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Personal Space Invader

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Still not as bad as getting hugged by Amy.

"Feel my head, touch my face;
two steps back, you're in my space."
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Your hero has just entered a dungeon/house/seemingly empty place. All of a sudden, a monster jumps out of nowhere and latches onto the hero with the nasty variant of The Glomp. It's the dreaded Personal Space Invader. The player must frantically mash buttons or rotate the joystick to get it off before strangulation ensues. Particularly lethal versions of the Personal Space Invader are capable of leeching health off the player.

Some versions deliver a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong or an Orifice Invasion. May be combined with Full-Frontal Assault. Typically Nightmare Fuel in first-person games.

In most arcade Beat 'em Up games, especially the plethora of licensed ones made by Konami in the 1990s, enemies try to grab you so other foes can beat you up, and you're instructed to "Push Buttons Wiggle Joystick" to break free.

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Not to be confused with No Sense of Personal Space. May overlap with Harmless Enemy, on those occasions where they don't actively remove health.

This trope is not about ownership of a Space Invader.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla (2014): The male Muto's tactic against Godzilla is to grab onto him, allowing the female to get an easier hit.
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    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Nothing Human", a wounded Starfish Alien leaps onto B'Elanna Torres, using her body as a life support mechanism. While the alien turns out in the end to be non-malevolent, the subsequent Medical Drama is around the Doctor's efforts to remove the alien without killing B'Elanna in the process.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: This is one of the main methods of attacking that infantry and Battle Armor have. Unlike other units in the game, they're capable of making attacks with their weapons while they're in the same space as their target, which means that at range 0 they can freely attack a mech or tank without it being able to shoot back. Most types of infantry and Battle Armor also have the ability to make special attacks against a mech's legs for reduced damage but an extra chance of crippling it, or to make a risky but potentially powerful Swarm attack where they climb onto a mech or vehicle and focus their weapons onto a specific location for massive damage.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has four major types.
    • Swarms are actually groups of thousands of tiny creatures. The swarm automatically damages any creature sharing its space.
    • Creatures with the Improved Grab ability can automatically grapple enemies they strike with normal attacks. The best example of this trope would probably be the Choker, a humanoid-shaped creature about three feet tall with arms that stretch out to about ten feet long and which likes to hang out on cave ceilings.
    • Certain oozes and a few other similar creatures take it even farther and engulf their victims entirely. Possibly one of the worst offenders is the Flesh Jelly; as an ooze made of putrid flesh, being engulfed by it doesn't result in an acid bath as with most oozes, which can be magically avoided. Instead, you either take damage from the convulsions of the mushy remains of previous victims and are exposed to disease, or are instantly converted into mush yourself, which so thoroughly destroys your remains that only the most potent magics in the game can bring you back.
    • A few creatures have possession-related abilities. Most, like ghosts, are incorporeal, but a few, like the tsochari (or the hellwasp swarm, to combine examples), are simply small enough to fit inside creatures the size of the player characters.

    Video Games 
  • Amorphous+ has Clutters, which bombard you with their spawn that latches onto you, slowing you as more become attached. If you let enough of the baby Clutters latch onto you they stun you for a while, leaving you completely open to all attacks.
  • Banjo-Tooie has these sort of sentient toxic fume clouds that would cling on to you and rapidly start depleting your air meter. They spawned after you killed another enemy, a sentient toxic waste barrel. Yeah, all the enemies in the game are more or less like that.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has escaped lunatic inmates who lunge and grapple you until you shake them off.
  • Battletoads has the Snotballs, balls of goo that like to cling to 'Toad heads. They can be shaken off by mashing the B button.
  • Berenstain Bears' Camping Adventure: Woodpeckers relentlessly pursue after nearby players and peck them when they attack. Thankfully, they only appear in one level in the game.
  • Blood: Choking Hands, with the sequel adding Thieves and Bone Leeches. In addition to draining your health, all -three obscure your view in some way - Choking Hands darken your view (going so far in the first game as to go over your HUD); Thieves are only visible by the tips of their legs poking out from the sides of the screen, but they inject you with some manner of poison that heavily obscures your view, tilting and squashing it and generally being trippy as hell; and Bone Leeches simply plop themselves directly in front of the camera. You have to mash the use button to remove them, but it's something of a crapshoot, as sometimes they'll properly be thrown away for you to back away and shoot them, but sometimes they'll simply be plopped right back down where they were when they jumped onto you in the first place, giving you about a fraction of a second before they simply reattach to your face/neck.
  • Borderlands: Nearly all of Pandora's native life will jump at you and try to bite your face off.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth: Flesh-eating starfish like to leap out at you and stick to your face if you get too close.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Modern Warfare features attack dogs, who were Demonic Spiders between the three facts that A) missing the QTE to kill them meant instant death for you; B) said QTE was insanely strict in its timing - by the time your brain had registered that the prompt to hit the button is visible and moved to hit said button, it was already too late; and C) your AI teammates, on the off chance the dogs bothered them in the first place, can simply shoot the dogs off themselves, every time. The sole saving grace is that the dogs aren't invincible while they're charging up to you, so (assuming there aren't too many men with guns distracting you) you can just shoot them before they become a problem, but that still leaves some sections as particular hair-pullers, such as one section of apartments in the Chernobyl mission. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and 3 both feature the return of attack dogs, though in fewer numbers and with the QTE to remove them gradually made easier (2 being more lenient on the timing, so actually seeing the prompt doesn't mean you're already dead, and then 3 allowing you to simply repeatedly hit the button during the animation) though the third game's Survival mode has adds to the fun with two types of dogs: the regular ones, as well as ones with C4 strapped to them that detonate shortly after they're killed.
    • Call of Duty: World at War: The Banzai chargers serve the same purpose; if you fail to kill him in time, your blood-crazed Japanese attacker will instantly bayonet you to death. And, once again, your teammates seem to have no trouble shooting them off.
  • Castlevania:
    • Succubi and female vampire type enemies, starting with Carmilla in Rondo of Blood. They suck your hearts/energy, but hey, at least they're gorgeous mostly naked women.
    • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia: Imps are a particularly annoying version, latching on and controlling you until you shake them off.
    • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness: Ghouls looks identical to Zombies, except that they don't feel pain (hence you can't stop their attacks) and can grab Hector and chew him up, dealing moderate damage. This becomes deadly with their level 75 counterparts. Spirits and Evil Cores have similar attacks in which they stick on Hector and damage him.
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins: If you get too close to an unarmed enemy, he'll leap on you and start headbutting you to death.
  • Dead Island: The Walkers are frequently found laying on the ground, visually indistinguishable from a corpse. If you walk over them, they will spring up and grapple you. Safest thing to do when not actively fighting zombies is to kick every corpse you pass to make sure its a corpse and not a walker. Keep in mind that Walkers are the least dangerous of the various zombies. God help you if you get grappled like this while Infected are coming.
  • Dead Space:
    • There are tiny Necromorphs that swarm you if you let them, which usually doesn't end well. Some of the bigger ones will also latch onto you until you free yourself (especially the fetal Lurker types). In addition, you're sometimes grabbed by gigantic tentacles and must shoot the weak spot while being dragged down a hallway before it'll let go.
    • The Hive Mind at the end of the game. Though in that case, it's more like you're the personal space invader with the fusion cutter.
  • Drol: The second stage has magnets that latch onto you. They aren't directly harmful, but prevent you from firing in one direction until you shake them loose by moving down or up a hatch.
  • Duke Nukem 3D: The Protozoid Slimers. How can you shoot off a creature that latches to your face with, say, a shotgun — or somehow kick it off your face — is anyone's guess.
  • Ecco the Dolphin: The Combat Tentacles with the spike on the tip, which latch on and stay there for a while. Made frustrating by the fact that you're underwater and only have so much time to shake them before you drown. (hint: Usually getting loose requires a lot of charging, aka mashing the B button.)
  • Eternal Darkness:
    • The zombies, though the Chatturgha and the Mantorok zombies are the ones that mostly do it.
    • The Bonethieves, which are even worse due to a particularly disturbing One-Hit Kill attack. They jump on your chest and attempt to rip your face off, tearing hunks of blood and flesh as they burrow into your body.
  • Fatal Frame: Invading the player character's personal space and grabbing on to them is a popular attack for the ghosts. For a couple of the bosses, being touched is also a One-Hit Kill.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon:
    • In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Alma repeatedly assaults Becket in close quarters, grabbing onto him and forcing Becket to fight her off.
    • Some wall-crawling enemies grab you for a quick-time event struggle.
    • There's an up-close and personal tug of war over a shotgun at one point. You have to both struggle over where it's pointed and pull the trigger, in a slight departure from the traditional divorce between gameplay controls and Action Commands.
  • Ganbare Goemon: The 1985 arcade version has nearly all the mooks try to put a choke hold on your hero, as opposed to a touch-and-kill. You have two to three seconds to escape or die (though projectiles and bosses kill him instantly).
  • Gunstar Heroes: Some enemies sneak up behind your character and grab you in a headlock. Luckily, you could throw them off, and give them a nice shot to the face for their trouble.
  • Half-Life:
    • The headcrabs in the series. Although they never latch-on during combat, they were frequently seen doing their thing to random hapless NPCs. Half-Life 2 has faster versions of the headcrab, as well as multiple poisonous headcrabs latching themselves onto one zombie.
    • Fast zombies all but do this. They don't latch on to the player, but they do get right up to you very quickly, clawing madly and slobbering all the time.
  • Heart of Darkness features shadows that come at you in large numbers and hook onto you.
  • Journey to Silius: The "Hump-Bot". Kill it quickly before it locks onto you, or you're finished.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Ansem/Xehanort's Heartless guardian is prone to doing this. In Kingdom Hearts, it can possess Sora, and will occasionally replace the Attack command with one that causes it to emerge and hold him in place. In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, it'll erupt out of the ground to try to grab you and perform a piledriver, and will also dash forward and try to hold you in place so his master can get some free hits in on you. In the same game, Xehanort himself isn't exempt from it, as he'll occasionally teleport up to Terra and try to grab him by the face to unleash a Blizzaga spell at point blank range, though you can escape before you get frozen.
  • Kung Fu Master: The Grapplers grab you and drain your life until you shake them off by button mashing.
  • Left 4 Dead: Hunters and Smokers. For a bonus, once they have "got" you, there is no way to get out of this alone. Although if you're lucky, once a Smoker grabs you, you have about two seconds to kill it before you're helpless. Unfortunately, the Smoker's tongue ability is made all the worse by the fact that, if for some reason it can't drag you to it, it will catch you to the nearest obstacle and continue to kill you, making it all the more difficult for your allies to find it in time.
    • However, you can free Smoker-held allies by smacking them with your gun; this forces the Smoker to release them, so it is not actually necessary to kill the Smoker to save your teammate.
    • Hunters, on the other hand, can be unintentionally hilarious if you're good enough. Two achievements emphasize this: one is awarded for punching a hunter in the face as it's about to leap on you (and, if you're really good, can be repeated ad nauseam until you kill it), and another is awarded for killing a Hunter mid-leap, which will always (unless you're using a handgun) send it flying for many yards, spawning the disturbing (and not officially recognized) mini-game Hunter Punter.
    • You can save yourself from a Hunter after you get pounced, but you must either: Make sure you've set off a timed explosive nearby OR have set the Hunter on fire and hopes he burns out before you die.
    • Witches and Tanks, by contrast, love to get in your personal space to mess you up. And they will. A lot. Ironically, Witches are usually provoked if you get too close to them, and the number 1 strategy for killing them is "Run up to them, get a good shot at their face/back and unload buckshot.
    • Left 4 Dead 2: The Jockey grabs onto your back and does his best to steer you around while you fight him and your buddies shoot at him. This is lampshaded by the characters who says "That is just wrong". This also makes them Headhumpers.
    • Every infected minus the Spitter and Boomer is a personal space invader since they lack any sort of long range weaponry and insist on beating you to death with their fists. The Charger will stalk and eventually slam himself straight through a group of survivors, carrying the first he hits (and scatters the others) several yards and continuously slam them into the ground, ceiling and walls until he or his victim are killed.
  • The Legend of Zelda has several enemies like this:
    • Like-Likes ambush Link, swallow him whole, churn him around in their mouths and spit him back out after having eaten an important piece of equipment.
    • The Wall Masters and Floor Masters are giant disembodied hands that grab you and carry you back to the beginning of the dungeon. In Ocarina of Time, Link does struggle rather graphically as it slowly drags him by the head up into the darkness above.
    • The ReDeads, zombies that first appear in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, attack by paralyzing Link with a shriek, latching onto him, and gnawing at him to remove health.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Dead Hand, in the Well and the Shadow Temple, is basically a set of six skeletal arms reaching out of the earth trying to grab your head. And if one did, you then had to deal with a burrowing, long-necked, bloodstained, jaw-unhinging zombie that would slowly slither up to you and try to take a chomp out of your face.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has Morths, burr-like enemies that attach themselves to Link. While incapable of damaging Link, Morths will slow down his movement until he can shake them off. The more Morths that are attached to Link, the slower he becomes. Morths also appear in The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has giant, invisible rats that attach to you and slow you down. Some people mistook it for a bug in the game...until they used their wolf-form's Sense power. Pure Nightmare Fuel when you first see them.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The Skulltulas attack by latching onto you and trying to crush you. Quite a jarring change from their attack pattern in Twilight Princess. Chuchus also attack you in this manner.
  • Limbo: Light bugs attach themselves on the protagonist, forcing him to perpetually walk in one direction, only stopping when he hits an obstacle and only turning around when he steps into a beam of light. Fortunately, the boy isn't the only one which the limbo wants to see eaten.
  • LocoRoco has Kojas, a small variant of more common enemies which attach themselves to the locoroco, making it harder to jump. To get rid of them, you have to drown them in water.
  • Mass Effect 3: Husks gain this ability. They can grab the player, forcing you to mash buttons in order to escape their grip. There's also the Banshee, the warped Reaper version of an Asari. If she's not blasting you from afar, she's right in your face, preparing to plunge her claws into your chest.
  • Master of Orion III: In the introduction video, an bug-like alien is shown attacking a human, only to merge with him and form a hybrid creature.
  • MechWarrior:
    • MechWarrior Living Legends features the Battlearmor, which are very small, very agile (and very deadly) jump-jet equipped suits that the players can use. The most effective tactic for a battlearmor player is to get as close to an enemy BattleMech as possible, and run around in circles under their feet while carving off their legs. More skilled battlearmor players rely on jumping onto the enemy's head, where the enemy cannot shoot them. The battlearmor then can blast through the cockpit glass and kill the pilot at their leisure, or start hacking off their arms. The pilot of the mech will be almost totally helpless - he will have to rely on allies shooting off the battlearmor, or firing his splash damage weapons at point blank. The aforementioned method is often used by battlearmor to bait the enemy's buddies into shooting the mech.
    • Several tanks and aircraft can become personal space invaders, as well. The Chevalier and Harasser scout tanks are both very compact, allowing them to hump the legs of Assault Mechs with impunity - the mech usually cannot fire back, because the tanks are below the mech's minimum firing arc. The Sparrowhawk Aerospace Fighter is the most agile vehicle in the game and the second-fastest, allowing it to literally ride on an enemy aircraft's tail while pumping fire into their engines.
  • Mega Man 8: There are little toy robot soldiers called Rompers in Clown Man's stage who latch onto the player, immobilizing them and slowly draining life until they are shook off. They appear again in Mega Man & Bass in Magic Man's level, only this time around they just shake bolts from the player when they latch on. There is another enemy in 8, a variation of the Bubble Bat that swoops down to bite Mega Man in an attempt to do the same thing.
  • Metal Gear:
  • Metroid:
    • The Metroids attack by latching onto Samus and draining her energy. You get a really good look at their undercarriage when they latch onto you in the Metroid Prime games. Or at least you do until their life-sucking causes static snow to fill your visor and you start panicking.
    • Super Metroid: There are flea/tick-like enemies that latch on to Samus and start draining her health.
    • Metroid: Zero Mission has little bug-like enemies that latch upon and crawl over Samus. A single one is harmless, but once too many are attached they start draining health. They will also latch onto and eventually destroy organic barriers in a few areas and thus Samus must sometimes allow them to attach to her and then carry them to those barriers to proceed.
  • Monster Bash: The little chattering teeth don't do any damage, but they slow you down and disrupt your attacks. If you get enough of the little buggers on you though, Johnny will move at a snail's pace and be unable to fire at all, allowing the bigger monsters to attack you. The only way to deal with them is to monster mash the controls left and right until they get flung off (individually, mind you), then quickly crouch and blast them before they jump right back on.
  • Monster Hunter has the Giggi in the third game and Zamite in the fourth, both of which will attempt to latch onto hunters and slowly leech their health away. They'll eventually get full and let go of their own accord if not dislodged by rolling, after which they'll continue to harass you by attacking you normally.
  • Mother 3: The cuddle bomb latches on tight and spends its turns counting down to its deadly detonation.
  • NetHack monsters that do this are some of the most dangerous in the game. If a kraken or giant eel grabs you, then no matter how big and strong you are, you have at most one round to get free before it drowns you.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath: Various ammo types such as Fuzzles will invade the personal space... of enemies! Played straight with Sekto though, who is an Oktigi, a octopus-like creature that latches onto the head of something and then proceeds to control them. In Sekto's case, he latched onto the previous Guardian Steef.
  • Ōkami has the "Dead Fish" enemies, which, when brought below half health, like to glomp onto Amaterasu and explode.
  • Quake I: Fiends and Spawns don't latch onto you, but their specialty is lunging at you from across the room and trying to corner you. Once they do this, Fiends can rip you to shreds with an absurdly powerful melee attack, and Spawns explode with the force of a rocket when killed.
  • Resident Evil: The zombies and the Ganados, but Las Plagas are the most blatant space invaders.
    • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis had the Sliding Worms, creatures which would latch onto your character and suck blood until they either had their fill or you managed to shake them off.
    • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica had giant moths that land on your character's back and lay an egg on it. The worst part is that you know it's there but there's absolutely nothing you can do about it until it hatches at random and the caterpillar starts crawling around: if you don't button mash enough when it comes out, it bites and poisons your character.
  • Resistance: Fall of Man had "menials" which latched onto your face and screamed at you and tore you apart. It's an FPS, so... scary stuff.
  • Saints Row: The Third has this during the Zombie Attack mission. If you get grabbed by a zombie you have to frantically pound a button to get it (and the others that accumulate since you can't move) off.
  • Silent Hill: Each game possesses at least one variant. Perhaps the worst, both in terms of gameplay and sheer mindfuckery, are either the Doorman/Abstract Daddy monsters in the second game, which are massive and proceed to swallow the player character's head, or the Slurpers in the third game that knock the (teenaged, female) player character to the ground and climb on top of her in preparation for "fun time".
  • Snowboard Kids: The Ghosts, once deployed, zero in on the opposing racer in the highest position and harass them. During this time, the afflicted character's top speed is halved. This can be stacked up to three times.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles: The Mega Chopper, shown in the page image. In Hydrocity Zone, these little red piranha-like Mecha-Mooks swim around in certain underwater sections, and can even jump out of the water at you. If they make contact with your character, they latch on and start chewing, eating away one ring per second. and making you unable to jump, duck, or roll. If you get hit by an enemy while you're being Mega Chopped, you'll die one second later due to running out of rings. There are three ways to escape a Mega Chopper. One is to enter a tube, forcing your character into a spin. Or, if you're playing co-op with Sonic and Tails, you can use Tails to jump into the Mega Chopper, provided he's not being Mega Chopped as well. Neither of these solutions are sure to be available when you need them, but fortunately, the third solution always works: randomly mash buttons on the controller until the Mega Chopper falls off. (There is no indication that flailing about might have any effect.)
    • Sonic Mania: The boss of Metallic Madness Act 2 deploys exploding Creepy Dolls of Amy Rose that grab onto the player or their AI partner and flash a Slasher Smile before exploding.
  • Star Wars:
  • Streets of Rage: All three games have enemies that can grab you from behind, but in the first and third games you can get rid of them with a shoulder throw.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Luigi's Mansion has a variety of ghost that grabs on to Luigi, though in many cases they can be shaken off before they do damage. Some of them were invisible.
    • Mario Kart: In some courses, moles jump out of the ground and onto your kart, slowing you down and blocking your view until you throw them off.
    • Paper Mario: The Fuzzies and stronger types of Swoopers. Some will just hit you once, while others require button mashing to get them off. The Zap Tap badge keeps them off you entirely in either case.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3: Micro-Goombas don't actually hurt Mario, but they reduce his jump to practically nothing, which can kill you indirectly. And they stack. "Get off you little bastards!"
    • Super Mario Sunshine: Poinks are floating enemies that attach themselves to the F.L.U.D.D.'s nozzle and consume its water when Mario tries to use the device. They're an unusual version of this in that they're useful to the player — by squirting a stream of water into them and then releasing the button, Mario can send the creatures flying off like missiles and use them as a ranged weapon.
    • Super Mario Galaxy: Slurples are bouncing, leech-like enemies that attach themselves to Mario and gradually drain his health. They can only be removed by performing a spin jump or by firing a star bit at them.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2: The Smeech is a little pig-like enemy with wings and huge lips. If Mario approaches it alone, it will avoid him. If approached while riding Yoshi, it will fly towards him and fiercely kiss him on the lips, which blocks his ability to eat enemies.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: In the Subspace Emissary mode, the Bucculus likes to hide under ground, then leap out at careless players and latch on tight. They make a loud smooching sound as the sac attached to their lips fills up and you take damage, then, once you finally pry them off, they bounce around before hiding back under ground to start the process all over again.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger has leeches and ticks, who can take off a sizable portion of your life if not shaken off quickly. If it wasn't for the the fact that you can only take four hits at first, and they're so low to the ground only your exploding boomerangs can take them out without precision aiming, they wouldn't be a threat.
  • Viking: Battle for Asgard: The Assassins will leap onto you and start stabbing away at you.
  • Warframe has the Infested Maggots, toothy little monsters which latch on and start chewing, slowing movement as well as draining shields and health.
  • World of Warcraft: This happens occasionally, mostly by mobs that uses the Death Grip ability to pull players into melee range.
    • A particularly nasty case of this is exemplified by the first boss in the Trial of the Crusader raid dungeon, Gormok the Impaler, who carries around a stable of Snobolds with him that he throws at players during the encounter. These creatures are incredibly annoying as they damage, stun, and interrupt their target, can't be attacked by their target, and can only be killed with direct damage, not AoE. For added hilarity, there's an achievement for doing the entire boss encounter without killing the Snobolds.
    • The very next major boss, Lord Jaraxxus, periodically summons demon minions to aid him. One of these, the Mistress of Pain, likes to leap at players, grab them, and do a spinning pile driver move reminiscent of Zangief from Street Fighter.
    • Valkyr Shadowguards in phase 3 of the Lich King encounter in Icecrown Citadel fly to their target players, pick them up, and drop them over the side of the Frozen Throne platform, for a guaranteed death if the Valkyr aren't killed first.
  • XCOM Apocalypse: The Brainsuckers latch onto the heads of your troops and deliver an agent that brings them under the aliens' control.
  • Xenophobe: Critters fond of crawling on your space marine, alien, or duck (Yes, duck) and chewing off life. A simple button press solved the issue, though.


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