A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda
System: Xbox 360
Release Date: October 2, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Aksys Games (Origo Games)
ESRB Rating: Everyone
A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda doesn’t hide its Mega Man X series influences. It’s all there, from taking bosses weapons after defeating them to double jumps and mid-air dashes. It finished second in Microsoft’s Dream.Build.Play competition in 2010 and earned a release on PC. Now it has made its way to the Xbox Live Arcade. This new version offers new controls, a new UI, redesigned maps and enemies, as well as new cutscenes.
Robots fighting robots.
A gas called Zytron is making machines turn on humans, thankfully Ares and his robot ally Tarus are immune. They’re the only machines around that applies to. Every other robot you meet is in full kill mode. The story is not a complex narrative, but the same is true of the games that inspired it. There are evil robots, and you should go kill them now has been sufficient motivation for gamers for years.
Appreciating old school.
As you might expect, Ares brings something extra to the table. He can collect bits from defeated enemies to power up abilities that include a repair token which restores your health. Ares can call on a super move that obliterates all enemies onscreen. Things slow down when this happens for an anime style “I’m channeling all my power effect.” It’s hard not to feel like a superhero when this goes off.
There are seven chapters of platforming, and some inspired boss and mini-boss battles in A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX. But this game makes concessions to the modern era with an unlimited supply of lives, as well as ample powerups that repair Ares. There are two schools of thought here. Many designers make the point that a lot of gamers who played Mega Man or Battletoads didn’t get the full enjoyment, because they were too hard to finish. Those who dedicate their time to making or viewing “speed runs” would argue the difficulty is why we remember those games to begin with.
I don’t think either side is wrong. You can get through this platformer in about three to four hours, although there are a lot of secrets that make it worth backtracking through, so you can pick up some upgrade chips. You can also play through the game again with Tarus, and that can get you to the eight hour point. It’s easy to see why Microsoft felt this warranted release. There is a lot to like, but for $14.99 I feel most players will want a little bit more of it.
One of the best parts of A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX is the rocking soundtrack, which Steam available as a PC download. It comes as part of your purchase, and does as much to evoke the era of these classic platformers as the gameplay. That’s a nice bonus.
Be yourself, A.R.E.S.
Ultimately, A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX it feels like more of a homage than a game with its own identity. Still, fans of the genre may find themselves pursuing it to the 100 percent completion mark. The response to the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter indicates people still love these types of games. If a resurgence is coming, Ares is a character we just might see again.