- "[It] is a very "accommodating" world, so to speak. But it allows us to do it [with] a sort of sense of reality, it's not completely out there to the point that it doesn't seem at all realistic. It's a balance with fiction with experimental weapons and massive airship carriers."
- ― Kazutoki Kono on Strangereal
Strangereal[a] is the name of the alternate universe within which most Ace Combat games take place. Strangereal is almost identical to our real universe, but its version of Earth features entirely different landmasses and historical events.
Strangereal, as it exists today, was created by Namco employees in developing Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. It has since been used to retcon the setting for the three Ace Combat games before Ace Combat 04. The majority of Ace Combat games take place in this universe, including Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the 13th Strangereal game.
- "We coined the term "Strangereal World" when we were making the world of 04 using improper English grammar, but coin it we did. From that point on, for whatever reason, it's become established to users around the world as "Strangereal." For that reason, "True Strangereal" (laughs) is what we call the world based on 04 from which the numbered titles have stemmed."
- ― Kazutoki Kono on Strangereal's name
The name "Strangereal" was coined by members of Namco's AC04 Project during the development of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies. Back then it was simply a design concept and referred to as Strange Real World[b] or Strange Real.[c] Its earliest-known appearance is in a trailer from Tokyo Game Show 2000, advertising "the strange,real world". The official website included staff notes where the concept of a "Strange Real World" was used to refer to the reality within which Ace Combat 04 took place. The name "Strange Real" appeared once more in the first teaser trailer for Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, and again, in the form "Strangereal", in the teaser trailer for Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
Despite the intention of just being a design concept for a fictional universe, fans began to use the name "Strangereal" to refer to the universe itself. For example, the numbered Ace Combat games became known as 'the games that take place within Strangereal'. As such, Bandai Namco and Project Aces began to use the name to refer to the universe, particularly around the marketing for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. It has been prominently mentioned as a feature of the game.
Ace Combat: Northern Wings, a game notable for conflicting with history from past games, used the Strangereal name within it. It remains the only game to do so.
A number of major events have occurred in Strangereal's history, most of which were represented in the "Numbered Series" of Ace Combat games. They are as follows:
- 1905 Osean War
- 1980s Cold War
- 1995 Skully Islands insurrection (Air Combat)
- 1995 Belkan War (Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War)
- 1997 Usean coup d'état (Ace Combat 2 and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy)
- 1999 Ulysses Impact Event
- 2003 Continental War (Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies)
- 2006 Free Erusea uprising (Arcade Mode in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War)
- 2007 Estovakian Civil War
- 2010 Circum-Pacific War (Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War)
- 2014 Free Erusea uprising (VR Mode in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- 2015 Emmeria-Estovakia War (Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation)
- 2019 Leasath Civil War
- 2019 Lighthouse War (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- 2020 Aurelian War (Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception and Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion)
- 2040 Intercorporate War (Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere)
Strangereal appears nearly identical to our real Universe: a large, expanding universe with a small percentage of mass belonging to stars and planets. Strangereal's Earth is located in the same galaxy as our Milky Way since some of the constellations in the Milky Way also appear in Strangereal, including Crux (used in Gryphus Squadron's emblem and as Eugene Solano's callsign, referred to as the "Southern Cross").
Unlike the universe in general, the planet Earth in Strangereal is vastly different from our real Earth. Various differences include climates, landmasses, historical events, and cultures. Similarities exist as well: Humans inhabit this Earth as the dominant species; the concept of time is exactly the same as ours; and lasting world peace seems unreachable, which is a popular theme for most Strangereal-based games.
Strangereal's Earth is comprised of seven recognized continents, each of which is divided into various countries. In total, there are over 50 countries on Strangereal.
Anea is one of the most northernmost continents on the planet. In spite of its geographic position, Anea is home to a variety of climates including deserts. Only three major countries are known to exist on Anea:
Antarctia is the largest continent land-wise. It is the geographic southernmost continent on the planet, and the geographic South Pole is in the center of Antarctia.
No countries, colonies, or research stations belonging to other countries are known to exist on Antarctia. It has not been involved in any known conflicts.
The Osean continent is one of the largest continents on the planet and is home to a large number of people. Numerous conflicts have been fought here, outnumbering the known conflicts on any other continent. The continent is separated into at least a dozen countries. The known countries and their position on the Osean continent are as follows:
South Osea is among the smallest continents in Strangereal. Despite being connected to the larger Osean continent, it is still considered its own continent.[d] The known countries, from north to south, are as follows:
The Usean continent is one of the smallest continents on Strangereal's Earth, but it has a storied history of rebellions and infighting between its countries. Usea has at least 18 countries most of which are unknown. The known countries are as follows:
Two known historic nations are:
The Verusan continent is another of the largest continents on Earth. Verusa hosts at least 20 countries, the largest number of countries on any Strangereal continent, encompassing
Wellow is one of the northernmost and the smallest continent in Strangereal. Not much is known about Wellow except that there is only one nation that exists there:
Full map circa Ace Combat 7[e]
- An old map of Strangereal is displayed as part of an advertisement for a dinosaur museum in Operation Métro, a DLC map in Battlefield 4.
- Many fans used (and still use) the name "Strangereal" to refer to the planet. Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies material, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown dialogue have all named the planet as Earth.
- In Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies development, Strangereal's Earth was similar to ours; the shape of the continents were strikingly similar, with the Pacific Ocean having received the most changes with the inclusion of the Usean continent. A new Earth was designed for Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, which is now the official version of the planet for all Strangereal games.
- Following the releases of Ace Combat: Joint Assault, Assault Horizon (especially so), and Ace Combat Infinity, many fans assumed that Bandai Namco had abandoned Strangereal entirely. However, the releases of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, Ace Combat: Northern Wings, and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown put this theory to rest.
- Kazutoki Kono confirmed that Strangereal was abandoned for Assault Horizon in particular because it was seen as a barrier to entry for newcomers to the Ace Combat series. Bandai Namco believed that setting a main game in the real world, which would be more relatable, would help draw new players to the franchise.
- A popular oddity in the series is when an enemy pilot will exclaim "My plane's been Swiss-cheesed!", even though Switzerland does not exist in Strangereal. A Dutch roll and Burmese are also mentioned in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, while neither the Netherlands nor Burma/Myanmar are present in Strangereal. In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, an "Italian bistro" is mentioned by AWACS Long Caster. Note that the word "Italian" does not appear in the original Japanese voice line, meaning it was an addition by the English localization team.
- Christianity is or once was present within Strangereal, given that:
- Strangereal has directly referenced many real-life languages, including English (multiple), German (Belkan), French (Aurelian and Erusean), Russian (Yuktobanian and Estovakian), Japanese (Erusean), Italian (Emmerian), and Spanish (Sapinish).
- The Strangereal maps feature numerous real world landmasses:
- Greenland as the nation of Wellow. The surroundings include parts of Northern Canada.
- New Zealand north of central Antarctia.
- Great Britain as part of Nordennavic.
- Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in altered presentation form the Western Verusan continent and partly Sotoa.
- Cuba upside down as the large island adjacent to Tyler Island.
- Iceland appears twice in different sizes:
- Southeast of Wellow.
- As part of Western Verusa.
- Great Lakes of North America near the Belka-Osea border.
- Northern Usea roughly resembles Canada, including places like Hudson Bay and Nunvaut's island region.
- Alaska's west coast as the west coast of Erusea.
- Strangereal (ストレンジリアル)
- Strange Real World (ストレンジ・リアル・ワールド)
- Strange Real (ストレンジ・リアル)
- ACES at WARS: The classified document about Circum-Pacific War was revealed mentions that aircraft from "five continents" were present at Redmill Air Force Base. Additionally, the official map of Strangereal gives South Osea its own outline, identifying it as its own continent.
- Note that the Anean nations of Emmeria, Estovakia and Nordennavic are not represented.
- You'll Love Ace Combat 7 if You Liked 4 and 5 – Producer Explains Why they Went Back to Strangereal. DualShockers. Published on December 5, 2016. Retrieved on December 6, 2016.
- 『エースコンバット7 スカイズ・アンノウン』最新バージョンを体験！ そして河野Pにあれこれ聞いてみた【E3 2017】(2/2). Famitsu. Published on June 14, 2017. Translation by Encyclopædia Strangereal retrieved on June 19, 2017.
- AC04Web staff notes #02. Retrieved from the Web Archive version from November 17, 2001.
- AC04Web staff notes #01. Retrieved from the Web Archive version from May 2, 2001.
- File:Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies - TGS 2000 Teaser Trailer.
- File:Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War - TGS 2003 Teaser Trailer.
- File:Ace Combat Zero The Belkan War - TGS 2005 Teaser Trailer.
- Description on the PlayStation Experience 2016 Trailer.
- PROJECT_ACES. Twitter. Published December 5, 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- Ace Combat 7 - Feel The Rush Of Superior Air Power. Retrieved from the Web Archive version from December 4, 2016.
- File:Northern Wings Mentions Strangereal (2).jpg.
- ACES at WARS: The classified document about Circum-Pacific War was revealed
- File:Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy Announcement Trailer.
- File:Old Strangereal Map Wallpaper 1024x768.jpg.
- File:Strangereal Battlefield 4.jpg.
- Usea Today: Asteroid on Collision Course With Earth!
- Cutscene following Invasion of Gracemeria, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.
- The Liberation of Gracemeria, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.
- File:Ace Combat Assault Horizon TGS 2010 Interview Kazutoki Kono.
- Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies.
- Handful of Hope, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
- Desert Lightning, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
- "Fleet Destruction", Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.
- "Fleet Destruction", Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (Japanese Ver.).
- Cutscene following End of Deception I/End of Deception II, Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception.
- La Société and Réactions in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception cutscenes.
- Billboards in Anchorhead Bay, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.
- File:AC6 Melissa Nose Art Wallpaper 1280x1024.jpg