A Shrink-Ray is a device used to reduce the size of a target, typically through matter rearrangement at the subatomic level. Since "solid" objects are actually dense chains of nanoscopic matter separated by a comparatively high percentage of empty space, shrink-rays can make them smaller by evenly condensing the space between atoms while simultaneously eliminating enough overall mass to maintain a consistent molecular density. Storing this extra mass would then allow it to be reinserted into the target, allowing it to resume its former size.
In adventure or puzzle games, shrink-rays can be used to remove large obstacles, make a heavy or unwieldy object more portable, or to allow a character to fit through a space which would otherwise be unmanageably tight.
Shrink-Rays also make formidable weapons, miniaturizing foes to the point of helplessness. The Duke Nukem
and Mario Kart
franchises each have weapons which leave shrunken opponents slowed, weakened, and vulnerable to being squashed by normal-sized characters. Red Alert 3
's helicopter-mounted S.H.R.I.N.K. Ray reduces the combat effectiveness of affected units, but noticeably increased their speed in exchange.