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A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX

Aksys Games has always been a publisher that I always walked into with an open mind. While they technically have a niche following and output, it is a surprisingly broad one thanks to releasing various genres, but keeping them within a generally similar look and feel. They’re the kind of group that when you hear the name, you know instinctively what you’re getting yourself into. Extend Interactive, however, is a relatively new team that hasn’t made anything too noteworthy, but seems to have their feet grounded in the side scrolling platform. This is where A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda comes into play, a title that is both unique and unoriginal all at the same time.

First of all, from what time I spent with it, the game plays great and the graphics are fantastic: Dark, cold, and mechanical. I didn’t pay much attention to the story line at this point, but you play as a robot who goes through various linear stages destroying other robots to find a cure for a virus that is, or has the potential to infect the robot population. Other than that, I know nothing to the plot of the game. But, really, that’s about all I need to know, because I’ve played it before on the Nintendo Entertainment System when I was maybe five years old.

A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX immediately reminded me of my favorite game when I was a kid: Mega Man. By the time I hit the first boss, it was basically confirmed. I forget which title on that series carries the similar plot, I believe it might have been Mega Man 4, but I remember battling through various robots to reach Dr. Wily and put a stop to his robotic virus. It was also a plot point in the cartoon series from the nineties as well if I remember correctly. The doors in and out of boss and sub-bosses, the upgrades you pick up leading to different weapons, all the way down to the grand music when you get the power-up after a boss fight, it’s all here in one form or another except for the stage select screen (replaced by a chapter select) and charged buster shot, which has been replaced with special moves available on the y and b buttons that do seem to mimic that attack.

Considering Capcom has basically killed off the Mega Man franchise because, you know, screw the fans and their money they’ll spend on such an iconic character, right? A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX feels like slightly updated Mega Man ideas with a Mega Man X coating applied complete with the ability to dash. The addition of using the right analog stick to fire in various directions is a subtle addition the blue bomber himself would be proud to have as well. And let’s not forget that the first Mega Man game depicted him with a real gun, which is what you use on one of the two playable characters (not sure if both use actual guns), and the female character that acts as the narrative support just comes off like more of a combat trained Roll.

All of this became apparent by the five minute mark alone, so by the time I hit the twenty-five minute point of gameplay, I realized that this could not be a coincidence in design, but rather a deliberate homage. With the recent announcement that Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune raised about four million dollars through crowd-funding programs to get his the official “spiritual successor” Mighty No. 9 off the ground. If that’s the case, then A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda is clearly the unofficial successor to the series. While the action is a little on the slower side, it does feel like a genuinely re-skinned version of a Capcom classic, and if you look at it that way, one could argue this could technically be set in a darker, grittier parallel universe to the similar events from the original canon.

So, is this a deliberate attempt at rediscovering or expanding on the halted Mega Man universe? Probably not, but it’s impossible to argue the similarities, or that the developers clearly used that series as the basic foundation for A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda. If this is just the start for me, I can’t help but wonder what other goodies lie in wait. Will there be a version of Rush in this game? Will I come across a mirror Protoman? Is this alternate universe’s greatest threat a bizarro version of Dr. Wily? Time will only tell, but even if this is where the similarities end, it has made enough of a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart to make me dream.

A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX
A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX
A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX

Digital review material for this article provided by Aksys Games.