1994XF04" asteroid. Its discovery in 1994 led to the creation of various superweapons to remove the threat of mass extinction of humans. Only one weapon, "Stonehenge", was completed and operational in time to destroy the asteroid by its arrival in 1999, but the asteroid's fragments spread out across the planet for sheer damage and loss of life. The asteroid is a main catalyst for the events of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.


Title Details

Original release date(s):
NA 1995062929 June 1995
JP 1995063030 June 1995
EU 199510October 1995
Release years by system:
  • A cockpit arcade game that simulates an F-16 aircraft.
  • The first console installment in the series, it was released as Air Combat in the North American and European markets, but the original Japanese title of Ace Combat was used for all sequels.

Original release date(s):
Release years by system:

A sequel to the 1992 arcade game. Simulates any of three playable aircraft.

Original release date(s):
  • JP 30 May 1997
  • NA 31 July 1997
  • EU October 1997
Release years by system:

Introduced the fictional continent of Usea that would feature in most sequels.

Original release date(s):
JP 1999052727 May 1999
EU 200001January 2000
NA 200003022 March 2000
Release years by system:

The only science fiction-themed Ace Combat game. The Japanese version of the game is very story-driven, featuring 52 missions, multiple endings, and anime-style characters. The North American and European versions feature fewer stages and a more linear storyline.

Original release date(s):
  • JP 13 September 2001
  • NA 1 November 2001
  • EU 8 February 2002
Release years by system:
2001—PlayStation 2

Also known as Ace Combat: Distant Thunder in Europe or abbreviated as AC04.

Original release date(s):
  • JP 21 October 2004
  • NA 25 October 2004
  • EU 18 February 2005
Release years by system:
2004—PlayStation 2

Also known as Ace Combat: Squadron Leader in Europe or abbreviated as AC5. The game features improved graphics and a new wingman command system.

Original release date(s):
22 February 2005
Release years by system:
2005—Game Boy Advance

The first Ace Combat game developed for portable systems. It is set a few years before the events of Electrosphere.

Original release date(s):
  • JP 23 March 2006
  • NA 25 April 2006
  • EU 15 September 2006
  • AUS 21 September 2006
Release years by system:
2006—PlayStation 2

Also known as Ace Combat: The Belkan War in Europe serves as the prequel to Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War as well as all the other games according to the timeline and explains in further detail the fictional Belkan War that preceded the events of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War by 15 years. This is also the first game that feature rival aces as an integral part of the story line, which can determine the player's path through the game.

Original release date(s):
  • JP 2006-10-26
  • NA 2006-10-24
  • EU 8 November 2006
  • AUS 2006-11-16
Release years by system:
2006—PlayStation Portable

Set in 2020, the player is a pilot in the Gryphus Squadron of the Federal Republic of Aurelia, who almost single-handedly defends the country from the invading forces of Leasath. The game offers 31 missions (including alternate missions and the special mission) and wireless ad-hoc play for up to 4 players.

Original release date(s):
NA 2007102323 October 2007
JP 200711011 November 2007
EU 2007112323 November 2007
AUS 2007121313 December 2007
Release years by system:
2007—Xbox 360

The player is able to assist multiple independent land, sea, and air battles using the "Dynamic Operation System". The first in the Ace Combat series to include options for online play, which is available through Xbox Live. Players can choose from a variety of game modes, including classic deathmatch, team-deathmatch, and co-op mode.[1][2]

Original release date(s):
3 December 2009
Release years by system:

Set during the events of Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, the player is a pilot of the Falco Squadron of the Federal Republic of Aurelia, the story will take place in his point of view. It is the first Ace Combat game made for cellphones and will use both touch and tilt controls.[3]

Original release date(s):
  • JP 2010-08-26
  • NA 2010-08-31
  • EU 2010-09-24
Release years by system:
2010–PlayStation Portable

This is the first game in the series to be set in the real world, featuring locations such as London and San Francisco, and not on the fictional planet of Ace Combat. It also features a new battle system known as the Joint Assault Mission System. Also included "boss" aircraft Spiridus similar to the large aircraft Gleipnir from "Ace Combat: Skies of Deception".[4]

Original release date(s):
17 December 2010
Release years by system:

Based on Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, the app allows players to engage each other in realistic air combat with their cellphones. The game comes with early trailers of Assault Horizon.

Original release date(s):
PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
NA 11 October 2011[5]
JP 2011101313 October 2011
AUS 2011101313 October 2011
EU 2011101414 October 2011
Microsoft Windows
  • NA 24 January 2013 (Steam)
  • EU 25 January 2013[6]
  • AUS 31 January 2013
Release years by system:
2011—PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
2013—Microsoft Windows

This is the first multi-platform game in the series, and the first home console game featuring combat with other aircraft besides airplanes. Just like "Joint Assault", it is also set in the real world.

Original release date(s):
  • JP 2012-01-12
  • NA 2011-11-15
  • EU 2011-12-02
Release years by system:
2011—Nintendo 3DS

First game of the series featuring stereoscopic 3D graphics. It revisits the country of Usea, and brings back the boss from the final mission of AC2 with a new name.

Original release date(s):
  • JP 2011–12
  • NA 2011–12
  • EU 2011–12
Release years by system:
2011—Mobile phones

Second game in the franchise for mobile phones. A vertical shooter, the game is set in the Nordennavic Kingdom, a country in the Anean continent, five years before the events of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and the end of Ace Combat 6.[7]

Original release date(s):
  • JP 2014-05-20
  • NA 2014-05-27
  • EU 2014-05-28
Release years by system:
2014—PlayStation 3

Like Assault Horizon before it, this game is set in the real world. However, it is the first game to mix elements from past Ace Combat games (such as historial events, superweapons, and aircraft) into the real world. It is also the first free-to-play game in the series.

Title differences[edit]

The Japanese Ace Combat was renamed Air Combat in the North American and European releases.

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. Another change was done in the Spanish version of the game, being renamed Ace Combat: Trueno de Acero, that can be translated as Ace Combat: Steel Thunder. 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, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War had a slight rename to Ace Combat: The Belkan War making it the first game since the series introduction to not have a significant name change in PAL territories.

The most recent title change was for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, which was originally titled Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble in Japan.


The Ace Combat series is known for its dramatic soundtrack, particularly in later installments of the game where full orchestras, such as the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, are used. Each installment of the series usually uses one style of music as the basis of its soundtrack:

The main composers for the game series soundtrack are Keiki Kobayashi, Tetsukazu Nakanishi, Ryuichi Takada, Junichi Nakatsuru, and Hiroshi Okubo.

  • In Air Combat and Ace Combat 2, the music is heavily influenced by rock and gained popularity with fans of the genre.
  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War uses similar techniques to Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War but incorporates a Spanish flair through the use of classical, electric, and even acoustic guitars.
  • Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception uses electronic music similar to Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, although it maintains the more cinematic synths from the PlayStation 2 games as well. Music was composed by Akira Yamasaki, Hitoshi Akiyama, Seiji Koike, and Maiko luchi.
  • Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is the most orchestral soundtrack to date, and is similar in style to Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War and Zero. There are significantly fewer electronic elements throughout the score, although they have not been removed entirely – remaining for several key tracks, including one of the game's two overtures, "Fires of Liberation" (The second theme, "Liberation of Gracemeria", does away with the core electronic elements almost entirely, marking only the second time this has been done in the series, the first being "The Unsung War" – the title overture of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War). Several soundtracks were done by Trinity Boys Choir and Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra.
  • Ace Combat: Joint Assault uses songs from previous installments (All three first PlayStation 1 titles) with new music composed by Inon Zur, Go Shiina, and Kanako Kakino. This is also the first time some Oriental & Persian music is thrown into the mix.
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon brings back the rock style music like in the PlayStation 1 titles and mixes it with music similar to Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War and Zero.
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy uses a few songs from previous installments (2, 3, 4, Zero, and 6), but also includes over thirty original songs composed for the game. The overall style is split between orchestra, electronic music, and hard rock.


Although typical aircraft model kits can be customized and detailed after specific planes in each game, the Ace Combat series also has its fair share of specially produced model kits, with a number of them sold as resin garage kits. In the late 1990s, the garage kit firm Reebhu Club joined forces with Tokiwa Aircraft Create to produce a 1/144 kit of the XFA-27 Phoenix from Ace Combat 2, following up with the R-101 Delphinus 2 in 1999, and then the ADFX-01/2 Morgan from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War in 2007. These kits were sold at Japan's Wonder Festival model kit convention.[8]

Hasegawa sold 1/144 resin kits of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere's Delphinus 1 and 3 in December 2000. It 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 main superfighter, the ASF-X Shinden II, in July 2012.[9] Various items in the company's line of model aircraft kits are also available in special color schemes depicting characters from The Idolmaster animated series. These schemes are available as downloadable content for Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.[10]

In March 2006, Bandai produced a 1:100 kit of the ADF-01 Falken superfighter from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.[11]


  1. ^ Klepek, Patrick. "Double Whammy: Ace Combat 6 Confirmed for 360". IGN. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  2. ^ "Ace Combat Set for 360". IGN. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  3. ^ Buchanan, Levi. "Ace Combat Soaring to iPhone". IGN. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  4. ^ Chris Roper (11 January 2010). "Ace Combat: Joint Assault Announced". IGN. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Namco Bandai dates Ace Combat Assault Horizon in US and Europe". Strategy Informer. 11 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Ace Combat Assault Horizon: Enhanced Edition flying to PCs in ‘winter 2013′ at 60fps with better graphics". BeefJack. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "NAMCO Bandai Games | Ace Combat®: Northern Wings". 
  8. ^ "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". 
  9. ^ "1/72 Ace Combat ASF-X Shinden II by Hasegawa | HobbyLink Japan". 2 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Idolmaster | HobbyLink Japan". 2 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "1/100 ADF-01F: Falken (From Ace Combat) by Bandai | HobbyLink Japan". 2 January 2012. 

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