Ace Combat

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Ace Combat
Ace Combat logo.svg
The logo used from 2004 to present
Genres Combat flight simulator
Publishers Bandai Namco Games
Platform of origin Arcade
Year of inception 1992
First release Air Combat
December 1992
Latest release Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus
29 January 2015

Ace Combat (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 Bandai Namco 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 longest running 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 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. 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: 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 released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows, making it the only multiplatform title in the series. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy was released for the Nintendo 3DS. 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. On 5 December 2015, the next main installment in the series, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, was announced, and is set to be released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam.[1]


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, the Great Lakes, 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):
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 except for Air Combat 22.

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: 27 May 1999
  • EU: January 2000
  • NA: 2 March 2000
Release years by system:

The only science fiction-themed Ace Combat game, and the only one set within Namco's United Galaxy Space Force science fiction universe.[3] 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

Abbreviated AC04; also known as Ace Combat: Distant Thunder in Europe.

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

Abbreviated AC5; also known as Ace Combat: Squadron Leader in Europe. 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
  • AU: 21 September 2006
Release years by system:
2006—PlayStation 2

Also known as Ace Combat: The Belkan War in Europe. The game serves as the prequel to the Ace Combat series, focusing on the titular Belkan War that precedes the events of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War by 15 years. This is also the first game that features 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: 26 October 2006
  • NA: 24 October 2006
  • EU: 8 November 2006
  • AU: 16 November 2006
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: 23 October 2007
  • JP: 1 November 2007
  • EU: 23 November 2007
  • AU: 13 December 2007
Release years by system:
2007—Xbox 360

The player is able to assist in multiple independent land, sea, and air battles using the "Dynamic Operation System". The game is 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.[4][5]

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. It is the first Ace Combat game made for cellphones and uses both touch and tilt controls.[6]

Original release date(s):
  • JP: 26 August 2010
  • NA: 31 August 2010
  • EU: 24 September 2010
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 seen in previous Ace Combat games. It also features a new battle system known as the Joint Assault Mission System. It also includes "boss" aircraft Spiridus similar to the large aircraft Gleipnir from Ace Combat: Skies of Deception.[7]

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

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

Original release date(s):
  • NA: 11 October 2011[8]
  • JP: 13 October 2011
  • AU: 13 October 2011
  • EU: 14 October 2011
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. Like Joint Assault, it is also set in the real world.

Original release date(s):
  • NA: 15 November 2011
  • EU: 2 December 2011
  • JP: 12 January 2012
Release years by system:
2011—Nintendo 3DS

This is the first game of the series to feature stereoscopic 3D graphics. It revisits the country of Usea, and brings back the boss from the final mission of Ace Combat 2 with a new name.

Ace Combat: Northern Wings

Original release date(s):
December 2011
Release years by system:
2011—Mobile phones

This is the second game in the franchise for mobile phones. A vertical shooter, the game is set in the Nordennavic Kingdom, a country in the fictional Anean continent. Its timeline spans from five years before the events of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies to around the end of Ace Combat 6.[9]

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

The third game (after Assault Horizon and Joint Assault) to be set in the real world, Infinity is the franchise's first free-to-play game. Like Joint Assault, it also includes advanced aircraft from past Ace Combat games, as well as general story references and other content.

Original release date(s):
Release years by system:
2018—PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam

The next installment in the main series. It will feature support for PlayStation VR.

Title differences[edit]

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

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.


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 3: Electrosphere uses an electronic soundtrack similar to that of Namco's Ridge Racer series, but with more focus on atmosphere and dissonant synth instruments than electronic beats.
  • Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies mixed orchestra, guitar, and synth tracks.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War also uses mixed orchestra, guitar, and synth tracks composed by NAMCO's in-house sound team, and features the song "Blurry" by Puddle of Mudd, as well as several orchestral performances by Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • 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 feature music tracks from previous installments (particularly from the first three games on the original PlayStation) along 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 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.
  • Ace Combat Infinity brings back a large majority of the songs from the previous installments including remixes of some like Comona, Stonehenge, Invincible Fleet, and Blue Skies from Ace Combat 4.


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.[10]

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,[11] 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-15 Garuda 1 from AC6, 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 are available as downloadable content for Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.[12]

In March 2006, Bandai produced a 1:100 kit of the ADF-01 Falken superfighter from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.[13]

Printed media[edit]

The first serious attempt to detail part of the Ace Combat universe's history came with a detailed photo booklet included with the Japanese release of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere in 1999.[citation needed] 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 Zero, 4, and 5 from an in-universe perspective, as well as production commentary. This was packaged with the special editions of Assault Horizon released in Japan.[citation needed] In March 2012, ASCII Media Works released Ace Combat: Ikaros in the Sky. A tie-in novel for Assault Horizon, Ikaros is the story of series character Kei Nagase as she participates in the JASDF's ASF-X Shinden II fighter program.[14]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "Hot at the Arcade: Air Combat 22". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (72): 74. July 1995. 
  3. ^ BANDAI NAMCO Games Inc. "UGSFシリーズ 公式サイト". Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Klepek, Patrick. "Double Whammy: Ace Combat 6 Confirmed for 360". IGN. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  5. ^ "Ace Combat Set for 360". IGN. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  6. ^ Buchanan, Levi. "Ace Combat Soaring to iPhone". IGN. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 
  7. ^ Roper, Chris (11 January 2010). "Ace Combat: Joint Assault Announced". IGN. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "Namco Bandai dates Ace Combat Assault Horizon in US and Europe". Strategy Informer. 11 May 2011. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "NAMCO Bandai Games | Ace Combat®: Northern Wings". Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "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". 
  11. ^ "1/72 Ace Combat ASF-X Shinden II by Hasegawa | HobbyLink Japan". 2 January 2012. , either as a regular JASDF unit or as Kei Nagase's personal plane.
  12. ^ "The Idolmaster | HobbyLink Japan". 2 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "1/100 ADF-01F: Falken (From Ace Combat) by Bandai | HobbyLink Japan". 2 January 2012. 
  14. ^

External links[edit]