Ace Combat Advance

-Namco (2005)




Good blue jets versus evil red jets.

My Thoughts

Namcoís long lived Air Combat / Ace Combat series has always been the best of the arcadey flight sim games for the PS1 and PS2. Few flight games have come close to equaling the overall excellence of the series. Namco has now brought the series over to the Game Boy Advance, a platform better known and suited for 2-D games and RPGs. So how was Namco supposed to translate the complex world of Ace Combat to the small GBA? By making it into an overhead shooter, of course.

Ace Combat Advance seems to be having an identity crisis when you first start playing. Itís an overhead shooter, but it doesnít have genresí traditional controls. The control scheme it does use is much like the in-the-cockpit views of the usual Combats. It seems like it wouldn't work out to well. The controls do take a bit to get used to, especially if you are already used to playing the other versions and regular overhead shooters. I kept crashing and getting shot down when I started playing. The A and B buttons are used to fire the guns and missiles. The L and R buttons control the Yaw and afterburners. Pressing up on the pad lowers your altitude. The game has some nice scaling effects and lowering altitude is an essential part of successfully completing the missions. Once you do get used to the controls youíll be able to easily destroy anything and everything the red army throws at you. Plus, the controls do lend themselves well to the stages' free-roaming environments.

There are only twelve missions, though. They range from patrols to destroying certain targets to protecting buildings or a transport. One mission has you flying in a captured enemy fighter to spy on an enemy base. There is only one boss in the game which is a stealth fighter on the last stage. All the jets are all based on real but are not actually real ones themselves. I find it a little odd that Namco didnít get real licensed jets in this time when the other Combats prominently feature them.

The oddest and most confusing thing about the game however is the lack of a save system. ACA uses a password system to so you can continue your progress. So now I have to keep a pen and paper handy anytime I play the game. Why in the world do I have to write down a password in this day and age? Especially on a take-it-anywhere GBA game!

The graphics are decent overall, but without the radar you would be easily lost flying over the similar looking terrain. In fact you actually look at the small radar almost more than the actual screen. The radar displays enemies not yet seen on the screen. By the time you reach the targets you only get a couple shots off before you need to re-orientate your plane to the target. What you end up doing is lining up the tiny dots on the radar and opening fire well before you ever see the target yourself. I donít know about everyone else, but when I play a game I like to see what Iím shooting at, not look at miniscule dots on a radar screen for over half the game.

Another thing missing from this mini Combat is a deep and involving story. While the bigger Ace Combats create their own histories, countries, world problems, and wars through an extensive narrative, ACA gets by on the brief introduction in the instruction book and mission descriptions. The twelve missions are over fairly quickly. As with the other games you can go back and complete each mission to obtain that high status "S" ranking. Although, the game is a little on the easy side so it wonít take long or be too tough to pull off.

I can forgive the game's problems a little because it was fun flying around the anywhere I wanted and it does try something different. This is a game I would only recommend to veteran Ace Combat pilots, however. Ace Combat Advance is not a bad game per se; it just isnít being all it can be.      

Score: 6.0 


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