|Platforms||PS4 (reviewed), XBO|
|Publisher||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|Release Date||January 17, 2017|
Power Rangers: Mega Battle is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that retells an alternative version of the original Power Rangers series. You know, the one that everyone of a certain age remembers loving from their childhood. It had some exciting action scenes (largely taken from Super Sentai, the Japanese series Power Rangers was based off), some cheesy humour that still somehow worked and was a fun time.
What Power Rangers: Mega Battle decides to do is take a dump all over those fond childhood memories you have for Power Rangers. The game looks and feels like a free Newgrounds flash game masquerading as a £12 digital console release, somehow backed by one of the biggest companies in games publishing. It lacks everything that made Power Rangers an enjoyable 90’s kids show, combining this fundamental lack of understanding the source material with a shallow, pointless game.
The campy nature of Power Rangers, which was pretty much 90% of the original series’ makeup, is completely absent from Mega Battle. The game hits all of the relevant plot points you may or may not remember from the original TV run without actually understanding why anyone watched in the first place. All of the dialogue consists of bland scenes where villains explain their villainous schemes and the Power Rangers talking about how they’re going to save the day.
Gone is the cheese. The so bad they’re kind of funny puns aren’t here. The ridiculous Monster-of-the-Week scenes aren’t here. The over-the-top comedy isn’t here. There are plenty of references to stories and moments from the series, but they’ve had their heart and soul ripped out from them, replaced instead with dull, almost painful dialogue. Sitting through what can be laughably considered a story in Mega Battle is an absolute chore. Remember how the Power Rangers were “teenagers with attitude”? Bamtang don’t.
The gameplay is somehow even worse. Mega Battle is centered around four player co-op (which seems like an arbitrary player limit given there are six Power Rangers). It carries all the hallmarks of a side-scrolling beat-em-up, but somehow completely fumbled. Fighting enemies is a pain in the arse. While most will offer very little challenge whatsoever, Mega Battle demands a ridiculous level of pixel perfection, with hitboxes so small as to make the game utterly joyless.
To strike an enemy you need to be stood exactly in front of them. If you’re off by even a millimeter, then your attacks will simply miss. It’s incredibly awkward trying to hit bad guys. Most of the time you’ll miss without even realising your positioning was wrong. Mega Battle even cranks up the tedium with some of its more advanced enemies. There are certain bad guys who can only be defeated in certain ways, usually by waiting for them to attack before quickly striking back.
Which would be a nice layer of complexity atop a standard beat-em-up except that their AI is woeful. Sometimes they’ll just meander around the screen and decide that they’d rather not attack, allowing you a bunch of free shots (that you’ll probably miss), or forcing you to wait on them to make a move before being able to damage them. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as “things Power Rangers: Mega Battle” gets wrong but there are only so many words in the English language that are synonyms of “awful”.
There’s a system where you can combine your attacks with another Ranger buddy to perform special moves, which is impossible to time well enough to actually land any hits with. And that’s assuming you’re not playing single-player as the game doesn’t provide you with AI partners when you’re playing solo. And there’s no option for online co-op, meaning if you can’t corral up to three friends into playing this with you in the same room then you’re out of luck playing co-op.
There’s a levelling system in place that allows you to upgrade the various stats of each of the Rangers. It’s largely useless, with most abilities beyond expanded health either poorly explained or just unnecessary in the game itself. And while I’m on the subject of the level system, the sound design in Mega Battle is atrocious. I don’t need to hear Alpha-5 make his stupid Ay yi yai noise every time I move the bloody analogue stick.
The covers of the actual music used in the Power Rangers series all sound wrong. The theme tune on the main menu is the actual Power Rangers theme tune, but for some reason it doesn’t have the chorus. The music that plays in the actual game is are a series of 30-second samples on a loop. And that’s even when the game bothers to play music. There were plenty of sections of gameplay where Mega Battle awkwardly decided not to bother with music at all.
And then there are the boss battles – the coup de grace of awful that makes the rest of the game look competent (it isn’t). Levels end the same way episodes of the show end – you fight a tougher bad guy, then Rita does her mojo and makes said bad guy gigantic. Cue the Megazords and what should be a badass battle on a truly epic scale. Everything leading up to this moment is pretty decent, including the Power Rangers theme with the actual chorus.
Instead of engaging in awesome, giant robot versus giant monster combat, you’re treated to the worst two-stage boss battles I’ve ever played in my entire life. Stage one sees the Megazords in tank mode. Your objective – watch a near still image of the boss and move a cursor around the screen shooting projectiles and glowing weak points. Then the fight transitions into an actual Zord battle, taking the action back into side-scrolling territory and into three button QTE fights.
The boss battles are a mix of stationary rail shooting segments and a series of pathetically easy quick-time events. It sounds like a joke but it’s not. It certainly feels like a joke. A really bad one. As does the rest of this Godforsaken, childhood ruining game. There are only two things this game actually gets right – the visuals look okay and the mechanic where you transform from normal teenager to Power Ranger replenishes your health, which is a pretty good idea.
This game is a cash grab. Less a game and more an insulting slap in the face to anyone foolish enough to spend money on it. It stomps all over your childhood memories like Lord Zedd stomps all over Angel Grove after Rita Repulsa uses her wand to make him enormous. I’m sure developers Bamtang did the best job they could. They probably had very little time and money to actually make this game. I had hoped the industry had moved past these pathetic cash grab games that are a blight on the entire hobby, but I guess I was mistaken.
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