Often referred to as the Dueling Game and Konami's response to the Ace Combat series, it enjoyed success on the Sega Dreamcast, but less so on the PlayStation 2 due to competition with the aforementioned. For the most part, it was considered inferior to the Ace Combat games due to inferior handling performance of many of its early game aircraft, a vastly different default control scheme (correctable with the fully customizable control settings), and hammy voice acting.
Oddly, the flight physics were a bit more accurate than the Ace Combat series. Every plane has specific air-speed windows in which they are most agile; the majority are most agile in the 400-700 KIAS window. Loss of agility occurs both when going too slow (not enough airflow for the control surfaces to bite) or too fast (excess inertia and the plane's own systems limiting airframe g-loads). In addition, planes suffer substantial speed loss while dog-fighting and players have to worry more about keeping their speeds up to remain agile, whereas Ace Combat players must regularly apply airbrakes and fly at near-stall speeds to prevent overshoot or being shaken off.
Aside from that, the series is notable among flight sim shooters for its wide variety of unique missions, settings, objectives and customizable aircraft. Actual customizing options are limited to weapons and paint jobs but are not locked. It makes heavy use of anime artwork, character designs and anime influenced enemies, plot devices, bosses and cutscenes. There are multiple playable characters with unique personalities, missions and aircraft. Aside from that, a player can fail individual missions, crash or get shot down and keep playing. The player must pay to repair aircraft lost in crashes/shoot downs. Most players just save after each mission success.
There are four games in the series: the original Airforce Delta on Dreamcast, Airforce Delta Storm with versions on Xbox and Game Boy Advance, and Airforce Delta Strike on PS2. All three games feature the same basic gameplay but different plots.
The Federated Republic of Zabayral, which did not maintain an army, was broken up by ethnic tensions caused by the wake of the Cold War. Nine years after, a revolutionary army called "The People's Federation" has formed and managed to reunite most of the former republic through force. The last independent nation left standing, the Republic of Laconia, has hired the foreign Air Force Delta PMC to defend itself.
One of the launch games of the Sega Dreamcast, Airforce Delta is mostly notable for being an incredibly blatant ripoff of Ace Combat 2, featuring identical HUD graphics and gameplay structure, as well as very similar missions and flight model. However, it's still a fairly fun game on its own, if very unoriginal.
The world is experiencing a population boom after a series of medical advances that made many previously very-lethal diseases easily curable. One of the problems that came along, however, is that basic necessities such as food are spreading increasingly thin in many highly-industrialized nations, who found themselves able to neither import nor produce enough food for their own citizens. These countries banded together to form the "United Forces" and commenced conquest of agricultural lands in the name of "equal redistribution of resources for everyone". Those under the threat of United Forces invasion pooled together their resources under the banner unimaginatively named "Allied Forces" and proceed to augment their strength through recruitment of foreign mercenaries. The player is part of one such unit, the Delta team.
Released for the Xbox in 2001, the game added numbered, RPG-like stats and a map system where the player could get ambushed and fight in generic battles while going from mission to mission.
Air Force Delta Strike was the last entry in the series and contained no less than 70 total missions on any one storyline, with some characters' stories having 90+ (though many are skippable "Stand By Missions"). It also features a level system reminiscent of Armored Core, with the ability to select from multiple available missions. This allows players to choose the missions within each "phase" in the order they want. Each phase has specific missions that must be won before the last turn of the chapter or it's Game Over. Late in the game, players may also customize certain aircraft with a space operations adapter. Essentially, it's an array of thrusters which when applied, gives all aircraft the same (unremarkable) flight characteristics and weapons load-out. This adapter is standard for all space missions until the player has the plane itself refitted for space flight. It also featured a mission map, where the player sometimes had to use up chapter turns to move from one location to another.
The story goes as follows: In the somewhat distant future, Earth and the space colonies—banded together under the banner of "Orbital Citizens Community"—are embroiled in a major war and the eponymous squadron, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, is right in the middle of it on Earth's side. The OCC have a substantial technology advantage, but the EDAF have (supposedly) greater numbers and are fighting on home turf. The game opens with the OCC occupying roughly 80% of the land.
The series as a whole provides examples of:
- Airstrike Impossible: Strike particularly has this in spades!
- Bigger Stick: Getting progressively better planes.
- Bloodless Carnage: Justified. Slinging missiles & bombs at fighters & other non-biological targets won't produce much blood.
- Chasing Your Tail
- Console Wars: The series started on the Dreamcast, then went to Xbox for Storm and finished on PS2 with Strike.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Radar signatures.
- Cool Plane: Nearly every single fictional aircraft, and some of the real ones in Strike.
- Disc-One Nuke: the F-15 SMTD in Delta and Storm, with its high stats while being available early in the game, is this trope. Holst's Thunderchief also qualifies as being the best starter plane of all the playable characters, what with good stats and a great special weapon.
- Easy Logistics: You can never run out of fuel.
- Enemy Chatter: Over the top and plentiful.
- Enemy-Detecting Radar: Par for arcade-styled flight sims.
- Guest Fighter: Airforce Delta Storm introduced multiple planes on Konami's many Shoot 'Em Up properties: the original release had the Phosphorus (based on Gradius's Vic Viper) and TwinBee (under the name "Bee Fatty"), with the later releases adding the jet from AJAX and the player ship of Space Manbow. Using them would play medleys of their respective games' soundtrack during missions. Strike went crazy with the shmup cameos, adding the likes of the Axelay and the Crisis Force ship.
- High-Speed Missile Dodge: Pretty standard for the genre.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Likewise, though the series never quite reached the ludicrous, 100+-missile-count levels that Ace Combat eventually got to.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: Par for arcade-styled flight sims.
- Market-Based Title: The series is known as Deadly Skies in Europe.
- Missile Lock-On: Par for the genre.
- Mission Briefing: Every mission starts with a summary of objectives and instructions.
- New Game Plus: Subsequent playthroughs will let you keep all the planes you bought previously.
- Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: 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.
- Universal Driver's License: No matter the type, age, origin or flight characteristics of an aircraft, each pilot can jump between them with no familiarization or training time.
- Averted with Jamie in Strike, who begins jet training (offscreen) at an unspecified point in the late game and completes it for his last mission.
Specific to the original Airforce Delta:
- Colony Drop: One mission has you blowing up a Zabayral satellite about to crash on a city you just liberated.
- False Flag Operation: The People's Army attempt to incriminate Laconia by painting their aircraft in Laconian colors and targeting a UN conference with missiles.
- Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The game's plot is obviously based on the breakup of Yugoslavia.
- Kaizo Trap: Deliberately averted, in opposition to Ace Combat 2. Crashing during the victory fanfare will just make the game skip directly to the victory screen without punishing you for it. Good, too, because the game likes to make your plane slowly turn and roll in a sort of celebratory flight rather than just gaining altitude after a mission... and sometimes, it can't tell if its intended flight path will cause it to crash into the ground.
- Shout-Out: The paint scheme for the F-20 Tigershark is an almost one-to-one recreation of that of Shin Kazama's.
Specific to Airforce Delta Storm:
- Cel Shading: The enemies and props in the "Where Are We?" level are celshaded.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The cutscenes show the player as being part of a much larger flight, but wingmates never appear during gameplay.
- Joke Level: The later releases add a secret mission called "Where Are We?" where, in stark contrast to the realistic military vehicles and installations the player is tasked with destroying for most of the game, you instead blow up characters from Parodius.
- Non-Indicative Name: The GBA version is actually an adaptation of the first game.
- Pal Bonus: The later-released Japanese and PAL versions added several new planes, did some minor rebalancing, made small tweaks to some missions (most notably "Attack of the Tyrant", which had the titular weapon's firing timer made more obvious) and added a new Joke Level.
- Shout-Out: The secret mission where the players fight the XF-0002 Phosphorus is titled "From Legend to Myth" in the Japanese version. The Phosphorus is very clearly based on the Vic Viper, and "From Legend to Myth" was the subtitle of the arcade version of Gradius III.
- Samus Is a Girl: The nameless protagonist is revealed to be a woman at the very end of the credits. Despite this, several cutscenes have your protagonist responding to orders from Delta Leader with a clearly male voice.
Specific to Airforce Delta Strike:
- Absurdly Spacious Subway: The subway tunnels where you pull off one of several Airstrike Impossible missions.
- Ace Pilot: The entire cast of playable characters by the end of each game.
- Aerial Canyon Chase Twice:
- In the first, the canyon is wide but has gigantic steam-rollers that must be flown past and an artificial ceiling is placed over the canyon by an inadequately explained air defense network.
- In the second, you are the one being chased by enemy ace pilots as you make your way through it. A gigantic wind generator is making it impossible for you to fly above the canyon rim and you have to reach the end in order to destroy it. There are also giant A/C blowers sticking out of the canyon walls for some unexplained reason.
- A Father to His Men: Holst is this to Brian; Sergei is this on the OCC side, fighting to keep conquered/disenfranchised former EDAF-member nations in the Navigator's good grace and willing to take responsibilities for failures in order to protect his subordinates, even Smug Snakes such as Giuseppe and Leon. After he dies, whatever unity there is within the OCC top ace cadre dies with him.
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The first mission has the player launching from one, in a rather odd fashion that involves throwing the plane out the back and hoping it can start up properly in free-fall. Although some dialogue seems to at least imply that planes aren't meant to be launched from it in transit.
- The Alliance: The EDAF, Earth Defense Alliance Forces.
- Almighty Janitor: Grandpa Bob.
- Arrow Cam: Holding down the missile button will cause this to happen.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The OCC fields a wide array gigantic, powerful and very cool contraptions whose actual usefulness is basically limited to increasing the difficulty of whatever mission features them, and little else.
- Some of the unlockable special fighters like the Twin Bee are this. The Aura-Wing from Crisis Force is an example, as it has great air to air abilities and a powerful laser sub-weapon but goes at the speed of molasses.
- Even the regular aircraft are this. You may be in a Super Prototype fighter that never left the drawing board, but having no onboard gun is a death sentence if you're out of ammo...
- Back from the Brink: The first mission is either a homage or shameless ripoff of Ace Combat 04's opening mission. About all that changes is that the enemy bombers take out their target before you arrive and shoot them all down.
- Badass Crew: The entire cast of playable characters.
- BFG: The Leupold Battery of railguns from one of the mid-game missions is so big, you have to fly down the barrel to destroy it from inside, and it is active and shooting. There are three of them in that mission.
- Bag of Sharing: Mostly averted. Every character has individual money accounts and aircraft selections, though the bonus aircraft are available to everyone.
- Bragging Rights Reward: The unlockable special planes after beating the game. Subverted in that you still need to keep playing the game multiple times to earn 100% Completion.
- Crapsack World: Under constant, unrelenting assault by a wide variety of cool and powerful weapons... that all belong to the enemy.
- Crewof One: Whenever the player flies an aircraft that in the real world would require a crew of 2 or more, the empty seats are filled in the aircraft's third-person models and the plane is able to execute all functions flawlessly.
- Critical Existence Failure: Though your planes will show some damage as they get hit, they lose nothing in performance or capability until the last hitpoint is removed.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: For anyone who has played the Ace Combat games first, though thankfully the controls can be rebound as you see fit to emulate the AC controls or any other scheme you'd prefer.
- Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Operation Racoon Hunt.
- Downer Ending: Jamie's ending, see Heroic Sacrifice.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Lilia and your enemies treat the cadre of pilots with the same condescension right to the very end.
- Escort Mission: Several, including one where you have to escort a train through a canyon.
- Fake Longevity: Averted by making the Stand-By missions skippable if the player wants.
- Foreshadowing: In one mission, where the squadron must operate at high-altitude, Jamie complains about his propeller aircraft not performing well in the thin atmosphere. Later when the squadron takes to space, Jamie is forced to stay behind because his plane cannot fly high enough or fast enough to make the high-altitude rendezvous with the orbital shuttle.
- Game-Breaking Bug: In the North American release, there is a glitch that prevents the unlocking of Brian's Sea Vixen. For reference, unlocking the Axelay requires that all aircraft other than the Konami aircraft be unlocked and purchased. This is fixed in the Japanese and European releases, although it's possible to get the Axelay without a Gameshark and the Sea Vixen in the North American version.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: While Easy Logistics is played straight, the assault on a major enemy fuel refinery and pipeline is treated as strategic victory due to its supposed impact on enemy supply lines.
- Glass Cannon: Jamie's fighters all have low hitpoints and slow speed, but are loaded with guns, rockets and unguided bombs, perfect for racking up insanely high scores.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The mission where Ruth tries to save a stranded hospital ship. This mission also serves as a major Kick the Dog moment for the OCC.
- Heel–Face Turn: If you complete certain tasks (unknown to the player) through the mid-game, you can get Ellen to change sides and join Delta Squadron during the space portion.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Jamie in the finale of his story line. Just after deciding that he will take to the sky in a jet if that's what it takes to stay in action, he crashes his F-86 into an enemy mook that was preventing the launch of a shuttle used to ferry the other characters into space, killing himself in the process but allowing the rest of the Delta force to join the impending showdown against the OCC.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Most of the Enemy Chatter in the missions.
- High-Altitude Battle: To the point that there are a pair of back-to-back missions that involve fighting at particularly high altitudes to a) destroy the enemy space elevator that moved reinforcements from space to earth, and b) destroy the falling fragments of said elevator to prevent major damage to the city below.
- 100% Completion: Trying to see all the endings, unlock all the bonus planes and buy every plane, upgrade and weapon.
- Humongous Mecha: Several enemy examples.
- Infinity +1 Sword: Some of the unlockable bonus planes.
- Instant-Win Condition: The canyon mission with the steam-rollers. You can have one hitpoint left and four missiles locked onto you but if you make it through the gate, you've won.
- Inverted when you have to take out the tire fleet. They can have one tire left, heavily damaged with all weapons disabled and your missiles streaking in for the killing blow, but if it crosses the imaginary line on the battlefield first, you still fail the mission.
- Kaizo Trap: Several missions where completing the objective doesn't end the mission, you have to run out the timer afterwards.
- Kick the Dog: The OCC has their moment when they relentlessly attack a stranded, unarmed hospital ship.
- Large Ham: So extreme that even the stillshot character interactions between missions convey this.
- Leads to major Narm when you see Grandpa Bob's angry face—which looks more like he is suffering major constipation.
- Last Stand: The space-based part has this along with aliens secretly behind the whole war.
- Leeroy Jenkins: John in the first mission; he disobeys direct orders and breaks off from destroying the bombers to go after more fighters.
- Lightning Bruiser: Pick any late game aircraft except Jamie's.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Planes can launch up to four regular missiles at an instance, plus special weapons.
- AI enemies will often launch this many at once; it is not surprising to suffer four missile hits near simultaneously.
- Made of Iron: Some planes have up to 4000+ hitpoints.
- Military Mashup Machine: Strike is loaded to the gills with examples from the OCC. Of particular note are the fleet of rolling tires big enough that you can fly through the center. In game, they're called "Land Battleships."
- Mission Control: You receive constant information/updates from Amelia with no real explanation as to where she is during missions.
- Money Grinding: Playing the stand by missions to get more money to afford more expensive aircraft.
- No Endor Holocaust: Averted when, after destroying the space elevator, you have to stop the (slowly) falling chunks of it from devastating the city at its base.
- Played straight when you destroy the giant airships in "The Robbers".
- Overranked Soldier: Lilia, the 14-year-old Major; handwaved with a few throw-away lines early in the game about experiments to create people with superhuman intellect.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: The plot always leads to missions specific to each individual character's skills, no matter how contrived it feels - this looks like a job for an outdated prop fighter!
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Delta Squadron.
- Rule of Cool: What else could explain canyons full of giant steam-rollers or fleets of tire-shaped land-battleships?
- Schizo Tech: WWII fighters, post WWII fighters, tornado generators, modern fighter jets, and space-battleships in the same game.
- Shout-Out: It is hard to tell if some of the missions are this or just shameless ripoffs of Ace Combat missions.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Most of the male characters have have physiques more in line with professional body-builders or fitness instructors than pilots. It could be Mr. Fanservice taken to its logical conclusion if not for being able to legitimately ask if any women have ever played the game.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The enemy tries this with the Leupold Battery of huge railguns - calling it a Paris Gun on steroids is an understatement. Each gun consists of five barrels that launches projectiles the size of small cruise ships. At one point it is used to take down a formation of bombers, the outcome of which is best described as blasting a mosquito with an anti-aircraft cannon.
- Overall, the OCC seems rather fond of this trope in general. They seem just as willing to deploy their Awesome, but Impractical assortment of toys against a small wing of fighter planes as they are against actual strategic targets.
- True Final Boss: NAVIGATOR in in the final mission for 3rd Element in Strike.
- Videogame Caring Potential: Coldly subverted when, playing as Ruth, you try to save a hospital ship in a no-win mission.
- World of Ham: Part of the fun of Strike is that through the entire game, the ham will give Professional Wrestling a run for its money!"PUT SOME GAWD-DAMN HEART IN IT!!"