Ace Combat 7’s JPEG Dog is a Tribute to a Dearly Departed Friend

After over a decade away from its long-running, geopolitical air combat narrative, Ace Combat is back with a new, core numbered entry. And by many respects, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is an excellent return to form for the series. That said, one aspect of the game quickly became a meme, and that would be the strange, still image of a dog present in an otherwise animated cutscene. As goofy as that is, turns out there’s more to “JPEG Dog” than meets the eye.

On Twitter, Ace Combat brand director Kazutoki Kono posted a response to the “JPEG Dog” becoming a bonafide internet gag, which happened just as quickly as Ace Combat 7 released. The scene in question happens pretty early in the game after all, and is not exactly subtle. While the tweet was in Japanese, games writer James Galizio quoted the tweet and offered a translation, revealing a sad backstory behind the Ace Combat fanbase’s new favorite pooch.

Unfortunately, this bizarre, static image of a dog appears to have been a companion to someone on the development staff, who is no longer with us. While the cutscene will forever be strange regardless of the context, it’s a little easier to see how such a thing happened in the first place. Now, JPEG Dog will live on forever in our hearts.