The RAY series is a trilogy of top-down, vertically-scrolling shooters developed by Taito. The series consists of three games, all of which have "RAY" in its title (at least in their original Japanese names). Each game have you pilot a space fighter that, in addition to being able to fire straight forward, also has special lock-on weaponry that can target enemies and home-in on them.RayForce (1993, pictured on the right) is the first game, and is set in a future in which the many nations of Earth assemble a supercomputer called "Con-Human" to govern the Earth's natural resources. As a result of an attempt to fuse Con-Human with the mind of a cloned human, Con-Human goes apeshit and starts destroying living organisms all across the Earth and transforming it into what it perceives as a newer, better version of it and its life forms. Humanity attempts to flee to space colonies, only to get hunted down by Con-Human there as well. Naturally, this being a shoot 'em up, it's up to one or two ships to destroy the Earth in order to put an end to Con-Human.RayForce uses the Taito F3 hardware, and eventually ports to the Sega Saturn and Windows 95; a re-release of the original arcade game was also featured in Taito Legends 2 for PlayStation 2, the original Xbox, and Windows PC. It uses two-dimensional graphics, but because of the game mechanics, the game uses a lot of Mode 7-like graphics to simulate three dimensions. It works very, very well. A minor quirk of the game, however, lies in its naming; due to copyright problems, it has no less than fourdifferent names: RayForce for the Japanese and North American arcade releases, Layer Section for its Japanese home ports and North American Windows port, Galactic Attack for the North American Sega Saturn port, and Gunlock in Europe. On January 13th, 2012, RayForce was re-released on iOS systems* (for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, fourth generation iPod Touch, and iPad).A direct sequel to RayForce called R-GEAR was planned, but canceled early in favor of RayStorm. The footage of the game's early development can be seen the RAY-RAY CD-ROM promotional disc, which can be seen here.RayStorm (1996) is the second game in the series, and is the first to use three-dimensional graphics. Set in 2219 A.D. and in a different timeline from RayForce, Earth establishes a group of space colonies known as the Star Federation. But at some point, the colonies decide to mutiny, form an alliance known as the Secilia Federation, and strike back against Earth. The player sets off from Earth in order to defend Earth from the rebellious Secilia Federation.RayStorm runs on the Taito FX-1B board* (Taito's arcade board based on the PlayStation hardware), and as mentioned, is the first RAY game to use three-dimensional graphics, allowing for more varieties in stage scrolling and enemies. Furthermore, unlike the first game, in which you can only fire your homing lasers at enemies below you, any on-screen enemy is fair game for your lock-on attacks. If you find yourself in trouble, you can launch a Smart Bomb that inflicts massive damage to all on-screen enemies. The game was later ported to the PlayStation in all three major regions, the Sega Saturn in Japan (under the name of Layer Section II), and finally Windows PC in Japan and Europe. The ports each feature extras such as an arranged version of the original soundtrack (the PC version lack this though), an "Extra Mode" with new versions of the stages, and a 13-Ship Mode in which you have thirteen lives, with every three lives (for the first twelve lives) using a different ship and the final ship being a weaker prototype ship by default with just one credit. The North American PlayStation version, handled by Working Designs, had a contest for $10,000, and a form of Easy-Mode Mockery to discourage players from BS'ing their way through the game and calling it a day. RayStorm also got an exclusive PlayStation 2 release, via Taito Legends 2, but it's the arcade version and not the enhanced PlayStation version.An HD re-release, RayStorm HD, has been released for Xbox LIVE Arcade worldwide on May 5th, 2010 and a day later on PlayStation Network in Japan. The HD re-release features the ability to play as two new ships, the R-GRAY 0* (the prototype ship seen in the 13-Ship Mode of previous home ports in playable form outside the 13-Plane Mode, redesigned to be reminiscent of the RVA-818-X-LAY fighter from RayForce) and the R-GEAR* (a ship that serves as a namesake for the canceled sequel to RayForce), online leaderboards, and sharable replays. This version loses the Easy-Mode Mockery (justified considering Working Designs went out business in 2005) of it's previous ports, but also makes unlocking Achievements and Trophies mostly a moot task in the game due to not being difficulty-specific. Like RayForce before it, RayStorm also received an iOS re-release.RayCrisis (1998) is the third and final game of the series, and is a prequel to RayForce. Set just before the events of RayForce, RayCrisis takes the fight away from space and Earth and instead puts you in the role of a hacker striving to shut down the Con-Human by using a computer virus. This being a shoot 'em up, said virus takes the form of a ship that flies through an Extreme Graphical Representation of Con-Human's systems and attempts to destroy it from within. However, you don't completely succeed; by the end of the game, the damage has already been done, necessitating the events of RayForce.RayCrisis runs on the Taito G-Net arcade hardware* (also based on the PlayStation hardware) and, like its predecessor, RayStorm, uses 3D graphics, and features an "Encroachment Meter" that must be kept to a minimum by destroying enemies. If it maxes out at 100%, you will, instead of fighting the boss of the current stage, face the final bosses early and get the worst ending of the game. RayCrisis is the only game in the series not to get a Saturn port, but it still received a port on PlayStation and Windows. The PlayStation version of RayCrisis was also re-released with RayStorm in D3 Publisher's Simple 1500 series. The home ports of the game lacked the two-player co-op mode of the original arcade game, but includes additional modes that allow you to more freely choose your stage order akin the Thunder Force series.
All There in the Manual: In RayForce's PC port, there's a two "readme" files (a text file and a document file, although they have the same information) that gives you pretty much all the backstory of how the Con-Human was created, how it became rogue after malfunctioning, and what disasters it caused.
If you can read Japanese, there's also TONS of information of about series at Curious Cat's website dedicated to the series.
Arcade Perfect Port: The version of PlayStation included in Taito Legends 2 is a 1:1 copy of the original game. The game has all of its default settings, the Ship Select menu runs at full speed, none of the extra features that was later added in the other home ports.
Beam Spam: Your lock-on lasers do this. Some of your foes will use this on you, too. Most notable are the Marius battleships in RayStorm's fourth stage (not the missile-launching Nerva battleships), which typically encompass the entire width of the screen, with very little time for you to get between where the beams will deploy. And then Hannibal uses that attack a few times during the boss fight...
Big Bad: Con-Human in RayForce and RayCriris, and the Secilia Federation in RayStorm.
RayForce: after destroying Con-Human, the ship is hit by the blast of Earth's explosion before it can escape. After the credits, the camera pans to the what remains of the heroine's RVA-818-X-LAY fighter and seeing it die out. There's also the matter of the Earth exploding in the first place.
RayStorm: you crush the Secilian rebellion by blowing up the Yggdrasil core — the chain reaction from which winds up plunging the entire space colony into the gas giant it orbits. While you do neutralize the threat, what's to say that there aren't any innocent bystanders out of its 78 billion inhabitants? To twist the knife in further, many of the Secilian colony's inhabitants were originally Earth's inhabitants who were transferred there among other colonies, which means that you just killed off a good chunk of Earth's population too!
Boss Warning Siren: "ALERT: GENERATING HUGE ANTIBODY: [boss name]". A different alert is used when you return to the Self-Field to fight the Final Boss.
Defector from Decadence: In RayStorm, the Barca Section that designed the R-GRAYs were originally Secelian scientists who became disgusted with Secelia's militarism.
Difficult but Awesome: The R-GEAR in RayStorm HD has homing missiles and average mobility, though in the hands of a skilled player, it has higher scoring potential than the other R-GRAY ships due to its combo-based lock-on system combined with a Super Mode that provides a short burst of speed, invincibility, and temporarily gains infinite lock-on attacks.
Difficulty Levels: Unusually, you can set the difficulty level of each individual stage in RayStorm, rather than the entire game. This stripped from HD version though.
RayForce was somewhat straightforward with its difficulty, going from Very Easy, Easy, Normal, then a few variations of Hard, and finally Very Hard.
Downer Ending: RayStorm's Extra Mode ending seems like it's a Bittersweet Ending, with the enemy forces (and billions of inhabitants, many of which were from Earth) being destroyed by having their capital colony dropped into a gas giant. While your badly damaged ship moves away into the distance. If you're playing on the 13-Ship Mode, the ending goes From Bad to Worse when you see this text after the credits:
Earth and Secilia have vanished. Likewise, those that developed the "RAY" technology and all evidence of its existence have been wiped away. No record of R-GRAY craft was found, and no R-GRAY craft has ever returned.
RayStorm also has a similar ending, except it's for the bad guys. It's also a Bittersweet Ending considering the collateral deaths of the enemy colony's population. That is, according to the end report.
This is due to the colony moon being blown out of orbit and falling into the gas giant it orbited.
Not just Secelia, Earth got destroyed as well, if the text after the end credits in the 13-Ship Mode is true. Leave some ships to guard the Earth, next time!
Easy-Mode Mockery: The North American PlayStation version of RayStorm by Working Designs, setting the starting lives to more than 5 or setting the difficulty of any stage below 4 will force a "Training Mode" which terminates your game after Stage 4. This function is absent from the Windows port (being released only in Japan and Europe) and the HD version.
Engrish: The stage names in RayForce (e.g. "The Gravity of Blue Side"). Also, the background sound clip that plays at the start of the game and periodically throughout: "This is the control tower. Make a left turn. Over".
Every 10,000 Points: Only seen in RayForce. You gain extends for every 500,000 points in the home versions while in the arcade version its 1,000,000 for the first extend then 2,000,000 for the next one by default.
The Federation: United Planets Space Defense Corps (UPSDC) in RayForce.
Floating Continent: Area 4 in RayForce features parts of the Earth high above its surface.
Game-Breaking Bug: In RayStorm HD, you can play on Player 2's side in single player. However, due to a bug, you can't pause the game at all. The only way out of a game is to loose all of your lives or go to your system's home menu.
In RayStorm, you are given a bonus based on the percentage of enemies destroyed in the stage and how many of them did you take down with your lock-on weapons.
In RayCriris' Original Mode in the home ports, you are graded based on how low the Encroachment is upon clearing the stage, and how quickly you defeated the boss. These two factors affect the overal Network Condition for the stage where you are given a letter rank and bonus points for your performance.
Gratuitous English: In RayCrisis, you have English-spoken lines during the intro and true ending over the Japanese ones.
RayForce (JP and NA, arcade and iOS), also known as Gunlock (EU, arcade), Layer Section (JP, Saturn; NA, Windows 95), and Galactic Attack (NA, Saturn).
RayStorm's Japan-region PlayStation and Saturn ports are called Layer Section II, but the original name is kept in all other versions.
Odd Name Out: RayCrisis is the only game in the series that wasn't named Layer Section in Japan, although fans sometimes refer it as Layer Section III.
Meaningful Name: Q.E.P.D., the ending piece that plays during the end credits of RayForce, is an abbreviation for the Spanish words "que en paz descanse", which translates to "Rest in Peace". Think about the fate of the heroine who piloted the RVA-818-X-LAY fighter.
Many of the stage names in RayStorm are references to places with an antagonistic history with the Roman Empire (Albion, Gaul, Palmyra, Carthage, Juda), with most of the bosses following suit (in order: Pendragon, Vercingetorix, Zenobia, Hannibal, Genseric, Alaric, Spartacus). Secelia is a bit of an outlier, though. While it could be seen as a misspelling of Secilia, it may also make sense as an attempt at "outer heavens". The gas giant it orbits? Seraphim. Now the forced quelling of the other colonies' protests at Secelia's intent to obliterate the Earth after yanking out all the denizens makes sense. Secelia ultimately wants to be the new emperor, with divine approval at that! You get even more layers when you realize that one reason for the antagonistic relationship between the late Empire and the Goths was religious — Rome followed Athanasius, the Goths usually followed Arius. Three of the enemies in the seventh stage are named for Verdhandi, Skuld, and Urdhr, the Nornir of the Goths' original belief system. The namesake of the last boss is Yggdrasil, from the same lore. Genseric and Alaric were Arian Goths...
Palette Swap: The stages and enemies of RayStorm's Extra Mode are colored differently from the Arcade Mode though some stages also have different scenery. The same goes for RayCrisis' Special Mode. RayCrisis also give players the options to swap color palettes of their Wave Rider before starting the game by pressing the shoulder buttons.
Power-Up: As per shoot 'em up tradition, and they are conveniently-color coded too. Red power-ups requires three to level up your main weapon while yellow levels up your weapon instantly, and green power-ups raises the number of your lock-on attacks. There's also a rare blue power-up in the two later games that maxes out both your weapon's firepower and lock-on attacks.
Reactor Boss: Yggdrasil, the final boss of RayStorm. Destroying it causes the Secilian colony to become badly damaged and drift into its gas giant.
Remixed Level: The first segment of Intelligence's Part in RayCrisis is very reminiscent of Albion D.U. from RayStorm.
Self Plagiarism: The rail shooterZeitgeist (a.k.a. Jupiter Strike) isn't set in the same universe but the plot, art style and enemy design all are very similar to RayStorm and the player ship in that game use the same lock-on lasers.
Also in RayStorm's 13-ship mode. You stop the Secilian rebellion by destroying the colony itself... only for The Stinger to reveal that Earth has been destroyed too.
Scoring Points: Throughout the series, your means of racking up the most points other is your lock-on weaponry. Usually when you lock onto more and more enemies, you get a multiplier bonus by the power of 2. Additionally, when your shot power and lock-ons are maxed out, every respective power-up you pick up gives you an extra 1,000pts, and picking up more steadily raises their value to 10,000pts until you lose a life. In the later games of the RAY series, each ship has its own take on the scoring system, such as R-GRAY 2's ability to lock onto twice the number of enemies than R-GRAY 1, or the combo-based mechanics of Wave Rider 03.
Smart Bomb: Introduced in RayStorm. This was also featured in RayCrisis.
Also in RayStorm in the Extra Mode of its home ports, just before the boss of the second to last stage of the game, there are also pods that can be destroyed for items. You can also see the health status color of Spartacus on the only place to damage it.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In RayCrisis, respectively you have Wave Rider 01 and Wave Rider 02 as to RayStorm's R-GRAY 1 and R-GRAY 2, which are also unlockable ships in home ports of RayCrisis.
In RayStorm HD, there's also the unlockable R-GRAY 0 fighter redesigned after RayForce's RVA-818-X-LAY fighter. It even features sound effects from RayForce as well.
Theme Naming: The bosses of RayStorm are named after enemies of the Roman Empire.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: In home ports of RayStorm, there is an unlockable 13-Plane Mode where you must go through using a total of thirteen ships under one credit, and every three ships changes to a different ship for the first twelve ships. By default, the thirteenth ship is a prototype ship that lacks Hyper Attacks and a Special Attack.
Not to mention that the R-GRAYs themselves were reverse-engineered from thirteen wrecked alien ships discovered on Secelia.
Transforming Mecha: Genseric (Stage 5) and Alaric (Stage 6) from RayStorm, and Consciousness Part's Sem-slut (or Sem-strut in the North American PlayStation version) from RayCrisis.
Updated Re-release: RayStorm HD has completely remade visuals for HD, online leaderboards, sharable replays, and doesn't have the Easy-Mode Mockery feature that Working Design's version of the game had. There's also two new ships you can unlock in the game (R-GRAY 0 and R-GEAR).
Video Game 3D Leap: RayStorm is the first game in the series to go from 2D sprites of RayForce (and R-GEAR to that extent) to 3D polygons.
Video Game Lives: By default, you start with three for every credit. In RayStorm and onward, you can change the default number of lives in the Options menu depending on the game.
Warm-Up Boss: DUAL-LANCE from RayForce, Pendragon from RayStorm, and any boss from the first stage selected in RayCrisis.
Wave Motion Gun: In RayStorm, Zenobia (Stage 3's boss), Hannibal (Stage 4's boss in Extra Mode), and Genseric (Stage 5's boss) use them.
Weaponized Exhaust: Used as an attack by GIGA (third boss of RayForce) and Vercingetorix (second boss of RayStorm in the Extra Mode).
Well-Intentioned Extremist: In RayStorm, you stop the hostile Secilian Rebellion by destroying the colony of Secilia, including billions of potentially-innocent lives.