Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (2001) - Hiroyuki Ichiyanagi
What are your feelings on Ace Combat 04?
I'm really proud that we were able to take the outstanding appeal of the Ace Combat series and turn everything up a notch. Taking on the role of director was a really big responsibility. Everything the team created was top-notch and I was under immense pressure to make sure that all of their hard work didn't go to waste.
What aspects of Ace Combat 04 were unique to the series?
We added lengthier missions where players are given a set amount of ammunition and time. They have to figure out how best to use their resources to gain the highest score. This was the first time such a measure of player skill was seen in the series. Also, we tried to tell the story in such a way that the game didn't lay everything out there to bare, but instead allowed the player to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.
Now that it's over, is there anything you think could have been done better?
I think the points awarded for shooting down enemy aircraft were set too low. It's a lot more difficult and takes a lot more time to shoot down an enemy aircraft rather than a ground target. So, I think players should have been rewarded more generously for taking down air targets.
What are some things you tried to do, but didn't quite work out?
At the end of Mission 5: Lifeline, the player's rival is in the game. The Yellow Squadron, appears but the player isn't supposed to be good enough to fight them yet. So, we made the Yellow Squadron so strong that no matter how hard a player tried they could never get a hit...or so we thought. As it turns out there are some players out there who are insanely skilled. I remember being totally amazed after reading on the internet some of them managed to actually connect a hit.
Are there any features you would like to have included, but couldn't because of time constraints?
I would have liked to have included voices for other languages outside of English. After a while you get used to reading the subtitles, but I think that being able to focus on the game and hear the radio commands in your own language gives the player a better chance to really feel like they are an ace pilot. We were able to include both English and Japanese voices in Ace Combat 5, so hopefully someday we'll be able to include voices for other languages in future games.