ZeroRanger is a vertically scrolling shoot'em up developed and published by SystemErasure, released on Steam and itch.io in 2018. A new game mode called White Vanilla was added in 2020, along with the official soundtrack. The game is notable for its unique color pallet, and for being densely packed with references to other shooters and anime. A demo that serves as a prologue to the story can be found on the developer's website.
ZeroRanger uses 3 buttons by default. An optional Slow and Auto-fire 3 can be set in the options menu if the player desires. There are two playable ships: Type-B "Rybb" and Type-C "Decker".
- A: Fire 1 (Main Weapon).
- B: Fire 2 (Back/Side Shot).
- C: Fire 3 (Charge/Lock-on).
- Fire 1+2+3: Alternates between Fighter and ZeroRanger Mode.
Both playable crafts in ZeroRagner share the same weaponry, but with unique properties depending on the chosen ship. After the first three bosses, the player can choose which weapon they wish to collect. It's possible to collect none at all by destroying the Power-Ups or simply letting the time run out. However, doing so with the ZeroRagner Power-Up will lock you into the Fake Ending. Both ships can also transform into a Mecha after collecting the Power-Up from the boss in Stage 3. In this mode, they only have access to either the Drill or Sword weapon, depending on what the player chooses to collect. Charge, Lock-on, and Type-B's Sword can only be Auto-fired by mapping the Auto-fire 3 button.
Both ships have a passive shield to protect against collision damage. The shield can absorb three hits. On the fourth, damage will be sustained and a life will be lost. The shield does recharge after not receiving damage for a moment. Upon losing a life, the player craft will be momentary stunned, but immune to further hits. If the player double taps a direction, they can perform a dash in that direction at the cost of the remaining period of invincibility.
|Main Shot||Wide forward shot. Must point-blank for maximum damage.||Narrow forward shot. Always does full damage but requires precise aiming. Resembles the main shot in Ikaruga.|
|Back Shot||A flamethrower that pierces targets. Sticks to the borders of the screen for just a second before disappearing.||Fires a stream of bullets backwards, with powerful afterburners to the sides. A weak forward fire is also included. Point-blank for maximum damage. Resembles the back shot in Radiant Silvergun.|
|Side Shot||A lightning pillar fired directly to the side and at a 45-degree angle on both sides of the ship. Does continuous damage.||Fires bullets at the same angle as Type-B's. They are slower but much more powerful.|
|Lock-on||Creates a lock-on reticle around the ship that can lock up to 8 targets. Release the button to fire. If tapped, it will quickly lock and fire at the nearest enemy. Can hit background enemies.||Same as Type-B's, but the reticle appears a set distance in front of the ship.|
|Charge Shot||Fires a piercing plasma ball. If charged, it creates a field around the ship that absorbs bullets and contact damage. If too much damage is absorbed, the ship will be unable to fire the Charge Shot for a while. At max charge, the shot will linger on screen as a big fireball for a while. Resembles the Charge Shot in Recca'92. A hidden, extremely powerful variant can be used if the charge is held for a full minute.||Also fires a piecing plasma ball. Charging it creates a small plasma shot directly in front of the ship, that can absorb a limitless number of shots and does damage on contact. The hidden variant is also present as works the same way as Type-B's.|
|Sword||Tapping the button will unleash a single sword slash with high damage. Holding the button will charge a more powerful slash. A low charge does more damage and reflects bullets. At max charge, Type-B unleashes a flurry of slashes that besides reflecting bullets, also fire short range projectiles.||Tapping the button result in a single slash that can reflect bullets. Tapping at the right rhythm will unleash a 3-hit combo. The third attack will hit multiple times. Mashing or holding the button will do a continuous sword swing, but with less range and no bullet reflection.|
|Drill||Holding the button will unleash a big drill that can gather debris from hitting enemies. It slows down big bullets and outright destroy weaker ones. The debris circle around the ship, further shielding Type-B from enemies and bullets.||Holding it unleashes a small drill that grows in size and damage as it hit enemies. Otherwise, it's the same as Type-B's drill.|
ZeroRanger only has two types of items. The first is the SE-Bonus (System Erasure). They're point caches present in every stage, and are uncovered when certain conditions are met. The first bonus collected in each stage is worth 1000 points, with each subsequent Bonus being worth double the last. There are 3 in every stage of Green Orange mode except for the last one. In White Vanilla mode they're much more abundant, and thus their value is tweaked slightly: the first is worth 222 points and each subsequent Bonus is worth 222 more than the last.
The other item is a Life Up that awards an extra life. Like SE Bonuses, these can be uncovered by fulfilling certain conditions. The maximum number of lives you can have is eight.
Extends are rewarded fairly frequently in ZeroRanger. The less lives a player has, the easier it is to earn an extent. This is indicated in the score on the top-left corner of the screen: as you earn points, the numbers will turn into a paler shade of orange. An extra life is awarded when the score turns fully pale, then it turns back to regular orange and the process repeats. This makes for a fairly forgiving game for beginners, while also encouraging scoring.
ZeroRanger has a second loop that you access automatically for story reasons, no special conditions required. Loop 2 levels offer new secrets, new bosses, and the chance to change your first two weapons if you so desire. Please note that to access stage 2-4, you'll need to show the miniboss of 2-3 the ZeroRanger form, triggering a new boss and allowing you to finish the game.
Both game modes in ZeroRagner have their unique spin on the game's scoring mechanics.
Base game mode. Scoring in Green Orange revolves around a multiplier that can be found in the top-right corner of the screen. The multiplier increases as enemies are destroyed—the bigger the enemy, the bigger the increase—and it can be maintained by hitting enemies, absorbing bullets with Charge Shot, or locking-on to enemies. Not attacking for a long period of time causes it to rapidly decrease. In Fighter form, the multiplier caps at 6.4x. In Mech form, it can be "overloaded" to a max of 12.8x, but it will decrease much faster. Note that you do not need to stay in Mech form to maintain the "overloaded" multiplier, but you cannot increase it past 6.4x in Fighter Form either.
During minor bosses (those without a health bar), your multiplier stays in effect, and the text "BOSS BREAK" will appear to indicate that. During major bosses, the multiplier is replaced with a timer. Destroying the boss before it hits 0 will reward you a Time Bonus (the value is "remaining seconds x 100"). Additionally, failing to destroy a boss before it hits 0 will more often than not have the boss flee, leaving behind only a single power-up. Ending a stage with extra lives will award 1,000 points per life. If 8 lives are in stock, the bonus will be of 8,888 instead of 8,000. There's also an overkill mechanic present in both modes: you can continue to shoot certain enemies for an extra few points.
Overall, the general strategy for Green Orange can be summarized like this:
- Max out the multiplier as fast as you can and keep it from decreasing.
- Every stage has certain moments where there will be very few enemies on screen. In these cases, you'll want to slowly shave away their health instead of destroying them. This will keep the multiplier high.
- Look for SE Bonuses. Their location and conditions are fixed. Memorizing and incorporating them into your route can make all the difference.
- Speedkilling in encouraged. Completing sections fast will cause golden enemies to appear, and those are worth more points than regular ones.
Score Attack mode. This mode consists of a remix of various segments from every stage in the game. On a fresh install, it has to be unlocked by reaching a Game Over in Green Orange for the first time. In White Vanilla, the Multiplier is fixed, increasing based on how well the player performs during each segment. After each segment is completed, the player will be given a grade on three criteria: Hits, Time, and Destruction. All criteria are ranked individually. The higher the grade, the more the Multiplier increases. Grades go from E (0.5x increase) to Z (1.0x increase). The Multiplier maxes at 16x in this mode and resets back to 1x at the start of the next stage. Between stages, there are bonus levels for increased score. The player cannot lose lives in these levels, but they automatically end if a single hit is taken.
Players are limited to a maximum of five continues in White Vanilla. The Ex-Boss can only be fought if no continues are used.
- Speekilling is king. Not only does this contribute to your Destruction Rank, completing sections early makes the screen scroll faster. This is key to obtain the Speed Zone achievement in the final segment of Stage 4.
- Some segments have been altered slightly. Don't expect exactly the same things from Green Orange.
- The Ex-Boss uses the scoring mechanics from Green Orange, and this is the only place where milking is feasible. For every other section, the Time Bonus vastly overshadows any milking. Dying to this boss still counts as a clear.