In the far-flung future, humanity has been forced out of the solar system. To aid humanity's recovery, scientists created an organic silicon-based AI. Unfortunately, a nearby supernova caused the AI to malfunction and revolt against its creators. Psychic pilots called "Psyvariars" are then trained to destroy the AI and its army once and for all.
One of its main gameplay mechanics is the ability to graze enemy bullets to increase experience. Once enough bullets are grazed, the fighter levels up and becomes temporarily invincible. In addition, rapidly moving the joystick in alternating opposite directions will roll the ship, increasing the fighter's movement speed and graze radius, reducing the size of its hitbox, and concentrating its fire forward for the duration of the roll.
The original version, subtitled Medium Unit, only allowed you to graze bullets once, but in an Arrange Mode subtitled Revision, bullets can be grazed as much as possible
A Compilation Rerelease of both Medium Unit and Revision was released for PlayStation 2 in March 28, 2002 in Japan and September 29, 2003 in Europe, as well as a sequel titled Psyvariar 2: The Will to Fabricate in 2003 before being ported to consoles the following year, and an Updated Re-release of the former titled Psyvariar Delta was released in Jan 30, 2019. Outside of this series, it also gets representation in another Success shoot-em-up, Superlative Night Dreams: Cotton Rock 'n' Roll, in the form of a Moe Anthropomorphism of the Axion-μ ship called "Saiva Ria".
The game contains the following tropes:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Galactic Unified Intelligence System (GUIS).
- Anti-Grinding: The X stages heavily reduce your EXP gain for buzzing bullets.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: Crek-G's second phase has one. It doesn't do anything, though.
- Boss Warning Siren: Every boss fight is precesed with the following, with a voiceover in the Updated Rereleases:WARNING:
The area target
is approaching fast
- Brutal Bonus Level: In Revision, there are level requirements for harder stages, and reaching those level requirements allows you choose those stages alongside the preset stages. The X stages that house the GUIS' physical forms, in particular, have ridiculous level requirements, and if you reach their level requirements, you'll be dragged into those stages regardless of which stage you just finished. Did we mention that the X stages have very low experience per buzz?
- Example: Have your level stay too low throughout the 4 normal stages, and you'll be dragged to stage X-A (Photon) and the game immediately ends once you defeat Photon I.U., giving you no chance of facing the X stages (including Gluon), but if you spend your time grazing bullets while timing out the second stage's boss, you can get dragged to stage X-A right after completing the second stage.
- Bullet Hell: Ayup.
- Close-Contact Danger Benefit: Grazing is encouraged as a gameplay mechanic, as doing so builds up an experience meter that, when filled, levels up your ship, temporarily making you invincible and powering up your ship at certain level milestones.
- Every 10,000 Points: Instead of lives, you get bombs for reaching certain scores.
- Guest Fighter: The Blanche from Cybattler appears as DLC in Delta.
- Hitbox Dissonance: The "Buzz" system actually encourages you to use this to your advantage, as grazing bullets allows you to level up your ship, which temporarily makes you invincible, allowing you to graze more bullets.
- Invincibility Power-Up: Every time you level up, you gain a few seconds of total invincibility. If the bullets are thick enough, it's possible to chain together multiple level-ups and thus a much longer invincibility duration.
- Long Song, Short Scene: Psyvariar is very guilty of doing this. A lot of stage tracks tend to be more than a minute long, while the stages themselves are very short, usually around a minute or less, before reaching the stages' bosses.
- Nintendo Hard: This is one of those shmups that doesn't give you the luxury of Extra Lives, not helped by the fact that you're supposed to get near bullets for scoring. This in particular results in no room for error!
- No Final Boss for You: Fail to reach the level requirement for stage X-D in Revision, and the game immediately ends right after you defeat the boss of whichever X stage you're on, denying you from reaching Gluon I.U. as a result.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Delta uses stage tracks from the short-lived mobile release Reassemble when using its own soundtrack, alongside new music composed for Delta.
- Shout-Out: The Boss Warning Siren is clearly inspired by Darius.Darius series: WARNING! A HUGE BATTLESHIP (boss name) IS APPROACHING FAST
Psyvariar: WARNING! THE AREA TARGET (boss name) IS APPROACHING FAST
- Theme Naming: The GUIS' physical forms are named after particles: Photon, Graviton, Weakboson and Gluon.
- Transforming Vehicle: Your ship takes on new forms as you level it up.
- True Final Boss: Gluon I.U. In order to reach its stage, you must achieve a very high level right after you finished Weakboson I.U. on stage X-C. That requires a LOT of buzzing throughout the game.
- Unique Enemy: Some bosses only appear in one stage instead of in branching stages, depending on the version:
- SQP only appears in Desert stages (stage 2-A in both versions)
- Cranaum only appears in stage 2-B (Forest) in Revision (it can be encountered in stage 2-C (Valley) in Medium Unit as well)
- MZIQ only appears in stage 4-D (Colony) in Medium Unit, and in stage 3-A (Asteroid) in Revision.
- Bjok-51 only appears in stage 4-C (Asteroid) in Medium Unit (it appears in stages 4-C (Zero-Space) and 4-D (Colony) in Revision instead)
- Trigam only appears in Factory stages (stage 5-A in Medium Unit, stage 4-A in Revision)
- Visual Pun: The player's ship is called the Axiom. Look at Medium Unit's variant of the ship and tell me if it doesn't look like an axe to you.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: Photon I.U. in Revision, or to be precise, Wake Up Call Attack. Its dishes out a very dense bullet pattern in its second attack during its first phase, telling you that the bosses of X-stages don't mess around while forcing you to get into the bullet rings in order to keep your invulnerability going while buzzing a lot from the bullet pattern.