I was 10 years old when the first series of Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was aired, and of course, I quickly became a fan.
Within a few years I understandably grew out of its ridiculousness, yet in the present day a mix of morbid curiosity and nostalgia still made me interested in Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Battle; Bamtang Games’ new side scrolling beat’em up based on the beginnings of the long running show. I mean, I knew it was going to be bad, but would be good-bad or just bad-bad? There was only one way to find out – by buying it.
Comprising six chapters, each split into three levels, there’s around five hours of action on the table for your first playthrough of Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Battle, with scope for plenty more playtime if you’re up for it via the unlockable Boss Rush, Dojo and Rita’s Tower modes. Supposedly, each chapter is based on major events from the first couple of seasons of the show, though whilst memories of the characters came flooding back as I played, finer details of the happenings eluded me. In any case, I somehow doubt that anyone will be buying Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Battle for its story. If you are, then please accept my condolences; it’s absolutely awful.
Every level plays out as you’d expect for the side-scrolling beat’em up genre; you move from left to right, pounding on your enemies as any one of six Power Rangers as you go. The third and final level of each chapter unsurprisingly ends with a boss fight, though in keeping with the show your foe is often transformed into a giant upon defeat, requiring the Power Rangers to call upon the combined power of their Zords to create the Megazord. What then entails is a shockingly basic shooting mini-game which plays out the same every time – simply shoot the highlighted targets then shoot the projectiles that are released before they hit you – a task which is patronisingly easy. With that out of the way you then move onto the final stage of the boss battle, a melee showdown between two colossal foes comprised of QTEs, bereft of any actual meaningful gameplay whatsoever.
Luckily, the bulk of the action that doesn’t have you fighting as a giant robot is much more challenging and engaging. Often starting as a mere human who is limited to basic light attacks and throws, the gameplay opens up once you’ve accumulated the energy required to morph and hit the necessary button to do so, prompting your character to call out their specific dinosaurs name such as “Pterodactyl!”. In Power Ranger form you have increased health and stats as well as access to an extended moveset that includes melee and ranged weapon attacks, though the use of both is metered by a stamina and energy bar respectively. Stamina quickly recharges, but energy does not, instead requiring you to dish out damage to enemies and collect pickups to replenish it.
By defeating enemies and collecting the experience orbs that they drop, you can level up and earn skill points which allow you to unlock yet more moves as well as stat upgrades. One playthrough of the game allows you unlock most of a single Power Rangers’ abilities, though opening up your combat options doesn’t equate to combat ever becoming particularly enjoyable. Hit detection feels rather poor at times, and aside from the bog standard grunts you encounter, most enemies can only be damaged by specific attacks or during very small openings. It means the game quickly becomes a dull, repetitive affair as you use the same moves to deal with the same enemies in the same way again and again. Like the Black Knights who can only be effectively defeated with jump attacks, for instance.
There are control issues too. Within minutes of starting the game I realised that the block button was useless as your character will only raise their guard if they aren’t doing anything. For example, you can’t hold block near the end of a move in anticipation of an attack – you need to wait until the animation is finished and then hold it, otherwise your character will just stand there and take the hit. Fortunately, the Power Rangers’ dodge manoeuvre is instantaneous, so you’ll come to rely on that instead. Also, by conserving energy in Power Rangers form you have the opportunity to initiate a momentary super mode that can be extended by attacking enemies. Initially the mode proved to be very helpful, but somewhere along the lines of upgrading my Power Ranger the game decided to stick in a kick that’s performed about a second after finishing a combo. Not being able to move until this kick has been performed not only leaves you wide open to attack in the heat of battle, but also just irritates the hell out of you due to the diminished control you have over your character.
And the problems don’t stop there. There’s an odd graphical glitch from time to time where there’ll be thin vertical line in the environment, voice acting is limited to a handful of low quality sound bites taken from the show, and the sound effects are pitiful. Quite frankly, there’s nothing about Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Battle’s creation that feels worthwhile.
Perhaps Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Battle’s biggest saving grace is that you can drag along up to three friends to play it with you and share the pain. Mind you, your friends have to be literally be within grabbing distance as there’s no online multiplayer options, just local co-op. If you do manage to find some fellow Rangers to accompany you however, you’ll be treated with access to some damaging team attacks that can only be used when playing multiplayer. Does it make it worthwhile? No.
It’s hard to fathom just who Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Battle is aimed at really. With its colourful cartoony art style and very basic storytelling you’d think maybe for kids, but the brunt of the gameplay will prove to be too hard and frustrating for them. Adults with fond memories of the Power Rangers from their youth on the other hand will probably get more of a kick out of it because of nostalgia and flourishes of old-school gameplay, but they’ll soon realise that it’s all just a bit shit. Personally, my girlfriend pointing out that the noise basic grunts make before attacking is comparable to someone motorboating a pair of breasts was the highlight of the game for me. Read into that what you will. Overall then, Saban’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Mega Battle is just not worth anyone’s time or money. I bought it so you don’t have to.