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Video Game / Ex Zeus

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ExZeus is an arcade rail shooter developed by HyperDevbox Japan, formally known as Hyper-Devbox. Despite the company's name, it was founded by Carlo Perconti, one of the founders of the France-based video game company Toka who moved to Japan and set up a game development studio in Tokyo.

Set in the year 2102 C.E., where a mysterious meteorite enters Earth's orbit which turned out to be an alien war-machine and began attacking the human race. The remaining survivors fled underneath of the Earth's surface with rumors spreading of an alien called "Diadora" being behind the attack. The governing council began a counter-attack operation, code-named "Operation: ExZeus", against the alien invaders and reclaim the planet. To carry out the operation of investigating the alien war-machines' weaknesses and stop Diadora, three experimental robots — Calista, Sophia, and Dynamis — were dispatched for the mission.

Gameplay in ExZeus is as simple as its plot: pick one of the three battle robots, shoot down anything that isn't you with your upgradable spread shot, lock-on missiles, and powerful laser cannon while collecting power-ups. In between levels, however, you're given the opportunity to use the gold picked up from destroying enemies to power-up your robot's stats and replenish supplies.

ExZeus was first released in Japan and Europe in 2003 for the PC as shareware, and for arcades in the US on Tsunami Visual Technologies' Tsunami Motion arcade board and re-released in 2005 exclusively in Japan on the Sega NAOMI GD-ROM hardware. It was later released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 only in Europe. A Wii version of the game was released overseas by Conspiracy Entertainment in 2007 under the title of Counter Force. An updated version of the game titled ExZeus Arcade was released for iOS in 2009 and Android devices in 2010.

A sequel of the game, ExZeus 2, was released for Android in 2012 and sub-sequentially released on iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 or later via the Microsoft Store. It takes places over a hundred years after the events of the first games, after peace has been restored on Earth only for a new threat to show up to attack the human race once more. Operation: ExZeus was re-launched against the new invaders, this time taking three robots from the previous of battle and combining them to form a new battle robot, Minos. ExZeus 2 plays like its predecessor but adds new gameplay elements where you take the fight on ground such fighting enemies in beat 'em up arenas, commandeer vehicles such as motorcycles and buggies, or fend off attacks from a mounted turret, along with the ability to purchase upgrades to level-up Minos' combat capabilities. In 2017, an updated version of ExZeus 2 was re-released on PC that does not require a Windows 8 or later, and was available on, Game Jolt, Amazon, and Steam.

On August 4, 2021, Ziggurat Interactive announced a Compilation Re-release of the two ExZeus titles developed by Sickhead Games for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC (via Steam and as ExZeus: The Complete Collection, and it was released on September 30, 2021.

Prepare to Trope! GO!!

  • Achievement System: The second game's Windows Phone and Windows 8 port features 20 Xbox LIVE Achievements worth a total of 200 Gamerscore points. The feats required unlock some of these achievements include but not limited to: clearing a stage on a certain difficulty, maxing out Minos' upgrades, and getting a high rank on the leaderboards.
  • After-Combat Recovery: In between stages, you're given an opportunity to use the gold you picked up from defeated enemies to replenish your health and supplies, or power-up your stats.
  • Alien Invasion: In both games, aliens appear from space to launch an all-out attack on the human race.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Both games revolve around evil aliens attacking Earth.
  • Allegedly Free Game: The earlier pre-v1.6 versions of the 2017 re-release of ExZeus 2 was free-to-play but uses a virtual credits system where players are given three "Instant Continues" tokens to resume immediately upon defeat, otherwise players would have to start the level all over unless they used an Instant Continues and would have to pay for more once they were all spent. This system was eventually removed in later revisions of the 2017 re-release when it became commercial.
  • Attack Drone: In the first ExZeus, drones will appear whenever you perform a laser attack, whereas the second allows you to summon them to attack along side you for a brief period of time.
  • Attack Its Weakpoint: In order to deal damage to a boss, you must shoot their weakpoints (e.g. Dracaena's heads or chest).
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The bosses you deal with in these games are often monstrosities that tower over your robot.
  • Awesomeness Meter: Based on how many hits can you land successfully, you'll get a phrased associated with your combo such as "Rock'in", "Terrific", and "Groovy", with a score bonus for hits that were landed.
  • BFS: One wielded by Exteros, the final boss of ExZeus 2.
  • Big Bad: The first game has Diadora, who killed thousands every day after unleashing alien war-machines on Earth, while the second game has Exteros who lead a new invasion across the galaxy.
  • Camera Perspective Switch: In the PlayStation 2 version of first game, you can press a button to change between the perspective of the camera from an over-the-shoulder view to a top-down, bird's eye view.
  • Compilation Re-release: ExZeus: The Complete Collection, which is a compilation of the latest versions of the two ExZeus games.
  • Deflector Shield: The robots are equipped with a deflector shield that absorbs some of the damage. Once it's depleted, any damage you take will go straight for your robot. A few enemies may also have them to protect themselves from your attacks.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Ichthys' boss splash screen lists its weakpoints are its eyes and eyeball.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Players can level an area filled with abandoned vehicles and alien-made structures into smithereens for extra points or get power-ups from them.
  • Difficulty Levels: A difficulty system was introduced in the first game's mobile ports, which are Easy, Medium, Hard, and finally Fury. The sequel also carries these difficulty settings. Averted in the 2017 re-release of ExZeus 2 as it goes for a progressive style difficulty.
  • Excuse Plot: Mechanical aliens and their war-machines are killing off the human race, hop into your battle robot and kick some ass.
  • Fragile Speedster: Calista in the first ExZeus has the weakest defense and firepower, but also has the highest mobility of all of the robots.
  • Gameplay Grading: ExZeus 2 rewards players with end-stage bonuses based on their performance. Bonus points are reward for the percentage of enemies destroyed, items picked, accurate shooting, evading attacks, and how quickly the stage was beaten.
  • Gameplay Roulette: The sequel not only retains the rail shooter gameplay from the first ExZeus, but also mixes in other gameplay styles. One minute you're shooting enemies in the air, next minute you're fighting in an arena where you can punch and kick enemies at close range or shoot them from a distance, then another minute you're riding on a motorcycle running over enemies while dodging incoming fire. Other times you're driving a tank, manning a turret to shoot down missiles. The intermissions in-between levels are played as a vertical shooter.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The first ExZeus has Scorpios, a giant mechanized scorpion.
  • Gratuitous English: Despite being developed by a French-Japanese development team, the games feature many use of English voice-overs, especially Minos' AI who was voiced in English.
  • Harmless Freezing: The Freeze Rays in the second game can freeze Minos in a block ice to prevent it from firing its weapons but can still move freely.
  • Heart Container: Upgrades for your robot's vitality, shield, and lock-on energy can be purchased in between stages. These upgrades don't carry over in subsequent playthroughs in the first ExZeus but does carry over in the sequel.
  • Homing Projectile: Your robot is armed with homing missiles that can be fired by locking onto enemies as long as you have some lock-on energy to use.
  • Jack of All Stats: Sophia has balanced stats in all areas instead of excelling in a particular area, as well as Minos from the second game who is a combination of the three robots from the first game.
  • La RĂ©sistance: The plan with the remaining human survivors and Operation: ExZeus is to fight back against the aliens to reclaim the surface world. Taken even further in the sequel where the resistance attacks the aliens by going from planet-to-planet to eventually attack their homeworld.
  • Life Meter: The Energy Meter of your robot and bosses. In the first game, it was represented as segmented bars in the earlier versions, but it was changed to a contemporary color-changing meter in the mobile version and onward (with green for high amount of health to red when low). In the second game, it uses a standard meter but you can see how much your Energy (plus Lock-on and Shield) Meter can be extended.
  • Lightning Gun: In ExZeus 2, a Plasma Gun can sometimes be found during the beat 'em up arenas to electrify enemies that stand in your way.
  • Mana Meter: The Lock-on Meter, which is required for using lock-on missile attacks.
  • Meta Multiplayer: ExZeus 2 and the mobile versions of its predecessor feature online leaderboards that tracks the best high scores in the real-time.
  • Mighty Glacier: Dynamis is the slowest of all the robots in ExZeus, but has the strongest defense and powerful weapons.
  • New Game Plus: After clearing ExZeus 2, all of your upgrades are carried over into another playthrough.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dracaena, a mechanized twin-headed dragon in the first game, and Drakein, a giant mechanized dragon in the second game.
  • Rank Inflation: Players of the second game can raise their rank as they play through the game. They start as a low military rank such as Trainee but eventually raise into higher ranks like Admiral, Emperor, Warlord, and finally God. This system would also get implemented in the Complete Collection re-release of the first game.
  • Roboteching: Your homing missiles can pull of some crazy arc changes, and sometimes even spiral their way to a locked enemy.
  • Scoring Points: In the first ExZeus, you gain points of varying amounts from shooting down enemies and damaging bosses, as well as bonus points for building up your combo counter from hitting enemies. The sequel later adds in an end-stage bonuses based on your performance during the stages.
  • Shock and Awe: Minos' two special attacks, EM Impulse and Zeus' Wrath. The former has Minos' building up electrical impulses and discharging it on surrounding enemies to deal moderate damage, while the later has you building up a lot of electrical power and summon a devastating lightning storm against your foes.
  • Shows Damage: In the first game's PlayStation 2 port, as the bosses loses health, they begin to lose parts of their bodies and eventually limbs as they become closer to death.
  • Smart Bomb: Featured in the first game with Megabombs that sends a barrage of bombs to clear the screen of projectiles and deals heavy damage. It returns in the second game in two flavors: EM Impulse (creates an electro-magnetic wave against surrounding enemies) and Zeus' Fury (rains down lightning from above).
  • Spell My Name With An S: In the first game's opening text, Dynamus had a "U" in its name, however in the character select screen (and the mobile version's opening scene), it's spelled as Dynamis.
  • Spread Shot: Picking up the Power Up icons increases the spread of your main gun from a single shot to a 3-way and 5-way spread. Taking damage without your shield, however, lowers your weapon's spread. In ExZeus 2, however, the spread shot is also temporary.
  • Suddenly Voiced: In the earlier releases of the first ExZeus, the robots were completely silent throughout the game. In Arcade and onward, the robots have unique computer voices and exclaim "Yes, I like that! Enemy destroyed!" after defeating the end-stage boss.
  • Theme Naming: The default names in the high score tables in the first game are names/alias/abbreviations of the development team.
  • Timed Mission: The stages are timed in each game. Failure to complete the level before the timer reaches zero means Game Over.
  • Title Scream: The first ExZeus has a voice stating the game's title.
  • Updated Re-release: The mobile versions of the first ExZeus features updated graphics, difficulty levels, and real-time online leaderboads. ExZeus 2 for Windows received a re-release for non-Windows 8 or 10 systems with some improved visuals and remappable controls. These ports would later serve as the basis for the Complete Collection re-release.
  • Versus Character Splash: Occurs before a boss battle begins. In first game, you're given a splash screen with your robot and a wire-frame representation of the stage boss, as well as their weakpoints and attack moves. In the second game, it uses a simple VS. splash screen featuring Minos and the stage boss that erupts into flames.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Can be used as a special attack in the first ExZeus. Your robot can either fire a laser when the charge meter is 90% full and can be canceled by releasing the fire button to save energy, or a much more powerful Mega Laser when the laser meter is 100% full but empties the meter upon use.


Alternative Title(s): Counter Force