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Video Game / A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda

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A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda is a side-scrolling action-platforming game by Extend Studios and ORiGO Games. The game originally started under the working title of Trashman, developed using the Microsoft XNA Game Studio framework and was submitted for Microsoft's Dream.Build.Play contest of 2010, where it won 2nd place alongside among top-ranking entries such as Beat Hazard and Prismatic Solid. It was planned as a series of episodic games, with (so far) the first episode, Extinction Agenda, being released for PC through Steam, DESURA, and GamersGate in 2011.

The plot of Extinction Agenda is as follows: In the late 21st century, humanity has contaminated the Earth to such a dire state that an organization of scientists, United Earth (UE) had formed in an effort to save it. Governments from around the world collectively contributed trillions to UE, funding its expensive and highly experimental research. They managed to hit success, with Dr. Julia Carson's innovative concept, known as Deep Space Reprocessing (DSR), which allowed humans to recycle waste into organic materials through abiogenesis, a process that would essentially recycle the planet and transform it into a more habitable state. It turns out to be a success, Earth's state is improving, and things are beginning to look up for humanity.

Then disaster strikes. The only DSR space station, Junk Sector, is hit by an unidentified crystalline object, which emits a mysterious green gas, and all contact with the crew is lost. Dr. Carson herself leads a team onto the station to investigate, and discover that the robots on board are being controlled by the gas. Their first actions are to 1) head to the armory, and 2) send samples of the gas back to HQ. Using the samples, UE manages to figure out how to make robots immune to the gas, now called "Zytron". The answer was to create a Zytron-immune robot more technically advanced than any robot UE had ever created. The robot would need to excel at combat and have a name akin to its strength and brutal efficiency — Ares.

Ares himself has a array of weaponry to use, as well as two types of grenades. He also has back-up from Valkyl, a military-support satellite, who can rain down laser death once her bar is full. The game uses a "combo" system with a maximum of 99 hits, and each stage you complete grades you based on your performance, with a maximum rank in Normal mode being A while Hard mode has SS. These ranks are determined by factors such as how quickly you completed the stage, your highest combo, how much damage you took during boss fights, and how much materials you collected. The materials from destroyed enemies and scattered throughout levels allows you to upgrade your arsenal, create more grenades, and use repair-kits. While the first episode is a fairly short game, its replayability comes from the hidden secrets, unlocking achievements, and getting higher ranks.

An updated remake of the game, A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX, was released for the Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade on October 2, 2013 and was also published by Aksys Games, the same company known for their ports of the BlazBlue series and Deathsmiles, with a PC version released through Steam a year later. The remake featured updated graphics, redesigned levels plus two additional ones, new animated cutscenes, streamlined gameplay elements, rebalanced difficulty, and Tarus is a playable character with his own unique playstyle and abilities. With a $1,500 contribution made by ORiGO Games for the Kickstarter-funded indie arena fighting game, Combat Core, Ares makes an appearance a Guest Fighter in the game along with Zetto and Kizuna of TOME.

A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda provides trope examples of:

  • 2½D: The game is presented with 3D visuals for the stages, but the gameplay itself is 2D.
  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: Players usually max out Ares' and Tarus' levels around Lv.6 if they can enough points between each stage.
  • Achievement System: The original game comes with 25 obtainable achievements that adds up to a total of 330 achievement points similar Xbox LIVE Achievements and Gamerscore. Each achievement requires the player to perform certain feats such as never using a repair kit across all levels, getting the combo counter to 99, and no damage running a boss battle. These also return in EX.
  • Action Girl:
    • Surprisingly, Dr. Carson, and she doubles a Badass Bookworm. Despite being a scientist, it's heavily implied that she is quite capable with a weapon. When Ares actually rescues her, the first thing she does is point her gun at him and threatens to shoot. She was holding out mostly on her own for at least a few days, and she hasn't been captured or killed, which is quite an achievement.
    • Valkyl as well, she rains down Death from Above with her BFG at your call in the original.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The Leviathan mini-boss chases the player from a bottomless shaft at first.
  • Art Shift: Valkyl's design got a more westernized appearance in Extinction Agenda EX, while Dr. Carson became even more of an action girl.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In EX, during Tarus' storyline, Zytron deems Tarus a worthy successor and he proceeds to take over Zytron's role and fire the Minos Cannon.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After the Sentinel fight, Ares is saved from a last-ditch effort attack from the boss by Tarus and his Wave Emitter, which he hands to Ares to use, and vice-versa in EX for Tarus.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While the Minos Cannon has been destroyed and humanity has been saved, Junk Sector, humanity's only hope for bringing Earth back to its former glory, has been destroyed along with it. On the other hand, humanity can rebuild, and Ares survived the station's destruction... in the original, at least; in EX, Ares' ending confirms that he has been blown to pieces and likely beyond repair.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In the original game, Ares can eventually get an upgrade for his high-explosive and EMP grenades that gives him an infinite supply. In EX, however, the repurposed abilities operates on a cooldown meter instead.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Genesis Suit from the original, which requires an SS Rank. However, in order to get SS Rank, you need SS ranks on all chapters except Chapter 5, which requires an S rank, which averts the trope. There is a good reason for this, however — the Minos Cannon is that hard to perfect.
  • Charged Attack: The hold type for the Power and Gravity Boost ability Ares unlock after defeating Carrion in the original. By using the grenade's energy, he can propel himself forward, upwards, or downwards while damaging anything in his path.
  • Combos: Each shot you land will start a combo counter, but if you stop fighting enemies for a while or take a hit, the combo meter immediately drops. The counter has a cap of 99 hits in the original, but it's uncapped in EX.
  • Combo Breaker: Taking damage from an enemy will reset your combo counter to zero.
  • The Corruption: The Zytron gases has corrupted robots in the Junk Sector/Minos Station to turn against their creators.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Dr. Carson's brown hair matches with her eyes in the original.
  • Dash Attack: Ares gets an upgrade along with the Prototype Suit that allows him to perform dash attacks that harms enemies and gives him invincibility frames while dashing (which can be upgraded to extend to the air boost). Tarus also gets this with his roll with Fusion Form, which makes him invincible while rolling and stuns enemies/breaks shields.
  • Deflector Shields: Enemies in the game are sometimes protected by a shield that blocks any and all attacks from the player, and they can only be disabled by using a stasis-based attack. Tarus' Power Infusion in EX also gives him this effect.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the original, Valkyl provided support as a Spaceship Girl that can rain down destruction via her massive cannon. In EX, however, she's just an A.I. construct that serves as Mission Control for Ares and Tarus.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Averted. Ares and Tarus can aim their shots in any direction.
  • Difficulty Levels:
    • The original game only has two: Normal and Hardcore. Normal restricts the players ability to go above A rank when clearing stages and get no rewards from fighting bosses at the expense of making bosses easier, while Hardcore has none of those restrictions and bosses fight at their full potential.
    • EX introduced a "Casual" difficulty on top of the other two from the original. Causal, similarly to Normal in the original, makes bosses easier while enemies no longer have shields, but it prevents you from getting the maximum rank from the stage. Normal only restricts players with a score cap in EX, while Hardcore has no restrictions but makes enemies twice as strong and Repair Kits take longer to recharge.
  • Double Jump: Ares and Tarus have this as a starting ability.
  • Double Unlock: Getting some of the upgrades requires finding the chip that will open the slot to the corresponding upgrade, then also paying in materials you collect from defeated enemies and scattered through the levels to purchase them.
  • Dub Name Change: In EX, the Junk Sector has been renamed to Minos Station, as well as the Minos Cannon boss having its name changed to Minos Core.
  • Elemental Punch: Ares' Blazing Fist, an ability acquired after defeating Goliath in EX, is a fiery punch that can break explosive containers.
  • Emergency Energy Tank: In the original game, Ares can craft a repair kit with the materials he picks up laying around the level or dropped from enemies and then use them at a later time to recover a portion of his HP. In EX, the repair kit is an upgradeable skill that takes time to recharge and costs 100 materials to use.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Throughout the game, players can acquire ability upgrades and new weapons, either through progressing the story or discovering hidden items, that will make Ares (and in EX, Tarus) a more efficient fighter against the Zytron-based hordes.
  • Evolving Weapon: The weapons you find in the game can be upgraded by collecting certain chips and paying for the materials for said upgrades, and the upgrades are shown visibly with both the appearance of the weapon and how the shots are fired.
  • Excuse Plot: The original had a somewhat involved plot and some datacubes provides intel on those from UE and enemies Ares encounters, but EX simplifies the story to "A mysterious gas is causing robots in a space station to go berserk, get in there and kick some butt!"
  • Fighting Your Friend: In EX, the boss of Chapter 5 is whatever character you aren't playing as because Ares/Tarus became infected by Zytron at this point.
  • Fixed Damage Attack: Each weapon and offensive ability you have and eventually acquire have a fixed amount of damage they deal to enemies.
  • Forced Tutorial: The original game forces the player to get acquainted with the game's menus, making them learn how to recycle materials into items, view data entries, and reminding them of the game's Level Select feature on their first time, through. It also forces them to learn how to call Valkyl's Zypher Cannon as well as how to use repair kits.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The game's title, which makes an acronym out of "Ares".
  • Future Spandex: Valkyl's outfit certainly fits the description.
  • Gameplay Grading: You are rewarded based on how quickly you clear the level, how few hits you've taken during boss battles, how high you can get your combo counter, how much damage you've dealt, and how many upgrades you've uncovered.
  • Glass Cannon: The Steam-exclusive Berzerker Suit DLC from the original is this through and through. Its weapon kills things with fire, but as long as you are equipped with it, you take more damage than usual.
  • Guest Fighter: Ares became a playable character the indie game Combat Core after a $1,500 contribution from ORiGO Games for the game's Kickstarter campaign.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Playing on the harder difficulties allows you to get SS ranks for clearing a level, and, in the case of EX, go past the 99-hit combo limit. Also in EX, playing on Hardcore allows you to exceed the 10,000-point score limit that Normal has (10,000 is the requirement for an SS rank).
  • Heart Container: Some of the datacubes in the original game can raise Ares' maximum HP. This was removed from EX.
  • The Hero Dies: Implied in Ares' ending in both versions, however, in the original game, a last-minute scene during the ending implies that he survived the destruction of the Junk Sector.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ares pulls one in EX, disabling his inhibitors and overloading his core to destroy the Minos Core before the cannon is fired.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Though humans have been trying to clean up their act as a whole, it seems, Zytron thinks humanity are a mistake, and one that must be corrected.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: As you shoot stuff up, you get a phrase associated with your chain of destruction like "Superb!" and "Bursted!" In EX, exceeding 99 hits earns you "Wicked!".
  • The Immune: Ares and Tarus were developed to be immune to the contamination of the Zytron gases as they carry out their mission to rescue Dr. Carson. However, they eventually get infected anyway to a severe degree halfway into the game. Ares gets a Prototype Suit upgrade to combat this shortly after, though in Tarus' story in EX, it wasn't enough to save him from Zytron's influence. Tarus also goes through this, but rather than going to a station to purge his infection like Ares did, the Zytron gases eventually infuses with Tarus and gives him the Zytron-powered Fusion Form.
  • Info Dump: The new animated cutscenes in EX lack any sort of voice-acting while the dialogue is entirely shown through subtitles.
  • Invulnerable Attack: Ares and Tarus can unlock upgrades to their mobility enhancements that gives them both invincibility frames and does slight damage to enemies on contact, with Tarus also having a stun effect added to his dodge rolls.
  • Item Get!: Players are greeted with a short sequence showing off the weapon/ability they unlocked from defeating certain bosses. The original shown some of the weapons as 3D models while EX has a simple icon of the weapon/ability obtained.
  • Jet Pack: Rather than get a mid-air dash like Ares does, Tarus gets the ability to hover for a few seconds after defeating Carrion in EX.
  • Jump Physics: The original game had variable jump height where Ares' jump height is based off how long the Jump button was held, while in EX, the jump height was always fixed to jump at maximum height. The PC version of EX however later received a patch that added an option to disable the fixed jump height. Players can freely change their facing while jumping.
  • Kill Sat: Valkyl, our Spaceship Girl, at least in the original.
    • And there is the Minos Cannon, UE's secret weapon, speculated by Dr. Carson to have been created for a political agenda. Ares is forced to destroy it in order to prevent Zytron from using it to destroy humanity.
  • Left Hanging: The original A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda, which was planned as an episodic series, hasn't seen a continuation for years since, and the story is most likely retconned in favor of EX's story.
  • Life Drain: Ares' Solar Strike in EX can be upgraded to have this effect.
  • Lightning Gun: The Wave Emitter is this for Ares and Tarus, as it shoots a wave of electricity that can bypass terrain. Tarus' version of the Photon Blaster also shoots a ball of plasma that zaps enemies without the ball's range.
  • Limit Break: Valkyl's Zypher Cannon in the original. EX replaced it with Ares' Solar Strike, and Tarus has Power Infusion.
  • Loading Screen: The game loads between entering stages, while providing some tips to the player. The original game had a simple background featuring the game's logo while the remake features a readout of some of the enemies they'll encounter.
  • The Mentor: Tarus' data log in EX mentions that he was the one that trained Ares in combat.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Ares gets an upgrade to his suit literally halfway through the first episode. Halfway through Chapter 3 (Chapter 4 in EX), to be precise. It improves your dash ability so that you're invincible during it. Tarus also gets a similar upgrade for his roll in his story.
  • Nintendo Hard: Lots of enemies, hazards, traps, and difficult boss battles. Even on Normal difficulty and no Easy difficulty to speak of in the original game, the game will punish you hard. EX added an "Casual" difficulty, but it comes with some gameplay restrictions.
  • Old Save Bonus: Owning the original A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda on the same Steam account will give owners of EX an Apollo drone that can draw in lose materials for the player instead of collecting it themselves. It can, however, be disabled if desired.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Each stage has at least one ideal area to rack up a high combo.
  • Precursors: Zytron in the original, who claims to have created humanity, and believes that doing this was ultimately a mistake, which leads it to attempting to use the Minos Cannon to wipe them out. It's not abusive or neglectful, it's just simply doing what it thinks is right.
  • Press X to Not Die: During some boss battles, players must perform a QTE to avoid some of the bosses attacks and/or escape from their grasp.
  • Promoted to Playable: Tarus gets his own campaign in EX.
  • Rank Inflation: You get a letter rank based on your performance. From lowest to highest: D, C, B, A, S, and SS. Casual gives you a cap of S while Normal and Hardcore allow you to go up to SS.
  • Real-Time Weapon Change: Players must switch through their other weapons in-game via the D-pad with a controller or assigned number keys on keyboard. In the original A.R.E.S., changing Ares' different suits also functions this way by pressing both analog stick buttons together or Ctrl+T keys.
  • Red Shirt Army: Averted. Tarus Group knows how to hold their own, even if they're not as good as Ares — their leader saves Ares from the Sentinel boss with one shot.
  • Rise to the Challenge: Mid-way into Stage 3 (original) / 5 (EX), the player encounters a massive robot that burrows its way through a vertical shaft and the player must reach the top before the mid-boss destroys all the platforms, otherwise its a plunge to a bottomless pit.
  • RPG Elements: As you clear stages, you earn experience points to level up your character. However, to prevent players from Level Grinding by repeatedly clearing one stage multiple times, the experience points you earn is based on the score you cleared the stage with. For example, if you cleared the first stage with an S (9000-9999 points), you'll get more than enough experience to level-up once; clearing it again with a lesser score than your highest yields no progress.
  • Shock and Awe: The Prime Guardian specializes in this. Then there's the Photon Launcher, which is basically, when fully upgraded, the most powerful weapon in the game aside from Valkyl's Zypher Cannon from the original.
    • Ares and Tarus also get Plasma Shock and Lock Down respectively, which both stun enemies and break shields.
  • Spaceship Girl: However, unlike other examples, Valkyl is a satellite in a humanoid form. Her laser cannon attack comes from the Zypher Cannon she carries.
    • Not quite so much in EX, where she's just an AI construct operating from an unknown location.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: The game utilizes 3D polygonal graphics for the stages, but the playable characters and most of enemies are rendered as 2D sprites.
  • Super Prototype: Subverted; Ares is not a prototype robot, however, his Prototype Suit upgrade gives him more defensive abilities than his standard suit.
  • Take That! / Kick Them While They Are Down: A meta example: during the widespread negative reception of Mighty No. 9 on its release day, the developers took it upon themselves to put Extinction Agenda EX for sale on a massive discount to rake in money from angry and disappointed backers while claiming their game is a better alternative.
  • Title Drop: The final chapter in EX is titled "Extinction Agenda".
  • Video Game Dashing: Ares can air-boost sideways or straight up, and the air-boost can be upgraded so that he can do ''three' time without having to touch the ground.
  • Video Game Remake: A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX features higher quality visuals, Tarus becomes playable along with his own story and soundtrack, new animated cutscenes, a Casual difficulty, redesigned levels and streamlined gameplay, difficulty adjustments, and two extra levels added to the game. The PC version of EX has the benefit of remappable controller button layout (the Xbox 360 version has a pre-defined set-up), and through a later update, the ability to toggle fixed jump height.

Alternative Title(s): ARES