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Ace Combat 2 & Assault Horizon Legacy

by nine-gear crow, Trizophenie

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Original Thread: The Retcon-tinental War - Let's Play Ace Combat 2 & Assault Horizon Legacy



Welcome back everyone to Let’s Play Ace Combat 2 / Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy (thanks to Trizophenie!). This is the second entry in what will be a larger look at the Ace Combat series’ Strangereal-based games. Much like the previous LPs I helped create with my partner in LP Crime Blind Sally, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and Killzone/Killzone: Liberation/Killzone 2/Killzone 3, this LP will also be an in-depth look at the fictional history, politics, setting, and characters of Ace Combat’s Strangereal shared universe as told over the course of multiple games and done in in-universe chronological order.

Games covered thus far:

With Zero done and out the way, we now move on to our first numbered Ace Combat, Ace Combat 2. “What happened to Ace Combat 1?” you say. Well, first off there is no Ace Combat 1, it’s called Air Combat, secondly it’s a terrible garbage arcade game that’s not really fun to play or LP, and lastly it was just kind of shrugged into the Strangereal canon by Namco so I’m within my rights to ignore it.

Anyway. Ace Combat 2 is actually the third entry into the Ace Combat franchise. The actual second game is Air Combat 22, the literal arcade port of Air Combat. Released in 1997, and set in the year 1998, the game introduces us to the Usean continent which would be the setting of the next two Ace Combat games, Electrosphere and Shattered Skies, as well as Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. The game functions as a loose sequel to Air Combat and follows the player character from that game, Phoenix, and his Scarface mercenary squadron as they fight to retake Usea from a massive armed rebellion that threatens to overthrow the continent following a botched peace conference with a faraway nation (later retconned to be Osea).

Now, the big question: What is Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy? And why will you not shut up about it?

Assault Horizon Legacy, or AHL for short is the Nintendo 3DS remake of Ace Combat 2 made with the intent of making the game “Strangereal Lore-Friendly”. It features added world building details that connect it to other games in the franchise, fleshes out the cast a little more, and adds additional player controlled planes, special weapons, and boss enemy squadron fights similar to Zero’s not present in the original game.

It also plays a hell of a lot better than Ace Combat 2 does on a mechanical level.

A further updated version called Assault Horizon Legacy+ (the version I own) also features updates tailored to the New 3DS control system and Amiibo support (I don’t own any Amiibos, nor do I give a shit about Amiibos because I’m not a goddamn seven-year old).

Originally released in Japan as Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble, it was repackaged for its North American Release as a not-at-all-related-in-any-actual-way tie-in with the last big console Ace Combat release, the near-universally reviled Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. So please don’t go making the mistake in assuming it has anything to do with AH itself beyond sharing a name.

Functionally speaking, I’m actually going to be LPing Assault Horizon Lecacy in tandem with Ace Combat 2, treating both games as a single entity. Actual gameplay footage of Legacy has been graciously provided by the incredible Trizophenie. The Assault Horizon Legacy versions of each mission will be listed in each applicable update under "Legacy Version".

Project Aces' Ace Combat franchise is a sprawling mass of games spread out over many different consoles and handheld platforms with several wholly unrelated continuities depending on which sub-set of games you want to look at. The games most people are familiar with and have played, however, are the ones we will be covering over the course of this Mega LP: the ones set in Strangereal.

These of course are Air Combat, Ace Combat 2/Assault Horizon Legacy, Ace Combat 3, Ace Combat 04, Ace Combat 5, Ace Combat Zero, Ace Combat 6, Ace Combat X, Ace Combat Xi, and the recently announced Ace Combat 7.

That said, I will not be covering the following games:

Now, the uninitiated among you might be asking yourself “What the fuck is a Shakespeare Strangereal?” And to that I say “welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Ace Combat!”

The majority of the Ace Combat games are set in a shared universe setting that has been dubbed by fans as the “Strangereal” world. The name originated from a trailer for Ace Combat 04 which contained the phrase “A strange, real world.” Fans compacted the phrase into the portmanteau of “Strangereal” to describe the setting of the game. As you can see by the two world maps (the left one is “canon”, the right one is fan-interpolated conjecture), the world of the Ace Combat series shares a number of similarities to our own while also being radically different. Namco itself would come to adopt the term Strangereal to describe the setting in more recent Ace Combat games such as Ace Combat: Infinity. It has also been implied that the Ridge Racer series also takes place in Strangereal, as background worldbuilding elements and settings from the Ace Combat games appear various Ridge Racer games, particularly the character of Reiko Nagase, who is implied to be a relative of several other Nagases who appear throughout the Ace Combat franchise.

Project Aces also previewed a trio of concept games at the dawn of the PlayStation3-era that used the Strangereal setting as well. They were, in no particular order, Brave Arms, a Metal Gear Solid 4/Bionic Commando third-person action/espionage game set in the Kingdom of Sapin; Second Season 01, a first-person cop drama game which appeared to be set in Oured, Osea; and Chain Lim!t, an Alpha Protocol-style action spy game with multiple user-determined solutions to action problems. All three games were either cancelled shortly after their announcement or were just internal proof-of-concepts that somehow were teased to the public as actual games before being pulled. Either way, they remain just another aspect of the enduring enigma that is Strangereal.

The Strangereal world is a massive, intriguing, and reactive place that gets developed a little more with each Ace Combat game set in it and elements of this setting speak to each other across multiple games. We’re going to be looking at this setting from a near-pedantically scholarly viewpoint, so I hope you all have your over-analysis caps on like I do!

Because this is a thinking man’s LP, not one of those “Shoot Visari in the face—RICO NO!!!” LPs. (Actually it is one of those LPs, don’t tell anyone though!)

For the purpose of this LP series, we will be following the games in in-universe chronological order from 1995 to 2020. The order we will be going in will be Zero > 2/AHL > 04 > 5 > 6 > X > 7 (depending on where it falls in the timeline when it eventually comes out). We even might do Air Combat and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon in some capacity for shits and giggles at the end as a bonus depending on how burnt out I am of Ace Combat in general and how good you’ve all been.

For more information about the Ace Combat franchise, please consult Acepedia, the Ace Combat Wiki. (Note: there’s a lot of bullshit conjecture stuff on the AC Wiki, so read at your own risk. Also, lots of unmarked spoilers for the whole franchise.)

I’d prefer you didn’t post spoilers, if you are one of those people who do know what happens in this and subsequent games. So try to avoid letting huge things that could ruin the game for people who are experiencing it fresh slip out like how Phoenix is the same character from Air Combat or how Keynote is voiced by Richard Epcar.

Because that shit just sucks.

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