Late in development, the game's name was changed from FINAL BOSS to FINALBOSS. On 16 April 2018, the game was renamed from FINALBOSS to ZeroRanger. The more unique name was given so that the game would be easier to search for on Google.
ZeroRanger was released on 28 September 2018 on Steam. Several updates were released to fix bugs and add new features.
The first idea during development was to create a shoot 'em up like Guxt by Studio Pixel, taking inspiration from its limited blue, white, and orange color scheme. The idea later evolved to become a mash-up of elements from many different shoot 'em up games. In 2011, the developers were particularly inspired by the "pure energy and spirit of adventure" from Eschatos. Other influences cited by the developer include Cho Ren Sha 68K and Ikaruga. From Cho Ren Sha 68K, the developers tried to incorporate its "feeling of intimidation before you're actually facing the danger". In Ikaruga, "every enemy pattern is distinct from one another"; feeling the impact of this, the ZeroRanger developers aimed to minimize repetition. The weapon collection system was at first taken from Guxt, where players can collect weapons during stages, and through trial and error evolved to the current system where two weapons are dropped by defeated bosses and players choose one of them.
Accessibility was a big goal during the last few years of development. The developers became concerned about how beginners would think about the basic concepts of shoot 'em ups. Concepts such continues were tailored to players who never play shoot 'em ups; a player new to shoot 'em ups might use excessive continues to get through a game, and then assume the game is low quality due to the total gameplay time being relatively short compared to video games from other genres. The continue system was balanced so that players must play for a sufficient amount of time to earn continue credits. Even when continuing, players must start at a checkpoint within the stage, ensuring that they are learning how to play that part of the game. The developers believed this system caused players to feel more invested in the game and more serious about completing it; earlier in development the game always started with a set amount of continues, and the system was tweaked to its current state to help players feel invested in the game. The aim was for ZeroRanger to be a very approachable "pick up and play" game, where players would not need to read guides to understand how to play the game.
Scoring was a secondary goal during development. The developers did not want players to feel that they had to plan everything perfectly in order to maintain a high score multiplier, or that there is only one correct weapon to use in each situation. The developers intend to release balance patches if players discover any issues that "break" the scoring.
ZeroRanger was developed using GameMaker Studio 1.4 as the game engine. Development started using GameMaker 6, then moved to GameMaker 8, and later to GameMaker Studio 1.4. GameMaker Studio introduced shaders that allowed colors to be easily changed during post-processing, allowing the developers to make several color palettes available in the game's settings menu.
Sprites were created using MS Paint, and RotSprite was used for rotating sprites. Music was created using Anvil Studio and FL Studio. Sound effects were created using Sfxr and Bfxr. Audacity was used for audio editing.
Two game modes are currently under development, as well as more music. Once finished, this content will be released as a free update. There will be an easy mode and a hard mode, but there will be more differences than just difficulty, similar to how Eschatos changed core systems in its other modes. The easy mode, which will likely be called White Vanilla, is planned to be like an expanded version of the demo. The hard mode will likely be called Black Onion.
The developers would like to create console ports, but have not been able to consider making them yet due to focusing on adding features to the game.
ZeroRanger received an overwhelmingly positive response from reviewers, with an average score of 90 on Metacritic, and a Very Positive rating on Steam.
Upon release, reviewers drew comparisons between ZeroRanger and the role-playing video game, Undertale. Outside of a direct reference to Undertale during one of the boss fights, the ZeroRanger developers stated that most similarity is coincidental as the tone of ZeroRanger was set in stone before the release of Undertale. While Undertale was a tribute to many role-playing games, ZeroRanger was a tribute to many shoot 'em up games, with both games still having their own personality that stands out from other games. Both games contain game design elements that some consider outdated. Like how Undertale was accessible to the point that it could be played by those not familiar with role-playing games, ZeroRanger was developed with accessibility in mind so that players new to shoot 'em ups could easily approach the game.
ZeroRanger on other wikis
Official ZeroRanger web pages