Thursday, August 24, 2006

Retro Rave: Ace Combat 3 Electrosphere (PS1)

 Despite the language barrier, Ace Combat 3 still holds a special place in my nostagic memories.

I was twelve years old back then; Standard Six. One thing I remember the most about 1999 was the release of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, one of the best flight shooting game I have ever played that year and probably one of the most unique in the Ace Combat series.

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Game cover

Calling itself as a 'three-dimensional dramatic flight shooting game', Ace Combat 3 is a major departure from its previous series and it set a new standard for Ace Combat sequels that followed soon after. Unlike the rest of its series which sets the timeline of its conflicts and events in present day, Ace Combat 3 took to the skies in a futuristic setting of the year 2050, in which large multinational corporations are at war against each other for territorial control and utter supremacy, somewhat reminiscent of the Armored Core series.


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Two rival corporate entities and two different organizations were involved in the conflict:
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General Resource LTD. is a successful company, formed through a merger of many worldwide financial assets.It was once Grunder Industries, a military corporation found in Ace Combat 5. Focusing on the domination of common products, General Resource is always in constant disagreement with Neucom. A massive corporate war was sparked when General Resource's armed forces engaged fire with Neucom's forces. General Resources has a para-military force called General Resources Defence Force (GRDF). Dission and Keith are members of the GRDF.

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The UPEO (Universal Peace Enforcement Organization) is a military organization controlled by the U.N. and originally a General Resource puppet, ultimately dedicated to stopping the corporate war. However, it is referred as a paper tiger, since it requires weapons from the corporations to support itself. UPEO's military arm is named Special Armed Response Force (SARF). Main Characters Rena , Fiona and Erich are members of the SARF.

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Neucom Inc. is a generally struggling corporation that focuses on progress through technological advances. Formed by a group of defecting scientists from General Resource and a former government agency, Neucom has similarities to real-life defense contractor McDonnell Douglas. Neucom's para-military force is named Neucom Emergency Unit (NEU). Cynthia is a member of the NEU (as is Fiona, revealed later).

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Ouroboros is a mysterious organization formed from members of all units, with its own shadowy agenda.

As for character profiles, you can refer to this link, though it's unfortunately in Japanese only.

UPDATE: found some information of the character profiles in English. It's in these FAQs from Gamefaqs:
FAQ #1
FAQ #2

Just scroll down and look around.


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Released in 1999, the Japanese version is extremely story-driven, featuring anime cutscenes, detailed characters, and 52 missions, with multiple paths through the game and 5 possible endings. The Japanese version introduced some elements carried over to Ace Combat 04, including radio chatter between comrades and enemies, and intelligent wingmen.

The American and European versions, released a year later, have been extremely criticized for removing almost all of the story elements, including all of the cutscenes, and cutting the game down to 36 missions. Fans of the game feel there is no excuse for Namco Hometek to have taken a year's time to release it in America, only for it to be a shell of what it once was. Features such as the intelligent wingmen and all individual characters were also removed. The anime cutscenes and the fictional aircraft also alienated Japanese fans of the series, who were expecting something closer to the arcade style of Ace Combat 2.

However, sales in Japan were still strong, but the cutting down of the storyline led to a lack of success in other markets.

More external sources:
1. Info
- Wikipedia info on Ace Combat 3.

2. YouTube videos
- Japanese commercial.
- Ace Combat Zero mod for Lock-On.

Top artwork via Pixiv.