During my grade school years, I would always anticipate the school bell because it meant that I could rush home and watch The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. I’d occasionally tape it, but would always try to be in front of the TV whenever it aired, in order to watch my favourite super heroes battle crazy evildoers in their fantastical world. And, I’ll even admit to being a big fan of Billy, the Blue Ranger, whose fan club was likely the smallest of the bunch.
Fast-forward to today, and the Power Rangers mythos is entering its 21st season, which astounds me. I never thought that it would last this long, nor did I expect to be reviewing a video game called Power Rangers Super Megaforce for a 3D Nintendo handheld. Here I am, though, about to explain my thoughts on such a game.
Power Rangers Super Megaforce seems to be a new, pirate-themed version of the iconic group. I’m not well-versed in its storyline, but I get the gist, that being the group’s need to protect the world from more bad guys. It’s always the same, and the game’s storyline does absolutely nothing to make me think otherwise. What story there is, I mean, as things are quite barebones here.
From the onset, Super Megaforce attempts to take kids on a journey from one location to another, as they battle their way up the evildoer ladder. They start in a basic city, where the end boss is a low-ranking grunt, before making their way to the big bad at the end of the 10-stage campaign. It’s not just a straight fight from start to finish, though, because this is a 2D beat ’em up and not a fighting game. For that reason, you can expect each stage to be broken up into six mini-stages, each of which lasts about five minutes.
The first four levels in each world are made up of basic brawler gameplay, which is simply far too generic. You pick two different Power Rangers, choose a difficulty, then walk around fighting guys. If it was handled properly, it would’ve been a blast, but enemies are limited and the developers thought it was a good idea to repeat things ad nauseam. Expect to walk a few feet, get blocked in by invisible barriers, fight a few guys and then repeat. The environments themselves are also so dull and repetitive that they add to this issue and mar an already bland experience.
Bandai Namco’s idea was to deliver a game where players would identify with their chosen heroes. To accomplish this, they created a large roster of past and present Power Rangers characters – a list that seems to date back to the original series that I grew up with. However, in order to unlock any additional characters outside of the show’s new heroes, you’ll need to scan things called Ranger Keys. I assume you get those by buying action figures, but I didn’t have any, which meant that I was only able to play with a limited amount of protagonists.
I really only stuck with the Red and Blue Rangers, though, because of Power Rangers Super Megaforce‘s RPG-lite design. You see, through use, each character levels up. It’s not an in-depth system where you manually choose which attributes improve each go around, but one where the avatar’s health and defence are continually improved upon. I can’t slam the developers for wanting to do something like this, but it certainly restricts you to only two characters after a while, especially since later levels get surprisingly tough.
Why two characters and not one? Well, you always have a pal to fight alongside. Said ally is completely computer-controlled, though, outside of basic AI presets that can be chosen by the player. Those essentially just amount to, “Defence,” “Long Range,” “Close Combat,” and “Balanced” play styles, but none of them are an antidote for his or her idiotic intelligence. Even when I chose Balanced, my friend would fail to block attacks, and would have his health bar depleted in no time, forcing me to use one of my limited health potions.
All of the Power Rangers have their own stats, too, so some are better defenders while others are better attackers. Each one seems to have a basic set of attacks, though, with two special ones that can be unleashed if a meter is filled. Because of this, you can expect to be able to jump, swipe a basic weapon attack and fire a futuristic blaster. It does the job, but doesn’t do it in grand fashion.
At the end of each stage, you’ll come across two bosses, one who must be fought in base form and another that requires the Rangers’ mega suit robot. These battles are more annoying than fun, because of similar strategies and boring designs. Seriously, each boss does the same thing: It hides behind a bubble shield that you can choose to break or wait on. If you’re in its blast radius when the shield drops, though, you’re in for a pounding. The mech battles, on the other hand, are just too slow and (sometimes) cheap to be fun.
Aesthetically, Power Rangers Super Megaforce is a curious specimen, because while it’s made for the Nintendo 3DS, it doesn’t offer any 3D. None whatsoever, in fact. So, try as you will, moving your 3D slider won’t change anything. Trust me, I tested it.
The game is alright-looking, but certainly doesn’t force the 3DS to struggle. Despite that, there are frame rate hitches that occasionally pop up, as well as long loading times. The audio doesn’t fare any better, though, and is actually worse since all it really offers is annoying music combined with the odd line of recorded dialogue (if you can call it that). Even the written script leaves a lot to be desired, as it’s full of, “Wow, a new bad guy. Let’s get them!” style dialogue.
In the end, although I’d certainly like to, I cannot recommend Power Rangers Super Megaforce. Children in the age group of five to ten years will get some enjoyment out of it, but it won’t blow them away, nor will it entertain them for too long, thanks to its repetition and difficulty. Bandai Namco and 7th Chord have created something they can build on next time around, but the formula isn’t there yet.
This review is based on the 3DS exclusive, which we were provided with.
Repetition is the name of the game when it comes to Power Rangers Super Megaforce, and it suffers as a result. What could've been a very solid beat 'em up for kids ends up being a below-average and tedious affair because of it.