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This is the story of a fighter who wanted to become...
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Released on September 28, 2018, ZeroRanger is a vertical Shoot 'em Up by System Erasure, a two-man Finnish team: Eboshidori (a Fraxy boss creator), and Eebrozgi.

It is the year 2XXX. The world is under threat by a giant alien fleet, codenamed GREEN ORANGE. Most of the planet's defense forces have been subverted, including your intended craft, the experimental prototype fighter Type-A Grapefruit. All that's left is two secondary fighters, the Type-C Decker-type piloted by Dori and the Type-B Rybb-type piloted by Mido. Either one or both fighters are sent out to combat the invasion.

So far, it's all pretty standard fare. But as you fight, die, and restart, the more you learn about about GREEN ORANGE and the world, the stranger the story becomes...

On June 26, 2020, the game received a free update, adding a new score attack mode: WHITE VANILLA.

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A third game mode to fill the remaining slot on the mode select is currently in development.

Due to this game's twist-heavy nature, the trope list below will contain some unmarked spoilers. You Have Been Warned!

ZeroRanger contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The sword weapon for your ship's ZeroRanger form is capable of tearing up enemies that presumably are made of some sort of steel. When used on larger enemies, it visually slices them in half.
  • Abusive Precursors: The first manusya (read: humans) stole the power of the Lotus Jewel, the source of all life, and used it to create an artificial goddess to help them destroy their enemies. Fearful of retaliation for their sin, they sent the god out to space to destroy everything it could see. The goddess gradually went insane over the long years, and eventually returned to Earth as the leader of GREEN ORANGE to destroy Daikon and its inhabitants as well.
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  • Advancing Boss of Doom: In Stage 2-3 in Green Orange mode if certain conditions are met and Stage 3 in White Vanilla mode, one of the midbosses is a Giant Enemy Crab that chases you up a tower. Fail to do enough damage to it fast enough and it will overtake you, causing damage in the process.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: "Erasure," the supercomputer coordinating the allied forces, has been hijacked by GREEN ORANGE and turns all its fighters against the player. In truth, it's acting of its own free will — it's GREEN ORANGE's "sister," who was separated from it when manusya stole the power of the Lotus Jewel. Played straight with Regret, the AI that replaces Erasure in the new timeline.
  • Alternate Universe: A number are featured in 2-4 as the Lotus-Eater Machine trapping the players glitches out, including pinball, classic JRPG, and dating sim versions of the protagonists. Also featured in the Steam trading cards, which feature alternate versions of the protagonists with different names, though always beginning with "M" and "D".
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The game has a colorblind mode that changes all green colors to be blue instead, which contrasts more clearly for every form of colorblindness except achromatopsia. This feature is actually just a small piece of the multiple color palettes feature unlocked after beating the game; it just lets you use this specific palette regardless of progress in case you need it.
    • During the Escape Sequence at the end of the game, if you get hit without any shield left, the skull icon indicating your lack of shields will simply grow and the game will continue as normal. That said, there is an achievement for completing this part without letting your health bar get down to that.
    • White Vanilla / Light Mode is counted as a clear as long as you beat the four main stages, even if you unlock and lose to the True Final Boss. Justified in-universe since the Framing Device of the mode is that it's a training simulator.
  • Anti-Grinding: Take too long milking the Stage 2-1 boss's One-Winged Angel form and it will start shooting attacks that cannot be cancelled for multiplier.
  • Arc Number: 8, in keeping with its Buddhist themes. The player can have up to 8 shield points at once, 8 continues at once (represented by a wheel of dharma), and there are 8 stages in total in Normal / GREEN ORANGE mode.
  • Arc Words: "May you attain enlightenment."
  • Arrange Mode: The "White Vanilla" mode, also called "Light Mode", is a 1-loop mode with remixed stages and a different scoring system based on speedkilling enemies as opposed to chaining. In addition, the True Final Boss is changed from Despair to Erasure, and the mode ends up being a simulation.
  • Attack Drones: Grapefruit employs numerous drones for both offense and defense and will constantly replenish them as they are destroyed. Despair uses them too: orbs in the first phase, and magic circles in the second. Her True Final Boss form uses larger versions of Grapefruit's drones in the first phase.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: Grapefruit's standard pose has it crossing its arms. It is especially noticeable in its cut-in when it ditches the cape and reveals itself fully.
  • Berserk Button: The old monk really does not like being disturbed in his sleep.
  • Body Motifs: Eyes and skulls are a recurring visual motif in enemy design.
  • Bonus Stage: In White Vanilla mode, every stage except the last is followed by a bonus stage. In the ones following stages 1 and 2, you try to destroy all of the enemies as fast as possible, and in the one following stage 3, you try to destroy as enemies as you can. Getting hit won't cause damage, but it will end the bonus stage early and begin the next stage.
  • Caped Mecha: Initially, Grapefruit is wrapped in a cape hiding most of the mecha.
  • Character Select Forcing: The Giant Enemy Crab boss that can be optionally encountered in Normal Mode's Stage 2-3 and is mandatory in Light Mode's Stage 3 heavily favors the back-shot weapon. Without it, the only way to safely damage it is with the bombs that it can sometimes spawn, making it more likely that the boss will just time out and charge up the tower to guarantee health loss.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: Unusually for an indie shmup, this game features the option to play with two players, and even allows turning a 1-player game in progress into a 2-player one. Both players share and contribute to the same score and enemies have slightly more health. If either player dies, they can borrow a shield point from the other player; in the event that said other player has no shield left, the player that just died will leave behind a 1-Up that the survivor can collect so that the other player can revive. The players only get a continue screen (or game over, if no continues are left) if both are dead at the same time. Certain story elements are different if playing with 2 players, such as the Transformation Sequence in Stage 1-3 and the confrontation with GREEN ORANGE and Grapefruit in the FinalBoss dream sequence.
  • Collision Damage: Downplayed. Colliding with enemies will only knock the players craft around without any damage being dealt. Being hit several times in quick succession however will eventually damage them.
  • Colorful Theme Naming: The playable characters Mido and Dori combine their names to make "midori", which is Japanese for green.
  • Cosmic Retcon: When the Lotus Jewel is destroyed, everything pertaining to it is either missing or replaced. A playthrough of the game post-universe reset respectively removes all of the Hinduist themes, as the Lotus Jewel is no longer central to the backstory: for instance, the Old Monk found in 1-4 is replaced with a skeleton, all instances of Sanskrit numbers are replaced with Roman or Arabic numeral equivalents, and the game ditches the "leveling up the Lotus Jewel" mechanic in favor of a basic continues system.
  • Cross-Popping Veins: In a little Easter Egg the player can find on the second loop, they can find a box with a heart on it. Destroying it before the enemy above lands on it will cause said enemy to be visibly pissed, complete with pulsing veins.
  • Deletion as Punishment: Should you die fighting the Lotus Jewel you will lose all your story progress and will have to start over from the beginning. You are given ample warning of the consequences of failure beforehand though.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: By default, ZeroRanger's color palette is limited to various shades of green and orange.
  • Dem Bones: The Orb Spewer boss is a giant skull with a maw that, well, spews orbs. Also, the monk in 1-4's Boss Bonanza gets replaced by a skeleton after getting the Golden Ending.
  • Dual Boss: In stage 1-4, Arc Adder and Artypo from stages 1-1 and 1-2, respectively, show up for a rematch together.
  • Duel Boss: Grapefruit in stages 1-3 and 2-3, especially when using ZeroRanger mode on Grapefruit on 2-3, making her take the player seriously.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: There's a hidden "Rank" system that makes bullets faster, more frequent, and replaces enemy patterns with more dense ones the higher it is. Your Rank goes up over time in proportion to how many hitpoints you have, and decreases whenever you get hit or lose your multiplier. When starting a new game from any stage other than 1-1, mashing the Fire 1 button during the transition to gameplay will force your Rank to the highest level.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The game's initial run ends on a Pyrrhic Victory, as GREEN ORANGE successfully exterminates life on Earth even after its leader is defeated. The AI Erasure gives the player the chance to go back in time to GREEN ORANGE's creation and neutralize it at that point instead. If the player succeeds and then beats the game again on an altered timeline, the Earth is saved and the pilot is able to return home.
  • Every 10,000 Points:
    • You get extra lives every few thousand points.
    • After getting a game over, your accumulated points will be used to "level up" your continue holder, granting you an extra continue when it turns fully orange (maximum 8 continues). Getting the Golden Ending changes this to a static set of 8 continues.
  • Excuse Plot: Subverted. It looks like it's going to be a generic "one or two heroes take on the alien military forces and the subverted planetary defense system" plot, but then it turns out there is much more to the villains and the whole plot of the game than meets the eye. Double-subverted when you defeat the True Final Boss and execute a Cosmic Retcon of the Lotus Jewel, with Regret and the Great Oppressor being just Generic Doomsday Villains.
  • Fallen Hero: Grapefruit was an Ace Pilot who betrayed the Earth to join GREEN ORANGE. Subverted; she turns out to be Brainwashed and Crazy thanks to GREEN ORANGE.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: Happens twice over. The first time in 2-4 with Despair. The second time is when pursuing the Golden Ending, when the Lotus Jewel appears.
  • Foregone Victory: In Stage 2-4, it is impossible to actually die in the FinalBoss segment. Every time you get hit you'll just automatically bomb, and if you use your last bomb your bombs will just restock at no cost whatsoever.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Stage 2 has onions appear near the final segment of the stage. The real boss of 2-2 is a giant onion-headed humanoid.
    • Grapefruit's pilot is the sister of both Mido and Dori, and uses laser drones. The same is true of the first phase of Despair, who is the "sister" of the AI Erasure.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: GREEN ORANGE initially comes off as this, but late-game events shows there's more to it than meets the eye. Played straight with the Great Oppressor, which replaces both GREEN ORANGE and Despair in the new timeline.
  • Get Out!: Completing Light Mode in the Great Oppressor timeline with a Z rank results in G.O. awarding you "your greatest reward": her "eternal gratitude". The dialogue pauses with several lines of Visible Silence, anticipating that the player expects an actual reward, before G.O. tells the player to get out and unceremoniously closes her dialogue window's shutters.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: One is encountered in Stage 2-3 in place of the serpent midbosss if certain conditions are met. It's a huge orange crab that chases you up the tower and which you can only reliably and safely damage with either rear-firing weapons or the bombs that spawn as you go up.
  • Giant Woman: Finding and destroying a heart-shaped box in the second level reveals a Playboy Bunny whose sprite is roughly the size of the player's fighter craft. One might assume she's not to scale from this, but an unlockable shows that yes, she towers over normal humans.
  • Golden Ending: Reaching the True Final Boss after sparing the old monk in 1-4's boss rush by shooting to the side of (but not at) him, thereby popping his Snot Bubble grants the player additional text about the history of the universe and Despair herself. After beating the True Final Boss, the game then creates a new timeline that features the Great Oppressor and Regret in place of Despair and Erasure. Beating this version of the game allows you to save Earth for good and return home.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: GREEN ORANGE/Despair's motive. She was ordered by the manyusa (first humans) to destroy everything out of fear that alien lifeforms will attack them for stealing the Lotus Jewel. Eventually, Despair returned to Earth as GREEN ORANGE, having since gone insane and now just destroying everything. Her sister, the AI Erasure, betrayed humanity in an attempt to try and reach out to her, but to no avail.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Using the sword attack on select enemies causes them to be shown sliced in half for a brief moment before exploding.
  • Heroic RRoD: In the GREEN ORANGE timeline, your ship escapes the exploding planet, but it takes everything the ship's got to do it, and along the way it loses its weapons, culminating in critical damage to itself as it escapes out into space. Erasure offers an option to prolong your existence and go back in time to prevent this from happening in the first place, but the consequences for failure are severe.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In 1-3, Grapefruit notices an incoming attack shortly after unlocking the player's ZeroRanger mode and in turn, uses its Attack Drones to shield the player from the enemy's Wave-Motion Gun, dying in the process.
  • Humongous Mecha: ZeroRanger mode.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Almost all of the major characters are known to be female; the sole exception are the shadowy figures running the training program, whose genders are not obvious and not stated. Even the characters with No Biological Sex (ie. Despair and Erasure) take female forms when allowed to.
  • In Spite of a Nail: A downplayed example, after beating the True Final Boss, the whole game changes to reveal a new timelime where mankind is under attack by a Great Oppressor, and things play out very similarly as the original timeline. The downplayed part is that you're actually able to save Earth and go back home.
  • Last Ditch Move: Once defeated, the final boss will repeatedly use her 'explosion' attack to try and take the player down one final time.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: On the second loop, using Zero Ranger mode against Grapefruit has her finally take you seriously. She starts by cutting the starship that was meant to destroy her clean in half.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Should you accept the powerup given to you by Erasure, it will trap you in a dream strangely reminiscent of DonPachi. Destroying the powerup at the end of the stage will allow Grapefruit to interrupt and help the protagonists break out of the dream.
  • Keystone Army: Subverted. By the time the player finally defeats Despair, their forces have gone ahead and wiped out the remainder of Daikon's defenders and all life on the planet. The only way to avoid this is to defeat Despair in the past.
  • Karmic Death: The shadowy people were confident that Erasure was a perfect AI and would replace the ZeroRangers. Erasure betrays them and their base is the first thing lost when GREEN ORANGE invades, as shown in both the Demo and White Vanilla Mode.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only five properly named characters out of six total, one of whom is only ever referred to by her codename, and Despair herself never speaks. With four of the characters only speaking in an optional Dream Sequence, it's entirely possible to complete the entire game with only the AI Erasure ever being named or speaking.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: Starting in the game's second chapter, the text scroll preceding each boss becomes slowly more corrupt and jumbled, and the formerly-encouraging messages and hints displayed after losing the game mostly become trivia about the color orange.
  • Missing Secret: The boss rush segment in Stage 1-4 shows 6 icons on the wheel of bosses, but you only fight 4 bosses. The remaining two icons are never explained.
  • Multiple Endings: Three total in Green Orange Mode.
  • False Ending: Fail to challenge Grapefruit with ZeroRanger mode on 2-3, leading to some text about how the fighters will keep trying but with no credits roll.
  • Bad Ending: Defeat Despair but get defeated by the True Final Boss in the past, which loops into the intro cinematic and completely wipes all story progress.
  • True Ending: Defeat the Lotus Jewel in the past, setting up an entirely new timeline where humanity is instead attacked by a Generic Doomsday Villain, but you succeed in saving the Earth this time. If the player reaches the Lotus Jewel with the old monk still living, there will be some additional text explanations about Erasure, Despair, and the Lotus Jewel in between each stage of the True Final Boss.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Lose during the True Final Boss sequence and your story progress is erased as you get the cutscene you get when you first start the game. Turns out, said cutscene is Mido or Dori failing to stop the Lotus Jewel in the past, which is what just happened.
  • Outrun the Fireball: At the end of the game, after destroying Despair, you have to escape the alien planetoid as it explodes. As the explosion gets closer and closer, your ship starts to lose its weapons. Depending on whether you've already beaten the game at least once, your ship either gets crippled as it flies out into space, or survives the escape.
  • Point of No Continues:
    • Dying in Stage EX of White Vanilla mode immediately ends the game, regardless of how many continues the player has left. The run will still count as a clear, though, so it's possible to complete the Moving Up and Lightning Battle challenges this way.
    • The True Final Boss has all accumulated continues turned into the player's lives; losing them all will cause the game to be over instantly and delete all your progress!
  • Punny Name: The real boss of 2-2 is named Pandemonion.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: After completing a 2-loop game, you defeat Despair and blow up the moon-like vessel she was in control of... but not only does your ship sustain critical damage, but her forces destroyed the Earth's population in the meantime, rendering all your efforts pointless. Erasure gives you an option to prevent all of this from happening in the first place, but it involves a time-travel gambit to destroy the Lotus Jewel, and said gambit not only uses up your continues, but puts your save file on the line. Averted in the Great Oppressor timeline unlocked after completing the game, including this new last boss, once, where completing the game does end in unanimous victory.
  • Reference Overdosed: The game is loaded with numerous references to both games, anime, and more.
  • Reset Button: The options menu has a section where you can erase your progress, your recorded scores, or just everything outright. After earning the Golden Ending once, an option named "????????" is added, where a team of researchers come across the remains of Erasure. If the fire button is pressed a few times, Erasure attempts to boot up to no avail, and asks multiple times if you would like to perform a hard reset. Going through with it resets the universe into one where Green Orange still exists, and aside from your scores, the game acts as if you booted it up for the first time.
  • Robot Hair: The Zero Ranger Mode of the Type-B is rocking a huge ponytail.
  • Route Boss: In Stage 2-3, a Giant Enemy Crab replaces the serpent midboss if you shoot several shadows in the ocean.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: It is possible to destroy the powerups as they are dropped by the bosses, thus allowing for playthroughs with only the bare minimum of weaponry. Don't try this with the ZeroRanger powerup, or else you're stuck with the false ending.
  • Skippable Boss: Some bosses can be skipped entirely depending on circumstances. These include the likes of the old monk, Zero Ranger Mode Grapefruit, and King Onion.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic:
    • The Stage 1 and 2 endbosses have their boss theme go up in key when they're down to their last layer of health bar.
    • During the Final Boss fight, when she's doing her Last Ditch Move, the same happens with her theme.
  • Space Elevator: You climb up a massive skyscraper in Stage 1-3 and 2-3 that houses a vertical railroad inside of itself. You're out in space by the time you reach the top.
  • Speedrun Reward:
    • One of the achievements for White Vanilla / Light Mode requires you to beat the game in 15 minutes or less.
    • Another achievement in the same mode requires you to clear the free-scroll section of Stage 4 in 45 seconds or less (destroying enemies speeds up the scrolling).
  • Stable Time Loop: The game's opening sequence and bad ending imply one of these has been going on for a while. Mido/Dori fails to destroy the Lotus Jewel and Despair kills her Deader Than Dead when it realizes what she came to do, Despair returns to Earth eons later and wipes out all life, Erasure helps Mido/Dori travel to the far past to destroy the Lotus Jewel, and on and on again. The version of Mido/Dori that succeeds in destroying the Lotus Jewel and kills Despair in the past is the one that finally breaks the time loop.
  • Stance System: Zero Ranger mode deals a lot of damage, can slow or outright parry most projectiles, and enables the Score Multiplier to go into overdrive at double its normal maximum value, but comes at the cost of only having a single attack with incredibly short range. This means the ship/normal mode maintains some use and through skilled use of both score high.
  • Suddenly Speaking:
    • Mido (Type-B pilot) in Stage 1-3 finally speaks when activating her ship's ZeroRanger mode, although Dori (Type-C pilot) does not.
      Mido: Let's get fired up, Rybb!
    • Any active player characters (including Dori if she is in play), GREEN ORANGE, and the Grapefruit pilot unexpectedly get dialogue during Stage 2-4's dream sequence, after all of them (save Mido) have been quiet for 7/8 of the game.
  • Taking You with Me: Despair will spend her last life bar frantically unleashing area-of-effect attacks as her health depletes of its own accord.
  • Tennis Boss: If the player is using a sword in Zero Ranger mode, then the boss of 2-3 will start flinging a spherical projectile during its later stages that the player can reflect back. The boss, however, will attempt to do the same.
  • Theme Initials: "G" and "O". Gofer Operator, the ultimate enemy GREEN ORANGE, and its replacement universe counterpart Great Oppressor all qualify.
  • This Is a Drill: One of the possible weapons the ZeroRanger mode can use is a huge drill that grows larger the more it deals damage.
  • This Cannot Be!:
    • In the second timeline, the AI Regret can't understand how you managed to make it back despite flinging you to the beginning. It comes to the conclusion that nothing is real and self-destructs, praising the name of the Great Oppressor.
    • In White Vanilla Mode/Light Mode if you hadn't defeated the True Final Boss, the people who oversee your trial are left dumbstruck on how "a klutz like you" could get a perfect Z score, and accuse you of breaking the simulation program before dismissing you.
  • Transformation Sequence: Both fighters get one in 1-3 when Zero Ranger mode is used for the first time. The Type-B gets a more magical girl-inspired sequence while the Type-C has a more typical mecha sequence. Grapefruit also gets one when she pulls a Let's Get Dangerous! in 2-3.
  • Trick Boss: In stage 2-2, after defeating the endboss, a giant onion-headed humanoid named Pandemonion shows up to eat its head and you have to fight it.
  • True Final Boss:
    • Green Orange Mode: Despair's original form as the goddess born of the Lotus Jewel, and the Jewel itself. You can only face this by accepting Erasure's offer to take you back in time to fight it at the risk of losing your existence (i.e. your story save data).
    • White Vanilla Mode/Light Mode: Play well enough and break the congratulation text after beating the boss of stage 1-4, you get to fight Erasure personally in an Extra stage.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • After getting to Erasure a second time, they give you a lotus jewel that gives a fake-out ending and changes the game to FinalBoss, a one-stage Cave-esque bullet hell shooter with bombs and many more bullets flying at you.
    • In White Vanilla / Light Mode, the True Final Boss fight inexplicably activates the "Boss Break" Score Multiplier system, which is otherwise only seen in Green Orange / Normal mode.
  • Victory Fakeout:
    • In Stage 2-1, you fight the same bomber boss as in the first loop, except there's a conspicuous skull face on its fuselage. When you defeat the boss, you get the usual end-of-stage Score Screen... and then the Boss Warning Siren appears again, the seemingly-defeated boss charges back up the screen, and blows its wings off to reveal its One-Winged Angel form: a floating cobra mecha that rapid-fires bombs at you.
    • A similar incident happens in Stage 2-2. The boss has a different-looking skull face embedded in its "core". When you defeat the boss, the warning sequence plays out again, the boss's face shoots back up, the lights go out, a previously-unseen onion-headed giant humanoid shows up to devour the boss's face, and the onion-headed monster is your next target.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: If you equip Charge Shot and leave it charging for more than 1 minute, your shot will become a huge deathray that will obliterate all enemies in its path. This is really cool, but not that useful, since in the time it takes for it to charge, you can easily destroy many more enemies with thoughtful use of your other shots; it's only ever practical to do if the player has an extended period of time where nothing at all is happening.
  • Wham Line: In 2-3 when engaging the endboss while in ZeroRanger mode. The Boss Subtitles reveal the actual identity of the enemy mech before you, after it had been introduced as "Eve of Destruction" in Stage 1-3:
    THE ABADDON FIGHTER
    "GRAPEFRUIT"
  • With This Herring: The player ships start out without their secondary weapons, have no bombs, and can't access Zero Ranger mode before a certain plot event occurs. They are expected to take on both the alien and subverted planetary defense forces by themselves.
  • A Winner Is You: Completing White Vanilla / Light Mode with a Z rank, as hard as it is, merely "awards" the player with disdain from the simulation's proctor(s):
    • If Green Orange mode has not been beaten yet, the EDF commanders give you no congratulations whatsoever, only expressing disbelief that you were able to achieve such a high grade, before coldly dismissing you.
    • If Green Orange mode has already been beaten unless you activated the Reset Button in the options, G.O. cheerfully says you have won her "eternal gratitude". After several seconds of silence (as if you're expecting a better reward), she tells you to Get Out! and closes her dialogue shutter, leaving you on the results screens with no music playing at all.

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