As a product of the 90s, I grew up with the tail end of the 90s pop culture phenomenon that was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and I loved every single minute of it. By the time I was watching, it was pretty much just re-runs of the show, and I was genuinely grumpy when a different series would play instead of MMPR. It was a vital part of every morning for me. I needed to see the gang beating up putties while dropping hot puns, Bulk and Skull getting in trouble, Goldar inadvertently insulting Lord Zedd–it was a vital part of my childhood.
I know I’m certainly not the first person to say something like that and I won’t be the last, but it really is true. It’s one of the very few things from that long ago that I’ve consistently loved. With the new movie coming out soon, there’s no better time to release a MMPR official video game (no relation to the movie) to capitalize on hype. So, it’s time to take a close look at Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Battle and see if it capture the magic of the show with its 4-player beat ’em up action!
Mega Battle can be summed up like this: It’s Castle Crashers, but not as good or refined, and with Power Rangers instead of knights. I hate to think of it that way, but that’s what it is. The game even has a cartoony, chibi-esque art style for the Rangers and most of the enemies.
Now, Castle Crashers is a fantastic game, so Mega Battle not being as good doesn’t make this a bad game per se. It does have some merits that are worth pointing out. Firstly, it does a good job at loosely recapturing some of the magic from the show. Bulk and Skull show up a couple times, along with their theme song. The Putties all make that goofy gobbling noise that they made in the show when you fight them, and there’s a lot of individual points in the game that really feel like you’re playing an episode from the show!
This is a terrific game to play co-op with some friends. Even with just two players it can be a blast because there’s all kinds of collaborative abilities that you can’t do by yourself. This is also one of my biggest gripes with the game: if you play it by yourself, you’re likely to be bored out of your skull half of the time. The first level and a half (that’s 25% of the game) is so boring by yourself because you have no abilities. This is mostly due to the fact that you don’t even get enough experience to level up until that point.
Until then, even when you morph to your Ranger form, the only extra thing you get is a weapon to swing and a blaster, and neither are too helpful. For the first hour of the game, you’re just slamming the light attack button and moving right like an arcade zombie. It’s a drag. Things do pick up after that, however, once you finally level up and spend a few skill points. You can unlock a heavy combo for your weapon, increase your normal attack damage, and a couple other things that instantly make the game better.
It should be said that these upgrades only take effect when you’ve actually morphed into your Ranger suit, and you have to fight to be able to use it. You stay morphed as you progress through the chapters in each level, but when you start a whole new level you don’t have your suit on yet. In the last couple of levels, that’s a pain. The first groups of enemies that you have to fight in the last couple levels are so frustrating to fight without your suit, and you have to fight them to get the suit. You can see the problem here. With more players come more enemies, which makes it an even bigger clusterfuck on-screen when you’re just trying to morph so you can move on. Each level just becomes more and more of a pain to start.
Now, once you’ve morphed, it’s a different story. It does feel cool to morph, I must say, as it also stuns all enemies on the screen. You finally get to use all of the upgrades that you’ve purchased. Some of them are really cool, too, like being able to charge an uppercut, do air combos, team attacks, and increase your health and energy!
When everyone is morphed and you’re kicking butt throughout the stage, it feels good. It is extremely fun and genuinely exciting at times. Some of the levels really overstay their welcome, however. There’s only six levels in the game, but if there were, say, eight levels that were a little bit shorter, it would flow a lot better. That, and the boss fights are way too repetitive and boring–there’s no snap or bang to go with them. The fights with Megazord at the end of each level are even more repetitive. It’s just shooting targets like an on-rails shooter, and then a quick-time event. Six times you do this, and six times it’s boring as hell. It makes the end of each level feel like a chore.
The one thing that i was really excited about more than anything when I played this game was the awesome music, sound effects, and voice actors. What better way to capture the magic that was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV show, right? Sadly, you don’t really get any of that in the game. The music is pretty generic rock music, and some of the loops are so short that they get annoying. The theme song that plays during the Megazord boss fights sounds like someone trying to shred “Go, Go Power Rangers” on an electric banjo (so, not good).
There’s not too much in terms of voice acting, either, which is weird because it’s an officially licensed Saban game. They could have just ripped sounds from the show itself to use in-game and it would have given the game so much more punch. Moving, punching, jumping–none of it feels like it has any weight, and it makes it feel much less satisfying to play.
MMPR Mega Battle is a quick, little gift to fans of the series, but it falls short in a handful of ways that will most likely disappoint fans. For those that are just looking to beat up bad guys with three friends as the Power Rangers, it’s a good time. It won’t take long to beat at all, and the comic-style cutscenes are a nice nod to the show’s story.
At $15, I find that it’s an okay deal, however, $10 would be the perfect price for it: a short and sweet, albeit underwhelming Power Rangers beat ’em up game.
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