This article is written in response to the type of clutter in games that's created when the player is given far too many advantages and powerful abilities over their environment and enemies. When the player mechanics don't have enough limitations, weaknesses, counters, or drawbacks the developers have to work even harder to create challenges. Geometry Wars floods the screen with enemies. DMC4 features a style meter that challenges and encourages players to mix things up because it's cool to use a wide range of moves (or so they tell me).
For games with a more conservative design concerning player power, I've always said that a good stress test gauging the balance of power for the player character is to pit the player against an enemy with the same abilities the player has. The theory is, if you can defeat yourself, then you're not too powerful. Another way to look at it is if fighting an enemy like yourself is engaging and it doesn't result in a stalemate then the core design holds up. This test mainly applies to single player games for the obvious reason that multiplayer games generally have player versus player gameplay at the core of their design where each player has similar abilities or access to the same characters.
Here's a quick list of enemies that have many of the same abilities as the main player character.
- SA-X: Metroid Fusion
- Shadow Mario: Super Mario Sunshine
- Longai-O: Bangai-O Spirits
- Kratos: Tales of Symphonia
- Star Wolf: Star Fox 64
- Darknut: Twilight Princess
- Dark Link: Ocarina of Time
- Shadow Link: Four Swords Adventures
- Shadow X1, X2, X3: Secret of Mana