You are the newest recruit of the United Air Defense squadron, a group created to combat the Air Strike Force, the military wing of the evil international corporation known as General Resources Ltd.
--From the GBA Ace Combat Advance instruction manual.
"Ace Combat Advance" is a quirky over-head shooter from the popular "Ace Combat" franchise that most players will remember from the Playstation console. Although "Ace Combat Advance" is readily associated with the "Ace Combat" franchise, for practical purposes, it should not be, and players expecting it to emulate the series that they so enjoyed on their consoles are typically (unsurprisingly) disappointed. Luckily, I am completely unfamiliar with the "Ace Combat" series, and I approached "Ace Combat Advance" with no expectations.
"Ace Combat Advance" has some truly original aspects to it. I've played a million and one over-head, forced scrolling shooters, where you are typically free to move around the screen, but the screen is constantly moving forward. "Ace Combat Advance" enables the player to freely roam around the map while the map rotates with the players turns. Free roam isn't quite like an open world game, but nevertheless I have never played a shooter that enabled a player to do so and I was very impressed with the effect. The graphics are very sharp, and the backgrounds colorful, which maximized my free roam enjoyment. I also found that the free roam approach made fighting other planes a completely different experience, as I found myself doubling back constantly, and felt much more like I was in a dog fight than any other over head shooter I'm familiar with.
"Ace Combat Advance" also allows the player to descend to an appropriate depth to deal with land units, although, I recognize that there are only two levels of depth, it adds to the free roaming feel which I found so appealing. The sound track is one normally encountered when practicing kung-fu in the Matrix, and complemented the action of the game. The missions are short, but there are quite a few, and were more than enough to keep me entertained. "Ace Combat Advance" isn't a game that you're going to log massive hours on, or replay endlessly, it's a game that took a chance on doing something different and tried to offer gamers something fresh. I appreciate the originality, and I enjoyed exploring the game for what it is.
To defeat the General Resources corporation players must fight their way through 12 stages of free roaming bliss. Each mission has primary and secondary goals. The player is able to unlock planes by meeting the goals of the mission, which are detailed in the briefing room prior to the mission's launch. There are 10 fighter jets in all. Prior to launching the mission, the player is able to choose a plane and weapon load out.
The player's fighter jet damage is represented by a percentage number in the upper screen corner. When the damage reaches 100%, the fighter jet will explode, however, the player is able to call a tanker to repair the jet and restock the weapons at any point in time. This would make the game incredibly easy except for the fact that each stage has a time limit (and quite a short one). Unfortunately, "Ace Combat Advance" uses the universally reviled password progress system.
|A Button||Machine gun|
|B Button||Secondary weapon|
|Select Button||Call repair ship|