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Videogame / Coded Arms

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Coded Arms is a series of First-Person Shooters published by Konami and released for the Playstation Portable . Other than its unusual virtual reality theme and being a rare example of a Japanese-developed FPS, the first game was also notable for featuring randomly-generated level design and dungeon crawling elements long before these became popular in action games.

Released in 2005, the first Coded Arms takes place in the late 21st century, where technological advances have allowed for direct neural connections to computer networks. Around this time, the military-industrial complex develops a military simulation named A.I.D.A to train personnel against an unknown alien race. A.I.D.A goes out of control during development and starts spreading to all layers of the internet. Though access to it is forbidden by authorities due to the risk of contracting "Achiba Syndrome" and dying in real life, an underground economy forms around A.I.D.A as particularly enterprising hackers risk their lives recovering the valuable files inside the simulation in exchange for large cash bounties. The players take the role of one such "Coded One" fighting his way through the simulation's battlefields to access A.I.D.A's kernel.

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A sequel was released two years later, titled Coded Arms Contagion. Some times after the events of the first game, the military has managed to contain A.I.D.A and is in the final stages of testing its new iteration. The player plays as Jacob Grant, a special force operatives who, after a routine training exercise goes wrong, fight his way through the simulation rescue the stranded Bravo Team and fend off the assault of Maelstrom, a group of terrorist hackers looking to take back A.I.D.A. Contagion ditched the dungeon crawling-focus of the first game in favor of a more linear, story-driven direction.

A Playstation 3 sequel titled Coded Arm Assault was announced in 2007 and was playable at one iteration of the TGS before being quietly cancelled. Additionally, the track "satellite020712" from the first game is featured in a few iterations of the beatmania series.

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The series contain the following tropes

  • Artifact Mook: This actually becomes a plot point in Contagion: Grant soon figures something's not right when he sees an insectoid mook crawls around what's supposed to be the Industrial Zone.
  • Creator Provincialism: The early levels in Contagion feature a lot of Soviet iconography and cyrilic writing. Not coincidentally, the developer of the game is based in Russia.
  • Due to the Dead: Jacob in Contagion gives a military salute to the Maelstrom-infected Colonel Thorne as he fades away.
  • Endless Game; The Infinity sector in the original has the player through an endless succession of level, although bosses are fought every 20 stages in the same order. The most advanced players are in the 4 digits range.
  • Excuse Plot: Other than terse Infodumps delivered between each sectors, the original game doesn't have much of a plot. Averted with Contagion.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The physical features of the first game's protagonist are blocked by their armor and no details is given about their status or background, not even their gender. Grant from Contagion is a more defined character.
  • Gameplay Grading: Contagion features trial missions graded based on completion time. Ranks D to B give the player upgrade points while getting an A rank would level up one of the weapons in the player's arsenal, allowing them to be upgraded further.
  • Hacking Minigame: There's one in Contagion, which is used to open doors, reveal items or convert turrets to the player's side. It consist of finding the same number in two rows of randomly-generated number.
  • Hate Plague: Maelstrom’s virus in Contagion affects its victims in this manner: the player can find shambling, zombie-like soldiers implied to be contamined Bravo Team members and the boss battle after these are encountered is an infected Colonel Thorne, complete with red optics to signify the corruption.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: The first game has the player character carry up to 31 weapons (23 guns and 8 types of grenades), although only 5 guns can be rotated through at any time.
  • Limited Loadout: Contagion employs a Rise of the Triad-style weapon system where the player has five slots of equipment: one always reserved for the pistol, one that can only take light weapons, one for light to medium weapons, one “anything goes” slot and the last one for grenades.
  • Market-Based Title: The series was renamed Coded Gun in Korea.
  • Permanently Missable Content : In the first game, any plugin files not collected before moving to the next cluster cannot ever be picked again. Some players exploited this by deliberately not picking up obsoleted or bad weapons as to not dilute the ammo pool. Contagion made weapon acquisition unavoidable or mandatory to progress.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The first Coded Arms employed random levels: For the first three pre-built worlds, the type and number of enemies encountered was fixed while the room placement, the number and position of elevators and obstacle placement was randomized. Levels in the Infinity sector are fully randomized.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The original game ends with the protagonist getting the prompt to reboot AIDA's kernel, only to get their brain fried in the hacking attempt and having their soul trapped in the simulation forever.
  • Suicide Attack: A type of robot enemy in the first game will directly race to the player and blow themselves up, although they take enough time to detonate that an unobstructed player can easily move away for their blast radius.
  • Tutorial Failure: Many reviews of Contagion criticized the game's upgrade system, stating that the reviewer had accumulated ton of upgrade points and had nothing to spend them on. This is because while the ingame tutorial does explain how to upgrade weapons, it completely obmits to explain you have to "level up" a weapon to upgrade its attributes after the first round of upgrades and how to do so (either by getting A ranks in the trial missions, themselves not mentioned in the tutorial, or pick up the redundant weapon plugins that start appearing at the halfway point).
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The first Guardian program in Contagion is already not very threatening by itself, but it becomes one because the player is certain to have hacked a missile turret found in the room it spawns in earlier in the level, which will make mincemeat out of it without any player input.
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