It’s Morphine Time
I’ll never be ashamed to wear my love for Power Rangers on my sleeve. I watched it in the afternoons when I was supposed to be doing homework. I paid actually money to see five teenagers with attitude fight Ivan Ooze. Hell, I know the words to Trouble by Shampoo by heart. I’m not trying to score some geek cred here, I just really adore that series.
The best part of that nostalgia however? Is that the Power Rangers franchise made for some superb games on the Sega Megadrive/ Genesis back then. A pair of fantastic brawlers in the same vein as Streets of Rage or Double Dragon, the Power Rangers games were tight, focused and colourful. And you haven’t lived until you’ve piloted a Falcon Zord against an Ivan Ooze monster and unleashed all manner of hell on it with a barrage of wing-missiles.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle is born from that DNA. It has all the hallmarks of the classic Power Rangers series: Five teenagers defending Angel Grove from Kaiju assaults and roving Putty Squads who are just begging for a face of Morphin grid energy to be delivered via a fist. And yes, it plays along the same lines as the original games, favouring streets and rooftops as players make their way across.
It looks decent, it plays smooth. But it’s just not altogether there. It’s weird, because while Power Rangers: Mega Battle essentially retells the story of the original series, the gameplay is lacking a certain level of impact. The fighting mechanics are solid and evenly distributed across the Rangers thanks to a hefty upgrade system that layers on more techniques and combos to help survive when the odds aren’t in your favour, but it all becomes tedious after a while.
Every brawling game has a system of patterns for its various foes, something that Power Rangers: Mega Battle is no stranger to with some foes requiring tackles and others needing an aerial attack to break through their defenses. But the timing just never meshes up properly, resulting in sequences that feel about as fluid as a Bulk and Skull routine.
The biggest offender here? The MegaZord sequences, where players finally get to take the fabled DinoZords for a spin…in a quick-time event. Now the build up to this is usually superb. Boss fight done, DinoZords summoned and a quick amount of blasting with them combined in their gestalt battle mode before the sequence completes and you go full Jaeger.
You’ve got the guitar solo strumming, all of Angel Grove at risk of being stomped on and a gigantic Kaiju that needs to go down ASAP. But even though the QTEs have a tremendous impact and feel like they’re powered by pure nostalgia, they’re still just mere quick-time events. Gameplay mechanics which should be the punctuation to a fight where you trade lefts and rights to win the day. Not having any chance to properly pilot a MegaZord feels like one hell of a missed opportunity. When you’ve done that sequence several times in a row, it gets old real fast.
Which is an indicator that Power Rangers: Mega Battle is too beholden to the source material if it follows the exact same tropes. Thrown in to the price tag and its six stages are a boss rush mode, a few extra challenges and local four-player co-op, but it doesn’t have enough of the energy of the original series to keep its momentum going.