Game developers are always looking for the next great video game. To that end they’ll look to all sorts of media for property to adapt or borrow from. They’ve set their sights on the Power Rangers more than a few times in the past. You’d think with the show being so suitable to video games there’d be more than one or two good games. It looked like Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle would be the first good game in years. Unfortunately, it stumbles over its feet in a few key areas and ends up being just another “okay” Power Rangers game.
Mega Battle acts as an abridged retelling of the story of the original team of Power Rangers. You see the big baddie, Rita Repulsa, start her assault on Earth as well as the team being brought together by her good counterpart, Zordon. The focus is definitely on the gameplay though since the story is so barebones. The game expects that you at least generally know who these people are and just want to use them to beat up monsters. If you’re looking to understand just who Jason, Zack, Billy, Kimberly or Trini are well then you’re better off watching the show. Or just watching History of Power Rangers. That’ll fill you in better than the show itself come to think of it.
At its core what you have here is a pretty simple beat ‘em up game. Walk, run and jump through the stage and beat up waves of enemies as they come to you. You can choose between quick attacks, melee weapon attacks or fire your dino blaster laser pistol thingie. Melee attacks are limited by slowly regenerating stamina so have to be used intelligently while gun attacks recharge via grabbing blue orbs or beating up enemies. It all flows well together to keep you moving forward, taking down enemies.
While your characters may act fairly generic they each play slightly different as far as the combat goes. All of the character’s control exactly the same but thanks to their varied stats and weapons your choice makes a difference. For example, if you pick the Red Ranger all of your stats are pretty average and your melee weapon is a fast swinging sword. But if you go Blue Ranger, known to be a poor hand-to-hand fighter, his spear does a lot of damage so you’ll want to stick to that. Notably the Pink Ranger who gets to use her bow instead of a melee weapon, giving her two projectile weapons to choose from. It’s a very nice touch that changes up your experience since different characters have an easier or harder time with the various enemies.
One of the big problems of combat is how limited your defensive options are. You can jump to avoid attacks but this rarely proves effective. There is a block option which sounds great but it’s woefully ineffective. Any individual hit will break your guard and enemies attack rapidly meaning that you’ll block one hit only to take a shot to the face. That leaves the dodge roll but that too is mostly ineffective. You can roll past attacks but the invincibility frames of the move are bizarre to say the least. It’s somewhere near the middle of the roll meaning the beginning and end of it are very vulnerable and it makes timing your dodges very difficult.
It starts off as less of an issue while you’re battling the Putty Patrol in early stages. Their attacks are easily telegraphed and you can stop them with an attack or roll away. But then the game introduces Putties with guns who are very hard to dodge. So you’ll shoot them but that uses up your energy much faster than the Putties die. To say nothing of wanting to save your shots for bigger enemies.
Those other bigger enemies are based on monsters from the show except they appear rather often with annoying gimmicks to them. So the Knasty Knight enemy can only be hurt by attacking him with jump attacks. The Octoplant requires you to wait until she finishes attacking and then lay into her. Mighty Minotaur’s can only be attacked after they’ve finished attacking you. Oh and Tengu Warriors can only be hurt with a grab attack. Why didn’t I mention grab attacks earlier? Because they’re garbage and so short range as to be basically useless. That means fighting these guys is “fun” every time they show up.
But really these aren’t the biggest problems with the game. Annoying sure but not a deal breaker. The big problem is the way the game is balanced.
See in a game like this you’ll usually find that it’s balanced for group play. Maybe the developers will reduce the enemy count for single player but that’s rare. So while this could be expected of a beat ‘em up the problem here is three-fold. First there are no extra lives, no way to heal yourself (beyond stage health drops) and the stages are excessively long. So did you die? Well back to the start. Clearly the game expects you to play with others to avoid this problem, there are even special abilities that only work in co-op, but the balance is so off for single players it’s detrimental to the game.
Oh you silly reviewer, I hear you think, why don’t you just play it with friends? Well I would kind reader if the game had online co-op. Getting even a second player to play a niche genre based on a niche piece of media isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I can’t understand how a game like this is released without online play in 2017 but I don’t even own four controllers so going at it four player is right out. None of my local friends are much for beat ‘em ups so that’s out as well. That leaves a decidedly less fun single player experience for me.
I’ve heard some grousing from people about the graphics and animation for the game but I don’t really agree with this. All of the character models are done in this stylized look that may be somewhat strange but it works as essentially a video game comic book. The animations though are a bit simplistic but, again, this goes with the more comic book feel to the game. All of it plays fluidly and that’s what’s really important in a game like this.
A game like this has a lot of the features that it would need to make it a success. It looks great, plays great and even snatches musical and sound bites from the show to make it that much more genuine of an experience. But then you start hitting the various speed bumps and your enthusiasm just kind of slowly wanes. When I reached the Green Ranger fight, a point where I should be excited to unlock him for play, I just wanted the game to be over with already. Then I realized I wasn’t even half done and I was just so exhausted it took everything I had to get back into the game enough to even review it. That’s terrible for a huge fan of the show like myself and I can’t imagine it would be any easier for more casual fans which is just a shame.