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Video Game / Space Ace

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Even in the future, machismo alone only goes so far.
"Space Ace! Defender of justice, truth and the planet Earth! Ace is being attacked by the evil Commander Borf! Struggle with Dexter to regain his manhood! Destroy the Infanto-Ray! Defeat the evil Borf! Be valiant space warrior, the fate of Earth is in your hands!"
Intro narrationnote 

The Creator-Driven Successor to Don Bluth's popular Dragon's Lair laserdisc arcade game, Space Ace was similar, but with a totally different genre.

Instead of a knight and a princess, the characters were Dexter, a pulp space hero, and Kimberly, his buxom, short-skirted, sarcastic girlfriend. Their mission was to locate the evil Commander Borf, a blue behemoth of an alien who had taken it upon himself to create something called the Infanto Ray, that he would use to transform the inhabitants of Earth and any other planet he wished into babies or children.

Before the game itself, Ace is zapped with said ray, which transforms him into his previous geeky teenage self. The rub is that, due to some apparent malfunction or his own body chemistry, the effects turned out somewhat wonky, and he switches between his adult, musclebound self and his younger self at the least opportune times. The game itself took care of this by utilizing one button that served as both the weapons button and the "energize button", and when Ace's wrist weapon flashed you had the option of transforming into Ace or simply remaining as Dexter to carry out the mission... and thankfully, Bluth animated two separate scenes for each of these instances seeing as how Ace could dispatch enemies quickly and Dexter had to use his smarts to get past them. Note that turning into Ace was selecting to play the hard version of the level, which would be longer and more action-packed to challenge the seasoned hero version of the character, but which had the reward of receiving more points.

Unlike Dragon's Lair, where Dirk was semi-mute, both Ace and Kimmy spoke throughout the adventure, commenting on the weirdness around them as well as going over the game plan to reach Borf and stop him, which added a little more humor to this game than Dragon's Lair. Though it came second, it carved out its own nice little niche in gaming history.

It was originally released on laserdisc on April 15, 1984, and has since been ported to the iPhone, the PSN, and Android. A Saturday morning cartoon based on the game was added to the second season of Saturday Supercade, which was rerun as an insert in the early days of Cartoon Network and their spinoff Boomerang. A comic mini-series based on the game incorporated elements from the original game and its Supercade version (mainly Ace's changes to Dexter and back happening at random as opposed to the use of his wrist device). It was also released on Steam on August 27, 2013. There was even a version released in a trilogy pack along with the two Dragon's Lair games that could be functionally played on a DVD player, with the remote as a controller!

Space Ace contains examples of the following:

  • The Ace: It's in his name. He was less confident and capable as a teenager, however, he manages to outwit and destroy a squadron of enemy spaceship as Dexter (and no, there's no Ace option), and he's fighting Borf to a standstill as Dexter (and can remain Dex for a long long time).
  • Ascended Extra: One level of the game (which seems to have been cut from a lot of adaptations) features a floating red robot with electrified prongs and a cape as an enemy. The Supercade segments named this robot Le Grin, and made him Borf's main sidekick.
  • Babies Ever After: In this case, the baby is the just-defeated Borf hit by his own Infanto-Ray, who is presumably adopted by Ace and Kimberly.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Both Dexter in his adult form and Kimberly are very attractive people while Borf is...not. At least not by human standards, anyway.
  • Big Bad: Commander Borf is an alien conqueror from space who plans to use the power of his Infanto Ray to turn Earth's population into helpless babies so he can take over.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Borf has a bunch of giant mirrors in the area where he's set up his Infanto Ray, for no real reason other than so Ace has something to turn the game's ultimate weapon against him. He even shoots his own minions trying to attack Ace, turning them into babies.
  • But Thou Must!: You can play through most of the game without energizing, but in the final area, even if you choose not to energize while fighting Borf, the game does it for you.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Ace is your ISO-standard space hero, complete with ray gun.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: In spades. At one point, Ace and Kimberly are having a casual dialog about rescues, all while Ace is picking off minions left and right without even looking at them.
  • Clark Kenting: In the Supercade segments, only Kimberly and Borf can tell that Ace and Dexter are actually the same person.
  • Creator Cameo: Don Bluth is the voice of Borf in the game.
  • Damsel in Distress: Kimberly gets captured by Borf at the beginning of the game, and Ace spends much of the game chasing after her. He saves her during the Motorcycle Chase scene, after which she joins him for the rest of the game, though she gets captured a second time during the final battle, during which Borf's minions nearly lower her into a pool of lava.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ace, occasionally. "Oh, wow. I've been hit." (zapped back into Dexter, iris out)
  • Deranged Animation: Some of the levels get extremely trippy, as if Don Bluth were channeling his inner Ralph Bakshi.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Almost every time Kimberly says "Dexter", he interjects, "Call me Ace!"
  • Dual Age Modes: Some scenes can be played through either as the teenager Dexter or his adult self Ace, depending on if you press the Energize button or not.
  • Eaten Alive: Way more common than in Dragon's Lair. After the intial station stages, you get at least one and often multiple things trying to devour you. Including your own Titan-sized dark doppleganger. That includes his disembodied head.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: As befits the Spiritual Successor to Dragon's Lair.
  • Evil Counterpart: Dark Dexter/Ace.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Borf and Dark Dexter/Ace.
  • Fanfare: Whenever you take the option to Energize (and transform Dexter into his musclebound adult self), a short transformation sequence leads into the triumphant Space Ace theme song. The theme that plays during that short transformation sequence lets you know that much ass-kicking is about to commence.
  • Fiery Redhead: Kimmy cannot say anything to Dexter/Ace without being full of sass.
  • Fountain of Youth: The Infanto Ray, which turns people into infants, and which turned Space Ace into a weak teenager. The Infanto Ray also makes a cameo in some of the episodes of the Saturday Supercade cartoon version. It appears they have yet to work all the bugs out, hence it only turning Ace into a scrawny runt, and changing back to his normal self at random. Amazingly, in the show it even works on robots, turning them into...little baby robots.
  • Gale-Force Sound: Kimberly does this over videophone.
  • Game-Over Man: Borf. Actually, he only technically appears when you lose a life, instead of an actual Game Over.
    • Played straight in the SNES port, where Borf only taunts you once you lose your last life.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: A fair number of enemies could count, but where the heck did the Dark Side come from?
  • Growing Muscles Sequence: Whenever you Energize, you get to see the scrawny Dexter turn into the muscular Ace.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Ace's Dark Side destroys himself with his own ray gun, until he's just a head.
    • Borf is defeated with his own Infanto Ray.
  • Hulking Out: What happens to Dexter when the effects of the Infanto Ray wear off.
  • Hunk: Ace. Compare his buff, macho and deep-voiced adult self to his scrawnier and nerdy teenage self as Dexter.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Kimberly.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Call me Ace, huh?"
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Borf is hit with his own Infanto Ray.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: In the Saturday Supercade segments, whenever Ace is zapped by the Infanto Ray and reverts to his geeky alter ego of Dexter, Kimberly gets annoyed with Dexter as a scrawny, gawky, whiny, childish wimp.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: One death during the hand-to-hand combat scene near the end of the game has Borf kick Ace so hard in the face that it shatters.
  • Major Injury Underreaction:
    • One death sequence has an enemy shoot Ace with a laser, to which he sarcastically remarks "Oh wow, I've been hit." before transforming back into Dexter.
    • The giant version of Dark Side keeps shooting his own limbs off — and shoots himself in the groin — and even reduced to a giant rolling head, he's still laughing.
    • If Ace fails to save Kimberly from being lowered into the lava pool during the final battle, the two of them will slowly sink into the lava while glaring disapprovingly at the camera.
  • The Many Deaths of You: You will die in various ways, constantly, or the game is over in ten minutes. Here's a video showing them for those curious.
  • Meaningful Name: It's The '80s. "Dexter" — that is, "Poindexter" — meant "nerd" at the time.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kimberly is a hot buxom redhead in a Star Trek-esque miniskirt with lots of sass.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Some of the minor enemies from the game got names when they showed up in the Supercade segments. Like the blue cat-like aliens who tackle Dexter in one level are named Groots, and the robot that puts him in a plastic bag in the junkyard level is named Auto Broom.
  • No Indoor Voice: Dexter. "I'LL SAVE YOU, KIMMY!"note 
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Will Finn seems to be doing his best Eddie Deezen impression as Dexter.
  • Noodle Incident: At the beginning of the game Kimberly gets captured by Borf. When Ace meets up with her again near the end of the game she's escaped on her own, somehow.
  • Platform Hell: The SNES port. Check out Frankomatic's playthrough of the game and you'll come out believing it to be one of the hardest games ever made. And to top it off, to view the game's ending, you have to get the highest rating in every single level (kill a requisite amount of enemies and collect enough glowing disc powerups, destroy every single green orb in the Space Maze, and with near perfect accuracy and minimal shots fired to boot). Given the game's wonky controls and absurd difficulty (Dexter dies in one hit to anything, has limited lives, there are no level checkpoints, and the game is loaded with ridiculous memorization, unclear level layouts including leaps of faith you need to make with no indication to do it, and psyche outs), this all adds up to a near impossible task without the use of save states. Hell, even finishing the game at all is insanely difficult.
    • And oddly enough, the port actually does follow the original pretty damn closely. Just don't expect to ever get far enough to notice.
  • Revenge of the Nerd: Implied, given that the macho, self-confident Ace was originally scrawny, nerdy (but still obviously athletic) Dexter. Could also be interpreted when the nasties hunting down Dexter find themselves mashed or vaporized when the nerd suddenly transforms into Ace.
  • Say My Name: "DEXTER!" "KIMMY!"
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Your fate if you're caught by one of the alien Angry Guard Dogs in the power generator level.
  • Slapstick: Kimberly shares as much fail scenes as Dexter/Ace when they are together.
  • Space Clothes: Ace and Kimberly, in accordance with their Walking Cliché Union requirements.
  • Super Rug-Pull: In the cartoon, in one part of the episode "Wanted Dexter", Dexter is locked in the prison and notices Baby Face Nerks with Kimmy, and tries to get the sheriff's attention with no success. So, Dexter throws the mug at the blaster, causing it to fall to the floor. Then Dexter grabs the rug and says, "Come on, blaster. Come to Dexter." And then he proceeds to pull the rug so hard that it creates a shockwave that sends the sheriff flying and Dexter gets the blaster, and after energizing, escapes the prison.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Transform into Ace and the heroic "Space Ace" theme plays!
  • They Don't Make Them Like They Used To: It's possible to die by blowing up the station you're on with a single errant blast.
  • Tickle Torture: One of the death scenes involve Ace and Kimberly falling off of a maze and into a pit filled with pink balls called "Tickle Plants." This is reinforced by Ace and Kimberly's hysterical laughing upon falling into the pit. There's an alternate scene that has Dexter instead of Ace.
  • Totally Radical: TOTALLY COSMIC!!note 
  • Transformation Ray: The Infanto Ray causes anyone who gets hit with it to be turned into a baby. The ray that Ace gets hit with at the beginning of the game turns him into a teenager instead, so it may not have been completed.
  • Tsundere: A mild version, as Kimberly gives Ace a lot of sass during their time together.
  • Underlighting: The game used underlighting extensively for laser shots, glowing instrument panels, molten lava, the lightning effects streaming off the quarterstaves in the final scene, the glint on the surface of the mirror, et cetera.
  • The Unintelligible: It's really tough to make out what Borf is saying, as the game goes up to eleven on Evil Sounds Deep. invoked