You may have noticed that day four of our Ace Combat 6 coverage is a retrospective on the whole series. Seems like the right thing to do, see where the franchise has been, where it's going and what it's brought to the gaming masses over the years, But what do the actual developers think about the series? It's obvious they have a love for jets, missiles and fan service, but are there any ambitions left unfulfilled or projects that didn't quite pan out as planned? To get this point of view, we quizzed the directors of each Ace Combat game that's ever appeared on a console. Now you get to hear what they think.
Air Combat (1995) - Masanori Kato
What are your feelings on the first game in the series?
In the beginning, we were told by the company to create a port of the arcade version of Ace Combat. However, even though the original PlayStation console was the culmination of the best technology available at the time, it still wasn’t powerful enough to match the performance of arcade machines. Not to mention, the team members consisted of 1 naval ship fanatic and 3 others who had no knowledge of airplanes. In the end, we just decided to forget about creating a port and instead made a game from scratch. Now that I look back on the project, it allowed us to return to the basics of being professional creators; making games that are fun from the point of view of the user. It was a project that stimulated me in a very positive way.
What aspects of the game were unique to the series at the time?
I believe the unique aspect of this game is a one-of-a-kind action shooter where anyone can get behind the seat of a jet and experience the cool excitement of an aerial dogfight. Also, the dramatic storyline and the fact that it allows the player to assume the role of the hero are what set it aside from other flight simulations.
Looking back, is there anything you think that could have been done better?
I don’t really consider this a failure, but I think we might have overdone it with the flashy colors. One of the reasons we went overboard with the use of colors was the fact that we didn’t want players to feel this was a game only for hardcore aircraft fanatics when they catch a glimpse of the package or the screenshots. But looking back, we could have taken a different approach and maybe gone with another design direction.
What are some things you tried to do, but didn't quite work out?
One feature, where the player’s actions and battle tactics will directly affect the outcome of each mission, was something we wanted to include since the beginning. Unfortunately, the data arrangement and framework of the scenario was too difficult for us to make this a reality at the time.
Are there any features you would like to have included, but couldn't because of time constraints?
We would have loved to include the replay and landing/take-off features. Actually, we finally got the replay feature working the week after we submitted the game for approval. The landing and take-off feature was up and running just three weeks after. (Even though, we got these features to work, we still needed time to perfect them.) We actually tried to implement both of these features in the game afterwards, but we didn’t make it before the launch. In the end, a copy of Air Combat with the replay and landing/take-off features was something only the development team had.