[[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 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 [[FictionalEarth similar to and yet very different from our own]].

!!!The series currently spans seven consoles and twelve games:
* UsefulNotes/{{Arcade|Game}}:
** ''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.

* UsefulNotes/PlayStation:
** ''VideoGame/AirCombat'' (''Ace Combat'' in Japan) - 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. Released outside of Japan as a BadExportForYou, lacking StoryBranching, the cutscenes or anything that made the game iconic.

* UsefulNotes/PlayStation2:
** ''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.

* [[UsefulNotes/PlayStationPortable 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 Francisco]]. As Antares, a newcomer to Martinez Security, you fight the machinations of a powerful terrorist group across the world.

* UsefulNotes/GameBoyAdvance:
** ''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.]]

* UsefulNotes/{{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, UsefulNotes/PlayStation3, 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:
** ''Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion'' - 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''.

* UsefulNotes/Nintendo3DS
** ''[[VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizonLegacy Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy]]'' - 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'' adding elements from earlier games in the series, primarily ''Zero'', 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'' - A downloadable title for the [=PS3=], with a higher focus on multiplayer. 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 SpiritualAdaptation.

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 (see also Timeline.UGSFSeries). However, since there is still no official information available in English, details on this are very sketchy.

''VideoGame/AceCombat7SkiesUnknown'' was announced to be in development in December 2015 for the UsefulNotes/PlayStation4. The first trailer, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIqAS4avNsE found here,]] shows that the game takes place in Strangereal once more, as an Osean F-22 Raptor is seen chasing after an Erusian Su-30M as they approach a SpaceElevator called the "Light House." [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9kLbrO2vBI A second trailer,]] showcased at the [=PlayStation=] Experience 2016, provides more exposition, establishing that the two countries are at war. The game is set for release in 2018 on Playstation 4, UsefulNotes/XboxOne and PC; it will be the first entry since ''Assault Horizon'' to both go multiplatform and see a PC release, and the first in the series to see the latter at the same time as the console versions.
!! Release order
# ''VideoGame/AirCombat'' (1995)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat2'' (1997)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat3Electrosphere'' (1999)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat04ShatteredSkies'' (2001)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar'' (2004)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatAdvance'' (2005)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' (2006)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatXSkiesOfDeception'' (2006)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat6FiresOfLiberation'' (2007)
# ''Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion'' (2009)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatJointAssault'' (2010)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizon'' (2011)[[note]]Received UpdatedRerelease[=s=] in 2013, the ''Enhanced Edition'' serving as the PC port and an ''Advanced Edition'' for [=PlayStation=] 3[[/note]]
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizonLegacy'' (2011) [[note]]Received an updated rerelease in 2015 as ''Ace Combat: Assault Horizon [=Legacy+=]''[[/note]]
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatNorthernWings'' (2011)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombatInfinity'' (2014)
# ''VideoGame/AceCombat7SkiesUnknown'' (2018)

!! 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/First Usean Continental War (1997/1998)
# ''Ace Combat: Northern Wings'': Various conflicts (1999 to 2016)
# ''Ace Combat 04'': (Second) 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 7'': Osean-Erusean War (2020)
# ''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, most often because an enemy base is within the canyon and they have an undefeatable network of surface-to-air missiles covering the airspace above. 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).
** Justified with the minor mistakes the games sometimes make. They sometimes use prototype aircraft, so certain planes have names and functions different from usual (e.g. the F-16E Block 60 was named the F-16C Block 60, and in Ace Combat 2, the Raptor wasn't released yet, so they modeled the YF-22, the prototype version, instead).
* 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: Strangereal, a ConstructedWorld similar to ours in many ways, except without nukes and continents closer together.
* 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.
* AndYourRewardIsClothes: Shoot down enemy aces and you can slap on their paint jobs on your planes.
* AnimalThemeNaming: The Yellow Squadron's ''official'' designation is "Aquila" (Latin and Italian for "Eagle"). Over two dozen [[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, as do the individual pilots of Emmeria's 15th squadron.
* AntiVillain: The [=PS2=] series hammer in the fact that your enemies are people too, with the wars being waged due to economic strife caused either by the Ulysses meteor or from the country itself.
* ArbitraryMissionRestriction: Each game typically includes at least one mission where the player is required to fly through a trench, staying below the lip of the trench. It usually has one of two {{justifi|edTrope}}cations: Either the mission is a stealth-recon mission, and flying above the trench will result in detection and immediate failure, or there is heavy anti-aircraft fire that can't reach the player in the trench, but will instantly kill them if they fly too high.
* 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 ([[FunWithAcronyms COnnection For Flight INterface]]) 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 in most of the games will cause this to happen.
* ArtificialBrilliance: Ace pilots, when compared to the standard mooks. Yellow Squadron in ''04'' will use the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pugachev%27s_Cobra Pugachev Cobra]] maneuver to get behind you, for instance.
* BackFromTheBrink: In ''2'', ''04'', ''Zero'', and ''X'', 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).
* 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. Even the first game [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2DZtpJV2lo ended]] with a giant flying battleship.
* BiggerStick: Getting better planes.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: InUniverse, most of the fictional superfighters come out of nowhere with little explanation, like the ADF-01 in ''2'' (and especially its reappearance in ''5''). Starting from ''Zero'' and ''X'' these start getting some justification, most often being a sort of last-resort superweapon the enemy hopes to turn the tide with.
* BloodlessCarnage: As a consequence of plane-combat. The one and only time the player sees blood is the attack helicopter segments in ''Assault Horizon'' where you're actively shooting at foot soldiers rather than just vehicles and buildings.
* 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'', without OldSaveBonus, requires beating the game twice with different [[KarmaMeter Ace Styles]] to unlock the X-02, and beating it three times with all the different Supreme Ace medals to unlock the ADF-01; 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 five 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, but they do a poor job of it, not least for the fact that they aren't actually meant to be one in-universe; while some could act the role due to being well-known, built for a different purpose but also being effective as a weapon (Stonehenge was built and highly-publicized for the purpose of protecting the continent from the Ulysses asteroid, Excalibur was meant for missile defense), for the most part they are in fact ''meant'' to be used in a shooting war, most of them being purpose-built for killing people and introduced to the world at large by firing the opening shots of a war (most of the airborne fortresses such as the P-1112 Aigaion from ''6'' or the Gleipnir from ''X'') or quickly finished or repaired to turn the tide of a war that's gone badly (stuff like Megalith from ''04'', the SOLG from ''5'', Chandelier from ''6'', etc.)
** 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.
* CataclysmBackstory: The Ulysses Meteor defined the Strangereal universe. When it was first found, many countries scrambled to create weapons capable of destroying it, leading to the building of the many doomsday weapons faced in the franchise. When it actually crashed, the economic and political consequences led to two of the wars in the games, the Anean and Second Usean Continental Wars.
** This also applies to the ''Infinity'' universe, where the "Ulysses disaster" led to the setting of the game being what it is.
* CerebusSyndrome: More dramatic and realistic elements have crept in over time, the biggest examples being [[DeconstructorFleet Zero and Electrosphere]].
* ChasingYourTail: And ''how!'' Expect to spend a lot of time staring at the back of other planes.
* ColourfulThemeNaming: Both Belka and Erusea's Air Forces use colors in their squadron names.
* 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.
%% commenting out UsefulNotes, they do not belong in trope example lists * UsefulNotes/ConsoleWars: After being a UsefulNotes/PlayStation and UsefulNotes/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 UsefulNotes/XBox360. Its handheld outings would remain exclusive to the UsefulNotes/PlayStationPortable until ''Assault Horizon Legacy'' and its UpdatedRerelease ''Assault Horizon Legacy+'' came out for the [[UsefulNotes/Nintendo3DS 3DS]] , however, while ''Assault Horizon'' also came out for UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 alongside the 360 and ''Infinity'' is a [=PS3=] exclusive.
%% commenting out UsefulNotes, they do not belong in trope example lists ** UsefulNotes/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 [=SAAMs=] 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.
* DefenselessTransports: Transport planes (and ships, less often) appear from time to time as either [=NPCs=] that must be escorted or targets to be destroyed. They can usually survive a few hits but can't fight back in any way.
* 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.
* DifficultButAwesome: SAAMs usually fall into this. They require you leave yourself vulnerable and keep a target in your sights for the duration of the missile's flight, but they are some of the most accurate missiles in the series, making them extremely useful against enemy aces if conditions permit their use.
* 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: A staple of the franchise. Due to how impossibly good your characters are, enemies crap their pants in fear at THE VERY POSSIBILITY of your presence. A few enemy squadrons also have the same reputation, until they're shot down by 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 continues serving ISAF for a year after the end of ''04'''s Usean Continental War. Whether he continues AFTER that remains to be seen.
* 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.
** ''Air Combat'' and ''Ace Combat 2'' 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: Your fighter's radar will show the location of enemies nearby, though stealth planes will fade in and out. Some games use different colored icons to indicate which targets are mission-critical, while others use the same colours to show how much health each target has left. Most of the games that came out after Ace Combat 6 often have stealth planes only show up on radar when they are in front half of your plane's radar field.
* 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: Each new game that came out in the series would reveal more and more about Strangereal's geopolitical setup and history. A world map of Strangereal was revealed early on, but there's still a significant number of countries that haven't even been identified yet, much less a war between two of them to flesh them out. None of the three games that take place on Earth are connected to each other.
* FeaturelessProtagonist:
** It's very rare to find out anything about the character's name, appearance, or even ''gender''. To that end, most of the games' stories focus on people affected by the protagonist's actions (4 being the biggest example). 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.
* FictionalEarth: Strangereal is Earth in every possible way except for landmasses and nations. You can even tell what real world counterparts the nations are based on. It has an Antarctica no different from the real one. It even has its own Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Almost all the aircraft used in the game exist in reality.
* FighterLaunchingSequence: A few times, naturally. Sometimes you have to actually play through the takeoff sequence yourself, to boot.
* FragileSpeedster: The X-29 has incredible acceleration and max speed but takes hits poorly. So do its "cousins" the F-5E and F-20A in their respective games. The [[MyNaymeIs Cariburn]] is fast, but since a single missile hit can take the damage meter up to 51% even on Normal, damages easily. It blends with GlassCannon as it can equip [[{{Roboteching}} QAAMs]].
* 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 6´s "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.) This dies down in between the Belkan War and the events if 5 due to painful punishments from causing the War.
** It's also implied that [[MegaCorp General Resource, Ltd.]] from ''Electrosphere'' traces its origins to a state-run South Belkan munitions firm, and carries on that tradition in its own corporate power schemes.
* 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. This carries over into countries as well, with the flags of "good" countries typically being blue, whereas the flags of "bad" countries are usually in red.
* GoodWeaponEvilWeapon:
** It has been noted that in almost every game, the protagonist squadron and sometimes his allies usually fly Western fighter aircraft (usually American, and more often than not the [[CoolPlane F-22 Raptor]]) 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 fictional superfighters). This is played straight however in the remake when Scarface One uses the F-22 as his aircraft of choice.
*** Of course this get's subverted somewhat for the enemy in the remake, as only one of the five major ace squadrons (including the aformentioned Z.O.E.) flies Russian aircraft. Justified in all cases however as both the original and more poignantly in the remake, shows that this is the closest the series has gotten to depicting a CivilWar, and would use Western fighters in its inventory. The squad flying the Russian aircraft, [[spoiler:They're from Erusea, the antagonist country in ''04'' who's premier ace squadron also flies the Russian-built [[CoolPlane Su-37 Terminator]].]]
** 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. Mobius One is often portrayed with the Raptor here as well.
** In ''5'', the 8492nd Squadron flies the [[RareVehicles F-15 S/MTD]] up until the final mission, where they fly Su-[=47s=] instead. Your squadron's official plane is the F-14A Tomcat.
** 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. Meanwhile, your team is shown flying the F-15C.
** In ''X'' some of the Redshirts fly Flankers.
** The Rigel Squadron in ''Joint Assault'' mostly avert this at the start, with three of the four flying Russian jets, but then switch over to playing it mostly straight when they defect to Valahia in the fourth mission. Interestingly, the one guy among them flying an American jet is also the only one who is actually nice to the player character before the defection.
** 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. Story-wise it's zig-zagged with the Bone Arrow flight, with Omega flying a Eurofighter and Bronco flying an F-16F, while Viper flies a [=MiG-21=] and Zebu flies a [=MiG=]-29; the player obviously has their own choice of craft, though the rental sets alzo zig-zag this, such as mission 2 suggesting an F-16C then mission 3 suggesting a Su-25.
* 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. Even when you try zooming in on the cockpit of your plane during a mission the pilot's face is hidden by a tinted visor and an oxygen mask.
* 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.
* HighAltitudeBattle: While ''every'' battle in the series takes place in the air ([[VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizon even if it's a helicopter flying only a few feet off the ground]],) a few stand out for pushing the limits of your airframe:
** "Rising High" from ''Ace Combat 2'' and ''Assault Horizon Legacy'' takes place so high (above 40,000 feet) that most aircraft will constantly stall if you try to climb at too steep an angle or if you lose too much thrust.
** ''Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere'' has high altitude missions for the RF-12A2 (a futuristic relative of the SR-71 Blackbird), as well as a mission in orbit involving a weaponized space shuttle. You have to survive re-entry too.
* 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 when you see ordnance 'magically' rematerialize on your plane's wings in third-person view! 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 at around six-thousand rounds per minute]]''.
* IconicLogo: In a series where nearly every protagonist is a FeaturelessProtagonist, the only things identifying each game's hero is their squadrons' [[NoseArt unique logo]].
** IconicOutfit: When appearing in other games as cameos, the protagonists (and when applicable, their famous rivals) always appear with their [[WeaponOfChoice signature plane]] and their NoseArt. Lacking either one, and it definitely isn't them.
* 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 unless you can slow the latter down massively. 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 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. [[spoiler:There technically is one: Mobius freaking One with his signature F-22 Raptor. Subverted, however, as there isn't a profile to unlock, since he appears in a bonus mission out of the storyline.]]
* ItsPersonalWithTheDragon: A staple of the series. In many games, there is an ArchEnemy or personal rival for you that isn't the BigBad, and who is your greatest enemy.
** The straightest examples are with 4, 6 and Zero. 4 takes the cake in that all of the cutscenes in the game are about your rival, developing and building up to your final clash with him.
* ItsUpToYou: In real life, squadrons generally specialize, with different units being assigned close air support, getting air superiority or doing bombing runs. Your characters do all of them over the course of the game, sometimes at the same time.
** 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's 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.
** [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality For balance reasons]], every plane in the game is armed with a gun, even those that don't have them in real life (such as the F-117A, the F-35C or the EA-18G), as well as dozens of missiles (such as, again, the F-117 and unarmed tech demos) that, unlike in reality, are viable and equally effective against both fast air targets and unmoving bunkers. ''6'' also allows every plane to perform tight High-G turns, which would normally tear some of said aircraft apart.
** Sometimes justified when the game uses production or prototype concepts of planes and weapons before the final testing is finished (e.g. the production model of the Raptor was used in [=AC4=], and in trailers for [=AC7=] Raptors were shown using external weapon pods, which were in testing for the FA-18C.)
* 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. To avoid this issue, your plane just de-spawns entirely in missions where that would inevitably lead to a crash, and in every other one it will automatically pull up a couple hundred meters as soon as control is taken away from you; if it manages to crash at this point anyway, 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, particularly in ''04'', where the viewpoint character for the story outside of gameplay fell in with them.
* 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: 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 can tank more hits than earlier ones while still being faster, more agile, and carrying more ammo. ''Especially'' the superfighters.
* LikeRealityUnlessNoted: Although Strangereal is a rather different alternate Earth from ours, it uses the same planes with an occasional twist or two, and many countries and events have clear parallels to those on our Earth. And then of course [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality the physics breaking arcade elements the game adds for fun]].
* MacrossMissileMassacre: There are various types of multi-target missiles in the series. The XMAA can target four different air targets at once, and the XAGM serves the same purpose but against air targets. Later games have variants allowing targeting of six air targets. And the ADMM in Ace Combat 6 allows you to target ''[[SerialEscalation up to twelve enemies.]]''
* 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).
* MassOhCrap: Usually signalled by [[TheDreaded the arrival of your squadron]].
** ''Zero'' has a spectacular one when [[SuperweaponSurprise Excalibur makes its debut]]. One second, all the pilots in the operation relax after having cleared the airspace from enemy fighters, Cipher and Pixy form up with a flight of five cargo planes for what looks like an EscortMission... then suddenly a laser beam sweeps down from the sky and instakills three cargo planes with zero warning. Cue everyone still alive screaming over each other in confusion and panic as [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvUsZZgjAws this]] kicks in - including resident wisecracker Pixy, who for the first time in the game sounds more than a little nervous.
-->'''Allied pilot:''' AWACS, requesting orders!
-->'''Allied pilot:''' What was that? Where did that attack just come from?!
-->'''Pixy:''' What the hell happened?! AWACS, what's going on?!
-->'''AWACS:''' Hold on! Incoming emergency message from Operations HQ: enemy launching long-range attacks, current airspace is within range.
-->'''Pixy:''' Now you tell us?! Where should we fly?!
-->''(Excalibur fires again, destroying the last two transports)''
-->'''Allied pilot:''' Plane 4 just vanished! Allied planes are disappearing from radar!
-->'''Pixy:''' [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere This is bad, I'm outta here!]]
* MegaCorp: By ''Electrosphere'' in the Strangereal continuity, even powerful corporations have their own militaries, including air forces.
* MidairCollision: This is one of the most embarrassing ways to fail a mission in the games, especially crashing into a bomber you are chasing or a plane you already shot down.
* 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: Missiles generally take a second or two to lock on to a target, if it stays near the center of the screen. Each plane has its own "Anti-Air" and "Anti-Ground" stat which shows how fast that lock on is. Enemy aces generally maneuver violently enough to make locking on to them quite difficult.
* 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 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 and is still one of the most difficult aces in the entire game).
* 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.
* NamedAfterSomebodyFamous: All [[http://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_aces_in_Ace_Combat_04 Erusean aces]] are named after famous astronomers.
* 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 the same short range as regular missiles to balance their high accuracy/maneuverability, long-range missiles tend to be inaccurate unless launched at the right angle, and [=SAAMs=] could have been overpowered 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 and explore the maps. In addition, all three [=PS2=]-era games require using New Game+ to unlock their super-planes, in addition to other requirements.
* NoNameGiven: In addition to the player characters, several enemy aces like Yellow 13 and most of the AWACS spokesmen go only by callsign.
* NomDeGuerre: All pilots have at least one callsign. These are either squadron identifiers (Galm 1, Wardog 2, Yellow 13, etc.) or unique nicknames (Cipher, Edge, Heartbreak One) and many pilots have both.
* 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. As such, nuclear weapons are seen as more frightening InUniverse than they are in RealLife, which is the reason TheVerse [[AnthropicPrinciple exists in the first place]].
* OccupiersOutOfOurCountry: In most games, once you start to liberate enemy territories, you're likely to hear someone invoke this trope. The liberation of Directus in ''Ace Combat Zero'' is the most notable example. After you begin your fight against Belkan forces, the citizens of Directus decide to join in and fight back with whatever they can get their hands on. With you and Pixy covering the air, they take back the city by themselves.
-->'''Civilian:''' Get out! Get the HELL out of our city!
* 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.]]
** ''Zero'' has a rather good example in the first Round Table mission if the player is up against the Rot Squadron.
--->'''Final Rot pilot:''' Impossible! Am I the only one left?! ''Requesting backup!!''
*** And in the penultimate mission:
--->'''Enemy:''' He's coming... the Demon Lord is coming here!
* OnceASeason:
** 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 Wardog/Razgriz and [[CherryBlossoms Zipang]] from ''5'' and Scarface One from ''2''.
** And of course, [[AirstrikeImpossible tunnel flights, canyon flights]] and fights against humongous superweapons.
* OneHitPointWonder: The player's plane on Ace difficulty, at least against missiles.
* OneManArmy: In the original ''Air Combat'', Phoenix is literally the only one driving back the rebellion. In ''2'', Phoenix can invoke this by choosing to not hire a wingman. Deliberately invoked in "Operation Katina" in ''5'', as Mobius 1 and Sky Eye are sent to fend off Erusian rebel forces. Galm 1 from ''Zero'' is eventually acknowledged and "an indispensable component in (the) war".
** Not that the others are any weaker, mind you. Especially Cipher.
-->'''Enemy:''' It's that Ustio mercenary, damn him! He's turning the tide of battle in their favor!
-->'''Enemy:''' He can't be human!
-->'''Enemy:''' He's like a demon...
-->'''Ally:''' That kind of pilot... they call a Demon Lord...
* OneNationUnderCopyright: ''Electrosphere'', where corporations have long superceded governments in economic and political control.
* 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 Arrow mission, though the stage name omits the word 'Operation.' There is also Operation Desert Blitz, with the stage name being Desert Lightning, a lesser extent of this.
** Operation Bunker Shot in ''Ace Combat 04.''
* OrchestralBombing: Later games in the series have orchestra for a lot of their music. Come the or certain boss battles, and OminousLatinChanting sets in as well.
* OvershadowedByAwesome: The real-life planes are almost always outdone statistically by the game-original superfighters. [[BoringYetPractical Of course, unlocking them is also easier, making them more frequently used anyway]]. [[InfinityMinusOneSword Besides, the fifth gen fighters certainly aren't lacking at all]].
* 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. Aegis vessels zig-zag this; in co-op they're as useless as ever, but in Naval Fleet Assault, they can shoot down missile-type weapons... but not bombs, or even other air-to-ground weapons that work exactly ''like'' missiles.
* PreAssKickingOneLiner: "<player character>, 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 JustForFun/{{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-[=37s=]. 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. Even after its supposed introduction to service in 2015, the year before ''Assault Horizon'' takes place, problems meant that the PAK FA was still relegated to testing until now.
** ''Assault Horizon'' gets a similar subversion to the example from ''Zero'' with the Su-47 - while you can use it to your heart's content once you have access to it, there is not a single enemy anywhere in the campaign that is flying it.
* 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, though Infinity takes elements from the entire series.
* RealityEnsues: The overpowered-ness of the [=QAAMs=] can be interpreted as what happens when you put a nigh-undefeatable real-world heater from the modern day in a world where the standard missiles are overfed tabbies that can be shaken off without countermeasures simply by making a gentle turn.
* RecurringBoss: Most often a named enemy ace squadron plays this role, such as the Yellow Squadron in ''04''. A more minor example would be the Scinfaxi-class submarines in ''The Unsung War'', as you end up fighting both in short order.
** In ''2'' and its remake ''Assault Horizon Legacy'', this happens with ZOE, who you encounter at certain intervals. Beast Squadron from AHL comes in twice, but only on a certain route.
* 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) in ''5''. Possibly the hardest to top would be the "Demon Lord of the Round Table" in ''Zero''.
** 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 (e.g. one of the ones you can't unlock a profile about, but is still identified by name in subtitles) is literally the Red Baron.
** It first applies to your wingman in ''Zero''; Pixy already has the nickname "Solo Wing" (he completed a mission and 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.
* 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=]''.
* 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. ''Infinity'' in turn is essentially taking iconic levels from previous games and turning them into four- to eight-player co-op missions, though for the latter it does have an original (if still MythologyGag-filled) story and has many a RemixedLevel.
* 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 (although it got [[FrickinLaserBeams a bit crazier]] by then). 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 standard missiles are consistently given a range of about 900 feet). 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. To summarize, your starting plane varies in effectiveness and reliability over the course of the game You mostly start out with either cheap F-4s or F-5s, in 6 you have a reliable F-16C that can reasonably carry you through the game, in 3 you have a Typhoon, a high-end plane... for the other games that don't take place TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture, but for this one is woefully inadequate.
* 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. Assuming that Strangereal is the same size as Earth and that the map given in ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar'' is an equal-area projection (which seems likely, given that the unchanged continent of Antarctica is more in line with a Gall-Peters projection), Osea is about the size of Russia, India, and Mexico combined and Yuktobania is slightly smaller, at about the size of Russia, India, and South Africa combined. 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 various alliances]] like the Federation of Central Usea and/or 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}}: In almost every game, when selecting the plane, the camera will start rotating around the plane to give a full view. Some of them let you manually rotate the camera and look at the planes at your own leisure.
* 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. ''5'' gets one odd version in an EscortMission where you can fly through circles representing radar coverage just fine, but then the cargo plane you're escorting will follow you through it and promptly get blasted by friendly [=SAMs=].
* StoneWall: Bombers in the later games, which are absolute crap at air-combat and getting anywhere fast, but have unbeatable defense and anti-ground capabilities.
* 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 whether you shoot down a recurring enemy every time he shows up and, if you do, [[spoiler:whether you succeed in shooting down a cruise missile before it can impact with a city]].
** ''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-[=02s=]; the paths are basically more of a difficulty select than actual branching.
** ''Ace Combat Zero'' features three branching missions with three different paths, each being split between anti-air, anti-ground, and anti-air/ground missions, but this has little to no impact on the progression of the story. In a subtler way, the story also branches based on your [[KarmaMeter Ace Style]].
* StrictlyFormula: To the point that two of the three [=PS2=]-era games even have the exact same number of missions. Ace Combat 5 initially follows much of 04's formula, but begins to diverge a little over halfway through.
* SuperPrototype: Most of the superfighters, though some of them are subversions.
* ThemeNaming: The series loves doing this. Colors, animals, famous people, they've all been done.
** Osean fighter squadrons are mainly named after fantasy elements, with Wardog being the exception. Between Ace Combat 5, Zero, and 7, there's the Razgriz, Golem, Skeleton, Wizard, Sorcerer, and Mage squadrons.
** Erusean squadrons are named after birds. While they're known as the Yellow Squadron in Ace Combat 4, their official name is "Aquila" (Eagle). This follows the precedent set after the death of Edgar Grint (Albireo One) in ''VideoGame/AceCombatAssaultHorizonLegacy.''
** Belkan fighter squadrons are named after colors in German.
** 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 [[spoiler: and as a dialogue while selecting a plane for the last mission]]. ''The Unsung War'' and ''Zero'' also serve as the names for their respective games' final missions and their OminousLatinChanting final themes, the latter also showing up in a dialogue phrase during it.
* TruthInTelevision: Most of the planes and how they perform too.
* TryNotToDie: On occasion. ''5'' and ''Zero'' in particular punctuate the briefing for their respective final missions by saying that any outcome other than you returning safely is unacceptable. ''Zero'' also has a humorous variant, where Pixy tells PJ in their first meeting that, if he gets shot down, he should crash somewhere where Pixy can't see it.
* 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. ''6'' rewards this by giving you extra points, and allowing you to request fire support from said allies.
* TheWarSequence: Several missions in the games really drive home the point that you are fighting a war. A case of RealLifeWritesThePlot with ''6'', as a better graphics engine allows for nearly every mission to have this scale.
* 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: Though you can choose any plane available in the game and are encouraged to choose different planes for different missions, each game generally has the main pilot have a "canon" plane they preferred, which is featured on the boxart.
** Mobius One and his Raptor, even though it's only available from the penultimate mission of ''Shattered Skies''. It later returns in ''Ace Combat 5'' as his plane for [[GaidenGame Operation Katina]]. The F-22 is also the "canon" plane of Gryphus One in ''X'', William Bishop/Warwolf One in ''Assault Horizon'', and Reaper in ''Infinity''.
** Almost all of the promotional material for ''Zero'' shows Cipher and Pixy in [=F-15Cs=]. This gets to the point that you can't even tell Pixy to fly anything else, unlike the squadmates in ''5'' or ''6''.
** The official planes of the Wardog/Razgriz squadron are F-14A Tomcats. Unlike other examples, this is actually justified in the game's story. After a certain mission you're immediately given four F-14As for free and are required to play that specific plane for the next mission because you're limited to carrier based aircraft [[spoiler: due to being labeled as traitors by your country]]. This later gets a MidSeasonUpgrade into the F-14D Super Tomcat, which then becomes Blaze's official plane in all future appearances.
** Phoenix from the first two games has had three canonical planes. In the original release he used the Su-35E Flanker. In the remake, it was changed to the F-22 Raptor. In either game, it's "canon" that Scarface Squadron gets a MidSeasonUpgrade to the fictional [=XFA-27=] towards the last missions of the game.
** Talisman from ''6'' is shown with the F-15E Strike Eagle, while his wingmate Shamrock (plus most of the Emmerian Air Force) is shown with the F-16C Fighting Falcon, both excellent multirole aircraft. This matches with the game's [[FractionalWinningCondition mission operations]], as every mission in the game has you going around the map and supporting all your allies with many different objectives.
* 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. May be justified considering you generally start out as an unproven rookie and your army needs to come BackFromTheBrink.
** 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: Due to the reputation of the various player characters, the enemy's top aces all wish to fight you.
* 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?''