“Go go Power Rangers!”
This phrase has been ingrained in the minds of every 90’s kid as the famous Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers theme blasted through their television speakers. Watching Trini, Billy, Zack, Kimberly and Jason fight Rita Repulsa and her putties was always a spectacle for my younger self. Saban’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Mega Battle attempts to bring that spectacle to game consoles with some success. This arcade brawler feeds off of your nostalgia, from the words “GO GO” popping up as you complete each section of a level to the iconic theme music you know and love. Power Rangers: Mega Battle could be the brawler fans of the series have been looking for, but with some caveats.
Our demo began at the character select screen where you can choose between five of the original power rangers with their own stats and weapons. Each portrait of the power rangers were good cartoon renditions of their actual counterparts. When I saw Jason or Kimberly, they looked like Austin St. John and Amy Jo Johnson. Just from the portraits alone, I knew this was a game fueled by nostalgia. I loved seeing those characters again. However, playing as those characters gave me a slightly different perception of the overall experience.
Playing the game is similar to most brawlers. If you’ve played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade or Battletoads, you should get the hang of the controls very quickly. Unlike those titles, the gameplay just isn’t as fun. On paper, the character movement mechanically works with the attacks and combos the game provides. However, in practice, the movement is slower and stiffer than I would have liked. You can sprint — which allows you to do a charge attack when you use your light attack during your sprint — but that speed is close to where I would want the regular movement speed to be.
Your combat arsenal includes a light, heavy (which uses each power rangers iconic weapon), and projectile attack. Projectile attacks run off of its own energy meter which is filled by using light and heavy attacks. These attacks are also used to string combos. Despite the amount of different attacks provided, heavy and light attacks seem to possess the same attack speed. This aspect doesn’t give the risk/reward system most brawlers have when given a heavy attack. Sure, you could launch an enemy in the air with the light attack to start a combo, but why do that when I can defeat an enemy in three hits with my heavy attack in less time? It hinders a combat system that could be simple and fun to play.
In recent brawlers, combo driven combat is imperative. While there are combo strings, there are very few and don’t take much effort to do. Looking at the skill tree in the game, it looks like there are maybe two or three more combo strings in the game, all of which are very simple. Despite its simplicity, the combos provide a sense of satisfaction as you destroy Repulsa’s minions.
The boss fight in our demo — which starred the classic villain King Sphinx — was standard for a brawler. However, once the boss’s life bar was depleted, the power rangers summoned the Megazord. The Megazord section of the boss fight has two stages. The first drops you into the giant mech looking at King Sphinx. As targets appear on the boss’s body, you are tasked to shoot each one by dragging the reticle to each target. After you complete that stage, the camera adjusts itself like a fighting game. At this point different button combinations will appear on screen. Hitting these combinations correctly helps you dodge, attack, and defeat your adversary.
The first phase of the boss fight was incredibly exciting at first. The idea of controlling the Megazord was something my 5 year old self has been wanting to do for years. That phase quickly becomes monotonous as you realize you are just dragging a reticle to a circle and shooting it. However, the second phase is where things got interesting. Playing cooperatively through these sections actually used communication. Although the concept is simple, the button combinations had us talking to each other and working together to defeat King Sphinx. Although the first phase was a bit lackluster, the teamwork aspect of the Megazord battles made us feel like a team which is an integral part of the power rangers.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Mega Battle is not a brawler for brawler enthusiasts. This is a game meant for kids who adore the Power Rangers and the parents who want to take a trip back to their childhood. This is for the fans of the series. With fun nods to the first season, a clean cartoon art style, easy difficulty and a simple combat system, I am personally interested in what the game has to offer early next year.