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The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces (スカイ・クロラ イノセン・テイセス Sukai Kurora: Inosen Teisesu) is an arcade combat flight simulator exclusive to the Nintendo Wii. Its story is set prior to the events of the 2008 anime film The Sky Crawlers, an adaptation of Hiroshi Mori's novel of the same name.
Innocent Aces was co-developed by Project Aces and Access Games, and produced by Namco Bandai Games. Its gameplay systems feature many similarities with the Ace Combat series. Innocent Aces had numerous lasting marks on the Ace Combat games, most notably through the introduction of propeller aircraft.
The player takes on the role of "Lynx" of the Rostock Corporation's Air Force's "Cougar Squadron" fighting a rival corporation called "Lautern". The "Earth" of the game includes wars staged by companies to make civilians feel the peace around them. After World War II, the Rostock Corporation conducted an experiment to develop genetic agents and as result they managed to create the Kildren, clones that were genetically enhanced to fit the role of a "perfect" pilot. Kildren are forever young, they do not age and don't easily die from diseases, and are equally matched against aces.
Lynx begins by helping Rostock clear the area of Rudakai of enemy jammer planes. He also helps in protecting 5 new recruits (the first batch Kildren recruits coming Hariyu Airbase, where the Cougar Squadron is stationed) from the enemy. Soon after though, their squad captain, Mutsuga Yamazaki, is shot down and Lynx is appointed squad leader. After several more missions, Lynx's wingmen rename his call sign to Cheetah. He was assigned by Rostock's Deputy Chief of Intelligence Tochika Mozume to try out their new aircraft, the Sanka M-II, in a mock battle against Maumi Orishina (one of the Kildren pilots). Cheetah wins the battle, however Orishina was not satisfied with the results and wanted to keep challenging Cheetah after their battle was interrupted by Lautern aircraft. Later, the Cougar Squadron is assigned to destroy Lautern's new weapon, a fortified base housing 5 advanced AA guns and a giant canon called "Amoebic". It was during this battle that two of Cheetah's wingmen were shot down due to enemy fire. After the battle, one of Cheetah's surviving wingman Masami Kaida attempts to shoot down Cheetah's fellow wingman Kō Ukumori for insulting two of their fallen squadmates and Cougar Squadron's former squad captain, Yamazaki, who was killed in action in the prior sortie. Cheetah received the order to shot down Kaida in order to defuse the situation. Later, he helped in preventing the destruction of Rostock's super weapon, the Wolfram, a giant airborne dirigible.
Mozume, acting as one of his allies, turned to Lautern's side together with 3 Kildren pilots, Ukomuri, Watari and Ishitobi, which were all shot down by Cheetah over Ubasama. Mozume also attempted to escape with the Wolfram and hand it to Lautern. His plan ended when the Wolfram was destroyed by Cheetah. Some time before Orishina had left the squadron thanks to Mozume's help and became the ace of Lautern's air force. In the final battle, a massive air battle between Rostock and Lautern aircraft occured above Togakuten. Cheetah arrives as a reinforcement and managed to quickly turn the tide of the battle, forcing the Lautern forces to retreat, leaving Orishina with her customized Sanka, who was just arrived to the battlefield, to deal with Cheetah. As forces from the both sides left the combat zone, Cheetah and Orishina fought in a fierce one-on-one dogfight. During the duel, anti-aircraft installations around the nearby castle started firing at both pilots although they're either ignored or quickly dispatched by Cheetah. The dogfight continues until Orishina's custom Sanka was shot down by Cheetah.
By default, Innocent Aces is controlled through the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk attachment. The player holds the Wii Remote in their left hand (for throttle, deceleration, and yaw) and the Nunchuk in their right hand (for tilt, roll, and pitch). However, the player has the option to use the Classic Controller or the GameCube controller.
Innocent Aces also supports two players in a unique way. The second player can connect a second Wii Remote to take control of aiming and firing the guns, while the first player uses their controls to maneuver the aircraft.
Innocent Aces introduces a new gameplay mechanic called "Tactical Maneuver Command", or TMC. If the player stays within close proximity to an enemy aircraft for a certain amount of time, they can press a button that will perform a maneuver to put the player in an optimal firing position. The TMC has three levels of effectiveness depending on how long the player stays near the enemy.
As with most Ace Combat games, the player will unlock new aircraft and paint schemes as Innocent Aces progresses. These aircraft can be customized with various skins, and parts can be equipped to the cockpit, engine, wings, and armor. There is also an "Entrust" option, where the game will automatically select certain parts for those four categories to fit a specific style the player chooses, such as high attack or high speed. Additional paint schemes can also be unlocked for each aircraft by completing missions with high ranks.
Innocent Aces has had multiple impacts on the Ace Combat series. The most notable of these is the inclusion of the Tactical Maneuver Command system in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy. Rather than three levels of effectiveness, Assault Horizon Legacy simplifies it to two. In addition, the system was expanded in that game to include defensive maneuvers against enemy missiles.
The use of propeller aircraft in Innocent Aces also influenced the inclusion of such aircraft in future titles. Ace Combat: Joint Assault and Assault Horizon Legacy both featured the A6M5 Zero and the F6F-5 Hellcat, which maneuver similar to how most aircraft maneuver in Innocent Aces. Propeller aircraft were later added to Ace Combat Infinity on September 18, 2015.
Innocent Aces also featured a special mission named "Ace of Aces", a wave-based mission where the player has to shoot down a total of 100 aircraft to complete the mission. This mission was carried over to Ace Combat: Joint Assault with the same name, as well as Assault Horizon Legacy as Extra Mission 03.
Elements of the game's HUD were also seen in later Ace Combat games. Bomber aircraft in Innocent Aces have a triangle targeting reticle, whereas most other aircraft have a square targeting reticle; this change was also included in Assault Horizon Legacy. The "COLLISION WARNING" HUD message was also included in Assault Horizon Legacy for its Tactical Maneuvers. Separately, when propeller aircraft were added to Ace Combat Infinity, the in-game HUD changes to display propeller-based gauges that bear a striking resemblance to the gauges in the Innocent Aces HUD.
Innocent Aces even featured a rudimentary cloud cover system, where enemy aircraft, particularly the final boss, would use the clouds as cover and temporarily disappear from the HUD (but not radar). This mechanic would later appear and be heavily expanded upon in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown through its use of 3D clouds.
- Several voice actors for the English localization of Innocent Aces have also held roles in the Ace Combat series:
- The briefing officer for the early missions bears a resemblance to the briefing officer in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.
- Mutsuga Yamazaki appears to be voiced by D.C. Douglas.
- The voices of several wingmen bear a resemblance to Sam Riegel.
- Kō Ukumori was voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. Near the end of the game, player get to fight him in a head-to-head dogfight not unlike the other two Ace Combat characters he voiced, Larry Foulke and Sergei Illich.
- ↑ Wiiで体感する青空――『スカイ・クロラ イノセン・テイセス』. Dengeki Online. Published on October 15, 2008. Retrieved on April 27, 2017.
- ↑ 2010: The Year of the Wii. IGN. Published on March 14, 2010. Retrieved on April 27, 2017.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Sky Crawlers Playtest. IGN. Published on October 17, 2008. Retrieved on April 28, 2017.
- ↑ 'The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces' (Wii) Has Limited Multiplayer. Worthplaying. Published on December 23, 2009. Retrieved on April 28, 2017.
- ↑ Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces Interview On Anime To Game Transition. Siliconera. Published on December 9, 2009. Retrieved on April 28, 2017.
- ↑ The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces FAQ/Walkthrough v1.7 - gorgonseye. Neoseeker. Published on May 7, 2011. Retrieved on April 28, 2017.