Big thanks to Bandai Namco for providing us with a review code for Mega Battle!
It’s Morphin Time!
I’m a 90s kid, so Power Rangers was a monumental part of my childhood. I attribute my love of the giant robot genre to the Power Rangers and the Megazord, from Gundam to Macross, Voltron to Pacific Rim. I bought the toys and VHS tapes, I went to see the movie the weekend it came out, and watched the series religiously up through the In Space series, ending the “Zordon Arc”. Now that I’m an adult, I have loved picking up the Legacy releases (rereleases of the old but better-constructed toys with proportions more geared for adults), and have dived deeply into the history of Power Rangers and the original Super Sentai that it originates from.
When it was announced last year that Bandai Namco was publishing a new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers beat-em-up style game, my interest was instantly piqued. From the colorful and sleek art style and fast gameplay, I knew I had to play it. Did the game live up to expectations, or did leave me shouting aye yai yai yai yai yai?
Teenagers Still Have Attitude
If you have any knowledge on the original Power Rangers series, then you’ve got the gist of the story going on. Rita, the evil space witch who was a trapped in a space dumpster, escapes and our favorite floating head in a tube, Zordon, needs to recruit a team of teenagers with attitude. There are slight tweaks done here in regard to how the story is presented, but the important points are all hit. The Power Rangers are color-coordinated teens who fight evil monsters and henchmen known as Putties. Their battles result in a final confrontation where the Rangers call upon their giant Dino Zords to create the mighty Megazord.
Rince and repeat. Not present in the original show were the evil towers spread across Angel Grove that the Rangers have to take down. In terms of monsters, a few old favorites such as Goldar or Sphinx make an appearance, but with only a handful of levels, there is a good chance that your favorite monster-of-the-day may not be here. You do get to fight the evil Green Ranger, so you have that!
Punch those Putties!
Mega Battle is your typical side-scrolling beat-em-up title in the same vein as games like Final Fight or Castle Crashers. You walk from left to right, beating up down foes that will culminate with a boss at the end of each level. There is a light, a hard, a gun, and a special attack. Activate your special attack when you have a full power bar while transformed into your ranger form. Upon defeat, enemies will drop experience orbs. You may spend these on a skill tree each time you level up, but it honestly takes WAYYYYYY too much experience to do so. Luckily, on the rare occasion that you do level up, you gain a number of Ranger-Coins with which to use to level up that Ranger.
All of this sounds like it would make for a great beat-em-up game, right? Right???
Players have access to the five core rangers, Jason, Zack, Kimberly, Trini, and Billy. Throughout the course of the game, you will unlock Green Ranger, Tommy. There is also a season 2 bundle available for purchase that comes with rangers Adam, Rocky, Aisha, Katherine, and a hip-looking Billy.
Note here that all of the voice clips will be of the season 1 rangers, and the dialog in the story mode won’t be updated with the season 2 ranger’s name, should you pick them. One particular instance I recall was when I was playing as Katherine and was addressed as Kimberly in the story. That right there is a good way to get into trouble! Imagine if you were called your significant other’s ex’s name…now imagine how much trouble there would be if you add super powers and giant robots into the mix!
This is where my biggest gripe with Power Rangers Mega Battle comes into play—each Ranger plays and feels exactly the same. The skill tree for each character is the same, combos are the same, and the benefits feel trivial. During my playthrough, I never felt like I was really getting more powerful, I even felt like my standard attacks didn’t improve all that much in terms of damage output from being morphed or un-morphed.
Mega Battle does come with couch co-op for you and up to three other friends to team up to take on Rita. This makes the game much more exciting, as having multiple players opens up new team special moves that aren’t available when playing solo. What is a shocking omission is that this game does NOT contain online multiplayer. All players must be playing on the same TV, very old school style.
Take Castle Crashers, for example. Each of the knights still felt somewhat unique, as you could customize their stats and each had a variety of magic spells between them. Adding in those little things that make the Red Ranger feel different from the Pink Ranger or Blue Ranger would have added so much strategy and much-needed depth to the game. There was so much potential here with the characters—you could have the Pink Ranger with skills that focus more on distance attacks and a support role with her Power Bow. The Power Daggers of the Yellow Ranger could have landed fast attacks, keeping the opponents locked in combos. My head races with could-have-beens. The depth and uniqueness of each Ranger would have also added to the complexity when playing with friends to make sure that the party was ready to tackle any situation.
My thoughts and feelings on Quick Time Events (or QTEs as they are commonly referred as) can either be used to betterment or detriment of a game. One thing: QTEs will NEVER be a good choice when you are in control of a giant robot fighting a giant monster. There is NO situation, in any game, on any planet, at any time, that someone would rather “control” their giant robot with a few timed button presses instead of having direct control of it to lay the epic smackdown on an evil space monster.
If there was a Constitution of Video Games ever to be written, this would have to be on the list. It made my heart hurt that this is how the Megazord sequences were handled. In the original SNES Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game, these battles were far superior and that game was released almost 23 years ago! What makes it worse is that Mega Battle’s art direction and style made the Dino Megazord look sleek and powerful. Give me a remake of the Power Rangers: Fighting Edition with these graphics and I’d be a pretty happy guy!
Standard Beat-em-Up fair
Mega Battle’s story contains 6 levels with three sections to each, so not bad in terms of offerings. The levels filled generously with putties, purple putties, putties with guns, random black knight guys and diamond whip girls, tengu warriors, and you guessed it! More putties! You and some friends could easily beat the whole story in a single sitting.
Once you beat the game, you unlock Rita’s Tower and Boss Rush mode. In Rita’s Tower, you’ll fight your way through waves of progressively more difficult mobs of enemies as you climb the tower. Boss Rush is just what you would expect; fight through the bosses of the game in a row without resting. In this mode, you can choose to fight through as a Ranger, or through the QTE Megazord fights. Unless you want to just look at the Megazord fights, I’d recommend you stick with the ranger mode. Don’t go into this game expecting it to boost your PSN level as Mega Battle only has 19 bronze trophies…
Style Straight from the 90s
Mega Battle looks and sounds like a mobile title that you would play on your phone or tablet devices. In terms of visuals, this isn’t a bad thing. Characters and enemies are drawn in a bright and exaggerated style that pops and is rather nice to look on a large TV, but would work just as well on a smaller mobile device. Think the mid-point between realistic proportions and chibi proportions and you have the idea. I will go on record saying though I wish the head sizes weren’t quite so exaggerated and large. The enemies, the Rangers, and the backgrounds have good detail to them and are animated well, although they do at times look mannequin-like where they are composed of multiple pieces.
While the visuals pop, I found the audio of Mega Battle to be rather lacking. In the trailers leading up to the games released, they had the intro from the actual show/movie playing in the background. What we get in the game are borderline parody versions of songs. On the main menu screen, you get parts of the intro and then, as the song goes on, other parts are just wrong. As in, literally, it is not how the intro goes from the show. The game also throws in small voice clips from most of the actors (I say most, because it appears Austin St John who plays the Red Ranger, are not done by him). These lines are also very generic, such as Zordon’s “Rangers!”, Rita’s “Ahhhhhhh”, or the Rangers saying “Power Rangers!”. I mean, would it have killed them to at least use the line “We need Megazord power, now!” when summoning the Zords? While it’s a cool feature to have voice lines, their choices of which ones to include lean on the strange side.
May the Power Protect You
Power Rangers Mega Battle needs a sequel. While I was generally let down and bored by this title, many of the important cornerstones of a good beat-em-up title are here. It controls well, playing with friends is a blast, the art style is colorfully done, and the combo system is solid. From here, I would hope that they can just expand and really make each ranger feel unique, taking some cues from Castle Crashers or Diablo. Continuing to add diversity to the enemy mob cast would add to the game’s benefit, too, as you are forced to face the same 3-4 types of putties over and over, which yes, I know was what they fought in the series, but maybe add a bit more variation?
This game excels when played with friends and can make for a good time (which makes the omission of an online multiplayer even more baffling), but after a playthrough and some time in Rita’s tower, you will be quick to go on to the next game. And for the love of Zordon, REMOVE THE QTE ELEMENT FROM THE MEGAZORD FIGHTS!!!!!!
- Colorful and well-done artstyle
- Main mechanics art pretty solid
- Fun couch co-op
- Rangers all feel the same
- Megazord QTE fest
- No online play
- Strange choices voice clips, and omitting any clips from the season 2 rangers that you can get