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Video Game / Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere

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"Forget everything you've done until now, and with your own eyes, understand the truth of this world."

"Becoming a pilot like I have feels enough like a dream to me. But, recently... I've been thinking—that if the body is nothing more than a container for the mind, then it doesn't actually mean anything to me. I only use my mind when I fly. My body didn't come with wings, but my mind does... and it gave me the sky."
Rena Hirose

The third game in the Ace Combat series, released in 1999, and the last to have been developed for the original PlayStation.

The world is Strangereal, a not-Earth from the previous games that was first fleshed out in this installment. The year is 2040. In the past few decades, the national governments of Strangereal have decayed beyond repair and were replaced by a global rule of Mega-Corps, chief among whom are General Resource Limited and Neucom Incorporated. Naturally, the two companies' competition for power is far from friendly, and the only thing standing between them and an all-out war is the Universal Peace Enforcement Organization. Further upsetting the fragile balance of power are: the GR's latest Super Prototype fighter jet, the Night Raven, and its groomed pilot, the sickly Rena Hirose; the Neucom scientists' questionable experiments on the recently discovered Cyberspace and Brain Uploading; an overzealous military commander's schemes; and a Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy lurking in the background and pulling every string.

You fly as Nemo, a nameless (in more than just callsign) and initially unknown UPEO pilot, and become entangled in a complex plot that borrows heavily from the Cyberpunk genre and stars a diverse cast of pilots, scientists, and politicians. With frequently branching storylines, five distinct endings, and one massive wham in the epilogue, Electrosphere is a tale of loyalty, betrayal, revenge, transhumanism, scientific ethics, Family Drama, and social critique, fondly remembered as the definitive highpoint of the Ace Combat series. All with top-notch animated cutscenes and interludes courtesy of Production I.G.

...unless, of course, you live in the insignificantly tiny portion of the world that is not Japan, for which the story was remade into a lone pilot working for the UPEO, trying to keep the peace between General Resource and Neuwork. Bandai Namco Entertainment currently has no plans to deliver the original Electrosphere to the outside world, but the release of a remake of Ace Combat 2 for N3DS gives us a faint glimmer of hope. Don't hold your breath, though. In the meantime, a fan-driven Project Nemo has released an unofficial English translation patch.

Despite the game having never been officially translated into English, it was the seminal installment of the series that codified its setting and most of the associated gameplay tropes (the honor that usually goes to Ace Combat 04 in the West). It has been said that ever since 1999, the AC series has been slowly working its way back up to Electrosphere (all following Strangereal games were technically prequels to it), but never quite achieving the same level of expansiveness, plot intricacy, and gameplay finesse.

“Entering Tropesphere”:

  • Ace Custom: Both Cynthia's and Rena's planes have a customized paintjob. Justified in Rena's case, as she is sick and requires special equipment just to fly.
  • The Aesthetics of Technology: Compared to the sleeker and generally more exotic planes made by Neucom, General Resource's air forces are comprised of futuristic variants of conventional aircraft as well as planes based on real life experimental and prototype craft.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In the international version of this game, the Big Bad is an AI created by Neuwork. It bypassed their security protocols, escaped, and resurfaced by giving both Neuwork and its competitor General Resource false informations, provoking the two into wars with the ultimate goal of ruling after the power vacuum caused. After both Neuwork and General Resource reconcile, the AI amassed its own force called the Ouroboros.
    • Averted with Nemo, i.e. you. You're created to destroy Dision, regardless of what faction you join or the amount of collateral damage you cause in the process.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The first in the franchise to have this, the UI-4053 Sphyrna. A futuristic blimp, it is surprisingly very dangerous, with you requiring to destroy its multiple engines before moving on to the main one. While it doesn't carry many airplanes due to its size, it carries the ones that are important: The island-sinking X-49 Night Raven and Dision's personal Ace Custom aircraft, the UI-4054 Aurora.
  • A.K.A.-47: Justified. You're using fictional futuristic variants of real planes, which are modded and upgraded to have a Brain/Computer Interface called the COFFIN system. Considering that you're actually an AI simulating all your battles, this is necessary.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Your Final Boss fight against Dision - well, one of them - takes place within the Electrosphere itself. Specifically, both of you cut off visual input to the outside world and fight in a three-dimensional grid space within an infinite-length cybertunnel. There is a catch however: the real world outside the visual overload still exists and the altimeter reflects that; go to zero and you will "crash".
  • Arc Words:
    • "Discard your flesh and transcend your limits", referring to Sublimation, an Arc Word unto itself.
    • "Night Raven".
  • All There in the Manual: Not one, but two: Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere - Mission and World View, which did not come with the game, and the Photosphere, which did. The kicker? The Photosphere is already fully-translated into English, with a fluent level of translation.
  • The Alternet: The Electrosphere is 2040s-era Strangereal's version of our Internet.
  • Always Someone Better: Cynthia for Fiona, and, considering Cynthia's adoration of Dision, she views Rena as this.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Dision. Second mission he's featured, and he's trying to get you to join his company faction. No one knows if he's aligned fully with GR, aiding UPEO's chessmaster Park, or is all about himself. In the end, it's neither; he only wants revenge for his deceased girlfriend Yoko.
  • Animal Theme Naming:
    • Neucom's R-series planes are most often named after Latin genuses of aquatic creatures. Case in point are R-101/102/103 Delphinus (Dolphin), R-211 Orcinus (Orca/Killer Whale), R-201 Asterozoa (starfish), etc.
    • Made even more blatant with the R-311 Remora parasite fighter and its host aircraft, the R-531 Mobura. The Remora is famous for it being "attached" to other, larger fishes (such as sharks), but the Mobura, a misspelling of Mobula, is a genus of manta rays. The aircraft looks nearly exactly the same as the animal it is named after.
  • Anyone Can Die: Despite the whole thing being a simulation, many named characters will die in all routes. Dision will always be killed in your hands regardless what route you take while Park can be killed at the end of the UPEO arc. Rena and Fiona only live to the end in the UPEO and Neucom route respectively, with Rena usually getting killed as the Final Bossnote  while Fiona is offed during the transport mission along with Clarkson or killed during the Ouroboros arc. Erich and Cynthia can be shot down during the early General Resource missions, with the latter winds up being sublimated in the Neucom route while Erich goes AWOL. In the end of the General Resource arc Keith sacrifices himself to kill Dision. If you follow one of the Ouroboros routes, everyone is K.I.A. with Keith biting the dust by performing a Heroic Sacrifice during the fight against Rena and Dision killed in the electrosphere. In reality, the original Dision and Yoko were killed by General Resource, which basically sparked the entire plot.
  • The Atoner: Poor, poor Cynthia. After her sister got offed by the organization she defected to, she performs a Heel–Face Turn from Ouroboros and singlehandedly (with you, of course) reversed the entire mess she has gotten into. It's even referred to in the mission's name: Counterrevolution.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: MIRV missiles. Firing two of them creates eight missiles a la Macross Missile Massacre. However, their tracking is absolutely piss-poor and it doesn't seem to hit anything, moving or not, ground-level or otherwise.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: General Resource, Neucom and both Ouroboros endings. That said, it's debatable if anyone wins in the Ouroboros I ending.
    • Since the entire game is a simulation made by Cohen to determine the probability of Dision's death, and he dies in every single route, it can be argued that he wins in every ending.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The UPEO route ending: both General and Neucom are in ruins, UPEO is most likely too, Clarkson and Fiona are dead, but Dision and Park have been defeated, the Intercorporate War is over, and while it's uncertain what will happen to Nemo, Erich and Rena next, at least they've made it out alive. Overall, it's a much happier ending compared to others.
  • The Blank: Jets that use the COFFIN system typically have no outwardly-visible cockpit. It's not as disturbing as a faceless human, for obvious reasons, but if you're used to the regular modern-day jets of the other games, noticing it for the first time here can still be pretty jarring.
  • Boring, but Practical: Spread Bombs in the second slot are insanely powerful against ground targets and destroy many of them when clustered together.
  • Brain Uploading: Sublimation is the process of uploading a human consciousness into the Electrosphere. Known successes include Abyssal Dision and Cynthia Fitzgerald.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Park. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, though, considering how fishy he acts in general and the fact that he's playing chess of all things in the Japanese intro video, but other than those dead giveaways, it's supposed to be revealed slowly.
    • More than that is Dision himself. Not only did he try engineering you to join GR, he's also the head of Ouroboros, assisting Park with his scheme to usurp control of UPEO, offing his own company's CEO, and basically grooming Rena to be the perfect Tyke-Bomb.
    • The grand winner is Simon, as revealed in the game's secret ending. The events of the entire game were basically him trying to figure out a plan to kill Dision. He is happy to find out his victory is guaranteed, as all five possible paths end with Dision's death.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Rena Hirose seems to go off on her own whenever she is flying with you and sends you various, increasingly-odd video messages. Apparently Dision has been messing with her mind.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Named pilots that happen to be the enemy simply don't have targeting reticules, meaning they cannot be locked onto, let alone shot down. They can however, shoot at you.
  • The Constant: Not only is Simon Cohen a recurring figure in every route but so is Dision's death being a Foregone Conclusion. This convinces Simon that no matter how the war plays out, he'll still get what he wants.
  • Continuity Cameo: Before being really popular in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, but after appearing in Ace Combat 2, Kei Nagase makes an appearance as a member of Ouroboros in a news broadcast. You need to take a particular route (specifically, Neucom/Fiona route) to view it though.
  • Corporate Warfare: It's the name of the game here.
  • Creator Provincialism: Or rather, localization provincialism. Specifically, the cover art of the Japanese version of the game features the futuristic in-game equivalent Sukhoi Flanker model flying upright, as in the Cobra Maneuver pose. The US/EU version features instead the futuristic in-game equivalent of the F-22 Raptor instead. Retroactively funny since in-game, the Su-37 Super Flanker possesses much superior stats and is labeled "Advanced Fighter" while the F-22C Raptor II has more balanced but lower stats, and is labeled "Multirole" instead.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Night Raven destroying Megafloat solo with one shot of her laser weapon.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Subverted, as Namco never confirmed which ending (if any) was canon. After jumping from 2040 back to 2004 in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (and even to 1995 in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War), the series took The Slow Path back, slowly approaching the Electrosphere times... and then, just before running out of options and making a canon sequel to AC3 (the most (in-universe) recent Strangereal game was set in 2032), Namco instead relaunched the series on the real world - between Skies of Incursion in 2007 and the announcement of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown in late 2015, the only game set in Strangereal has been a remake.
  • Darker and Edgier: Only the Japanese version. Everyone else had to wait for two years to experience this trope in Ace Combat.
  • Dead All Along: Abyssal Dision. Shortly before her death, Yoko Inoue copied Human!Dision's consciousness into the Electrosphere, creating the self-aware AI!Dision, the first-ever human to be sublimated. Before either of them realized it, however, they were killed by a bomb and their laboratory was destroyed along with their research.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: An odd variation. During one of the Ouroboros routes, Rena starts complaining that someone's inside her head, and Dision immediately blames the player character. This isn't helped when Keith suddenly appears and attacks Dision. It's not at all clear what's actually going on although the Omega Ending reveals that your entire existence revolves around killing Dision.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: AI!Dision's true aim is to exact revenge on the feuding corporations over the death of Yoko Inoue, even if it means killing multitudes and dragging the survivors with him into the Electrosphere. According to translations of the Omega Ending Simon hates Dision for stealing Yoko from him - so much that he wants to erase Dision's AI-copy, and runs multiple simulations of a possible Corporate War just to make sure it happens.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Cynthia, having been fed up by Dision's propaganda, abject lack of respect for her and his doting on Rena, decides to do this.
    • On the UPEO route, Rena herself does this. Apparently Dision's plans did not expect this particular thing to happen.
  • Energy Weapon: Both the X-49 Night Raven and Neucom's counterparts, the XR-900 Geopelia, have this for their "Primary Weapon" slot. Oddly, the "Laser Wave" weapon that high-end Neucom fighters has behave more like a beam machinegun than a laser weapon per se.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The GR route. By the time you kill Dision and destroy the Geopelias sometime after, you're the only one alive. One of the Ouroboros routes is a much more darker and nastier version.
  • Everything Is Online: Complete with its own search engine, the Peek-A-Boom! system.
  • Evil vs. Evil: A four-way, free-for-all war between:
    • UPEO: A Paper Tiger "peacekeeping" organization which has a Mole in Charge for one of its leaders that is corrupting the organization and turning it into part of a terrorist group.
    • General Resource: A Mega-Corp that will censor every form of media and even kill their own employees to prevent the world of knowing more than what they want to.
    • Neucom: Another Mega-Corp that will do everything For Science! no matter how dangerous or amoral that kind of science is, though they do admittedly have some standards with human experimentation despite being formed by ex-General Resource scientists who were kicked out for performing human experimentation, if a GR-aligned news source is to be believed. And one of their greatest scientists is ultimately the cause of the war.
    • Ouroboros: They are terrorists, albeit with a more noble goal of pushing humanity to what they see as the next step in evolution. Except not really. The entire goal of the organization is revenge.
  • Faction-Specific Endings: The game has three faction endings (UPEO, General Resource, and Neucom) plus two Ouroboros endings, which are both a mix of faction ending and a Lone Wolf ending. Of course, there's an Omega Ending for seeing all of them.
  • False Flag Operation: Mission 13, UPEO Route, Pawns In The Game: Fly advanced Neucom bomber jets to General Resource territories to provoke all-out war, under orders from your "peacekeeping" commander.
  • Fantastic Rank System: Cynthia's introduction video has her state that she is Neucom Emergency Unit's "Chief Consulting Pilot". It probably makes sense considering the Mega-Corp nature of the setting, but still...
  • The Federation: By 2040, much of the Usean continent is united. But the government is so ineffectual and weak that corporations have all but supplanted any semblance of authority.
  • Fictional Disability: Rena Hirose suffers from the "Silverstone disease", meaning that her skins lacks any protection from UV sunlight radiation whatsoever. As a result, the only way she has to be outside during daytime is inside either the fully-enclosed cockpit of her plane or in a suit that fully encloses her to shield her from the sun.
  • Fictional United Nations: The UPEO, a largely ineffective relic from the pre-corporatocracy era.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The COFFIN (COnnection For Flight INterface) system.
  • Gainax Ending: The Omega Ending of the game caused a lot of this mostly due to a lack of translation and a whole lot of misinformation. See The Ending Changes Everything for what actually happened.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Unless your orders are specifically to defend them, your allies will not take so much as a scratch even though three superfighters are wailing at it with cannons, missiles, and what-have-you.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The eight Geopelias that just show up out of nowhere as the Final Boss of the General Resource route after both Dision and the Night Raven have already been defeated, seemingly with no purpose but to provide another hint at the true nature of the Player Character. Even in-story, the ending video has a reporter wonder where these new planes came from, since neither Neucom, nor the remains of Ouroboros claimed responsibility (though they are definitely of Neucom make). Amusingly, the English version's plot actually explains they were programmed to go berserk if the Big Bad was defeated.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: This is a zig-zagged trope. One of the two Mega-Corps, which is definitely not portrayed in a positive light, operates futuristic versions of the F-15, F-16, and F-22. These American aircraft are usually piloted by the heroes in other media, but are piloted mainly by villains in this game. Meanwhile, the supposedly peacekeeping faction buys MiGs and Sukhoi aircraft which normally are piloted by villains in other media. To be fair, the peacekeeping faction also get some aircraft that are manufactured by the aforementioned Mega-Corps and EF-2000E Typhoon IIs which are based on the real-life Eurofighter Typhoon.However, the peacekeeping faction gets taken over by the terrorist faction in The Coup. Further zig-zagging this trope is that if you stay within the peacekeeping faction, you and one other of its pilots start a counter-revolution to get rid of its Mole in Charge.
  • Happy Ending Override: Suffering from numerous wars obviously puts a strain on Strangereal's government to the point that Mega-Corps takes over. In particular, the efforts of the Lighthouse War are All for Nothing thanks to Nemo's existence.
  • High-Altitude Battle:
    • There's a special case where you fly an RF-12A2note  into the stratosphere via rocket engine and shoot down bombers.
    • In the Japanese version on one path you can play as one of the bombers you have to shoot down in that mission! It's a really unique experience compared to the above, because the planes handle completely differently. Props to the dev team on doing that for just one mission.
  • Interface Screw: The nano-bite virus in the mission "Bug Hunt" causes your screen to become dark and blurry.
  • Just Plane Wrong: While some of Neucom's R-Series planes are plausible (R-201's double-body design has been used since World War II), some planes feature some very questionable design choices, such as the R-102/103/211's protrusion/second nose.
  • Kill Sat:
    • General Resource's satellites. In the Neucom route, you get to destroy them, and in a subroute, you need to protect a fallen one in order to capture it and prove that GR really was up to no good.
    • Beat all missions with an S-Rank and you get to use it. It's a one-hit kill against everything, provided you are outdoors (which is Justified since some missions take place inside undersea colonies and such).
  • Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: Rena, specifically to pilot the incredibly overpowered X-49 Night Raven. While Real!Dision did not intend to make her into one, AI!Dision does.
  • Lensman Arms Race: Both General Resource and Neucom develop (or, in the case of GR, upgrade) their fleet to better fight one another. The zenith of this is in Neucom's race to copy General Resource's ace-in-the-hole, the X-49 Night Raven. They succeeded in making eight of them.
  • Meaningful Name: Nemo means "Nameless". Consider that in the end he's actually an AI.
  • More than Mind Control: Dision's ruthless memory manipulation of Rena made her absolutely willing to follow Dision through his visions of revolution.
    • After the assault on UPEO's HQ, however, YOU start to mess with Rena's mind, causing her to Freak Out.
  • Murder Simulator: The Omega Ending reveals that the game is literally one; a simulation one man makes to plot another's murder.
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours: Of a larger scale. Not too long after the start of the game, both UPEO and General Resource have given Neucom quite a good beating, sinking a good portion of their naval fleet from joining Megafloat. This is because Neucom violated a crucial no-fly zone restriction. Just then though, a recently-signed truce means UPEO can no longer assist General Resource against Neucom since technically, they surrendered. After which, General Resource breaks the truce and attacks Neucom's base preemptively. Since this time, General Resource is the aggressor, UPEO has to come to Neucom's aid since they are a peacekeeping organization. Yes, the whole thing is as absurd as it sounds, and characters within the game lampshade this ruthlessly.
  • Nanomachines: The nano-bites in the mission "Bug Hunt."
  • The Neutral Zone: Subverted. While Expo City is technically UPEO's HQ in many endings, one branch has it hosting Neucom forces. The very first mission has you shooting down Neucom flights above it, suggesting that it changes allegiances quite a lot.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: Neucom, General Resource, and Ouroboros.
  • No Ending: Which of the Multiple Endings occurs for real after Nemo is reset by Simon Orestes Cohen is never revealed. But considering the implications, what happens after Nemo is released into reality can't be good.
  • Non Standard Game Over: This game has quite a few of them. Some honourable mentions include Zero Gravity, which shows your R-352 getting toasted by one of the satellite lasers if you run out of time; Guardian Angel, which shows the R-808 going down and crashing (with Cynthia's complaining included in the original version of the game); and Liquidation, which shows the UI-4053 getting blown out of the sky by a submarine cruise missile.
  • Omega Ending: You have to clear all five regular endings to watch the epilogue.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: By the time Electrosphere takes place, the most prominent and powerful corporations have become become sovereign states in all but name, with General Resource and Neucom fielding their own military forces.
  • One World Order: The Ouroboros wants this. Subverted when it's revealed that Dision's real plan amounts to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge over the death of his beloved Yoko.
  • Optional Stealth: The mission "Utopian Dreams" ("Plumber" in the export version) advises you to stay under the radar net as you proceed to the enemy base. It doesn't matter if you are spotted or not, it only determines when you end up fighting more enemy planes. "Pawns in the Game" (or "ECM") is similar, where you're advised to bomb the facilities under cover of a jamming aircraft and flying up to a specific altitude when it's not doing its thing; following it is one of the conditions for an A-rank, but you're not required to do so beyond that.
  • Paper Tiger: UPEO itself, to the point that the mission where you're given the first opportunity to defect is actually named "Paper Tiger". It is so woefully under-equipped that it has to receive "gifts" of military hardware from both sides just to stay competent, helpfully illustrated by the suffix "U" after the jets' names (eg, F-16XFU is basically General Resource's own F-16XF with a UPEO green paintjob, ditto R-101U from Neucom). The kicker? The donated equipments are as bog-standard bottom-shelf jets as they come. A hacked video feed even lampshades this ruthlessly.
    Person A: Are these R-Numbers? They've got UPEO markings on it.
    Person B: Well, there goes their so-called "neutrality".
  • Post-Cyberpunk: While it features the standard "Mega Corps and technology are ruining it for everyone" tropes typical of a cyberpunk work, the original Japanese version's UPEO ending sees both megacorps humbled.
  • Posthumous Character: Yoko Inoue, Dision's late lover who researched the Electrosphere and uploaded him into it shortly before her death.
  • Propaganda Machine:
    • There are several "news" outlets. The take on these propaganda vehicles is a bit more realistic than most; the networks' bias in favor of their sponsors is apparent, but isn't over the top. GBS (General Resource's TV news network) in particular is a censored news source and makes few bones about it.
    • Literally, the first three video broadcasts you tune into before your first mission is both the GBS and NVS' narrated commercials about their own company.
  • Revenge: This appears to be a common theme in the game, especially if the person wanting retribution lost someone one way or another.
    • In the UPEO route Nemo, Erich, and Rena turn against the corrupted UPEO (specifically Park) after being used as Unwitting Pawn far too many times. Rena even turns against Dision in end.
    • The General Resource route has Keith seeking to destroy Dision after the latter betrayed him and offed GR's CEO. Later missions have him discussing with Nemo that he refuses to believe that Dision is the same man he knew, which is technically true.
    • After her sister, Cynthia, is corrupted by Ouroboros, Fiona goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the organization, even going as far as shooting down Cynthia since she believes her sister is too far gone.
    • Likewise, Cynthia turns against Ouroboros after learning their true intentions and Fiona getting killed during an attack. She singlehandedly destroys the organization along with Nemo in her quest for redemption.
    • The whole game is this. Simon created the simulation to train Nemo as a weapon to kill Dision, blaming him for the loss of Yoko.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Keith believes that the Dision he knows is not the same Dision that he flies with when he defects to Ouroboros. He’s right, but only because Dision is Dead All Along.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In the aptly-named mission Scylla and Charybdis, you are to protect Fiona and Chairman Clarkson from GR attacks. Later on, Park order you to shoot it down on charges of treason. Shooting them down means killing your heretofore loyal friend, killing your UPEO reinforcement signals treachery to your organization. Take too long though, and Rena will do the job for you.
    • A lesser example is in GR's route, where you must shoot down Neucom strato-transports carrying mini-fighters. Halfway through, Keith sends a distress signal as apparently, an enemy ace has him on the ropes. The mission that proceeds afterwards depends on whether you continue your mission as ordered or destroy the ace that plagued Keith and let a few of your targets slip through. That said, unlike Scylla and Charybdis, it doesn't affect anything beyond the mission.
  • Scenery Porn: The maps are quite large and well-detailed for a PS1 game. Best exemplified in one mission where you have to fly in a canyon while trailing a plane with absolutely no dogfighting aside from the occasional helicopter fight.
  • Sequential Boss: The final battles against Rena and Dision in one of the endings.
  • Space Battle: The only example in the entire series has you controlling Neucom's R-352 Sepia manned starfighter, killing orbital satellites. The controls of a spacecraft in zero-G feel entirely different than in atmosphere, throwing players out of the loop and forcing them to unlearn everything and adapt in three minutes or else. All this for one mission.
  • Spanner in the Works: You. Specifically, Dision's plan to groom Rena to pilot the massively overpowered X-49 Night Raven. After repeated contacts with you, Rena becomes more determined to find her real memories. This proves crucial later on as she betrays Dision.
  • The Starscream: While Chairman Clarkson is truly committed to pacifying the two Companies, Park has...ambitions of his own.
  • Super Prototype:
    • Many General Resource planes are actually born from real-life prototypes of otherwise abandoned or shelved projects. Discounting the F-15 S/MTD which appears all over the series, the RF-12A2 is not actually a variant of the SR-71, but of an earlier prototype interceptor called the A-12 Oxcart. This is the same case with the F/A-32C Erne being the finalized product of the Boeing X-32, and the XFA-36A Game derived from the otherwise proof-of-concept plane McDonnell Douglas X-36. Others include the F-16XF Gyrfalcon, based on the F-16 AFTI, and F-16XA Sakerfalcon, based on the F-16XL Cranked Arrow concept.
    • An ingame example is the massively overpowered X-49 Night Raven, which is the whole reason for the GR-Neucom conflict.
  • Take That!: Mixed in with a bit of Creator Provincialism: in the Japanese version, one of the most vile and corrupt characters is Korean-coded Park, who is a sniveling coward. Even Dision had somewhat understandable goals.
  • Taking You with Me: If the player sides with Ouroboros, Keith attacks you, Dision and Rena. After he takes enough damage, he gets his plane stuck between the wings of Rena's Night Raven; when you shoot him down, Rena goes down too.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The Omega Ending, revealed by completing all the routes. Simon contacts you and explains that you're an AI...and that all the routes you played through were actually a simulation he trapped you in. It turns out that he blames Dision for stealing Yoko from him, and was using you and the simulation to figure out how to erase Dision's AI-copy. Having seen every possible outcome, Simon decides that Dision's death is a Foregone Conclusion (since you do kill him on each route) and releases a fresh copy of you that has not been in the simulation into the real world to make one of the routes reality. He then deletes the simulation and you entirely.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • The final ending, obtained by completing all five story paths, is this for Nemo.
    • Another character is revealed to be this as well: Dision. Bonus points of him realizing it while the real one is still alive, and him seeing everything through security cameras, since he doesn't exist in the flesh.
  • Transhuman Treachery: This is the modus operandi and rallying cry for those who have "discarded their flesh," that is, the people who have Sublimated. Subverted with Cynthia, who is truly in it only for the sake of her curiosity, and she becomes devastated when her plans involve sacrificing Fiona.
  • True Companions: Both Erich and Keith are this to you on their respective routes. Keith even starts to salute you at the end of his video messages if you save him from troubles.
  • Übermensch: The Dision you meet is actually an electronic AI copy of a flesh-and-blood Dision; this AI wants humanity to progress to an electronic form as he has, all while the Corporate War is heating up and he (it?) plays a part. Ultimately subverted, in that his ultimate goal is not to "advance the human race", but rather of Revenge against the companies who killed his or rather, his flesh-and-blood counterpart's girlfriend, Yoko.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower:
    • In the original Japanese, it's inverted: the UPEO was established by what's left of the old national governments as a global peacekeeping force meant to police the new corporate order. In practice, it's a Paper Tiger that's woefully underfunded and an unwitting tool for Ouroboros.
    • In the export version, it's played straight: the UPEO is well-funded enough to launch strikes into space and quickly responds to erupting battles by either side.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Quite a few cases, depending on the route, with little explanation.
    • Erich is a somewhat unique case. He's your one constant wingman throughout the entirety of the UPEO route. In the General Resource route, he disappears because you can shoot him down; any other route, he's just AWOL entirely.
    • One of the early turning points in the plot is the defection of Fiona and Chairman Clarkson from UPEO to Neucom, and a player in the UPEO route is allowed to shoot them down (or not do anything to stop Rena from doing so) to remain with UPEO, or rescue the two and defect alongside them. While Fiona plays some role in the plot, direct or otherwise, no matter how things turn out later on if you defect, Clarkson disappears from the plot entirely even if he survives.
    • Conversely, Cynthia only shows up outside of the Neucom route in the General Resource route in one mission before being shot down or disappearing for the rest of the route.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: One mission in UPEO's route, after shooting down one of their own allies for suspicions of treason, Erich calls Rena out for it.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Erich firmly believes in protecting peace with UPEO. He's quite attuned to everything though, and when he has been used as a pawn too far, he flies with you and initiates a two-plane rebellion.
  • With This Herring: Double subverted. You start with a Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon II, a variant of one of the coolest planes of today and a mid- to late-game aircraft in every other appearance in the series... however, it's the far future, and by then the Eurofighter is severely outdated; flying it in combat in 2040 is the equivalent of flying a World War II fighter in combat in The '90s or beyond.

"This time, the story won't be pre-determined like the others. Let's start the game."


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Alternative Title(s): Ace Combat 3


Neucom Inc's Nanobytes

After the first part of "Bug Hunt" mission, one of the UPEO pilots Rena Hirose flies way too close to a cluster of nanobytes, which causes her to violently convulse while they're taking over her mind.

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Main / MindRape

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