Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (PS2) was the first game to ever make me feel like a badass. It’s all testosterone and explosions in typical 80s fighter pilot fashion. Though Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (PS2) gave me my username Razgriz, Ace Combat Zero takes the cake because of its awesome story, which beautifully accentuates that feeling of badassness, and its sexy Spanish guitar. The game is an awesome arcade style flight simulator with enough realism to be believable, and enough fantasy to be amazing and fun. The feeling of flying in formation with your comrades and turning the tide of a battle as a single fighter pilot is so enjoyable. Not to mention intense scenarios like destroying Excalibur, the giant tower that fires insanely massive laser beams, or fighting the football field sized stealth bomber the XB-O Hresvelgr. Just thinking of trying to fly through Avalon Dam still sends chills down my spine. All capped by one of my favorite final boss fights in video gaming, liked equally as much for what the fight means as how good the fight itself is.
But what really cemented Ace Combat Zero firmly in my memory was a man named Pixy. You fly with a wingman named Larry “Pixy” Foulke, who was known for having one wing of his F-15 Eagle painted red. As you progress through the game your notoriety as Galm team and impact on the war as a whole grow tremendously. Every time you shot down someone of note you would be given a clip of a post war interview with them. They would always speak of how impressive “he” was and how flying against “him” changed their lives. I was always certain that they were talking about Pixy, as Pixy was famous before he became the wingman of the unknown upstart, Cypher. All the way until the very end where you get a similar interview with Pixy I thought, “wow! is that really him?” having never seen his face the whole game. I wondered what the infamous man had to say when suddenly he started talking just like all the other pilots. Saying how “he” changed his life and how he had never met a man quite like “him.” Suddenly I realized that for the whole game everyone was talking about me, about how amazing I was, and how I had changed the outcome of an entire war. The feeling I felt was almost indescribable. I felt a feeling of intense pride, of import, of notoriety, of pure badassness, and it is those feelings that Ace Combat is all about. Ace Combat Zero is an awesome game in it’s own right, but I’ll never forget being Galm 1 or the Belkan war for that reason.