The Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere PAL press kit has been available for download on the internet for at least six years. Some of the artwork and screenshots found in this press kit have surfaced at random for many years on different video game websites and Ace Combat fan sites, but not all the files have been made accessible nor has the kit itself been explained. This article analyzes its files, offers it for download in a secondary format and provides a closer look its timeline for localization and content cut.
The press kit is assumed to have been launched a short time before the release of the PAL version of Ace Combat 3 on January 21st, 2000. Besides a copy of the commercial game, an exclusive key chain featuring the underside of a R-101 Delphinus #1 and a press disc were included. Game developers and app developers create press kits to make it easier for blogs, journalists, and websites to create reviews that promote their product. Though the exact content of press kits have changed over the years, artwork, a detailed description of the project, videos, screenshots, and logos are usually included.
Due to the image files being in .TIF format the images presented within this article have been converted to other file formats to be displayed in this article. Concept art of the Riass Space Center, two Neucom bases in the Waipolo Mountains, Expo City, and Axel Bay can be found alongside high resolution, large dimension images of futuristic aircraft. For example, a 16.7MB, 3000x2542 dimension image of an F-22C Raptor II which would later be used in an official desktop wallpaper hosted on the Japanese official website for Ace Combat 3.
Signs of Localization
The folder named "TEXT" shows signs of translation and localization of the original Ace Combat 3 story. The Japanese version of the game was released on May 27th, 1999, with the PAL release on January 21st, 2000. For analysis, these files have been converted from .RTF to .PDF format to be displayed on this website. Bullet points and pictures showing evidence of translation and localization are included.
File Name: 99AC3OVI.RTF
File Name: CHARACTE.RTF
File Name: AC3MMOV.AVI
The video included in the media kit is the introduction video for the export version of Ace Combat 3. To hear the voices in the movie clearly, we are using the NTSC-U unfinished work print of the same movie found by DragonSpikeXIII of Project Nemo during their effort to translate the original version of Ace Combat 3 into English.
Time: 0:06 - 0:19
Reused voice lines from Ace Combat 2. No bearing on AC3.
Time: 0:20 - 0:23
A female voice identifying herself as "Hopeful." Page 40 of the Ace Combat 3 World and View guidebook list the call signs for three pilots of the General Resource Defense Force. The highlighted call sign "Hopeful" is listed as the call sign for the player when they are playing General Resource story lines.
A male voice is announcing that UPEO had dispatched forces to the bio-plant in the Sandbury Desert can be heard among the noise. The dialogue is: "UPEO has dispatched military assets... to take place at the bio-plant facilities in the Sandbury Desert."
The UPEO mission "One Way Ticket" involves the UPEO scrambling the Special Armed Response Force to the Sandbury Desert to stop an armored train with a stolen top-secret research unit; it is heavily implied to be the X-49 Night Raven. The facility the train is escaping in the mission is also seen in a news report on the Mission 00 VHS tape which explains hostilities between General Resource and Neucom. "Geodesic Dome" is also listed beneath a list of facilities that belong to General Resource in the AC3 Mission and World View guidebook.
Even though traces of translation and localization are found within the press kit, a document showing the content cut well known by western Ace Combat fans can also be seen. Within the same folder as files "99ACEOVI" and "CHARACTE" is a question and answer session with the Director of Ace Combat 3, Takuya Iwasaki. The answers provided reflect the changes seen in the PAL and NA release of Ace Combat 3 including:
File Name: AC3Q&A.RTF
The reason for the content cut for the export version of the game has not officially been stated by Namco or Namco-Bandai. The opinion of Agness Kaku, a translator that did a demo translation for AC3 in 1999, is that the cuts were made for financial reasons. Her thoughts along with a sample of the translation she did for the opening scene of the story, are available on her website in an article headlined "How to Not Save Money." In a separate interview with Hardcore Gaming 101 in January 2012, Kaku mentions that she was supposed to translate Ace Combat 3 but the project was "canned after 1 demo scene", most likely the scene that is available on her website. The Head of Project Aces, Kazutoki Kono was asked by a fan during a 2014 Ace Combat Infinity event about the translation and possible remake of Ace Combat 3. Kono's response stated at the time the team was not large enough to support the localization effort for the game at the time and that doing so in the future would be a project more complicated than re-releasing Ace Combat titles from the PlayStation 2.
One of the earliest mentions of the content cut being made is in a game review by James Mielke on June 22nd, 1999. Mielke stated that the American division of Namco, Namco Hometek had "copious lead time . . . with the game." He would then go on to say that "one would have assumed that translation of the dialogue was taking place. Sadly, this is anything but the case." With the decision to make the cut coming just a few weeks after Ace Combat 3 was released in Japan, the presence of these text files dated for October 1999 within the PAL media kit is somewhat confusing.
For those that know how to navigate the .ISO file format, download it from the original ISO Zone upload. Project: Lighthouse is also offering a .rar of all files for download with many of the image files converted to .png and the text files converted to .pdf. Because of the file conversion process, the original dates on the files have been overwritten. It is recommended that Ace Combat fans download both the ISO Zone file alongside the Lighthouse file for the sake of accuracy.
And as always, remember that Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere can be played in English in its entirety thanks to the many years of hard work put in by Project Nemo. Their English language download is available on their website along with their blog that is filled with years of information related to the backstory, world building and concepts that created Ace Combat 3.