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High-Altitude Battle

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"Your chance comes when the whirlwind lifts the pirate ship. Finish it in the sky!"
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Event Match 37

In which the hero of a video game has to go up in the sky and defeat the enemy. It can be as simple as a dogfight between planes or airships, or as complex as fighting enemies at a flying fortress in an all-out war or traversing a Level in the Clouds. If the heroes and their opponents have the power of Flight to achieve this, this will lead to Air Jousting. If they are falling from the sky instead, well, that's another trope.

Common with Sky Pirates, and a leading cause of Disney Villain Death. Compare/contrast Rooftop Confrontation and Free-Fall Fight. If the battle goes up into space, then it overlaps with Astral Finale. If the targets are on the ground, it overlaps with Death from Above.

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Video Game Examples

  • Alien Hominid: The final phase against The Alien Prisoner has it raising it's battleship out of the military base for a last stance.
  • Dark Forces Saga: Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast, and Jedi Academy all have some variation on this: three of them have sequences that take place on Nar Shadaa, "the vertical city", complete with vast canyons between buildings, while the fourth has a mission that takes place on Coruscant itself.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo: The last few levels are almost all battles in the sky.
  • Ninja Gaiden: The third level of the reboot is set on a Zeppelin, and the boss fight takes place on top of the airship.
  • The Wonderful 101:
    • The first boss puts you in command of the Virgin Victory chasing after Laambo; once you've caught up, you ride on the boss itself, who cranes its neck to fight you on its back!
    • The entirety of Operation 003 is also in a high-altitude airport (a Strato Port), and it just keeps getting higher as you approach the boss.
    • Every fight with Prince Vorkken barring the final battle with him in Operation 101 takes place on the back of his ship, The Meizerr.

  • Drakan has aerial battles between dragons.
  • Eastward: The last battle against Solomon takes place in the elevator to the top of the Eternal Tower.
  • Illusion of Gaia: The Sky Garden floats high above the Nazca Lines and is the location of the second statue. The boss (and Point of No Return) is fought even higher, on a small, apparently free-falling platform. After beating the boss and getting the statue, you have to jump off and land on your cousin's airplane.
  • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: The second and last battle against the Sky Pirate captain Skabb takes place atop his ship's crow's nest high in the sky, and ends when he topples over the edge and to his doom.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: The Evil Eagle and Grim Creeper are fought on the very top of Eagle's Tower.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap: The Palace of Winds boss battle takes place who-knows-how-high in the air with Link riding the Gyorg Pair. How Link gets off afterward is unclear.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has the battle against Argorok, a flying dragon, from the City in the Sky. You get to the city by shooting yourself up into the sky with a cannon. Once there, you climb to the top of the tallest tower on the entire floating island. At the top, you find several pillars, which you climb up on. From the top of those, you use the clawshot to hook onto some flying peahats to get even higher, and from there you use the clawshot again to get to the dragon. You better not suffer from acrophobia.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Levias and the parasite controlling him, Bilocyte. During the first phase, Link has to destroy the parasitic tentacles protruding from Levias by performing a new attack his Loftwing learned shortly prior. In the second, he has to mount Levias himself to confront directly the source of the problem.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has the fight against Divine Beast Vah Medoh, where Link gets a ride up above the machine with Teba and must destroy its cannons with Bomb Arrows while Teba draws away their fire.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: The fight against Colgera is fought in the air above the Wind Temple, itself floating in the sky high above Hebra Peak and in the middle of a permanent blizzard. While Link can take temporary respite on small chunks of floating rock, actually winning the battle requires him to spend most of it gliding around and riding on updrafts in order to be able to attack the boss as it flies through the open air, temporarily exposing its weak points as it dives past Link and pelts him with flying snow and whirlwinds.
  • Shadow of the Colossus cranks up the awesome with two boss fights that require you to ride a colossus right into the air, holding on while you go for its weak points.
  • Spider-Man: Web of Shadows: The Symbiote Vulture boss battle takes place high above New York and quickly becomes a warzone when SHIELD troops arrive... and there is no ground. Therefore, you'll have to swing across hovercrafts and use air combos and web strikes on the Vulture and his mooks to keep up in the sky.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): The fight with Electro and Vulture takes place in the air above a factory, with Spider-Man swinging between smokestacks.

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • Aces Wild: Manic Brawling Action! is a Beat 'em Up game built primarily around this trope. Dodging and attacking within the vicinity of an enemy or destroyable object moves your character closer towards that entity, even when they're higher up. Some parts of the game even require this of the player, including one part early on involving continuing an air combo to keep out of a pit of lava.

    Fighting Games 
  • Killer Instinct had several such battles, though for the most part they were atop buildings that were merely tall. The hidden Skybox stage was a simple square arena, suspended several thousand feet up in the air.
  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale: The plane segment from Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and a section of Columbia from BioShock Infinite are made into playable stages. That same Uncharted stage later receives a visit from BioShock Infinite's Songbird battling the Vox Populi's blimp in which the players can get caught in the cross-fire, making this both a double High-Altitude Battle and Funny Background Event.
  • Power Stone 2 has a level which started on an airship, the ship explodes, and you free fall until you reach the ground where you can continue the battle, grabbing the umbrella during the free falling segment is necessary since if you don't grab it, you take damage when you reach ground level.
  • Street Fighter V: The Skies of Honor stage, where you fight on top of the wings of Rashid's jet in mid-flight. According to release notes, Azam is such a good pilot that the fighters don't even feel shaken as he flies about with them on top of the aircraft.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • Halo has several air combat sequences, with the sixth level of Halo: Reach being IN SPACE! In another level of Reach, you pilot a Future Copter between various destinations in New Alexandria.
  • Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault: Your character, en route to Guadalcanal, finds himself suddenly engaged in aerial combat, despite being a foot soldier. At first it's the same spin-the-business that you've grown used to, but before long you're flying the sucker into an assault on a base and another on an aircraft carrier. Smacks a bit of the improbable.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has Ghor fought in the hangar bay of Skytown, a futuristic city floating in the skies of Elysia.
  • Perfect Dark Zero: The final boss battle is in a floating, fragmented amphitheatre/arena/coliseum. An earlier level has you steal an enemy jetpack.
  • Resistance: Resistance 3 follows Joe and Malkovich with one goal in mind: Reach the tower the Chimera have in New York and shut it down at all costs. The tower is huge, so it's no surprise that Joe will be very high up by the time he accomplishes his final mission...

    Flight Simulators 
  • Ace Combat:
    • Ace Combat 2 and its remake Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy both have a high-altitude mission, "Rising High," that takes place at the upper limits of the player's operational ceiling—meaning there's going to be a lot of stall warnings if you don't keep the throttle pinned.
    • Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere took the trope to its logical conclusion with a mission in orbit, aptly named "Zero Gravity" — the mission objective being the destruction of four enemy Kill Sats in three minutes, then angling the nose up at a certain angle to survive atmospheric reentry. Naturally, the player is not allowed to use their regular planes on this mission; instead, an R-352 Sepia Space Fighter is provided for this mission only. Interestingly enough for the franchise, the Sepia actually obeys Newtonian physics rather than aerodynamics and coasts sideways while turning, behaving quite realistically for that altitude. There is no upper altitude limit for the mission but the mission timer running out results in the Sepia being shot down by the satellites, while losing too much altitude before the satellites are destroyed results in the Sepia burning up from uncontrolled reentry. Even only counting things that happen within the planet's atmosphere, the game still has the highest-altitude battles in the series, mainly centered around a bomber type that cruises at a higher altitude than most planes can even reach: one has you fly a futurized A-12 Oxcart up to their level (reaching it by taking off via rocket engines) to shoot them down in their territory; one has you fly one of the bombers in question, dipping in and pulling back out to hit ground targets under the cover of radar jamming; and one has you trying to take on those bombers with regular aircraft, forcing you to make quick jumps straight upwards to get a missile lock before your plane stalls out.
    • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has a rather late mission where the player is tasked with intercepting a Space Plane as it dips into the atmosphere to change direction via aerobraking, helped by internal sabotage of its aerodynamic control surfaces causing it to drop lower than the antagonists planned so that the player can actually reach it.
  • Wing Commander III and IV subvert this, in that they are space combat games that require the player to descend into the sky (i.e. atmosphere) of multiple planets to accomplish plot-critical objectives. Needless to say, these special levels as a rule are much tougher than the conventional space battles seen elsewhere in the series.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Bayonetta: In Chapter XII: The Broken Sky, once the boss fight of the level starts, the plane actually starts losing altitude. The final stage, in which you play as Jeanne, starts by having you ride a motorcycle up the pieces of a rocket taking off into space. You not only travel to the sky for this boss, you shoot right by it.
  • Devil May Cry: The final battle is held on another plane of existence, starting in the sky.
  • Drakengard: Happens on occasion; nearly all of the bosses in the first game were fought in flying missions.
  • God of War:

    Mecha Games 
  • Another Century's Episode: The Final Boss of ACE 3 is the Shin Dragon from Getter Robo Armageddon, piloted by the game's Big Bad Berkt, in the combined skies of two Earths, each one caught in the other's gravity well. Both the Earths are rather easy to see, and the stage really is the ultimate expression of atmosphere (pun intended) that the series has.
  • Armored Core: The battle with AF Answerer is this if you want to avoid being nuked every two seconds. There are also three missions in For Answer that take place high above the clouds in the airspace of the Cradles, airships where humans live to avoid the contaminated Earth surface. One of these missions has you destroying the Cradles themselves.
  • Assault Suits Valken has three: a dogfight during atmospheric reentry, a side-scrolling segment at the beginning of the fourth level, and a shuttle chase at the end of the same level.

  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Ysayle, in the form of the primal Shiva, battles the Agrius-class Garlean battleship Gration thousands of fulms above the ground just outside the floating isles of Azys Lla. They take each other out in a mutual kill, as Ysayle manages to freeze the engines of the ship, rendering them permanently inert and useless, leaving the Gration stranded in Azys Lla. But her battle with the vessel leaves her so exhausted that she's unable to dodge the battleship's cannonfire, dying and Dissolving Into Light after taking repeated hits to protect the heroes.
    • In Eden's Gate: Descent and Eden's Verse: Iconoclasm, the player party battles the Voidwalker and the Antithesis Coruscant atop the eponymous sin eater in a battle high above the clouds.
    • The Warrior of Light and their party take on the Diamond Weapon, the Garlean Empire's newest and most powerful warmachina atop a platform being tugged by a Humongous Mecha. The battle takes place so high that the very clouds can be seen rushing by underneath.
  • World of Warcraft: The gunship battle in Icecrown Citadel, in which players blast a gunship of the opposing side with cannons, defend it from teleporting boarders, and slay the mages that freeze their ship.

  • Banjo-Kazooie: The Final Boss Battle against Gruntilda includes a part where the player has to use a flying pad to go after her while she flies in her broom. The second game has Mr. Patch, a giant inflatable dinosaur who forces you to fight him from the air.
  • Bomberman Hero: BomberMan uses his bomber copter to fight with Baruda the eagle above the clock tower.
  • Jak 3: Wastelander: Jak takes an upgraded Hellcat to the skies to singlehandedly take on the floating war factory.
  • Kirby Super Star Ultra: You fight Kabula the zeppelin in the airspace of Mt. Dedede, with an Unexpected Gameplay Change to a shoot-em-up. Kaboola also appeared in the first game in the Kirby series. A mint leaf gives you the power to repeatedly spit out air puffs. An infinitely lasting version is what Kirby eats before he takes on the blimp. Also, every battle with Kracko takes place in a cloudy arena, high in the sky.
  • Rule of thumb in the Mega Man series is that most air-themed and/or winged bosses takes place on high places.
    • Mega Man X features a level set in an airport, culminating in a boss battle atop an aircraft as it takes off. The craft climbs steadily (and quickly) during the battle, and starts falling after the boss's defeat. Afterward, the wreckage can be found at the beginning of another level.
    • However, there are some rare exceptions, like Aztec Falcon from Mega Man Zero, who is fought in a disposal center.
    • Mega Man X: Command Mission goes as far as to place its final boss battle in the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps: The Final Boss and Big Bad Shriek completely destroys the platform in the battle's final stage, forcing Ori to Bash off the constant rain of meteor-like projectiles to stay aloft.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • In the first game (and its reboot), you take to the skies in a blarg ship over the skies of Pokitaru to dispose of the Big Bad's ships, which are polluting the planet en masse.
    • In the third game, you pilot the Hovership through the wartorn skies of Metropolis and Aridia, during the optional Galactic Rangers missions. The second phase of the Final Boss also takes you several feet higher in the air than the ship's usual height limit to emphasize the sheer scale.
    • Same goes for Deadlocked, as that game also features the Hovership throughout a few levels. Stygia is a notable example in that most of the playable space takes place in a facility that looks to be reaching its stratosphere.
  • Rocket Knight Adventures: The Sega Genesis version has the entire last round set in a space station, which is made blatantly clear when the Pig King is fought in what appears to be a conservatory and Axel Gear is fought for the last time in a large glass room. Indeed, the very last battle with what is assumably the main computer running the Pig Army is defeated in a space jump by re-entry, as Sparkster is in an escape pod and thus unable to fight back, making him also an indestructable hunk of data.
  • Rockman 4 Minus Infinity has Mega Man fight Mothraya on Rush, combining this trope with Bullet Hell.
  • Sly Cooper:
  • Stinkoman 20X6 does this twice. In level 3, Stinkoman finds a wall that he just barely can't jump over normally, and leaps into the stratosphere to get over it, having to collect gold nuggets to stop ascending, and slices of bread to finally land. Level 6 is an obvious cloud-themed level.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 features a level where you pilot the Tornado chasing after the Winged Fortress Zone, but there's no actual combat against a boss.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles includes an actual airborne boss fight in the Marble Garden Zone. It's difficult to defeat when playing as Tails.
    • The last two levels of Sonic Heroes are set in the skies of Eggman's massive armada of airships, with the final level taking place in the midst of a storm. Ditto for the game's final two bosses, especially the second phase of the Last Story's boss.
    • The fight with Wyvern, the second Super Sonic boss encounter of Sonic Frontiers, takes place over the skies of Ares Island, surpassing the likes of the above-mentioned Metal Overlord or Black Doom in sheer scale.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Several titles feature levels set in the sky, including boss battles:
    • Super Mario Land: The last levels and final battle with Tatanga have Mario flying through the sky in an airplane.
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island has a battle against Raphael the Raven on the moon. In the sequel Yoshi's Island DS, Yoshi fights Moltz The Very Goonie in a free-fall match.
    • Super Mario 64: The third (and final) fight against Bowser takes place in a battlefield located in the heights of a dark sky (hence the name of the level, "Bowser in the Sky"). Mario has to lure his nemesis into three explosive mines instead of one like in previous battles, and after the first two Bowser will shatter parts of the ground to increase Mario's risk of falling down. Simply throwing Bowser onto the abyss won't work, as he will simply come back in a leap (and perform a Shockwave Stomp upon landing).
    • New Super Mario Bros.: Lakithunder, the King Mook of Lakitus, is fought in the outdoors final segment of the castle of World 7, which is set in the sky. Same with King Lakitu in the second level of Super Mario Galaxy 2.
    • Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time: At Shroob Castle, Mario and co. use a nearby ship to take out several Shroob saucers blocking their path. Later, they take on the Shroob Mothership when it attacks before facing Elder Princess Shroob on a elevated platform.
    • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 take this further, as all of the battles with Bowser now take place in outer space.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii involves this with the battle against Ludwig von Koopa in World 7. The castle and world itself is already in the sky, but the battle involves a fight on three moving platforms going quickly up a shaft. While the boss uses Yoshi's flutter jump and shoots five at once magic blasts at Mario and co.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: The initial battle with Bowser in the Cloud Kingdom is this in its entirety, though Mario's on a flat arena and can't see the ground through the clouds. The rematch with Brigadier Mollusque-Lanceur III has the starting platform with a single Gushen, a Glass Tower replica Mario can't climb, and nothing else. The fight is in the sky during a rainstorm, with that starting platform as the only place to rest.
  • Wild 9 has free-falling stages where you slam the enemy into the walls or signs/debris that you pass.

    Racing Games 
  • SEGA Superstars: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed references the common use of this in Skies of Arcadia in the eponymous track, where racers race on a floating island that the Valuan Armada and Blue Rogues are battling around in their airships. It's so chaotic the track is decimated quite a bit, causing racers to fly into the sky and dodge mines the Valuans have launched into the air.

  • Chrono Trigger: There is a boss battle that clearly fits this trope. In the battle, your party is fighting against the pilot of a small flying craft — while your party is on top of the craft, and the craft is flying over the clouds.
  • Dark Souls II features a Superboss in the form of the Ancient Dragon, who resides at the very top of the Dragon Shrine, a massive sanctuary built to overlook the Dragon Aerie, which is already high-up in the air compared to the rest of Drangleic. You'd better not stare at the near infinite void when wandering around the outskirts of the boss arena.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: In the Knights of the Nine expansion, the final battle with Big Bad Umaril the Unfeathered takes place in the sky a few thousand feet above Cyrodiil. (He has the support of a Daedric Prince, while you have the blessings of the Nine Divines.) Case in point, one player claimed he dropped an item during the battle and then went to check if it landed. It did.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy had the Castle in the Sky, an entire floating dungeon that is the home of Tiamat, the fourth fiend.
    • Final Fantasy II: The Big Bad raised his tower into the funnel of a great Cyclone, making it accessible only on the back of a flying dragon.
    • Final Fantasy III is the only game in the series to have random encounters from the deck of your airship, although this only happens in specific areas.
    • Final Fantasy IV has two groups of flying enemies ambush the Red Wings (specifically, Cecil's command ship) as they return to Baron in the introduction. There's also the Tower of Zot, which isn't on the world map and involves airships flying higher than their normal level to reach it.
    • Final Fantasy V has the party board the airship to invade the flying Ronka ruins —but first, they must contend with the automated defense systems. The boss battle is against the citadel's main gun.
    • Final Fantasy VI had two particularly memorable iterations of this trope. The first when the party goes to attack the Floating Continent, and has to contend with the Imperial Air Force (which is explicitly given the acronym IAF which is never used again, probably because they're slaughtered about two hours later) culminating in a battle while falling against a boss. Then, later, the party must fight Doomgaze/Deathgaze as a randomly encountered enemy on the airship in the World of Ruin to get the Bahamut esper. There's also the time Sabin and Cyan are falling down a waterfall and piranhas attack them mid-fall.
    • Final Fantasy VII has it as an optional fight against Ultima Weapon from the deck of the Highwind. There's also the fight in Advent Children against Bahamut SIN, which mainly consists of party members launching Cloud what seems to be several miles up in the air to hit said Bahamut head-on. Also done in Crisis Core, in the cutscene battle between Sephiroth, Genesis, and Angeal. After Genesis decides to go one-on-one with Sephiroth, the fight heads skyward.
    • Final Fantasy VIII played this trope well: Balamb and Galbadia Gardens, both active and flying, launched a full-out war on one another. This, of course, leads to Squall punching out a Galbadian soldier while fighting for a jetpack... while hanging in mid-air.
    • Final Fantasy IX presented a massive aerial battle where the Lindblum and Alexandrian fleets show up to protect the Invincible in the game's final hours.
    • Final Fantasy X has two mid-air battles where the party fights on the airship's deck: first against Evrae, the guardian of Bevelle. Rikku and Tidus's Action Commands can have Cid pull away and shoot the Farenheit's missiles at it. Then there's a Sequential Boss battle against Sin, where the Farenheit goes head-on against the abomination and blows away two of its limbs with its primary cannons after the party has weakened them enough. There is also a Superboss battle against Penance in the European/International version after you defeat all of the Dark Aeons.
    • Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia had a battle take place amongst an armada of airships. (Almost qualifying as a Scrappy Level, given the sheer unforgiving difficulty of the fight at the time and the farming of a mission-specific consumable to even stand a chance). There's also the final battle against Promathia, taking place in the celestial realm looking down upon Vana'diel. Considering all the work that goes into getting to this final mission, it is not a simple throw-away "this looks cool" setting, but the setting only heightens the gravitas of the mission. The celestial battleground also features an Optional Boss which, before the introduction of The Treasures of Aht Urghan and Einherjar/Odin, was considered the most challenging BCNM-style battle in the game. May even still be the toughest six-man battle, but that's up to debate.
    • Final Fantasy XII has the heroes infiltrate and do battle within enormous flying fortresses more than once. The Final Battle involves a long-running aerial battle/dogfight as the Imperial Armada and the Resistance Fleet (and their respective fighter ships) engage around Sky Fortress Bahamut, all while the protagonists fight the Final Boss at the very top of the fortress.
  • Granblue Fantasy has plenty of examples, as this trope applies to any fight that happens onboard the Granchypher, or raid battles that take place in the skies. Notable examples include Luminiera Omega, the four Primarchs, Belial, and Sandalphon. This also takes full effect in the anime when the crew faces off against an enraged Tiamat.
  • Kingdom Hearts: At least one part of the final battle in multiple games consists of Sora magically floating or flying while navigating obstacles thrown by the boss in order to attack it. The reason he suddenly has the ability to do so is never explained.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Sora learns flight from Peter Pan (though why he only ever uses it in certain areas is never explained). In Kingdom Hearts II... well, technically, he's just falling. And never hitting the ground.
    • Kingdom Hearts II: You fight Genie Jafar in the sky, far over the streets of Agrabah. This is one of the few mandatory bosses where Sora fights without any party members, though he rides the Magic Carpet, so it's not officially one-on-one.
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: The very last part of the Final Boss is fought somewhere around 50 meters above the ground. You're not flying or on any sort of contraption, the game just acts like the ground is considerably higher than it actually is. The visuals suggest some sort of barrier has been set up by the boss.
  • The Legend of Heroes - Trails: This is a Recurring staple at least once per story arc. It also has a recurring David vs. Goliath theme due to the heroes' airship being smaller and less armed then the antagonists'.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance starts with a team of Marvel superheroes fighting off an invasion of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier while it's flying.
  • Nostalgia (Red Entertainment): The protagonists travel around the over world map in an airship. When they face the enemy sky pirate Scarlett, this trope takes effect.
  • Paper Mario 64: What kicks off the game's main plot is Princess Peach's castle being uprooted by Bowser's evil castle into the stratosphere; this is taken to the extreme as it's where the final fight takes place. In addition, Mario's quest for the sixth Star Spirit takes him to Flower Fields, where he must clear out the overcast caused by the living cloud Huff N. Puff, then traverse up to the clouds to fight him.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4: The fight against Adachi and then Ameno-Sagiri takes place high above Inaba, or at least a replica of it.
    • Persona 5: The battle against the Final Boss takes place up in the sky, high above the clouds.
  • Phantasy Star: In Phantasy Star I and Phantasy Star IV, you have to fight an evil king and the same evil king 2000 or so years later, inside of his castle on a flying island. In order to even get to the island in 1, you have to ride your Team Pet and fight a dragon in midair.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon X and Y introduces air battles, which any Pokemon that is flying-type or has Levitate as its ability can participate in.
    • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: The True Final Boss of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is fought in the upper atmosphere, where the Earth ends and space begins.
  • SaGa (RPG):
    • Romancing SaGa 2: You have to enter a makeshift flying fortress to defeat Wagnas who literally pulled the inner sanctum of said fortress out of the ground.
    • Romancing SaGa 3: You can defeat Byunei's Clone by joining forces with the Gwayne (child of Dora [Dragon that aided the Holy King to defeat Byunei; Gwayne could also be fought and defeated later]).
  • Skies of Arcadia: All the ship battles are engagements between flying pirate ships cruising around Floating Continents, and towards the end there surely is a climactic face-off with a flying fortress.
  • Tales of Phantasia featured a special series of battles culminating in a boss fight that takes place in the air. Only Cless (riding on a Sleipnir Pegasus) and Arche (who normally flies anyway) could participate.
  • Wild ARMs 3 has you obtain the giant transforming dragon Lombardia. For most part, you're only using it for transport, and transforming some landscapes due to its rocket launcher utility weapon. After a particular event, culminating in a boss battle (plus a Side Quest), it is possible to do combat in midair. The mechanics are a little different, but stay similar to the main combat sequence on the ground (or on the sea of sands, for that matter).
  • World of Mana:
    • Secret of Mana: The final fight is you on a flying fortress being attacked by a dragon.
    • Trials of Mana has one of the Benevodons fought atop Flammie. Strangely enough, Flammie is several times larger than the Benevodon, and she does nothing to help. It gets somewhat hilarious if you have Duran in your party and use any of his spells. Duran's magic casting animation involves him thrusting his sword into the ground.
  • XenoGears: At the end of Disc 1, Fei battles against Ramsus high in the clouds. In the control of a evolved gear, Ramsus ends up as the victor, leaving Fei and Elly wounded after crashing to the ground.

    Run and Gun 
  • Contra has several instances, many of which invoke Rule of Cool, Artistic License – Physics and Artistic License – Biology all at the same time.
    • Contra III: Stage 4 starts out with a high speed motorbike chase on a highway, and ends with you grabbing onto a helicopter and riding several missiles being launched at an alien battleship, blasting away its energy shields while jumping from missile to missile for dear life. This sequence was later repeated in Shattered Soldier.
    • Contra: Hard Corps: The good end route has you chasing down a multi-stage rocket carrying the Alien Cell bomb by riding on top of smaller rockets. Once you reach the main rocket, you proceed to climb up its sides while shooting at alien mutants bursting out of its hull, before reaching the warhead containment unit and fighting the Alien Cell itself. Destroying the creature causes the rocket to explode and throws you into the wild blue yonder...but thankfully you're rescued by the Air Police in the nick of time.
    • Hard Corps: In a less fantastical vein, the Big Magnum route has the players face off against Colonel Bahamut's eponymous Alien Cell-powered superweapon platform located in the Earth's orbit. The heroes don't survive the battle, but they manage to take both Bahamut and the Alien Cell with them. Earth erects memorials of the Hard Corps to commemorate their Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Hard Corps: Uprising: The final battle against Tiberius has you fall from the destroyed battleship while fighting his One-Winged Angel form. You have to use the fragments of the battleship in order to stay alive during the fight, but be careful, the fragments can be destroyed as well.
    • Contra: Rebirth: The first boss has the players fight a giant alien centipede amidst the wreckage of a space station falling to Earth, itself a Call-Back to Neo Contra's final boss battle which involves fighting the giant head of Bill Rizer during atmospheric reentry while standing on a piece of space station wreckage.
    • Contra III and Contra: Shattered Soldier: The True Final Boss fights are both fought while hanging from or standing on the heroes' aircraft.
  • Cuphead: Several of the debtors are "shoot-em-up" bosses, which place Cuphead/Mugman in control of a plane where they must shoot them until they are defeated.
  • A late level in The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy have Edward battling enemy mooks while leaping from the wings of biplanes, using his whips to damage their propellers as he swiftly jump before they can crash, and fighting jetpack-equipped Airborne Mooks along the way.

    Shoot 'em Ups 

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: This happens when the team uses an airplane to fly to their destination. The experience leaves them apprehensive about flying for the rest of the game.
  • Nintendo Wars:
    • Advance Wars: Dual Strike has some missions with an air-only top screen and several segments where you're required to do something in the air. Two of the levels are part ground, part Independence Day-like missions that involve you sending air units (jets, bombers, etc) to destroy the enemy's air support. Unfortunately, after the battle up there is over your air units are stuck in that location; you're given CO Power for each survivor, generally enough to give you a Tag Break. One of the later levels isn't necessarily this trope, but still requires you to destroy a satellite in space with ground-to-orbit missiles.
    • Days of Ruin has a mission that you fought on the enemy's air fortress. One of the enemy's minions in the mission cut-scene lampshades the fact that you not only snuck on to the fortress, but somehow managed to bring along tanks and artillery.
  • Super Robot Wars can have battles between flying units, as well as entire stages in various flavors of outer space.
  • Xenonauts has a mini-game that is a simulation of an air battle between Earth fighters and alien ships. That often leads to a Low Altitude Battle, if the attacked UFO goes down.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Terraria: This can Can be Invoked by the player by building boss arenas, fortresses or sky bridges high into the stratosphere and engaging bosses there, most notably the Moon Lord.

  • Granada: Stage 2 takes place atop an enormous flying battleship. Falling off the edge is a regrettable misstep.
  • Sky Serpents consists of fighting giant serpents in the sky.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: The Licensed Game has a level where you chase and destroy a Sentinel as it crashes down into the earth from high altitude (the battle practically took place on earth, but this qualifies for it's action sequence).

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass initially has grounded battles between Knightmare Frames, but as the series progresses, the Frames become equipped with flight systems that let them take into the air. R2 is rife with aerial fights between Frames.
  • Digimon V-Tamer 01: After Taichi collects all the V-Tags, he and Neo battle on a floating island.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Dorabian Nights ends with the villain, Abdil, hijacking Sinbad's magical palace and sending it airborne. But Sinbad managed to catch up with the his flying mechanical horse, pursuing Abdil to the top of the flying palace where both of them dukes it out in a Sword Fight on the rooftops.
  • Fate/Zero has Gilgamesh in an ancient Hindu spaceship dog fighting Berserker on a magic-hijacked F15J.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: During the team's first attempt to reach Egypt by plane, they're attacked by Gray Fly, who uses his Stand, The Tower, to threaten the passengers and sabotage the plane, leaving Kakyoin to deal with him.
    • Golden Wind: After taking a plane towards Sardinia, Trish is left to carefully evade Carne's Notorious Big when it arrives to consume the aircraft while retrieving Giorno's brooch that'll allow him to heal the others before the plane is destroyed.
    • Stone Ocean: Donatello uses his Under World to trap Jolyne and Ermes in a memory of a plane that's going to crash. Realizing directly experiencing the events of the plane crash will kill them, the two battle Donatello while on the plane to find a way to escape before it goes down.
  • Mazinger Z:
    • As soon as Mazinger-Z got a flying upgrade -right in that same episode- Kouji got a high-altitude battle against a rocket-shaped, missile-shooting Robeast. It was the first of many.
    • In another episode, the enemy tried to force Kouji to fight several dozens of feet above the ground so that Kouji's body and Mazinger's machinery were unable to endure the physical strain.
    • Great Mazinger: Tetsuya's giant robot had flight capabilities since the beginning and several divisions of the enemy army had flier Robeasts. Often he had to fight very, very high.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: the titular Humongous Mecha is a space-ship, too. Often Duke dueled against the enemy space-ships directly at the upper limits of the atmosphere.
  • My-Otome: A few instances of this occur, notably Arika's last battles against Tomoe and Nina, the latter of which takes place several thousand feet above the planet.
  • At the end of the Shie Hassaikai arc in My Hero Academia, a fully-charged Izuku Midoriya manages to launch a heavily mutated Overhaul into the sky and proceeds to smash him into pieces. This is justified on the former's part to reduce any collateral damage despite the crater in the road and the destruction of 4 houses, but his actions led to no casualties aside from a few civilian scratches.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi's final battle of the School Festival arc was at approximately 4000 metres aboard a blimp which served as a final Place of Power.
  • Ushio and Tora: Since most Youkai can float or fly, this isn't uncommon. Notable examples include the battle against Fusuma (taking place on a plane), the duel between the Snake Demons Hitotsuki and Shibumori and of course, most of the battles against the Kokuen army made by Hakumen. The final battle against Hakumen itself takes place over the Japanese Sea and across the Japanese skies before it's finally forced in a barrier near Okinawa.
  • Yaiba seems rather fond of this, including battles against the Spiderman (fought on a floating airship, later on a massive web suspended above a road), Batguy (riding his pet vulture Shonosuke), Kotaro Fuuma (again, Shonosuke), Onimaru (using the flying powers of the Sword of Ryuujin), Gekko (Likewise) and Yamata no Orochi, with the monster itself serving as the battlefield for the final duel of Yaiba and Possessed!Onimaru.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! features a few examples, such as the Battle City Finals and the battle between the Egyptian Gods and the Great Leviathan. Likewise, Kaiba and Alister's duel was atop a plane.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge has the Climax Boss fight with Godzilla and Xenilla against Grand King Ghidorah, which ascends higher and higher up the atmosphere, concluding with a massive Beam-O-War practically in space.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami features this in the early stages of the Battle of Dreadfog Island. Ami's airship navy against a levitating undead flotilla.
  • Evangelion 303: The main characters are pilots of experimental jet fighters. Every battle so far has been a high-altitude duel. Asuka lost one, won another and drew a third fight.
  • Last Child of Krypton: When a dozen N2 missiles are launched at the Geofront in order to destroy Zeruel, Shinji has a Heroic Second Wind and pulls the Angel into the stratosphere, drawing the missiles away from NERV. The resulting explosion sends him to the Moon.
  • The Price of Flight develops an Ankh-Morporkian Air Force. An early lesson from mock-dogfighting is that the pilot who gets highest tends to win the battle. Civilian witches tend to go no higher than maybe five hundred feet in normal flight. Olga teaches her witches to think in terms of at least five thousand feet, ideally higher. The first air battle with the Gentry begins with the Air Witches going high and then crashing down on the target from above.
  • A Shadow of the Titans: At one point during the Gotham Arc, Kitten — having been transformed in a moth-person and snapped from it — tracks down Jade, whom she blames for her condition, and tries to kill her in retaliation. This leads to the two of them fighting several hundred feet in the air (Jade having absorbed the Rooster talisman's levitation powers and since developed the ability to create shadow wings to fly with), the fight ending with them getting so caught up in grappling that they crash back to the ground.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka got one when she fought Brainiac's space-ship located at the stratosphere.
  • Vow of Nudity: In the climax of one story, Haara leads a flock of pegasi to dogfight the skyswimmer and its posse of harpies and giant vultures before they can reach a stranded zeppelin.

  • Barbarella: To get into the city of Sogo, Pygar the angel has to carry Barbarella while she shoots down the city's airships.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The climax involves Falcon dodging gunship and jets but also helicarriers blasting each other out of the sky thanks to Maria Hill changing the helicarriers' targets.
  • Descendant of the Sun, a Superman-knockoff film made by Shaw Brothers to capitalize on Christopher Reeves movie, features a final battle taking place in the heavens, where the titular descendant fights Mo Ying, the Demon Spawn, in an aerial struggle high in the skies.
  • The Matrix Revolutions has Neo and Smith fighting while flying under their own power as part of the Final Battle.
  • Rio 2: Subverted — apparently, red and blue macaws like to resolve their issues through a game of air football.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: The Final Battle starts when Spidey tries to stop the Vulture from hijacking a plane carrying various pieces of Avengers technology, leading to them fighting on top of and around the plane in midair.
  • Ultraman: The Next had both The Next and Beast the One gain flight-based abilities that took the Final Battle into the skies, although after The Next managed to sever The One's wings, they finished the battle on the ground.

  • The Big One sees the primary action take place at extremely high altitude (by WW2 standards) when the nuclear-armed B-36s evade German defenses by flying over them. The B-36s make their runs to the target at 50,000 feet plus, higher than any German fighter could reach. This is Truth in Television.
  • Companions Codex: The dogfight during the climax of Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf has Drizzt facing off against Tiago while riding the backs of dragons. The fight is eventually won by severing the saddle straps that keeps Tiago on Arauthator's back and make him plummet toward the eath.
  • Midnight Tides: In the prologue, the dragon shapeshifters Scabandari Bloodeye and Silchas Ruin, aided by the combined Tiste Andii and Tiste Edur suicide commandos, successfully attack the floating sky keeps manned by the K'Chain Nah'ruk to prevent them from coming to the aid of the K'Chain Che'Malle armies on the plain below.

  • Airborne Avenger: Implied with the hero's flying jet-sled against the villain's army of hang-gliding mooks, anti-aircraft missiles, and assorted explosions on the playfield.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: In "Mario vs Sonic", Mario evens the odds against Hyper Sonic by combining the Starman with the Wing Cap and taking the fight into low orbit.
  • RWBY: Cinder's fight against Winter and Penny in the Volume 7 finale partially takes place after the trio falls off of the Floating City of Atlas. Cinder and Penny are both capable of independant flight, while Winter had to ride on the back of one of her summons.

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive: The latter half of the battle between Grace and Damien is carried out in the air above the building known as "The Nest" with both of them using their abilities to fly.
  • Problem Sleuth: The final battle against DMK takes place in the airspace between the Imaginary City Streets and the Four Kingdoms.

    Web Video 
  • Critical Role: Campaign One: Episode 67 features the time skydiving from a skyship onto a boat, using flying brooms, magical wings, and various spells that turn people into giant birds to take the ship from above.
  • Life SMP: In Season 4, Limited Life, as Grian correctly predicted on Day 4, most of the battles in the final few sessions take place in the sky; more accurately on the various sky bridges (or "Skynet" as the players call it), with the players' main form of fighting being trying to shoot or hit each off or dropping TNT minecarts from above. Out-of-universe after the season, there is a mutual agreement among the content creators to never use this strategy again.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Zuko and Azula fighting on airships in "The Southern Raiders."
  • DuckTales (2017): In "Astro B.O.Y.D.!", Gizmoduck and 2BO/B.O.Y.D. engage in a big battle above the city's sky. Meanwhile, their creators are engaged in a Wimp Fight on a hovering disc.
  • In Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, When Margot and Wolf are fighting in the upper canopies of the forest, they fall on the back of a large mute bird and continue fighting on it when it reaches the sky. Wolf manages to push herself and Margot off the bird though.
  • PAW Patrol has the special Jet to the Rescue. where The Paw Patrol takes their jets/jetpack to face against the Duke of Flappington who takes some buildings to build a City of his own by taking over Barkingburg with the help of a levitation gem.
  • Primal: To counter their lack of resources for their second attack on the trio, the Chieftain and Eldar wrangle some giant birds from a nearby nest and turn them into mounts against them, using their flight capacity to stay out of reach of Fang, whilst trying to have the birds attack Spear and Mira. This eventually results in all four having a mid-air battle atop the birds, as both sides try to force the other off and Spear and Mira are forced to use their comparative agility to avoid being dropped.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Landing at Point Rain", Admiral Yularen is shown to be holding his own fight to protect his flagship from fighters high in the atmosphere, explaining why air support is mostly unavailable.
  • Storm Hawks has plenty of battles between ships and aircraft, up and including the pilots of said aircraft getting into sword-fights as they tumble around!

    Real Life 
  • Almost from the beginning of military aviation, pilots have engaged in high-altitude battles. Even the comparatively primitive aircraft of WWI could operate at altitudes above 10,000ft. And of course there's the strategic high-altitude bombing campaign against Germany and Japan. Even today, air-to-air combat frequently occurs at high altitudes, and the importance of fighting from a perch is emphasized with the fighter pilot's saying: Altitude is Life. Altitude also gives one more time to either eject or regain control of one's aircraft in the event of damage.
  • The largest single air battle in history occurred over the Russian battlefield of Kursk during Operation Citadel. The largest aerial campaign in history was the Battle of Britain. One candidate for the largest naval battle in history, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, featured nearly 2,000 planes (956 Allied, 750 Japanese) operating from 24 carriers and numerous airfields, and would be known as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" due to the massively one-sided victory for the Allied airmen. The later Battle of Leyte Gulf would feature nearly 40 aircraft carriers on both sides, with again nearly 2,000 planes involved between both forces. World War II proved that whoever controlled the skies could control the battlefield.


Video Example(s):


Airship vs Paper Planes

Olly's Paper Plane Legion vs Bowser's Airship filled with his loyal minions.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HighAltitudeBattle

Media sources: