Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (2004) - Kazutoki Kono
What are your feelings on Ace Combat 5?
Ace Combat 5 was the first time I served as director. During Ace 4 I was responsible for the visuals, story and presentation. But as the director of 5, I had to make the final decision on everything, and carry the vision for the entire project. Ace 5 literally broadened my perception of the creative process by leaps and bounds. I approached the project as if it were the last one I would ever do, so I took every idea in my head and tried everything to make them a reality.
What aspects of Ace Combat 5 were unique to the series?
Ace 5 combined the concept of war movies with a grand sense of scale, emotion, drama, the bonds between war comrades and took them all head-on. If Ace 4 was a curveball, Ace 5 was a fastball aimed straight over the plate. I remember telling the staff, "A chance to make a game like this only comes along once or twice in your career," and I truly believe we created a high benchmark for the style of the series.
Now that it's over, is there anything you think could have been done better?
I kept changing and adjusting various areas of the game. Just before the master deadline, I ordered the entire replay specification changed. Of course the producer and staff stopped me before I could follow through. Thinking back now, I probably didn't have my head on straight. That's just not the kind of thing a director should do.
What are some things you tried to do, but didn't quite work out?
The structured story constrained the player more than we originally thought it would. It's always difficult to strike a balance between gameplay and story, but I think we should have given the player a little more freedom. However, as soon as you do, costs begin to skyrocket, so it's always a difficult decision to make.
Are there any features you would like to have included, but couldn't because of time constraints?
We worked right up to the very last day, so we were able to include pretty much everything I can remember. Initially we planned to include both an Arcade and a VS Mode. But in the end we had to make a choice between the two and VS Mode got cut. I really wanted to include both, but it just wasn't possible.