A Minigame in the Ace Combat series is an optional sequence based on real-life aviation. These include taking off, landing, and refueling mid-air. Some minigames have a time limit of 2 minutes, however other games (such as Ace Combat: Joint Assault, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, Ace Combat Infinity, and frontline airbases in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation) may have different rules.
Some minigames (such as landing) award extra points to the player based on how well the player performs. A player can gauge how well they did based on the response of the control tower or tanker crew. For example, in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, performance is based on speed. So if the player lands within 30 seconds, the control tower will say "Perfect, Blaze!", and the player will receive the highest score bonus.
List of Minigames
The takeoff minigame can be found at the start of certain missions, but always appear when a player is leaving a Return Line base.
The player must hold down on the throttle to gain speed, then rotate off the runway. The minigame ends when the player has reached a certain altitude. In Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, aircraft automatically pitch up after reaching a certain speed. However, in older Ace Combat games, the player must manually pitch up to leave the ground.
Some takeoff minigames take place on an aircraft carrier. The player holds down on the throttle until the catapult launches the aircraft off the deck. In most cases, the player will only encounter the aircraft carrier takeoff minigame if they choose a carrier-based aircraft. However, two exceptions to this are the beginning of the missions "Dark Blue" from Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, and "ACES" from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
The landing minigame can be found at the end of certain missions, but always appear when a player has crossed a Return Line.
A reticle with a horizontal and vertical line appears on the HUD. The player must keep the two line centers aligned in order to reach the runway safely. The control tower will guide the player with simple instructions ("go left," "you're too fast," etc.) to aid them in landing. The minigame ends when the player comes to a stop.
In Ace Combat 6, players can land at Emmerian-controlled airfields within the operation area. There airfields allow the player to resupply without the use of a Return Line. Landing is initiated at frontline airfields by clicking the Left Stick in proximity to the airstrip. This lowers the landing gear. The landing can be cancelled by clicking the Left Stick again. Resupplying at a frontline airfield can be risky if there are enemies nearby, so it's recommended to clear the local area or deploy an Allied Cover before starting the landing procedure.
Some landings take place on an aircraft carrier. The player will encounter this variant of the landing minigame primarily when they are flying a carrier-based aircraft. The length of an aircraft carrier is considerably shorter than the regular runway, but touching down on a carrier with a carrier-borne aircraft will slow down aircraft on contact much faster than the ground does to simulate an arresting cable hook. The minigame ends after the player comes to a stop. The only instance where the player can land on a carrier with a non-carrier aircraft is at the end of "Lighthouse" in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown; the player must approach slowly to stop early enough and prevent crashing.
This minigame appears in-between some missions. In most Ace Combat games, the player will be refueled by a KC-10 tanker.
A reticle on the HUD with two diamonds serves as the guide. The player must bring the two diamonds into alignment by approaching the tanker. When the two diamonds align, the player is normally just behind the tanker. A message reading [HOLD POSITION] will appear at the bottom of the HUD. Autopilot will take over after a few seconds if the player keeps the reticle aligned. The tanker crew will compliment the player and then begin to refuel their aircraft. The minigame ends after a few seconds.
- During a carrier takeoff minigame, if the player tries to land again after taking off, they will be boosted off the deck again from the 'catapult'.