Space Ace is a laserdisc video game produced by Don Bluth Studios, Cinematronics, and Advanced Microcomputer Systems (later renamed RDI Video Systems). It was unveiled in October 1983, just four months after the Dragon's Lair game, then released in Spring 1984, and like its predecessor featured film-quality animation played back from a laserdisc.
The gameplay too is similar, requiring the player to move the joystick or press the fire button at key moments in the animated sequences to govern the hero's actions. However, the game's action was more varied with the player occasionally given the temporary option to either have the character he is controlling transform back into his adult form, or remain as a boy with different styles of challenges.
Like Dragon's Lair, the gameplay of Space Ace requires the player to move the joystick in the right direction or press the fire button at the right moment to avoid the various hazards Dexter/Ace faces. Space Ace introduced a few gameplay enhancements, most notably selectable skill levels and multiple paths through several of the scenes. At the start of the game the player could select one of three skill levels; "Cadet", "Captain" or "Ace" for easy, medium and hard respectively - only by choosing the toughest skill level could the player see all the sequences in the game (only around half the scenes are played on the easiest setting). A number of the scenes had "multiple choice" moments when the player could choose how to act, sometimes by choosing which way to turn in a passageway, or by choosing whether or not to react to the on-screen "Energize!" message and transform back into Ace. All scenes also have separate reverse versions of each other. Dexter usually progresses through scenes by avoiding obstacles and enemies, but Ace goes on the offensive, attacking enemies rather than running away, although Ace did have the option to use his pistol on enemies when that was essential to advance. For example, in the first scene of the game, Dexter is escaping from Borf's robot drones, and if the player presses the fire button at the right moment, Dexter transforms temporarily into Ace and can fight them, whereas if the player chooses to stay as Dexter the robots' drill attacks must be dodged instead.
Space Ace follows the adventures of the musclebound hero Ace. At the start of the game, the villainous Commander Borf attacks Ace with the "Infanto Ray", a weapon that transforms him into an adolescent version of himself, and kidnaps his girlfriend Kimberly. It is up to the player to guide Dexter - Ace's younger incarnation - through a series of obstacles in pursuit of Borf, in order to rescue Kimberly and prevent Borf using the Infanto Ray to conquer Earth. The game's attract mode introduces the player to the story via the following narration and dialogue:
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