Feb 08, 2017

Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle Review

Lights Off
3 Okay
Retails for: $14.99
We Recommend: $9.99
  • Developer: Bamtang
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco
  • Genre: Beat'em Up
  • Released: Jan 17, 2017
  • Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
  • Reviewed: Xbox One

I’ve been waiting a long time for a decent Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game. You’d think the property would be ripe for a good beat’em up. 5 heroes (6 if you include Tommy) fighting a bunch of generic bad guys, eventually fighting a bigger more elaborate bad guy, then a grander battle with said bad guy. Doesn’t that sound like every beat’em up ever made? It’s not for a lack of trying though, through many releases on the SNES and Genesis, us 90’s kids got a taste of what a good Power Rangers game could be. Enter 2017 and Bamtang indulges us with a multicolored nostalgia treat. It’s unfortunate that it tastes more like sour candy – not everyone likes it, but those who do will find it enjoyable.

Now hold on, before you close this tab or head back to your home screen, hear me out. Some people really enjoy sour candy; it’s kind of an acquired taste. I feel like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle is exactly that. Not everyone is going to like it, it does leave a sour taste in your mouth, but a few will enjoy it. When you first look at this game, the art-style just pops out at you. It’s animated in a kind of cutesy comic book way; small bodies, big heads, and clean rounded lines. You’ll hear complaints of it looking like an animated flash game you’d find on Newgrounds. I’m here to tell you that those are valid complaints and they are ones that could easily be fixed. Maybe I’m off base, but I have a feeling that part of the reason for the game looking and feeling so much like a flash game is the animation. Things move fast, which in itself isn’t bad when the action keeps moving and you keep going. What I had an issue with was the speed at which you walk and the speed of the walking animation; it felt way too fast. When watching videos of the game being played, that’s what gave me the impression that it looked like a flash game. When I sat down to play, it wasn’t as noticeable. I understand the thought behind speeding up the walking, but it was too fast.

With that out of the way, the game takes you through six chapters split into three stages. The Original five rangers are there to choose from and Tommy becomes unlocked as you progress. Once the story is completed you’ll get access to a few additional modes: Boss Rush, Dojo, and Rita’s Tower. You can enjoy the game solo or with up to four people in offline co-op. What a terrible mistake to make for a game like this though. Both consoles can support 5 or more controllers if I remember correctly, so why not have a player per Ranger? Or better yet, why didn’t they include an online mode of play? Seems like a short-sighted decision on Bamtang’s part to not include a better way to play co-op. It sucks even more because you’ll want to play this game in co-op. Single player is not the way to approach this game. Things can be rough early on with no help and no unlocks on your upgrade tree. If you’re not careful, you’ll easily get hammered on and that’s where I found another issue I had with this game, checkpoints. If you happen to die, you go back to the start of the chapter you’re in. There’s no lives like you’d see in an arcade beat’em up, it was frustrating. Making progress only to get walloped on and having to start all over. Thankfully this isn’t as much of an issue in co-op because you can heal your fellow Rangers, but if you go solo, tough luck.

The combat isn’t terrible, it’s a fairly simple light / heavy attack system with some tame combos. For a beat’em up it was fine, it’ was enjoyable. I could do some air juggles and create some low-to-high combos. While un-morphed you only have access to your light attacks but once you beat up on enough enemies to fill the energy gauge, you can morph opening up your Ranger’s iconic weapon for heavy attacks and the Dino Blaster for ranged. Fill your energy up while morphed and you can unleash a super mode that won’t stop a combo; so you can just keep pummeling an enemy till they die. There are a decent assortment of enemy types to fight in Mega Battle. Aside from the multitude of variations of puttys, there are a few attack specific enemies you’ll have to deal with. The first you’ll encounter is a black knight that I had to jump kick to break his block. From there I could pull off a few combos and boom, dead. You’ll run into enemies that will require a launching attack to break a blocks, enemies that require you to wait for an opening to hit them, and enemies that are constantly flying around the stage. I’ll give it to Bamtang, they tried to give this game some variety at least.

Once you reach the end of a level, you get to do a boss battle. I’m not familiar with a few of these bosses but some looked like a monster I’ve seen on the show before. You’ll also fight Goldar and Lord Zedd, so they’re in the game. Rita is your initial main antagonist and they kept her pretty true to the original design. In fact, all the designs are fairly show accurate and for that I applaud Bamtang. Although, and this is going to sound so odd to nit-pick, Rita doesn’t have the Maddona-esue pointy boob cones. Seemed to me that level of ridiculousness would’ve fit right in with the design aesthetic of the game, instead we just get round voluptuous Rita. Technically all the ladies in the game are pretty generous in that department, which kind of seems out of place. Anyway, once you beat up on the baddy, and just like in the TV show, Rita or Zedd will “Make my monster grow!” and you’ll have to call the dinozords. You’ll first have a battle in tank mode, something that I don’t believe has ever been done in a Ranger game, and aim a cursor at weak points on the monster. It’s actually a neat little pre-fight thing to play. Once you weaken the monster enough, you transform into the Megazord and boy does he look bad-ass! It’s too bad that the fight becomes a quick time event.

Mega Battle is an okay game at best. I enjoyed my time with it but a lot could have been done better. I appreciated the nods to the TV series like audio clips taken from the show, sticking close to show accurate designs, and an upgrade tree to try and keep things interesting. But it’s just not quite enough to make a great game. Heck it’s not quite enough to make it a good game. It’s serviceable, it’s playable, it can be enjoyable. The game is sour, the nostalgia is sweet, but once all that sugar is gone, all that’s left is a boring piece of candy that leaves you unsatisfied, wanting something more.

An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for review purposes