That ‘+’ is pretty stingy
Japanese publishers have some truly confusing localization titles sometimes. In 2011, Namco Bandai released Ace Combat: Assault Horizon for the PS3 and Xbox 360. It was a grittier take on the franchise that added real-world complexities to the established fictional formula, released to mixed reception.
For some reason in that same year Namco Bandai also dropped Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy (the legacy is important, you see), which was basically a remake of 1997’s Ace Combat 2 for the Nintendo 3DS. Now they’ve added a “plus” on the end and added amiibo support.
It still has nothing to do with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ (3DS)
Developer: Access Games
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Released: February 10, 2015
Back in the day Ace Combat 2 was the first flight simulator that I truly got into. It was incredibly easy to pick up and play, as it was extremely arcade-like in nature — no lengthy Microsoft Flight Simulator manuals required. Although there were a few nuanced mission parameters like escort and protection goals, the basic idea was to blow everyone up. Although the genre has advanced far past that primal urge, it was a lot of fun back then, and in many ways, it still is.
This time around, the story and mission types are slightly arranged, but always focus on the same concept of chaos. The narrative doesn’t matter much (it’s your basic regional war plot), because after that very short brief you’re going to be hitting the skies and blowing shit up time and time again. Whether it’s by way of a third-person view or a 3D-enhanced cockpit variety, it all feels great control-wise. Picking up pitches and yaws is simple and long or mid-range missile switching is cake. It’s even easier with the Circle Pad Pro (or New 3DS C-Stick), which is now supported after its conspicuous absence in the original Legacy 3DS localization.
Legacy+ gets the job done visually, but it doesn’t look like any effort was made to smooth out some of the rough edges. It still walks and talks like the same game from 2011, which is tough to stomach given the full retail price. The “Plus” really is the head-scratching part of the moniker since it feels nearly identical to the original outside of amiibo support.
In essence you can use six different amiibo (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Link/Toon Link, Samus, and Fox) to unlock new Nintendo vehicles, just like Mario Kart 8. It’s not all that exciting even for Nintendo fans, since all you’re doing is unlocking on-cart DLC. The one saving grace of this whole feature is the existence of question mark blocks scattered about the world, which can net you a plane sans amiibo (presumably for non-New 3DS owners). It’s a nice little feeling to blow up a block, even if it’s just a fleeting sensation.
Ultimately, Legacy+ feels like a half-measure. It lasts roughly four hours, and that’s about all she wrote. There are the aforementioned amiibo unlocks, but right now that feature is only available to New 3DS owners while Nintendo figures out when to announce and release the adapter for legacy portables. There’s very little justification for actually buying this new package, and the amiibo stuff really should have come as a free update for existing owners. Or at the very least, Namco could have stuck in some multiplayer support or something this time.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ is a great way for Ace veterans to relive a classic on the go, provided that they didn’t already buy the original release in 2011. There’s just not enough here for entice anyone to double-dip or shell out the full price if you aren’t a sim-junkie. While the publisher should be chided for releasing an iteration as rushed as this, they are lucky that the core package was already decent to begin with.