As a child of the nineties, I spent lots of time glued to our family television watching the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers battle Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd. Hell, I liked the show so much that I had my Mom tape it for me, in order to make sure that I could watch it whenever I wanted to. Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before it, the coloured Rangers were everything to me: entertainment, an obsession and a seminal point in life all rolled into one.
Back then, more care was put into a most licensed games. At least, it felt that way. Unlike the more modern generations, it seemed as if the people behind those releases were more concerned with how they would turn out than rushing for the sake of capital gain. This includes the Power Rangers beat ’em-ups for the Super Nintendo (my first and only console at that time), which I remember playing to death with a good friend, and loving to pieces.
It’s disappointing, then, that now — more than 20 years after those games were released — the most current Power Rangers game absolutely pales in comparison. Despite having much more impressive technology to work with, the developers of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have delivered a bland, forgettable and wholly disappointing affair that is best passed on.
Brought to us by the folks at Saban and BANDAI Namco, Mega Battle is best summarized as a modern re-telling of the Power Rangers’ origins story. It starts at the beginning and re-introduces us to several “teenagers with attitude” who discover a mysterious crystal in their hometown of Angel Grove.
As any longtime fan knows, the discovery of that aforementioned crystal ends up being the precursor to much more, including an alien invasion and a plea for help from an inter-dimensional being named Zordon. It’s he who turns our unsuspecting new heroes into what they’re destined to become: the colour-coded Power Rangers, whose abilities are inspired by long dead dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops.
There’s little time to digest this life changing news, however, as the Red, Blue, Pink, Yellow and Black Rangers are thrust into action almost immediately after being given their new suits. That’s because Rita Repulsa is wreaking havoc on Angel Grove, and the hideous Putties are doing her evil bidding. And, behind it all is ugly old Lord Zedd, whose crystal was the one that was discovered at the beginning of the game.
For the next four or so hours, those who choose to give this forgettable game a chance will be treated to a basic, but somewhat nostalgic storyline. The general gist, though, is that the discovery of Lord Zedd’s crystal has led to him wanting to destroy Angel Grove and any human who’s willing to give him trouble. This means sending in Rita, as well as other memorable denizens like Goldstar. Complete with cheesy and poorly written dialogue, it’s a campy trip back to the 90s.
What’s most unfortunate here is that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle could have been a good game had its classic beat ’em-up gameplay been up to par. However, as it often goes with licensed games, that is not the case here. Instead, what we’re being sold is a basic and uninspired left to right brawler that lacks necessary polish.
For starters, the controls leave a lot to be desired. Although you have all of the staples (punches, kicks, combos and power attacks) at your disposal, it always feels as if the game is fighting against its players. Enemies are cheap and sometimes tough to read, attacks that should land sometimes don’t, and, worst of all, the Rangers don’t always respond to the player’s inputs. Truth be told, I can’t even count the amount of times where my Ranger failed to move when told, due to some sort of weird delay.
Every level (of which there are several, with each one being comprised of two basic stages and a boss battle) begins with an un-morphed teenager running into conflict. Who that is depends on which character you’ve chosen to play, and whichever ones your friends have picked if you’ve been lucky enough to find (up to three) others that are brave enough to play this crap with you.
As you fight you’ll earn energy, which will then allow you to morph into your Power Ranger of choice. However, while it may seem that starting as an unarmed teenager would be a disadvantage, you’ll quickly learn that it’s the opposite. Not only are the teenagers surprisingly similar in strength to their morphed hero variants, but waiting to morph can be a very strategical move. Why? Well, think of it as having two health bars at your disposal. Fight for as long as you can with Kimberly or Billy, or whomever, then turn into their Ranger form when you’re nearing death and it will gift you with a full heal.
One good thing is that there’s a decent amount of enemy types with which to do battle against. Another is the leveling system which, despite being basic, does allow you to upgrade your chosen Ranger as you see fit, with options that offer new combos, special co-op moves and buffs like reduced damage or increased health. Furthermore, the Green Ranger is also available as an unlock, and other skins can be found by accessing the game’s day one DLC.
As a solo player, I always went for the health and damage buffs, because Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle can be cheap, and playing by one’s self means that there’s no opportunity for a revive if you die. Furthermore, a lost life means a trip back to the beginning of the stage you’re playing, which can be incredibly frustrating.
For a game that’s supposed to be fun, and is aiming to bring people together, this one sure likes to annoy.
That said, I did find that things became slightly easier as I neared the end of the game. After getting past a couple of cheap chokepoints — including one where I was (strangely) unable to morph — and unlocking the final health and damage reduction perks, things became less annoying. Before that, though, the difficulty was sometimes uneven and, for lack of a better term, cheap.
What should also be mentioned is how the boss battles play out. You see, they’re also done in stages, with the first being a standard on foot battle as the Rangers themselves. With these, pattern recognition is key, especially since you’re always fighting the controls and unsure as to when a delay will occur.
In just about every instance, the second and third parts of this game’s boss battles have to do with the Megazord — the giant robot that the Rangers’ vehicles can combine to create. It’s here where the gameplay deviates from a traditional 2D beat ’em-up, and forces players to participate in a first-person shooting challenge, before entering into battle using quick-time event button sequences. It’s all very, very basic, though, as you simply move a cursor over highlighted areas and press X to shoot at the beast, before using that same blaster to destroy enemy fire.
Therein lays the main problems with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle: its simplicity and obvious lack of creativity. There’s nothing about this game that stands out, nor does it offer much in the way of fun or exciting gameplay. It just is, and that’s not enough. Couple this with visuals and presentation factors that resemble something out of a Newgrounds Flash game, and you have an easy pass that is selling for more than it’s even worth.
Save your money, and hunt down the SNES games if need be, because Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle is a brawling dud. It’s not even worth it for the achievements or trophies, because they’re so time consuming that you’ll have to play through the game upwards of ten or more times in order to earn them all.
**This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.**
- Takes things back to the beginning
- Allows you to play as both the Rangers and the Megazord
- Lots of upgrade options
- Bland, boring and uninspired
- Suffers from control problems and cheap difficulty spikes
- Pales in comparison to the SNES games
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