The shoot'em up genre has always been somewhat difficult for me to really get into. It’s often dedicated to pattern recognition, intense challenge, and repeatedly dying until you get it just right. The amount of devotion required to beating a lot of these games has resulted in a high barrier to entry. ZeroRanger bucks this trend in a manner suitable to its Buddhist themes. The game is easy to get into, and it’s packed with a couple of neat surprises and many exciting moments throughout its compact journey.
ZeroRanger is a straightforward shoot'em up that excels in a tight and memorable level design as well as a surprisingly evocative conclusion. It’s often a real emotional roller coaster to go through its levels. The developers at System Erasure did a great job with the pacing, just thinking about it makes me want to replay the game altogether. ZeroRanger is also packed with many neat homages that are charming without going overboard.
An excellent entry level shoot’em up, ZeroRanger is far more forgiving than many of the other games in its genre. It also stands out with its interesting story twists. The game has a progression system that rewards with an additional continue after each level-up. It invites the player to practice and also helps those less experienced with shoot'em ups. Though I was initially uncertain about the system, it really grew on me over time.
The arsenal slowly grows through the initial levels. It adds to the player progression and a little customization improves replayability. The game also lets the player choose between two types of fighters. From my experience, Type-B was easier to use due to the higher bullet spread as well as the chargeable shield. However, Type-C dealt more direct damage, being more suitable for experienced players. The game provides a strong set of combat options that can help it stay fresh through many playthroughs.
The presentation is solid throughout. Admittedly, the music was more impressive than the visuals. It doesn’t miss a beat and fits perfectly with the fast-paced action happening on the screen. The scenery is excellent, but some of the enemy sprites could’ve done with some more work. Regardless, the use of a limited color palette gives a unique tone to the experience.
Overall, ZeroRanger is absolutely fantastic shoot’em up. It’s highly replayable, while thematically revolving around the repeating cycles of reincarnation in an undeniably Buddhist fashion. I found the game to be an absolute joy to play and reaching the end was highly rewarding. It’s easy to pick up but certainly hard to put down. I’d highly recommend it to those interested in a unique, polished take on the shoot'em up genre.