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Video Game / RAY Series

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This is the control tower. Make a left turn, over.

The RAY seriesnote  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 below your ship and home-in on them.

Games in the series:

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    RayForce (1993) 
RayForce 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 before it can destroy the rest of the human race.

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 four different 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 for iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire OS devices. Another port of the game was released as part of Taito's Egret II Mini microconsole in 2022. The Saturn versions were re-released as Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute by City Connection for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Steam on April 28, 2022; this version features slowdown and rewind assist options.

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 was shown in the RAY-RAY CD-ROM promotional disc, which can be seen here.

    RayStorm (1996) 
RayStorm 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 and RayCrisis, 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 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, 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 Sega Saturn version also featured new CGI cinematics in between stages. The North American PlayStation version, localized 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 re-release, via Taito Legends 2, but it is based off the original arcade version and not its enhanced PlayStation port.

An HD version of RayStorm has been released for Xbox Live Arcade worldwide on May 5th, 2010 and a day later on PlayStation Network only in Japan. The HD re-release is based off the PlayStation port but features remade high-resolution graphics, the ability to play as two new ships, the R-GRAY 0 and the R-GEAR, online leaderboards, sharable replays, Achievements/Trophies, and all stages are playable on any difficulty. Like RayForce before it, RayStorm also received an iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire OS re-release in 2017.

    RayCrisis (1998) 
RayCrisis 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.

RayCrisis runs on the Taito G-Net arcade 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. Unusually for the series, the game does not send the player through the same sequence of stages every time: only the first and final stages are fixed, and the three stages in between are randomly picked from a pool of five stages. The arcade version features a user account system, with the player's data protected by one "secret character", and is used to access stage permutations that the player has previously gone through.

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 lack the two-player co-op mode of the original arcade game, but allows the player to pick the three interim stages in the order they choose, and adds an Arrange Mode with altered game mechanics. As with its predecessors, it later received an iOS and Android port in 2017, however this re-release was based on the original arcade version as opposed to the console and PC conversions.

In 2022, Taito announced Ray'z Arcade Chronology, a Compilation Rerelease of all three games for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, ported by M2. In addition to straight emulation ports of the original arcade versions of these games, it also includes high-definition remasters of the latter two games, RayStorm Neo-HDnote  and RayCrisis HD. Ray'z Arcade Chronology was released on March 9, 2023 in Japan and on June 30 in the West with a cheaper version of the collection as RayStorm X RayCrisis HD Collection that only contains of the latter two games was being released in the latter region. Those who pre-ordered Ray'z Arcade Chronology through Amazon Japan during Prime Day between July 12 and 13 received a download code for the previously unreleased R-GEAR and a playable version of its first stage. Everyone who pre-orders the Western release through Strictly Limited Games will also get R-GEAR included on the physical copy. A PC version of the collection was later released via Steam on September 25, 2023; notably, the PC version was announced on August 4, the day and month that Operation: RayStorm was commenced in RayStorm.

Connect to Tropes Part:

  • 1-Up:
    • In RayForce, you get up to two extra lives from meeting score thresholds.
    • Averted in RayStorm; if you want that one-credit clear, you have to make it all the way through without dying more than twice (on default settings), except in 13-Ship Mode.
    • Once again averted in the main mode of RayCrisis, but in Special Mode in the PS1 and Windows ports, many enemies drop blue 1-up items. Picking one up will reset the point values of the pink items, however.
  • 2D: Your ship can only move and shoot on one plane, but the enemies can attack from the background and foreground. Good thing you have your lock-on lasers!
    • Some of the levels in RayStorm has your ship move on a non-linear plane, such as the space fleet stage on Stage 4.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Con-Human in RayForce and RayCrisis.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • In RayForce's PC port, there're two "readme" files (a text file and a document file, although they have the same information) that give you plenty of backstory on 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.
    • In the Help screen of the mobile versions, the last few pages details the backstory behind the plot of each game.
  • Achievement System: RayStorm HD, the mobile ports of the series, Ray'z Arcade Chronology and RayStorm X RayCrisis HD Collection include their own set of Achievements, even on the Switch version of the latter. The achievements of these games ranges from "Maxing out your ship's SHOT and LOCK-ON power" (Ray'z Arcade Chronology), "Unlock the R-GRAY 0 and R-GEAR ships" (RayStorm HD), or "Use R.Divider to destroy a total of 1,000 enemies" (RayCrisis mobile).
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: According to RayCrisis' true ending, Operation: RayForce took place on December 24th, M.C.0185.
  • Arcade-Perfect Port: The version of RayStorm 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. The games included in the Ray'z Arcade Chronology and RayStorm X RayCrisis HD Collection are based off their original arcade releases, even retaining the arcade True Final Boss requirements of RayCrisis.
  • Arrange Mode:
    • RayStorm has the 13-Ship mode, where players go through the game with 13 lives (but no continues), and alternate ships every three lives.
    • RayCrisis:
      • The PS1 and PC ports have the "Special Mode", which is a mode where the player goes through every level in the game at constant full power. Enemies that would drop power-ups now drop red orbs that decrease your Encroachment Meter, which now fluctuates wildly, and give you increasing amounts of points, and bonus lives, a feature not seen since RayForce, but which reset the point values of the orbs (thus creating a risk-vs-reward dynamic where the player must choose between safe, low-score play, or high-score play where one mistake can end the run). Reaching 100% Encroachment won't start the bad ending route, however it will cause your score to decrease until you bring the rating below 100%. Finally, your score will only be recorded if you complete the game; if you lose all your lives and get a game over, your score is rendered invalid.
      • The iOS port has Remix Mode, which like Special Mode has the player go through all of the game's levels instead of just five of them. Beyond that, however, it is just Original/Arcade mode but with analog controls.
  • Attack Drone: Some bosses in the series uses these in addition to their attacks. Alaric from RayStorm has two by its sides, while Pro-tor deploys them in between attacks. In RayStorm HD, the R-GEAR uses them for its lock-on attack.
  • Attract Mode: Each game has one whenever you let the game run while you wait at the title screen. RayForce and RayStorm also gives you a baisc tutorial of the game.
  • Auto-Save:
    • RayStorm's and RayCrisis's PS1 and PC ports have this feature as an option to save progress between sessions when enabled.
    • Ray'z Arcade Chronlogy, for each of the three games, has the option to create an automatic savestate when entering a level or boss fight.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Hyper Attack in RayStorm; channel all of your available lock-on slots onto one enemy for an extra-powerful attack. It's plausible with the R-GRAY 1 and its maximum of 8 slots, but on R-GRAY 2 it's just not worth trying to get sixteen locks onto one enemy. In both cases, the damage boost is usually too weak for the risk and there's no bonus for doing it. The Hyper Attack gets a little better in RayCrisis; see Difficult, but Awesome below.
    • In-story for RayStorm, the Zenobia vessels. Each one only requires two crew (pilot and armaments), but the vessel is so complex that it takes two years to properly train those crew, resulting in expenditures greater than the cost of production. It says something that while four Zenobias were constructed, only one was ever deployed.
  • Balance Buff:
    • In RayStorm, R-GRAY 1's only use is to be a beginner-friendly ship, as R-GRAY 2 has twice as many lock-ons available (up to 16 vs. R-GRAY 1's eight) and can earn higher multipliers as a result (up to x256 vs. R-G 1's x128). In RayCrisis, R-GRAY 1 and its superior counterpart Wave Rider 01 can achieve x256 with 8 lock-ons.
    • In RayCrisis, Hyper Laser gets a damage buff and also awards bonus points for destroying enemies with it unlike in RayStorm.
  • Battleship Raid: Stage 2 in RayForce, as a mid-boss. RayStorm has more battleships in Stages 4 and 5, with Stage 4's boss being a huge battleship. It's not approaching fast, though.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • 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!
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: While the Secilian Federation wants to destroy Earth and its inhabitants, it's hard to say that this action went without provocation. It was the result of the Star Federation imposing martial law on its colonies, including Secilia, in an attempt to maintain control over them; what exactly martial law entailed is never explained in detail, but if it caused colonies to mutiny against the Star Federation, then that martial law couldn't have been conducted in a way that could be considered particularly benevolent for the colonies. The destruction of Secilia and the dooming of the planet's population to death by crashing into a gas giant makes the Earth forces, including the Player Characters, Well-Intentioned Extremists at best.
  • Border-Occupying Decorations:
    • The Windows 95 port of RayForce features the game's HUD was reposition to the right side of the screen due to the game screen had to crunched down to fit a 640x480 resolution with a decorative border separating the players' score, lives, and lock-on indicator with the high score in the middle.
    • The Ray'z Arcade Chronology features optional borders based off the game's respective artwork along with real-time gameplay and information data.
  • Boring, but Practical: Auto mode in RayStorm consolidates the shot and laser buttons into a single button; pressing that button when locked onto enemies fires both your shot and laser at the same time, and continuously holding down the button causes you to fire lasers the moment you lock onto any enemy. It won't get you high scores, but it can greatly boost your survivability and your damage output since your only offensive concern is holding down the shot button and occasionally deploying your special attack.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Shown in the home ports of RayCrisis as "ALERT: GENERATING HUGE ANTIBODY: [boss name]". A different alert is used when you return to the Self-Field to fight the final boss. The arcade version and its mobile port, however, are aversions as bosses are seamlessly introduced at the end of each stage.
  • Chain Lightning: The lightning bolts shot from R-GRAY 2's and Wave Rider 02's Thunder Laser can travel from one locked target to another.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Across all three games save for RayCrisis's home and mobile ports, Player 1's ship is red while Player 2's ship is blue. It's possible for Player 1 to use Player 2's spot in RayStorm HD by holding down the Select/Back buttons when selecting a ship, but it is bugged as the player cannot pause the game.
  • Continuing is Painful: Subverted in these games. Although your score is wiped for continuing, your high score for the first credit is preserved instead of not being registered at all, giving you more leeway to practice if you credit-feed your way through. Your ship will leave behind some power-ups, and alternating in the later games, a full power-up after your final life.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: Throughout the series' co-op feature (except for RayCrisis' home and mobile ports). In RayForce, however, co-op mode divides the number of lock-ons between both players.
  • Compilation Rerelease:
    • The Japan-only Simple 1500 Series Vol. 75: The Double Shooting: RayStorm × RayCrisis for the PlayStation, as the subtitle suggests, compiles RayStorm and RayCrisis on one disc.
    • RayStorm was also bundled with another Japan-only compilation, the G-Darius / RayStorm Pack from SourceNext for PC.
    • Ray'z Arcade Chronology for PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC compiles the arcade versions of all three games into one package, with optional HD upscaling for the latter two games. Each of the three games has a choice between the original arcade soundtrack or an arranged version of it: RayForce gets the Saturn arrange, RayStorm gets the Neu Tanz Mix version originally made for the PS1 version, and RayCrisis gets arranged from the rayons de l'air album and its stages use ".BLUE -the day you live on Earth-", which was originally used for Special Mode of the PS1 and Windows versions. The RayStorm X RayCrisis HD Collection has the same contents as the Ray'z Arcade Chronology compilation but without RayForce as it was primarily made for those who already owned the Layer Section & Galactic Attack S-Tribute port based off the Saturn version by City Connection on PlayStation 4 and Switch.
  • Combos: The basis of Wave Rider 03's scoring system in RayCrisis and the R-GEAR in RayStorm HD.
  • Creative Closing Credits: RayCrisis's credits details the events that unfold should you get any ending besides the worst ending. The true ending details the events that takes place before RayForce.
  • Cyber Space: The entire setting of RayCrisis in an attempt to hack the network systems of Con-Human to shut it down.
  • 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.
    • The Hyper Attack as presented in RayCrisis. It actually does a reasonable amount of damage and also gives you a bonus depending on how many enemies you kill and their usual point values. It's still hard to do on Wave Rider 02 because it needs up to 16 locks, but Hyper spamming on Wave Rider 01 becomes a viable strategy.
  • Difficulty Levels:
    • Unusually, you can set the difficulty level of each individual stage in RayStorm, rather than the entire game. This stripped from HD and mobile ports though.
    • RayForce was somewhat straightforward with its difficulty, going from Very Easy, Easy, Normal, then a few variations of Hard, and finally Very Hard.
  • Difficulty by Region:
  • Do Androids Dream?: F-04, the heroine piloting the RVA-818-X-LAY in RayForce, was based after one of the engineer's daughter who was in a coma from an accident, and despite not being programmed to show emotions, she mysteriously began having dreams and retained the daughter's original memories.
  • Doomed by Canon: The Earth in RayCrisis. Despite the best efforts of mankind's resistance to stop Con-Human, it was ultimately too late and the damage was done on Earth after it took over, thus Operation: RAYFORCE was issued to destroy the planet.
  • 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.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Survive long enough in RayForce and the difficulty goes batshit insane. Notice a parallel with the story?
    • In RayCrisis, you have the Encroachment Meter, described in the North American manual as "determining the amount of suckage". The lower it is, the more enemies will pop up.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: RayForce has a number of differences from the later games:
    • It uses 2D sprite-based visuals rather than 3D polygonal ones.
    • It does not allow you to lock onto enemies on the same Y-plane as you.
    • There is no special attack available, leaving you in a bind if the enemy's attacks overwhelm you.
    • It awards extra lives for reaching point thresholds, unlike later games which do not offer extra lives at all (except Arrange Mode in RayCrisis)
    • You don't have any choice of ships; you pilot a red or blue X-LAY and that's it.
    • The game uses a vertically-oriented monitor instead of a horizontally-oriented one.
    • There is no post-boss results screen; after the boss is destroyed, you go directly to the next stage.
    • When you pick up a shot powerup, the game actually shows you your progress to the next shot level, as well as your shot level when you level up. Later games do not show any of these.
    • The game's difficulty levels apply to the entire game, whereas RayStorm has individual difficulty sliders for every stage in the game (except in the HD and mobile ports) and RayCrisis foregoes difficulty levels altogether in the arcade version in favor of a dynamic difficulty system instead (the home ports, however, has difficulty levels in addition to the game's Encroachment system).
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The goal and ending of RayForce, due to Con-Human screwing up Earth beyond all repair.
    • 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), the HD version (due to being ported by another developer), and the mobile ports (due to being an enhanced port of the arcade version).
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Area 5 in RayForce, and Area 7 in RayStorm.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Con-Human, and a man-made one at that.
  • 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".
  • Epic Rocking: RayCrisis's tracks are at least 11 minutes long each. In the arcade version, the same track plays throughout the whole game, with no changes even as the player moves from one stage to the next, except for the last one, hence why each track is so long. In the home ports, the tracks jump sections due to the presences of loading screens.
  • 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.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: The ending of RayStorm's 13-ship mode. Virtually everybody on Earth and Secelia are dead or doomed, and the pilot never returns.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Con-Human's systems in RayCrisis. All of the enemies are defense programs and Infinity, the True Final Boss, is Con-Human's core.
  • The Extremist Was Right: F-04, the protagonist of RayForce, is an android that somehow gains the memories and personality of the woman she was modeled on, proving that Con-Human was actually right that the human body was unnecessary for immortality via machine/mind merger. And then, ironically, she dies destroying Con-Human and the Earth.
  • Fake Difficulty: Unlike RayForce, the two later installments have no form of extra lives or extends whatsoever and they expect you to make it through the whole with just three lives by default. The Special Mode of RayCrisis' home ports alleviates this by including 1-Ups.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: The very first enemies you face in RayForce are huge carrier ships that appear in the background and deploy several smaller enemy ships. Despite their menacing looks and size, they take exactly one hit from your un-upgraded lock-on lasers to go down.
  • The Federation:
    • United Planets Space Defense Corps (UPSDC) in RayForce.
    • The Earth-based Star Federation, or what's left of it in RayStorm
  • Flawed Prototype: The R-GRAY from RayStorm is the original prototype from which the R-GRAY 1 and 2 were developed. Unlike the later models, however, it more rough-hewn and lacks any Hyper or Special attack.
  • Floating Continent: Area 4 in RayForce features parts of the Earth high above its surface.
  • Franken-vehicle: The R-GRAY ships from RayStorm are made from reverse-engineering thirteen wrecked alien ships that were found on Secilia.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In RayStorm HD, you can play on Player 2's side in single player by holding the Back/Select button before starting a game. However, due to a bug, you can't pause the game at all. The only way out of a game is to lose all of your lives or go to your system's home menu.
  • Gameplay Grading: In RayCrisis other than in Special Mode in the PS1 and Windows ports, at the end of the middle three stages (or five if playing Remix Mode in the mobile ports), you are graded based on how low Encroachment is kept upon clearing the stage, including with the reduction to encroachment if the boss is defeated fast enough. The highest possible grade is an S with 0% Encroachment, which awards a big 1,000,000-point bonus.
  • Godzilla Threshold: You know Con-Human in RayForce is that bad when humans decide that blowing up the Earth is the only option left for ensuring humanity's continued survival.
  • Grand Finale: RayCrisis. The PlayStation version is even titled Series Termination in North America and -The End of RAY- in Japan to emphasize the end of the series.
  • Gratuitous English: In RayCrisis, you have English-spoken lines during the intro and true ending over the Japanese ones.
  • Guest Fighter: The R-GRAY appear as a playable ship in Space Invaders Get Even; the final boss of RayStorm also makes an appearance.
  • The Heroine Dies: The ending of RayForce.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: In RayForce, your hitbox is the area around the cockpit, so stray bullets or laser beams can pass through your ship's wings and you'll still be in one piece.
  • Homing Lasers: The lock-on weapon of the RVA-818 X-LAY from RayForce, R-GRAY 1 and 0 from RayStorm, and Wave Rider 01 from RayCrisis.
  • Homing Projectile: Homing laser beams, homing missiles, homing lightning bolts. This series loves this trope!
  • Humongous Mecha: Each game in the series has one (or more) as bosses, while other non-boss mechs serves as cannon-fodder. Some of them even transform.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: The ending of RayStorm has you do this to the main Secilian colony, preventing any further Secilian attack but dooming many innocent lives in the process.
  • Justified Title: Working Designs added the "Series Termination" subtitle to RayCrisis, the last game in the series. In the Japanese version of RayCrisis, the game bore the subtitle "-The End of RAY-".
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: R-GRAY 2's and Wave Rider 02's Thunder Shot not only can deal damage to enemies by homing lightning strikes, but can lock onto twice the amount of enemies compared to the R-GRAY 1's and Wave Rider 01's Lock-on Laser and its Hyper Laser attack is capable of creating a powerful black hole.
  • Lightning Gun: The R-GRAY 2's and Wave Rider 02's lock-on weapon fire homing lightning.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The titles already suggest this, starting with the mighty RayForce! A number of the bosses do this too, especially after turning red.
  • Market-Based Title:
    • 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.
    • RayCrisis is the Odd Name Out as it is the only game in the series that wasn't officially named Layer Section in Japan.
  • 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...
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: WR-03 from RayCrisis does not behave like the other ships. Rather than the traditional format of having a regular forward shot as well as a lock-on laser attack that awards multiplier based on how many enemies are destroed with it in one go, its main shot is instead a ring of homing missiles that can easily attack enemies in any direction, and it builds up multiplier by destroying enemies with its Photon Laser in quick succession; as long as the next enemy is destroyed before all Photon Laser explosions fade away, the chain will keep going. It also lacks a Hyper Laser attack unlike the other ships in the game.
  • Mercy Kill: The goal of RayForce is to do this to the entire Earth due to Con-Human overrunning the planet beyond any feasible repair.
  • Meta Multiplayer: RayStorm HD and later the Ray'z Arcade Chronology/RayStorm X RayCrisis HD Collection feature online leaderboards for each of the respective games with shareable replays that players can upload and share with other players.
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: In a 2-player game of RayForce, the number of lock-ons per player is halved. This is meant to prevent the game from being easier with two players, but it also severely reduces scoring potential, as the bonus for destroying enemies with lock-ons increases geometrically the more lasers you fire at once.
  • Mook Mobile: Most of the enemies you shoot down.
  • More Dakka: Most of the mecha in the series. Alaric, RayStorm's sixth boss sprays bullets from it's machine gun, especially when turning red.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • In RayCrisis, you have three endings, depending on how many credits you used (thankfully a 1CC not a requirement in the home ports, but good luck getting the Encroachment under 20% by the end of the game in the arcade and mobile version). You get the worse ending if you let your Encroachment reach 100%.
    • There's two in RayStorm for the home ports, one for the Arcade Mode and the Extra Mode.
  • Multi-Platform:
  • Nintendo Hard: It's an arcade Shoot 'Em Up series, after all. The first game doesn't even grant you a Smart Bomb to defend yourself with. In addition, many enemies have quick laser attacks and homing laser attacks that are very difficult to outsmart.
  • Oddball in the Series: Of the three games, RayStorm is the only one not to take place in the Con-Human continuity.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The first version of "All is Shut Down", the ending theme to RayCrisis.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: "Root of All Evil", the True Final Boss music from RayCrisis.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: You. One stray bullet, laser beam, or turn wrong turn into any enemy is all it takes send your ship to the scrap heap.
  • 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's home ports also give players the option to swap color palettes of their Wave Rider before starting the game by pressing the shoulder buttons.
  • Prequel: RayCrisis takes place before RayForce, detailing mankind's efforts to stop Con-Human before it can completely conquer the Earth. Which doesn't work, necessitating Operation: RAYFORCE.
  • 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.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics:
    • The Sega Saturn version exclusively features new CGI cutscenes that took place in between stages.
    • In the Ray'z Premium Box -BEYOND- collection, one of the extra features on the fifth disc is a music video that uses CGI graphics with music composed by TAMAYO and sung by Cyua.
  • Punny Title: The Japan-region titles of the first two games' console releases, Layer Section and Layer Section II, take advantage of "Lay" and "Ray" being pronounced identically in Japanese.
  • Re-Cut:
    • The soundtrack to RayStorm features extended versions of "Luminescence" (stage 5 theme) and "Metaphar" (boss theme of stages 4 and 5).
    • The 2023 re-release of RayStorm Neu Tanz Mix features extended versions of many tracks.
  • Remaster:
    • RayStorm HD features graphics and effects that were completely remade in HD (although it is also stretched from its original 4:3 aspect-ratio to 16:9 to fake widescreen presentation), but the game itself plays similarly to the home console port of the game apart from the inclusion of the new R-GRAY 0 and R-GEAR ships with their own playstyles and scoring mechanics.
    • Ray'z Arcade Chronology and RayStorm X RayCrisis HD Collection includes HD upscaled versions of latter two games in the series that play identically to their original low-resolution arcade counterparts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Screen Crunch: The Windows 95 port of RayForce, also known as Layer Section, was subjected to having the game's original vertically-oriented 224x320 screen crunched to fit a horizontal 320x240 screen, which resulted in cutting off parts of the vertical space the game originally used along with a vanity window to take up the right portion of the screen to display the game's HUD.
  • Self-Plagiarism: The rail shooter Zeitgeist (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.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • RayCrisis, due to the game being a prequel to RayForce.
    • 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.
  • Smart Bomb: Introduced in RayStorm, which can be recharged by using your lock-on attacks against enemies. This was also featured in RayCrisis.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Happens in the bad ending of RayCrisis. Moments before the player sees planet completely dies after the Con-Human killed the entire human race and took over the Earth's core.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Happens in the ending of RayStorm's Extra Mode in the home ports. Have fun listening to a calming and upbeat French song as you read about Secilia getting thrown out of orbit, the planet steadily dying, and billions of human lives, innocent or otherwise, being killed in the crossfire by your hands.
  • Space Fighter: You pilot one in each and every game.
  • Space Romans: Inverted in RayStorm. The antagonistic Secelia's forces are patterned after Rome's enemies rather than the Romans themselves. This is reflected not only in the locations and enemy names (including references to Carthage, Caesar's Gallic foes, the Jewish Revolt, and Germanic mythology), but even in the general plot.
  • Space Zone: Areas 1 and 2 from RayForce, and Stages 4 and 5 from RayStorm.
  • Speedrun Reward: In RayCrisis, defeating a boss (other than the Final Boss and True Final Boss) will award a reduction in Encroachment if done quickly enough, with the maximum reduction being 20%. Getting an end-of-stage Encroachment reduction is required to get 0% Encroachment and thus an S rank and its 1,000,000-point bonus for the level, as Encroachment slowly rises over time, including during boss fights (i.e. it is impossible to be at 0% Encroachment at the moment the boss is defeated).
  • Spider Tank: Pro-Tor from RayCrisis, as well as a couple of others.
  • Spread Shot: R-GRAY 1's and Wave Rider 01's main weapon. Some enemies and bosses can shoot bullets in spread too.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity:
    • Right before the final boss of RayForce, the game gives you a lot of harmless pods for you to lock-on and destroy, all of which contain enough power-ups to power both characters to full multiple times. You're so gonna need them.
    • 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.
  • Tank Goodness: Pendragon from RayStorm.
  • Theme Naming: The bosses of RayStorm are named after enemies of the Roman Empire.
  • 13 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.
    • 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.
  • Triumphant Reprise: RayStorm's first stage theme, "Geometric City", is a more upbeat remix of RayForce's first stage theme "Penetration".
  • True Final Boss: Infinity in RayCrisis. It's a... spherical... thing with pretty golden patterns on it. Accompanied by Ominous Pipe Organ. The exact requirements vary from version to version:
    • Arcade version (including Ray'z Arcade Chronlogy version): Reach Self Part with 20% Encorachment or less; continues are allowed.
    • PS1 version in either mode and mobile version in Remix Mode: Complete the game with fewer than 5 continues (note that PS1 Special Mode has no continues, so the boss will always trigger). This is the only release where Encroachment is not part of the requirements.
    • Mobile version Arcade Mode: Complete the game with fewer than 5 continues and have an Encroachment of less than 25%.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Con-Human in a nutshell.
  • Turns Red: Most bosses in these games will perform attacks with denser bullet patterns, homing projectiles, lasers, et cetera, and some bosses have their physical appearance change as they're closer to defeat.
  • Unlockable Content:
    • RayStorm's PS1 and PC ports: Clearing the Arcade and Extra Modes unlocks their respective Stage Select features in the Options menu, while clearing the Extra Mode unlocks 13 Ship Mode, and clearing that mode then unlocks the Shooting Down Rate feature to gauge the percentage of enemies shoot down via lock-on attacks. In RayStorm HD, clearing the Arcade and Extra Modes also unlocks the R-GRAY 0 and R-GEAR ships, respectively, and spending a total of 50 credits unlocks unlimited credits.
    • RayCrisis's PS1 and PC ports: Clearing the Original Mode with all three Wave Riders unlocks the R-GRAY ships from RayStorm, and clearing the Special Mode multiple times with different ships unlocks new images for the Art Gallery.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The Saturn port RayForce touched up some of the visuals from the arcade version and took advantage of the capabilities CD-ROMs to enhance the music with newer renditions of the original arcade version's music.
    • RayStorm HD has completely remade visuals for HD, online leaderboards, sharable replays, and doesn't have the Easy-Mode Mockery feature that Working Designs' version of the game had. There's also two new ships you can unlock in the game (R-GRAY 0 and R-GEAR).
    • The mobile versions of these games feature higher resolution visuals and UI, an optional remix track for their first stage (and second stage for the Amazon version), touch controls along with traditional controller support (after being patched in). The mobile port of RayCrisis also marks the first time in almost 20 years the game got received a port based on its arcade version rather than its PlayStation or PC version, yet the mobile port features also Special Mode from those home versions.
    • The Ray'z Arcade Chronology collection features faithful arcade ports of the RAY trilogy with HD versions of the latter two games with various enhancements such as customizable visual options with TATE and YOKO display modes and optional CRT filters, optional information gadgets, gameplay options, remappable controls, quick saves, online leaderboards with shareable replays, and arranged soundtrack options for each game. RayStorm X RayCrisis HD Collection also has these features apart from not including RayForce.
  • Victory Fakeout: In RayCrisis, if Pro-Tor (boss of Intelligence Part and Consideration Part) is fought as the second or third boss, then when it starts to blow up, it will continue to send out a series of attacks while your ship circles around it, until you finish it off for good.
  • 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.
    • Also, surprisingly, Con-Human. They had encountered the problem of how to grant humanity immortality, not able to conclude of any way, leading to malfunctions. When a human clone was hooked up, in addition to gaining consciousness, Con-Human found what it believed was the answer — direct machine/mind merger. They concluded the human body was unnecessary to this, however, and began a genocide to eliminate it in order to achieve this goal.
  • Wham Line: A nasty stinger awaits those who complete RayStorm's 13-Ship Mode:
    "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."

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Alternative Title(s): Ray Storm, Ray Force, Ray Crisis, Layer Section