[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ace-combat-wallpaper2_832.jpg]][[caption-width-right:350: That kind of pilot, they call the Demon Lord. That kind of plane, they call GodModeSue.]]

-> ''Focus. Control. Conviction. Resolve. A true ace lacks none of these attributes. Nothing can deter you from the task at hand except your own fears. This is your sky.''

''Ace Combat'' is a series of arcade-style combat flight games, involving [[SimulationGame flight sim]] levels of graphical detail but without all the fiddly realistic controls; the play style is something between {{Shoot Em Up}}s and and the ActionGame. The games are semi-realistic, featuring real-life aircraft and such things as planes stalling if they slow down too much, but combined with aircraft that carry [[HyperspaceArsenal hundreds of missiles at once]] and [[EasyLogistics unlimited fuel]]. Most of the games take place in an [[AlternateUniverse alternate reality]] Earth named [[MeaningfulName Strangereal]], one [[LikeRealityUnlessNoted similar to and yet very different from our own]].

!!!The series currently spans seven consoles and twelve games:
* Arcade:
** ''Air Combat'': As an ace pilot codenamed Falcon 1, you are commissioned by the UN to carry out various intercept missions against a rogue state.
** ''Air Combat 22'': Hostile forces have launched an all-out attack, and as one of three pilots for the 19th Aerial Force (Aeries, Top Gunner, or the returning Falcon 1) it's up to you and your squad to push them back.

* Playstation:
** ''VideoGame/AirCombat'' (''Ace Combat'' outside of North America) - A country is invaded by a terrorist group and, to minimize losses, an elite mercenary squadron has been hired to end the war.
** ''VideoGame/AceCombat2'' - Rebels across the Usean continent take over multiple cities and bases and Special Tactical Fighter Squadron "Scarface" must defeat them.
** ''VideoGame/AceCombat3Electrosphere'' - In the 2040s, the world is ruled by [[MegaCorp corporations]] who fight over territorial disputes. The rumours of a new SuperPrototype threaten to upset the balance of power.

* Playstation 2:
** ''VideoGame/AceCombat04ShatteredSkies'' (''Distant Thunder'' in the European version) - In 2003, Erusea has invaded its neighbors and by 2004 controls all of Usea. As Mobius One, top ace of the Independent States Allied Forces, it's up to you to drive them back and take the fight to them.
** ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar'' (''Squadron Leader'' in the EU) - In 2010, a series of mysterious recon activities leads to a war between the Union of Yuktobanian Republics and the Osean Federation. However, the real cause of the war is not as straightforward as it first appears.
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' (Without the ''Zero'' in the EU) - In 1995, the Belkan Federation attempts a land grab. As mercenary pilot Galm One "Cipher" you fight to thwart their goals; however, the driving of the Belkans to peace talks is not the end of things.

* PSP:
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatXSkiesOfDeception'' - In 2020, the Democratic Republic of Leasath launches an attack on its southern neighbour, the Federal Republic of Aurelia, nearly overrunning the latter within ten days thanks to their airborne fortress Gleipnir. As Gryphus One, you lead Aurelia's survivors in taking back your nation.
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatJointAssault'' - Joint Assault deviates from the Strangereal world that every previous installment of the game has taken place in, instead taking place in [[RealLife real world locations such as Tokyo, London, and San Fransisco.]] As Antares, a newcomer to Martinez Security, you fight the machinations of a powerful terrorist group across the world.

* Game Boy Advance:
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatAdvance'' - In 2032, [[MegaCorp Corporations]] begin to dominate the world and [[OneNationUnderCopyright corpocracies]] now control as much of the world as independent democracies. One corporation, General Resource, creates the Air Strike Force to help take over the remaining independent countries and use them to gain more resources. As a pilot of the United Air Defense, you are the last hope for the remaining independent republics as you stop General Resource from taking over the world. [[NoExportForYou The first game in the series not to see a Japanese release.]]

* [=XBox=] 360:
** ''VideoGame/AceCombat6FiresOfLiberation'' - In 2015, the Federal Republic of Estovakia, after coming out of years of Civil War, invades the neighboring Republic of Emmeria. Due to the use of high-tech weaponry and grizzled veterans, the Estovakians were able to take over the Emmerian Mainland and drive the Emmerian military to Vitoze. As Garuda One, you lead Emmeria's survivors in taking back your country.

* [=Xbox=] 360, [=PlayStation 3=], PC:
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizon'' - In a departure from past games, Assault Horizon is set in the real world instead of Strangreal (hence why this game is not titled [=AC7=]). You take on the role various pilots in the 108th Task Force, a mixed arms force made up of NATO and Russian personnel. The 108th's mission is to combat a growing rebel movement in Africa, aided by Russian mercenaries who possess a terrifying new superweapon codenamed "Trinity".

* Mobile Phone:
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatXiSkiesOfIncursion'' - In 2020, the Democratic Republic of Leasath launches an attack on its southern neighbour, the Federal Republic of Aurelia, nearly overrunning the latter within ten days thanks to their airborne fortress Gleipnir. You play as Falco One, [[HeroOfAnotherStory another Ace Squad who took part in the same war with Gryphus One]], in an attempt to liberate your country of Leasath's control.

** ''VideoGame/AceCombatNorthernWings'' - The player takes command of Grendel Squadron, a secret squadron created by the Kingdom of Nordennavic, a small, neutral nation on the Anean Continent, to [[MysteriousProtector covertly influence wars]] that may threaten their homeland. It is set across a seventeen year period during wars featured in 04, 5 and 6.

* Nintendo 3DS
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizonLegacy'' - Despite the name, Assault Horizon Legacy (called ''Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble'' in Japan) returns to Strangereal. It's a remake and retelling of ''Ace Combat 2'', with you taking on the role of Phoenix (aka Scarface One). ''AC2's'' wingmen Slash and Edge make a return, as does the enigmatic Z.O.E.

* [=PlayStation 3=]
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatInfinity'' - The newest game in the franchise, a downloadable title for the PS3. Set in the real world around the year of 2019, 20 years after an asteroid impact. [[MythologyGag Aircraft and several superweapons from the older Ace Combat games make appearances]].

Also worth mentioning is ''Anime/TheSkyCrawlers: Innocent Aces'' for the UsefulNotes/NintendoWii, a LicensedGame of the ''Sky Crawlers'' anime. Though it has no direct ties with the Ace Combat universe, it was created by the same team and features the same arcade-sim air combat feel; as a result, many fans see it as a SpiritualLicensee.

In 2011, the Strangereal series, specifically the third installment ''Electrosphere'', seems to have been {{retcon}}ned into the ''[[http://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/United_Galaxy_Space_Force United Galaxy Space Force]]'' series, also tentatively known as [[TheVerse Namcoverse]]. Said series seems to unite many of the futuristic games previously released by Namco, where the Strangereal games are the chronologically earliest installments. However, since there is still no official information available in English, details on this are very sketchy.
!! Release order
# ''VideoGame/AirCombat'' (1995)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat2'' (1997)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat3Electrosphere'' (2000)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat04ShatteredSkies'' (2001)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar'' (2004)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatAdvance'' (2005)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' (2006)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatXSkiesOfDeception'' (2006)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat6FiresOfLiberation'' (2007)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatXiSkiesOfIncursion'' (2009)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatJointAssault'' (2010)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizon'' (2011)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizonLegacy'' (2011)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatNorthernWings'' (2011)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatInfinity'' (2013)

!! Strangereal chronology
The original/main continuity of the ''AC'' series is set on the ConstructedWorld of Strangereal. The first two games were originally not really part of it but have since been {{retcon}}ned to appear that way.

# ''Air Combat'': Skully Islands insurrection (1995)
# ''Ace Combat Zero'': Belkan War (1995)
# ''Ace Combat 2'' and its remake ''[[VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizonLegacy Assault Horizon Legacy]]'': Usean Rebellion (1997/1998)
# ''Ace Combat: Northern Wings'': Various conflicts (1999 to 2016)
# ''Ace Combat 04'': Usean Continental War (2004-05)
# ''Ace Combat 5'': Operation Katina (2006), Circum-Pacific War (2010)
# ''Ace Combat 6'': Anean Continental War (2015-16)
# ''Ace Combat X'' and ''Ace Combat Xi'': Leasath-Aurelia War (2020)
# ''Ace Combat Advance'': General Resource Conflict (2032)
# ''Ace Combat 3'': Usean Corporate War (2040)
!!The series as a whole provides examples of following tropes:

* AcePilot: The entire series is based on this trope and ImprobablePilotingSkills, wingmen and allied aircraft excepted. Supposedly [[spoiler:Mobius One]] may be considered ''the'' trope namer for ''04'', ''5'', ''Zero'', ''6'' (and maybe ''X''), especially if you take ''Ace Combat 5'''s Arcade Mode ("Operation Katina") as canon, where [[spoiler:Mobius One (with the help of [[MissionControl AWACS SkyEye]]) defeated a ''de facto'' resurgent Erusean military and at the final battle six X-02 Wyverns using only a [[CoolPlane F-22 Raptor]]]] a year after the events of ''Ace Combat 04'', where he was the lead element in every major ISAF operation of the Usean Continental War of 2003-2005.
* AdventureFriendlyWorld: Strangereal was created solely as [[AnthropicPrinciple a setting which permitted]] repeated full-theater international conflicts for {{Ace Pilot}}s to participate in, which have been non-existent in RealLife since the development of nuclear weapons - see BrokenAesop.
* AerialCanyonChase: Pretty much every ''Ace Combat'' game requires the player to do this for some reason. Sometimes there are enemy planes or helicopters skulking in the canyons or other narrow passageways or tunnels, just waiting to achieve missile lock.
* AKA47: Weapons are referred to with generic descriptors instead of real names; thus in for example ''Ace Combat Zero'' the F-14 Tomcat, Su-37 Terminator, JAS Gripen, and Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon all use [=XLAA=]s while the real planes would probably use different missiles for the long range role. The actual models of the missiles are all different and accurately based on a real missile at least similar to the missile's role, though; for example on the F-14 the XLAA resembles the AIM-54 Phoenix, whereas the Typhoon uses Meteor [=BVRAAMs=].
** Also, ''Electrosphere'' gives the airplanes slightly different names as part of the game's futuristic feel, such as the Eurofighter [=2000E=] Typhoon II and the [=XFA-36A=] ([=McDonnell=] Douglas X-36).
* AirborneMook: Enemy aircraft, naturally. Enemy aces qualify as EliteMooks or better, especially when they come in squadrons.
* AirstrikeImpossible: A recurring mission type. The series loves to force you to ''fly jets through underground bunkers or down the barrel of giant cannons'', with at least one in every game, usually in the penultimate or final level.
* AlternateUniverse / ConstructedWorld: Strangereal.
* AllThereInTheManual: A number of details, such as the full history of the Ulysses asteroid, aren't covered in-game.
* AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent: The only player character to definitely return in a later game is Mobius One (player character of ''04'' and the arcade mode of ''5''). The Scarface squadron of the first game returns in the second, though the available wingmen and the theme for their planes' paint schemes are entirely different.
* ArmiesAreEvil: Subverted in most games after ''2.'' Especially considering when you see cutscenes of pilots and soldiers from the opposing army doing what they were trained to do without any complaints.
* ArmoredCoffins: All the planes in ''3'' are piloted via a so-called COFFIN system, which is a kind of neural interface that allows you to steer them with your brain but has no ejection seats whatsoever.
* ArrowCam: Holding down the missile button will cause this to happen.
* ArtificialBrilliance: Ace pilots, when compared to the standard mooks. Yellow Squadron will use the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pugachev%27s_Cobra Pugachev Cobra]] maneuver to get behind you, for instance.
* BackFromTheBrink: In ''2'', ''04'', and ''Zero'', the first mission starts as the last allied base in the area is under attack by enemy bombers with air support from starting fighters, which give a quick "tutorial" in anti-air combat with easy targets. ''5'' and ''6'' subvert it by having this mission a little later on (and 5 has the distinction of being the ''first'' base attacked instead of last).
* {{Badass}}: The player characters, but not the only ones.
* BattleshipRaid: Most games feature boss stages where you face a giant enemy aircraft, battleship or group of such aircraft: the Aigaion, Hresvelgr, Arkbird and SOLG are all examples of this trope. Averted in ''Air Combat'' - it's planes, mostly (ground targets range from a skyscraper taken over by the rebels to oil refineries), though the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2DZtpJV2lo final mission]] has a giant battleship.
* BiggerStick: Getting better planes.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: InUniverse, most superplanes.
* BloodlessCarnage: As a consequence of plane-combat.
* BlandNameProduct: ''Joint Assault'' has ''BNN''.
** ''5'' and ''Zero'' have ''OBC''.
* BraggingRightsReward: You can't unlock the respective superplanes of each game without completing story mode at least once, depending on the game (and that's not even getting into unlocking the bonus paint schemes for them, which requires beating the game at the highest difficulties). ''5'' requires taking both story branches and finding specific ground targets to destroy, ''Zero'' requires masterful playing of all three branches on the KarmaMeter and requires beating the story at least once to unlock the Wyvern and FALKEN given as an OldSaveBonus, and the PAK FA can't even be used in the story mode in ''Assault Horizon''.
* BrokenAesop: The games like to talk about how terrible nuclear weapons are...Despite that the Strangereal setting needed to be made in the first place because nuclear arms have ''prevented'' the kind of all-out wars between major military powers that the plotlines are built around. So nukes are bad, as we are told by a world that collapses into gigantic, pointless wars every couple of years because nobody has a deterrent against them. Historically, nuclear weapons were not developed in Strangereal until the 1980s by Belka (Strangereal's version of Nazi Germany). Superweapons such as airborne fortresses, railguns and laser platforms fill the deterrent role that nuclear weapons normally would, though the fact that large-scale wars break out every few years anyway prove they do a poor job of deterrence, since aforementioned superweapons are typically completely unknown outside of their country of origin until a war starts and someone has the bright idea to try and end it with that superweapon - which typically results in a bit of an advantage for their side, and then the superweapon gets destroyed.
** The "Nukes are bad" message that's often presented in the games is even more undermined by the fact that the massive conventional wars the series portrays are only possible because Strangereal is a world where nuclear proliferation never occurred, and thus no doctrine of MutuallyAssuredDestruction arose to discourage overt conflict between superpowers.
* CallingYourAttacks: From ''04'' and beyond, characters use the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_%28code_word%29 "Fox" brevity codes]] when launching missiles. Except for the HeroicMime protagonist, who also gains an AWACS support unit who calls out those codes for him.
* CanonWelding: The above-mentioned "United Galaxy Space Force" is an attempt to merge a number of their series with futuristic installments into a single continuity, with ''Electrosphere'' as its first installment chronologically.
* TheCaptain: Too many to list.
* CerebusSyndrome: More dramatic and realistic elements have crept in over time.
* ChasingYourTail: And ''how!'' Expect to spend a lot of time staring at the back of other planes.
* TheComputerIsACheatingBastard: Enemies usually can maneuver better and lock-on much faster than you can even when using the same plane as you, and some bosses' superfighters have capabilities you'll never get.
** You know this trope is in full effect in [=AC5=] when enemy planes can ''fly through the goddamn ground'' to evade you. When it's the last target on a timed mission with 10 seconds left, controllers will be thrown through television sets.
* UsefulNotes/ConsoleWars: After being a PlayStation and PlayStation2 exclusive for its entire run (with the exception of ''VideoGame/AceCombatAdvance''), when the series made the leap to UsefulNotes/{{the seventh generation|OfConsoleVideoGames}}, what platform did it land on? The XBox360. Its handheld outings would remain exclusive to the PlayStationPortable until ''Assault Horizon Legacy'' and its UpdatedRerelease ''Assault Horizon Legacy+'' came out for the 3DS , however, while ''Assault Horizon'' also came out for PlayStation3 alongside the 360 and ''Infinity'' is a [=PS3=] exclusive.
** PCVsConsole: ''Assault Horizon'' [[http://www.joystiq.com/2012/11/27/ace-combat-assault-horizon-maneuvers-onto-pc-in-europe-q1-2013/ now has a PC port]], marking the series' PC debut.
* ConservationOfNinjutsu: Both used and averted. Your character does become a OneManArmy with many kills to his name, but any time an ace squadron shows up you will face a much tougher fight since they'll attack together.
* CoolPlane: Nearly every single fictional aircraft in any ''Ace Combat'' game is either the best plane in the game, one of the best planes in the game, behaves very uniquely or is simply extremely good-looking.
** Subverted with the BM-335 fictional antiquated bomber from ''Zero'', which resembles a UsefulNotes/WorldWarII Heinkel and upon killing one may cause an ally to comment that it looks ancient.
** Also plenty of the nonfictional ones. It's no coincidence that ''Ace/Air Combat'' (at least in the US), ''04'', ''X'' and ''Joint Assault'' feature the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-22_Raptor F-22 Raptor]] on the cover, since it's a top tier air-to-air king ''and'' has a distinctive look. This is Mobius One's "official" plane, as indicated by its being the default plane for Operation Katina, aka ''[=AC5=]'''s Arcade Mode. Some players, however, prefer the Su-27 Flanker and its variants/descendants, particularly the Su-37 Terminator and the Su-47 Berkut to the Raptor. The Sukhoi planes may be better dogfighters thanks to the Quick-maneuver Air-to-Air Missile (QAAM), while the Raptor has more "standoff" capability. This slightly evens out in ''[=AC6=]'', where they are amongst the multiple planes that can use the QAAM (somewhat toned down from the ''04'' incarnation), so [[RuleOfCool the cool]] doesn't always have to be [[AwesomeButImpractical useless]].
** ''Ace Combat X'' features a high number of fictional planes; some of which aren't that great compared to the higher-end real planes, though the best planes in the game (the Wyvern, Falken, and Fenrir) are fictional. However, all the made up planes except the Fenrir have the ability to be upgraded with new parts, altering their performance.
* CosmeticAward: Medals and paint schemes, especially ones acquired by downing enemy aces.
* CrewOfOne: In all the games, whenever the player flies an aircraft that in the real world would require a crew of 2 or more to operate effectively, the empty seats are automatically filled in the aircraft's third-person models and the plane is able to execute all functions flawlessly.
* DamnYouMuscleMemory: Several annoying minor changes in the control settings across titles.
** There's also severe differences between how to evade all the different superweapons, as well. In particular, Stonehenge in ''04'' requires you to be below 2000 feet, while burst missiles from ''5'' require you to be above 5000 feet. Then come the Gleipnir in ''X'', where its shockwave ballistic missiles require you to fly below 2000 feet again, but its shock cannon requires you to climb above the Gleipnir... and then in its last appearance it turns upside down at one point, forcing you to fly ''below'' it again to dodge the ''same weapon''.
** Try switching between ''Ace Combat'' and ''VideoGame/{{HAWX}}''. The controls are virtually identical... except the buttons for guns and missiles are switched. Thankfully, the PC version of the latter lets you rebind your controls.
** The SAAM weapon got hit with this hard in the jump from [=PS2=] to PSP and beyond, ''and'' with the equivalent weapon in ''HAWX''. In ''5'' and ''Zero'', among other tricks, you can launch an SAAM early, before an enemy enters the maximum lock-on range, and still get a kill on it because the SAAM will start properly tracking the target once you lock on. In ''X'' and later games SAAM's are now dedicated to whatever target you were locked onto when you fired them, meaning you can't do the above trick or redirect them in the case of kill-steals anymore, but you can actually target two enemies at the same time if you can keep them both within the missile's steering circle. Then in ''HAWX'', if you try to do ''any'' of the above, or even so much as have the target leave the steering circle for a second, it's counted as a miss.
* TheDeterminator: The player-character is often this; surviving countless attempts by the combined armed forces of entire nations to kill him with barely a scratch.
* DodgeByBraking: The Pugachev's Cobra and its variants are maneuvers both you and some enemy aces can pull off. Just make sure that they're not flying at the same altitude as you are, or they'll opt for a very humiliating machine-gun-kill. The Yellows are fond of doing this. On the other side, if they try to Cobra and you are going slowly enough to not overshoot, it's a big invitation to light 'em up; one of the signs that the new Yellow Squadron from the final level are not nearly as skilled as the old group is that they use the Cobra to evade your squadmates without considering that maybe you or one of your ''other'' squadmates are then given a clear, easy shot at them while they're stuck in place.
* TheDreaded: You. Yes, you!
* DudeWheresMyRespect: ''Beautifully'' averted; by the time you're halfway through a given game, your ImprobablePilotingSkills will be legend among friend and foe alike. Half the fun is listening to the enemies panic when they find out you're on the field.
** That said, despite their legendary accomplishments, every playable pilot disappears from history shortly after their final victories. Probably voluntarily. The sole exception seems to be Mobius One, who at the very least continues serving ISAF for a year after the end of ''04'''s Usean Continental War.
* EarnYourTitle: The player's accomplishments in battle are what eventually lead them to earning their notorious titles among both allies and enemies alike.
* EasyLogistics: You can run out of regular missiles and/or special weapons, and some games and difficulties give you limited cannon ammo, but you ''never'' run out of fuel; aerial refueling is just an interactive cutscene. In missions where you can Return To Base, once you successfully land or skip the landing interactive cutscene your plane is immediately repaired (except on harder difficulties) and rearmed. If you switch special weapons for yourself and your wingman (the latter in ''Zero'' and ''6''), the change and reload occurs instanteously.
** This in and of itself is an example of GameplayAndStorySegregation, as storywise logistics ''do'' matter; just see the ''04'' missions where [[spoiler:you take out a group of Erusean transport planes and then a forward operating base as the prelude to wrecking the "Invincible" Aegir Fleet, then afterwards destroy solar power generator facilities to both damage the enemy war machine and divert attention from an upcoming invasion]]. The third and fourth missions in ''5'' force you to keep flying the F-5, as well, because there's no time for you to switch. In ''Zero'' the mission to Avalon has such a long travel time that from mission 16 to the end, you cannot switch, buy, or sell planes or special weapons. Heck, just see in-flight refueling.
** Lets not forget that the... 3 minutes that take place between the end of "Avalon" and the beginning of "Zero" completely restocks and repairs your already flying plane who has no support to speak of from anyone but a nearby AWACS unit.
** The Playstation 1 games do have a fuel meter, but this is really just a [[CallAHitPointASmeerp disguised timer]], since it empties at a steady rate regardless of how you fly.
* EnemyChatter: A staple of the series, it seems that everyone and his mother -- including allied ground units in the middle of raging battles, enemy air and ground units, police [=CBs=] and even civilian radio stations -- are all broadcasting on your presumably encrypted and frequency-shifting channel, and (other than your wingman commands) vice versa. Strangely enough, it compels the drama factor of the series. Lampshaded ''late'' in ''Ace Combat 5'', when one of your wingmen incredulously announces: "The radio is picking up the enemy communications!" Which it's been doing the whole time.
** It is likely that the enemy chatter isn't ''actually'' broadcasting over the radio all the time; more realistically, only the player can hear it, which is why the game will occasionally have the characters take notice when the enemy really ''is'' speaking on the same channel, for the convenience of knowing when the characters can actually hear the enemy.
** ''Assault Horizon'' dropped it altogether save for when some enemies (mostly [[spoiler: Markov and Illich]]) state that they deciphered your radio encryption and knew your frequency and the mission where [[spoiler: you save the Russian prime minister]].
* EnemyDetectingRadar
* EscortMission: There is at least one per game in the PS2 era. A notable example in ''VideoGame/AceCombatJointAssault'' has one of the players control a 747 jet while the others escort them.
* ExpansionPackWorld
* FeaturelessProtagonist: It's very rare to find out anything about the character's name, appearance, or even ''gender''. A few of the games have played with this, notably ''Electrosphere'', where it turns out the PC is an [[spoiler:[[TomatoInTheMirror AI, designed to test if one pilot could turn the tide of a war.]]]]
** This trend was finally broken by ''Assault Horizon'', which had multiple playable characters with visible faces and speaking roles.
* FighterLaunchingSequence: A few times, naturally. Sometimes you have to actually play through the takeoff sequence yourself, to boot.
* FragileSpeedster: The X-29 has consistently tended to fit this archetype, with incredible acceleration and max speed but taking hits poorly. So do its "cousins" the F-5E and F-20A in their respective games.
* FriendlyFireproof: Go ahead, drop that cluster bomb ten feet from friendly ground forces. They won't feel a thing. Or try to send a couple rounds through your wingman's cockpit if he's being annoying.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Every last one of the player characters start off as no-names but quickly become {{One Man Arm|y}}ies who are TheDreaded and FamedInStory.
* GameplayAllyImmortality: ''Mostly'' {{averted|Trope}}.
* GenreBlindness: At least once a game, a character will say something that will make you have to pause the game and cover your face in shame. For example, Ace Combat 6īs "final" mission. You've won the war, people are celebrating, and your "mission" is to do a patrol while fireworks explode in the sky. Then one of your wingmen says "I'd like to say: Mission Accomplished". Cue enemy fighters and transcontinental missiles.
* GermanicEfficiency: Being the FantasyCounterpartCulture of Germany, Belka has the most advanced technologies (many of the original fighters and superweapons in the series are attributed to Belkan Engineering), the most efficient air force (they have the most Aces in any Ace Combat game to date; out of 169 named Aces, 139 of them are of Belkan Nationality) and very skilled engineers (in the form of Gault 1/Anton "Dr." Kupchenko, who designed the superweapons of Ace Combat Zero as well as the ADFX-01/02 Morgan, and Gault 7/Lorenz "Feniks" Riedel, who designed the Battle Fleet for the Eastern Faction during the Estovakian Civil War and the subsequent Emmerian-Estovakian War.)
* GlassCannon: The F-5E and [=MiG-21=] in the PS2 games, and the A-4 in ''2'' is this, though since you usually get these in the beginning of the game, the player doesn't need to worry about biting the bullet. The Mobius F-22 and Yellow Su-33 in ''[=AC6=]'', (as Downloadable content) is also this, but it pays off when you have wicked manuverability. On Ace mode all your planes are a OneHitPointWonder against missiles so the question is how much Cannon and [[FragileSpeedster Speedster]]/{{Lightning|Bruiser}} you're packing.
* GoodColorsEvilColors: Radar signatures. The colors used change depending on the game, but typically retain green for allies and red for required targets.
* [[GoodWeaponEvilWeapon Good Plane Evil Plane]]: It has been noted that in almost every game, the protagonist squadron and sometimes his allies usually fly Western Fighter Aircraft (usually American) while the antagonist ace squadron(s) usually use high-tier Russian fighters (often a variant of the [[CoolPlane Su-27 Flanker]]). This is however subverted multiple times.
** Scarface One from ''2'' prefers to fly the Su-35 Super Flanker (which is statistically the best normal plane in the game, matching or surpassing even the F-22 in six of seven attributes) while four of the five Z.O.E. aces use American jets (the fifth uses one of the series' first two superfighters). This is played straight however in the remake when Scarface One uses the F-22 as his aircraft of choice.
** In ''04'', ISAF would deploy a mix of Western- and Russian-made fighters during missions that are considered pivotal story-wise: a flight of [=MiG-29s=] fly top cover for you and a few other F/A-18s during the assault on Stonehenge, whereas the Siege of Farbanti has you accompanied by a mix of F-15s and Su-35s at its beginning as you shoot down enemy F-15 [=S/MTDs=] and Su-47s.
** In ''5'', the 8492nd Squadron flies the [[RareVehicles F-15 S/MTD]] up until the final mission, where they fly Su-47's instead.
** In ''Zero'', out of the 12 major ace squads you face in the game, only three (Gelb [Su-37], Schwarze [=[MiG-31]=] and Gault [Su-47]) play this trope straight, the rest primarily flying American jets with a few multinational-European (Rot [Eurofighter]), French (Espada Two [Rafale]) and Swedish (Indigo [Gripen], Espada One [Draken]) ones thrown in as well.
** In ''X'' some of the Redshirts fly Flankers.
** Averted in ''Infinity''. Enemies will fly Fulcrums and Flankers alongside Harrier [=IIs=] and Raptors; allies can fly whatever they have available, whether they're Japanese F-2s, the Russian [=MiG-29=], the American F-15, or otherwise.
* HarderThanHard: ''Ace Combat 04'' and subsequent games have Expert and Ace difficulties. They also have an Easier Than Easy difficulty (Very Easy). Note though that some goodies (mainly ace appearances) only occur on certain difficulties. Just to clarify for anyone not clear on the concept: on Expert difficulty, one missile instantly kills you, and ''that's not the hardest difficulty.''
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: You never get to see the main character either which is especially obvious in ''Ace Combat 5'', where the between-mission cutscenes show the rest of your squadron frequently, as well as some other allies and enemies.
* HeroicMime: The main character almost never speaks -- bizarrely enough, this is true even in later games, where you have dedicated wingmen to whom you can give orders with an almost too simple "Yes/No" command, or call for Attack or Cover. Fanfic retellings have been known to fill these in.
** {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in 5; see below.
* HighAltitudeBattle: [[CaptainObvious Obviously.]]
* HighSpeedMissileDodge: Without countermeasures it's the only defense against enemy missiles. Yes, despite what some people claim, [[AluminumChristmasTrees this is a basic tactic taught and used in Real Life]]. It just [[RealityIsUnrealistic doesn't look the same]] as it does in (most) fiction because fictional missiles usually lack proximity fuses.
* HomingProjectile: Missiles, both friendly and not.
* HyperspaceArsenal: The ''least'' number of missiles any plane in the series carries is around 50, frequently you'll have many more, and ''then'' you have special weapons on top of that - don't be surprised if you use third-person view and see ordnance 'magically' rematerialize on your plane's wings! Oh, and ditto for the gun both due to a lot of -- or on some difficulty levels infinite -- ammunition and a slower rate of fire than in real life where you have cannons with ''[[MoreDakka hundred round bursts]]''.
* IdiosyncraticDifficultyLevels: The highest difficulty level is [[HarderThanHard Ace]].
* InTheStyleOf: Directly comparing the "Megalith ~Agnus Dei~" with the standard rendition, or "Zero" with "Unsung War", the differences in rendering make it difficult to tell that they are meant to have the same lyrics.
** "First Flight" from ''5'' is listed in the OST as an arranged version of "Blockade" from ''04'', but there's really not much similarity between the two. Operation Katina also has a remix of "Elemental Particle" from ''2''.
* InfinityPlusOneSword: Almost all the superfighters have hard-to-achieve requirements, but the effort's well worth it.
** InfinityMinusOneSword: Of course, if it's too much effort for you, you can get the F-22 and Su-37 much more easily.
* InstantExpert: The player characters can switch between plane types with ease.
* InstantWinCondition: Some missions only need you to make a point limit and then it will be completed when time runs down regardless of enemy survivors. In some others focusing on only the needed targets is enough to win. Subverted, however, as it's still possible to crash in the time between "Mission Accomplished" and getting to the results screen, causing a failure (from ''[=AC04=]'' onward,) or in ''[=AC2=]'s'' case, still finishing the mission but losing money due to having your downed plane replaced.
* InterfaceSpoiler: In most games there will be unselectable or empty boxes in the plane buying and selecting screens, giving away the total number of available planes.
** in Zero, the named aces list has 169 entries, in rows of 5. Normally this would leave one blank space after the 169th ace (Pixy), suggesting there is a secret 170th ace; to counteract this, the records start with number zero so they're all even. [[spoiler:But then it turns out there ''is'' a secret 170th ace. Mobius freaking One with his signature Raptor. Subverted, however, as there isn't a profile to unlock, since he appears in a bonus mission out of the storyline.]]
* ItsUpToYou: The main character (and sometimes his squadron) can always and sometimes ''is'' singlehandedly turning the tide of the war. It also becomes a driving factor in the game where radio chatter reflects the infamy and fear of your allies and enemies when you appear on the battlefield, especially in ''Ace Combat 5''. Lampshaded in the arcade mode of ''Ace Combat 5'', where it's revealed that the hero of ''Ace Combat 04'', Mobius One, was proven to be more effective than an entire squadron, hence why ISAF [[OneRiotOneRanger sent him to deal with the issue alone]].
** And generally even when you ''do'' have a squadron, their AI is so passive that most players will end up with ten or more kills for every one they make between them.
* JackOfAllStats: The [=MiG=]-29 Fulcrum usually is this.
** So are F-16s, though it often has [[MultiformBalance multiple, role specific variants]].
** Multirole aircraft in general are built around this, being able handle both fighter and attacker duties equally, though in return, they are [[MasterOfNone less effective than their specialized counterparts in their respective roles.]]
* JustPlaneWrong: Averted for the most part, although it does indulge in RareVehicles quite a bit. Also subverted as some implausibly cool-looking superfighters have been successfully modelled as airworthy under the limitations of early 21st century flight technology.
** Except of course, the Neucom's R-series (at least the more advanced ones). The R-211 Orcinus and R-102/3 shouldn't be able to fly with what we currently know about aerodynamics.
** Questionable with the ADF-01 FALKEN; [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmcyoLif8-A It flies well enough in X-Plane]], which is one of the most realistic flight sims, but some things have been done IRL that simulators could not replicate and vice versa. Short of an extremely rich and well-connected fan building his own, we may never know. It also one of the most over the top Superplanes, oddly (see SerialEscalation below).
** This trope can also go the other way with very old aircraft that have been long out of production or retired. The most notable would be the F-14, of which most were retired and subsequently destroyed, while a remaining handful are sitting in museums. Unless you count the ones Iran has, of course.
** The F-22 Raptor (which is only in service with the United States Air Force) is in service with just about every nation in Strangereal.
** Also, the Su-37, of which only two were built, is a mainstay advanced fighter in Strangereal. In reality, it was designed as a technology demonstrator and was declared technologically obsolete with the advent of the Su-35S in 2010.
* KaizoTrap: In almost all the titles you can still crash or even get shot down after the "Mission Accomplished" but before you go to the mission results screen. This is particularly possible in ''5'', where sometimes the enemy AI glitches out and continues attacking you after the mission is over (realistic as it may be they're not supposed to do that).
** Averted in ''2'': control of your plane is completely taken away after you complete the mission, your plane just de-spawns entirely in missions where it would inevitably crash. In other missions, you lose credits to replace the plane but the mission is still completed. ''Assault Horizon Legacy'', a remake of ''2'', is more in line with the rest of the series.
* KillSat: Featured in ''Ace Combat 3'' and ''Ace Combat 5''. The one in ''Ace Combat 3'' was available as a special weapon.
* LaResistance: Mentioned a few times in various titles.
* LampshadeHanging: In one mission a pilot starts talking about his personal life, as pilots in the game are want to do. He is promptly told to shut up and concentrate on fighting.
* LaserCutter: The Tactical Laser System's shot.
* LastStand: Always happens in the last mission, the exception goes to ''Zero'' where it happened 4 missions before the last one.
* LegacyCharacter: Kei "Edge" Nagase is likely to appear in some form throughout each game: as a mercenary, defector, airline pilot, TheLancer, TheCameo in a real NATO squadron, a pilot for Strangereal's version of NATO, writing a CharacterBlog on development of one of the games...
* [[LethalJokeCharacter Lethal Joke Plane]]: F-117A in Zero and 6, EA-6B in Zero, pretty much any non-afterburning jet with QAAMs.
* {{Leitmotif}}: A portion of ''The Unsung War'' has found its way in every game since 5. Yes, even Assault Horizon.
* LightningBruiser: Most of the late-/end-game planes. ''Especially'' the superfighters.
* LikeRealityUnlessNoted: Strangereal.
** The Matrix.
* TheMainCharactersDoEverything: In real life, air superiority and ground attack missions are generally given to units dedicated to those roles. In these games, not only do you get multiple types of missions, but you can easily swap out your planes to match whatever role is needed.
* ManualLeaderAIParty: In the ''Ace Combat'' installments that give you permanent {{wingm|an}}en, you can usually select their planes and give them orders but you only steer your own plane on missions. ''Ace Combat 5'' is the only one, however, where you can speak of a "party" (it had three wingmen as opposed to one in other games).
* MightyGlacier: The A-10 Thunderbolt II, usually having the worst speed, but having the most powerful machine gun and toughest defense by a landslide.
* MinimalistRun: Using only the starting plane. Probably most easily done on ''6'', since while the F-16 isn't spectacular, it's still far better than the F-4 or F-5 you usually start with in the earlier games.
* MissileLockOn
* MissionBriefing: Every mission starts with a summary of objectives and a map displaying enemy forces and any allied ground forces, zooming in on certain areas by pushing left or right on the directional pad, as well as hinting by the number of each enemy type which plane type would be best-suited. ''6'' would dub these Operations, since in these areas you're to provide close air support against surface targets, achieve air superiority over aerial targets or both, and letting you benefit from a captured airfield, electronic (increased missile guidance) or fire support courtesy of the assisted allies. The briefings are more useful for some missions than others. If a briefing suggests that the flight will be quiet, such as a ceremonial flight above a rally or a patrol during ceasefire, assume the worst. The only truly non-eventful flight is a Free Flight, which can only be done after you clear the campaign at least once.
* MissionControl: An Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft constantly supervises you, providing mission and story updates as well as things like reminding you that you've locked on to an enemy or vice versa, that you or the enemy has launched a missile at the other, or you're in gun range, as well as whether a missile hit or missed. Amazingly, it's not actually as irritating as it sounds. To the developers' credit, his information is usually useful and the guy comes off as friendly and genuinely concerned about the pilots. It also helps that there is enough dialogue played infrequently enough to keep it from getting stale.
* MookChivalry: Generally averted; enemy squadrons have no qualms against taking your lonely self on all at once. It gets justified later in each game, where you're infamous enough among them that they can't possibly expect to take you out one-on-one.
* {{Mooks}}: Although wide and varied, and still capable of damaging you significantly, it's present in all games where you take on whole squadrons of fighters. Especially early on in the American version of ''Electrosphere'', all of Neucom's fighters are the same plane. {{Averted|Trope}} of course by the ace squadrons; even when your plane is superior (in their first appearances on non-[[NewGamePlus SP]] playthroughs it's not) they [[CaptainObvious tend to be better pilots]]. Gets iffy though when for gameplay reasons the difference becomes ''really'' marked (Espada 1 in ''Zero'' flies a starting plane!).
* MusicalSpoiler: You can tell that something is about to happen if the music suddenly goes quiet or changes.
* MyNaymeIs: The usual Japanese L/R translation issues are found throughout the series.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: In an unusual twist, it's the player, who, depending on the game, may be the Grim Reaper, the Demons/Ghosts of Razgriz, or the Demon Lord of the Round Table, among others. The enemy forces usually start to cower at the mention of your name.
* NecessaryDrawback: [=QAAMs=] have short range to balance their high accuracy/maneuverability, long-range missiles tend to be inaccurate unless launched at the right angle, and [=SAAMs=] could have been a GameBreaker in combining XLAA range with QAAM maneuverability... were it not for you having to keep your aircraft's nose pointed at the target (and the target within a SAAM-exclusive circular reticle) for the duration of the SAAM's flight[[note]]although if you can bring a target back within the reticle in time, the missile will continue tracking[[/note]], which can make you a sitting duck while the missile is flying. The air-to-ground weapons and parts have similar issues.
* NewGamePlus: You can start a SP New Game to restart the campaign with your attained money, unlocked planes and paint jobs (and in ''Zero'' with your Ace Style Gauge where you left it in the previous campaign), or do Free Mission(s) to bump up your ranking and/or time, shoot down named aces, and in ''5'', ''Zero'' and ''X'' gain money. Note that in ''Zero'' your Ace Style Gauge is only affected by the campaign, so feel free to be merciless in Free Mission. Free Mission also has a Free Flight option (except in ''X'') where you can fly around all by yourself with no time limit or objectives.
* NoNameGiven: In addition to the player characters, several enemy aces like Yellow 13 and most of the AWACS spokesmen go only by callsign.
* NoseArt: A staple of the series, from about ''Ace Combat 3'' onwards. Shooting down certain enemy {{Ace Pilot}}s allows you to [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt slap their paint jobs onto your planes of the same model]]. Other special paint jobs were unlocked by completing certain plot missions. ''Ace Combat 6'' also introduced downloadable custom paint jobs.
* NuclearWeaponsTaboo: Subverted with the implicitly stated [[spoiler:and sometimes detonated]] nuclear arsenal from various games. What's interesting about this is that while nukes exist, nuclear ''proliferation'' doesn't seem to.
** Nuclear weapon are seen as more frightening InUniverse than it is in RealLife, which is the reason TheVerse [[AnthropicPrinciple exists in the first place]].
* OccupiersOutOfOurCountry: Happens in just about every game.
* OhCrap: Enemies have this reaction when your characters show up in later parts of the games. Your allies have this reaction when they get targetted by the local superweapon. The two words are explicitly dropped in ''X: Skies of Deception'' when your allies see that [[spoiler:there's another Fenrir in Archelon Fortress trying to escape to Leasath and they can't do anything about it themselves.]]
* [[OnceASeason Once A Game]]: Ever since ''Ace Combat 5'', it has apparently become a tradition to kill or almost kill off one of the player's wingmen. Since ''Zero'', ''6'' and ''Assault Horizon'' always has the player flying with only one wingman, well...
** Every main-series game since the fourth has included Mobius One's paint scheme for the F-22A and Yellow 13's paint scheme for the Su-37 or its nearest equivalent. Later games have added more character references, such as the Razgriz and [[CherryBlossoms Zipang]] from ''5'' and Scarface One from ''2''.
* OneHitPointWonder: The player's plane on Ace difficulty, at least against missiles.
* [[OneManArmy One Man Air Force]]
* OperationBlank: Most missions have titles of this form displayed during the briefing; this is usually completely independent of the actual stage name. Exceptions include:
** Operation [[spoiler:Free Gracemeria]] in ''Ace Combat 6''.
** ''Ace Combat 5'' has the Operation Desert Lightning mission, though the stage name omits the word 'Operation.'
** Operation Bunker Shot in ''Ace Combat 04.''
* OrchestralBombing
* OvershadowedByAwesome: The real-life planes are almost always outdone statistically by the game-original superfighters. [[InfinityMinusOneSword Of course, unlocking them is also easier, making them more frequently used anyway]].
* PlayableEpilogue: The games typically include the so-called "Free Mission mode", where you can fly individual campaign missions out of order as often as you want on any difficulty. This mode (along with NewGamePlus) is usually unlocked after completing the campaign on any difficulty and lets you use all hitherto unlocked planes and upgrades, in order to e.g. hunt down the remaining aces or improve your [[GameplayGrading completion ranks]].
* PointDefenseless: AA guns usually aren't much threat on lower difficulties, much less able to take down your missiles and bombs, such that when "high-performance" triple-A that '''can''' show up in ''X: Skies of Deception'', the briefing and AWACS guy feel a need to emphasise it. Also, [[spoiler: Sulejmani's Varcolac]] from ''Joint Assault'' mounts a rear-facing anti-missile gatling.
** ''Assault Horizon'' averts this in a mission tasking you with destroying an enemy naval fleet, where their CIWS defenses actually are capable of shooting down your missiles, thus requiring you to [[MacrossMissileMassacre coordinate with several pilots and launch enough ordnance to overwhelm those defenses.]] On the player's side, they can also destroy shoulder-fired [=SAMs=] with their guns in helicopter missions.
** ''Infinity'' includes lasers mounted on [=UAVs=] (in the campaign) and a special gold-painted variant of the P-1112 Aigaion from ''6'' (in co-op), which could shoot down missiles launched within their attack range.
* PreAssKickingOneLiner: ", engage."
* ProductPlacement: ''Assault Horizon'' is brought to you by the US Air Force. "It's not science fiction."
* RadioSilence: A few mission across the series impose this for storyline reasons, sometimes combined with altitude restrictions or avoiding enemy radar. At most, this is just a break from your wingmen's chatter until you arrive where you need to be or are inevitably discovered early.
* RareVehicles: Many (real-world) flyable aircraft are either prototypes, technology demonstrators, or canceled projects that never made it into mass production.
** Most {{egregious}} is the Aurora and ''every boss plane''. Not to mention "normally" (on any difficulty regardless of performance) flyable top-tier/endgame planes such as the "S-37A" (''04'')/"S-32" (''5'')/Su-47 Berkut (''Zero'' and ''6'').
*** The Su-47 and F-15 ACTIVE have it the worst in ''04'' - Erusea has enough of them that they're letting the RedshirtArmy fly them in the penultimate mission, when only ''one'' of each currently exists in the real world.
*** Subverted in a sort of weird way in ''Zero'': Gelb Squadron is the only encounter in the game where you're guaranteed to fight Su-37's. There are two of them in the squad, the same number built in real life. There are, however, two more named Su-37 pilots later in the game, but they only appear on Ace difficulty, and one of them (who may or may not be the future leader of the Yellow Squadron), only in the Knight Style.
** Another offender is the F-14 Tomcat, which was retired in 2006, with a few planes going to museums and the rest getting scrapped. While most of the AC games were made before the retirement, ''Assault Horizon'' is particularly egregious offender since the game was made in 2011, is set in the near future, and one of the trailers shows an entire squadron of operational F-14s. Another possible offender the same game is the PAK FA, which at the time of the game's release is still in the testing phase, and only a few prototypes exist. The PAK-FA is tentatively expected to be ready for action around 2015, the year before ''Assault Horizon'' takes place, though.
* RealLife: ''Joint Assault'' for the PSP, ''Assault Horizon'' for the 360, [=PS3=] and PC, and ''Infinity'' for [=PS3=] all take place in real-world locations.
* [[RealMenWearPink Real Men Fly Pink F-22 Raptors]]: Your only excuse for flying a plane with an [[VideoGame/TheIdolmaster Idolm@ster]] girl painted on it.
** Or covered in CherryBlossoms.
** ''Assault Horizon'' now gives players the option to create their own custom paintjobs for their fighters. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-1NFvScbOo Cue bright purple Su-47s at 1:05]].
* RealityEnsues: The gamebreaker-ness of the [=QAAMs=] can be interpreted as what happens when you put a nigh-undefeatable real-world heater in a world where the standard missiles are overfed tabbies that can be shaken off without needing countermeasures.
* RecurringBoss: In ''04, 5, 6, X'' and ''Joint Assault''.
* RedBaron: Typically, as your skills become more and more recognized, you or your squadron get a nickname, referring to a plot point or squadron logo. For instance, Gryphus One from Ace Combat X becomes known as "nemesis" by the obviously uncreative enemies, and "the southern cross" by allies, since the constellation is painted on your aircraft, there's the "Ribbon" in ''04'', and the Razgriz squadron (alternately the Demons or Ghosts thereof). But yeah, the best is the "Demon Lord of the Round Table" in ''Zero'', hard to top that.
** Possibly rivalling that, one enemy in the sixteenth mission refers to Mobius One as "the Grim Reaper."
** And one of the minor allied pilots from Ace Combat 6 (IE one of the ones you can't unlock a profile about, but is still identified in subtitles) is literally the Red Baron.
** It first applies to your wingman in ''Zero''; Pixy already has the nickname "Solo Wing" (he crash-landed his [=F-15C=] Eagle despite losing its right wing), he has a custom paint scheme (his new Eagle's right wing is painted red), and your opposition has already heard of him.
* RedshirtArmy: The majority of allied pilots are considerably less capable than the PC.
* TheRemnant: Erusea does this not once but twice. Leasath also does this.
* {{Roboteching}}: The key ability of [=QAAMs=]; some cruise missiles also give you quite the spinny chase.
* SelfPlagiarism: The arcade game ''Mach Storm'' basically consists of the scripted DFM sequences in ''Assault Horizon'' stitched together in a full game.
* SequelEscalation: Subverted by the superfighters, with the Falken being one of the first introduced and easily being the most over-the-top, though it wasn't playable until the fifth game. Later planes have at least ''looked'' more down to earth, with the CFA-44 looking more like a modern, fifth generation fighter.
* SequentialBoss: Every flying fortress mission is the series counts for this.
* ShortRangeLongRangeWeapon: The missile ranges are below their real-world equivalents'. The XLAA ones, in particular, are ridiculously short.
* ShroudedInMyth: Some of the player characters get this treatment.
* SoLastSeason: [[ZigZaggingTrope Zig Zagged]] with starting planes. See the article for the rundown.
* SortingAlgorithmOfWeaponEffectiveness: With few exceptions, the later a plane is available, the statistically superior it is. On the other hand, missiles and other special weapons don't get better on later planes.
* SpaceFillingEmpire: Osea, the largest country in Strangereal, occupies most of the continent of the same name; essentially everything west of Belka and Sapin, while Yuktobania is of similar scale on the Verusean continent. Both of these nations, fittingly, are the setting's superpowers, though Osea is the larger of the two. Compare to the Usean Continent, which is stated to have at least 18 different nations but is far smaller in size (albeit most of them are part of [[TheAlliance ISAF]]).
* SpeedRun: Taking the fastest plane available through the enclosed-area {{Scrappy Level}}s at maximum power. Like taking "Greased Lightning" from ''2'' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3NPNSsj52w in the X-29]] or "Aces" from ''5'' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssmDlA8AM0s in the MiG-31]].
* {{Spinventory}}
* TheSquad: Mostly averted in ''04'' (you almost always have four wingmen flying with you, but none are explicitly named, and in the final mission it's subverted in that [[spoiler:Mobius Squadron is really ''just'' Mobius One plus a squadron's worth of pilots in Raptors with his insignia]]), used in ''5'' ([[TheCaptain "Heartbreak One" Bartlett]], [[PlayerCharacter Blaze]], [[WideEyedIdealist Edge, Chopper]], and [[NewMeat Archer]]), and it's pairs in ''2'' (Scarface 1/"Edge" or "Slash", though only in certain missions... and there're supposed to be other pilots in Scarface), ''Zero'' (Galm 1 "Cipher"/Galm 2 "Pixy" [[spoiler:then PJ]]) and ''6'' (Garuda 1 "Talisman"/Garuda 2 "Shamrock").
* SquadControls: ''Ace Combat 5'', ''Ace Combat Zero'', and ''Ace Combat 6'' gave you control over your wingmen. Seeing how the game is about aerial combat, your options are usually "Concentrate Fire", "Disperse and Engage", and "Cover Me". You can also toggle permission to use special weapons. Unfortunately, in ''[=AC6=]'', the controls were already simplified compared to ''ACZ'' and this feature seems to have been abandoned completely in later ''Ace Combat'' games (where the wingmen are completely AI-controlled).
* StealthBasedMission: ''2'', ''3'', ''5'' and ''X'' have missions that force you to fly below a certain altitude, avoid circles representing radar coverage, or both.
* StoryBranching: Two ''Ace Combat'' games included major story branching: ''Electrosphere'' and ''Skies of Deception''. However, only the former had MultipleEndings, while in the latter, all branches converged for the final mission. Minor branching was present in other games, as well, but it usually availed to one or two mission-long branches, which converged back again into the linear storyline.
** ''Ace Combat 2'' has your allies launching two simultaneous operations against the enemy, "Alphaville" and "Bellissima", and lets the player decide which operation they wanted to support. It also had hidden missions that could be unlocked by destroying certain targets in specific missions, but which overall had no effect on the progression and could be skipped. Like ''Electrosphere'' there are also multiple endings, though they're all basically different versions of the same ending depending on how far you get into the game.
** ''Ace Combat 5'' branches off at two different times before converging back into the main story. Your wingman Chopper asks you a question in the middle of a mission and your Yes/No answer determines the choice. The questions he asks has nothing to do with anything relevant to the missions. Arcade Mode also has mission path that branches at two separate points, though it still sends you through the same number of missions per playthrough and the last level is the same for all four paths, other than the placement of enemies and whether the final encounter is four (top path) or six (every other path) X-02's; the paths are basically more of a difficulty select than actual branching.
* StrictlyFormula: To the point that two of the three [=PS2=]-era games even have the exact same number of missions.
* SuperPrototype: Most of the superfighters, though some of them are subversions.
* SurprisinglyImprovedSequel: In-universe. While the first game had many of the elements that make the series what it is, the graphics are hideous to the point of FakeDifficulty in the first [[ThatOneLevel canyon mission]] and many features were only present in rudimentary form. It was also just old enough to be incompatible with analog controllers, requiring the player to use the D-pad to control the plane. The second game introduced analog controls, better graphics, and something closer to a real plot. The series didn't really find it's niche until ''3'' came out, when it introduced story dialogue given during missions via radio chatter, special weapons to use, and everything else that every game following after that have become known for having.
* ThemeNaming: The series loves doing this.
** AnimalThemeNaming: The Yellow Squadron's ''official'' designation is "Aquila" (Latin and Italian for "Eagle"). Over two dozen of [[http://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_aces_in_Ace_Combat_Zero Belkan aces]] are named after various birds ([[BilingualBonus in German]]), and another dozen, after animals (ditto). Aurelia's air force likewise have bird genera for squadron names.
** ColourfulThemeNaming: Both Belka and Erusea's Air Forces use colors in their squadron names.
** NamedAfterSomebodyFamous: All [[http://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_aces_in_Ace_Combat_04 Erusean aces]] are named after famous astronomers.
** ReligiousAndMythologicalThemeNaming: [[http://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/Ace_Combat_Zero:_The_Belkan_War#Cultural_references Lots of it]] in ''ACZ''. Also, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinfaxi Scinfaxi, Hrimfaxi]], ''[[Literature/TheBible Ark]]''bird, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graback#Prose_Edda Grabacr, and Ofnir]] in ''[=AC5=]''.
** And even ChessMotifs! The callsigns of all named aces in the penultimate mission of ''Ace Combat Zero'' are the names of chess pieces in German and Russian.
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill:
** Getting hit by the Chandelier missiles in ''6''. There's a launcher with a barrel so big you can (and need to) fly a plane down it, and it fires a missile in timed intervals. It's worth mentioning that getting shot down by the Chandelier literally ''maxes out the Xbox 360's '''processing power!''''' The amount of power needed to render the cannon's special effects when it fires combined with your plane disintegrating in the air drops the framerate down to about 3 frames per second. Overkill indeed.
** On your side it's easy to single a target out for a full "burst" of special missiles, heaters and gun rounds. Or drop a FAEB/LSWM/MPBM on a single ground target. It's wasteful to the max, but overkill man!
* TimedMission: Every one. In the first two games this was represented by a fuel meter, making it slightly more plausible, though oddly enough RTB was almost never an issue and the meter depleted at the same rate regardless of what you did.
* TitleDrop: The EU non-numeric titles ''Distant Thunder'', ''Squadron Leader'' and ''The Belkan War'' all show up in their respective games. There's also ''Shattered Skies'' -- both a dialogue phrase and the name of ''[=AC04=]'''s eighth mission. ''The Unsung War'' and ''Zero'' also serve as the names for their respective games' final missions, the latter also showing up in a dialogue phrase during it.
* TruthInTelevision: [[CaptainObvious Most of the planes and how they perform too.]]
* TryNotToDie
* UnusableEnemyEquipment: There are some fighter-ish planes you can't acquire for your collection, and non-fighter types i.e. bombers[[note]]except in ''Infinity'', as of the December 2014 update[[/note]], recon, and AEW&C are wholly unusable. The Harrier, SR-71, Tu-95 Bear, and B-52 are common examples. The enemy controlled variations of the FALKEN in ''2'', Morgan in ''Zero'', and Nosferatu in ''6'' all have special features that the player versions never had, although in the FALKEN's case this is turned on its head by giving the playable version [[FrickinLaserBeams something else entirely that the NPC version didn't have]].
* VideogameCaringPotential: There's satisfaction to be gained from helping the Redshirt Air Force out rather than just gunning for the targets and leaving them to die.
* TheWarSequence: Several missions in the games really drive home the point that you are fighting a war.
* WaveMotionGun: The series has several superweapons that qualify, including the XR-900's Heavy Laser from ''Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere'', the Arkbird's laser cannon, Excalibur from ''Ace Combat Zero'', and the ADF-01 [=FALKEN=]'s Tactical Laser System. The TLS returns in both ''Zero'' onboard the FALKEN and the ADFX-01 "Morgan" (which has only half the number of shots), and has a spiritual successor in ''Ace Combat 6'' with the Electromagnetic Launcher (EML) onboard the CFA-44 "Nosferatu."
* WeaponOfChoice:
** Mobius One and his Raptor, even though it's only available from the penultimate mission of ''Shattered Skies'' on. Various other pilots also swear by a certain plane.
** Almost all of the promotional material for ''Zero'' shows Cipher and Pixy in [=F-15s=].
** The official planes of the Wardog/Razgriz squadron are F-14 Tomcats.
* WeDoTheImpossible: The player's reputation.
* WhenAllYouHaveIsAHammer: Your offensive options in the first two games consisted entirely of short-ranged missiles and an even-shorter-ranged Vulcan cannon. ''Electrosphere'' allowed you to swap those out for weapons with differing powers and ranges, and every game after that added special weapons such as bombs.
* {{Wingman}}: Right from the beginning, with the exception of ''Ace Combat 04.'' They were a complete waste of money in the first couple games. Quiet wastes of money.
* WithThisHerring: Usually (but not always) you start off with a dinky outdated plane.
** DoubleSubverted in ''Electrosphere'', where you start with a sleek, snazzy 2003 Eurofighter Typhoon... in 2040, when fusion-powered super planes equipped with superpowerful lasers are under development.
* WolfpackBoss: All the time against enemy ace squadrons.
* WorthyOpponent: Various enemy aces view the player characters this way.
* [[YouAreNumberSix You Are Scarface/Mobius/Wardog/Garm/Garuda/Gryphus One]]
* YouCantThwartStageOne: The final missions of ''Ace Combat 04'' and ''5'', twice in ''Zero'' [[spoiler: (the Belkans deploying nuclear weapons and V2)]]and the start of ''6''. Not helped by how difficult it is to even try thwarting stage one.
-->''Yo buddy, still alive?''