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Anyone who has been around has probably heard of the Power Rangers which is based on the Japanese franchise, Super Sentai. And if you were a 90’s kid like myself, you might remember the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series, the first entry in the Power Rangers franchise. It was one of the few live action shows I enjoyed watching as a kid. The catchy theme song, the Zords, the action, the corny dialogue – it was all awesome to my little kid brain and every young boy, including myself, seemed to have a crush on Kimberly, the Pink Ranger. The series did spawn several video games for multiple systems and for this review, I played the Super Nintendo game. Developed by Natsume and published by Bandai, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was released for Super Nintendo in November, 1994.
The story is pretty simple. The Rangers are sent to a location that’s being invaded by Rita Repulsa’s Putty Patrollers and they have to stop them. There’s clearly not much in the way of story here and we don’t have the manual so I couldn’t tell you if it fleshes out the plot any further. Players can play as one of the five original Power Rangers; Jason, Zack, Kimberly, Billy, and Trini. Unfortunately, the Green Ranger is not present. The game is primarily a single player experience but there are two player Megazord battles accessed via passwords.
Power Rangers is an action game with two gameplay styles; beat ’em up and fighting. The game plays out in areas and each area ends with a boss, all of which are villains from the show. The game does use a password save system and the player is able to choose their Ranger at the start of each area. The first five areas consist of your typical beat ’em up gameplay. The character must fight their way through numerous Patrollers and then face a boss. The first section of these levels features the Ranger in their civilian form and at a certain point, they will morph into their Ranger form. It is a scripted sequence so you can’t manually morph any time you want. Unfortunately, each Ranger is a simple palette swap despite the fact their suits do have unique features in the show besides their color. However, each character does have their own unique animations and use their own unique weapons.
After area five, the Rangers combine their Dinozords to form the Megazord and the final two areas play like a fighting game. The player will control the Megazord and must defeat two bosses. There is a power gauge that fills up during the fights and determines what kind of special attacks the Megazord can perform.
Power Rangers is a simple and easy game, overall. There are no difficulties to choose from and no scoring system. It doesn’t take long to beat and there’s not a lot of depth to the gameplay. Success will more or less rely on memorization. I beat the game with three Rangers before deciding to stop and that’s because despite the fact each Ranger has their own animations and weapons, all three kind of felt the same and I was already beyond bored by that point. Power Rangers is a single plane experience as in you can only move left and right and up and down. You can’t move towards or away from the screen.
The Rangers can punch and kick, perform jump attacks, and pick up and throw objects and enemies and it’s their unique weapons that really differentiate them. They can carry one bomb which is your typical “inflict damage to every enemy on the screen” attack which I primarily saved for bosses. Health can be replenished from health pickups and once your health is completely drained, you lose a life. Lose all your lives and it’s game over. But as long as you have the password, you can always start from the beginning of the area.
It is a shame the game doesn’t include a traditional two-player mode, although that would make the game even easier than it already is. The Patrollers come in different colors and some can withstand more damage than others but in general, the game lacks enemy variety. Most of them will jab at you with what looks like a knife, some will jump around, and all of them are pretty easy to take down. Specific areas feature some unique types but they don’t appear very often or pose much more of a threat than any other Patroller. There are some environmental hazards and flying enemy types that appear from time to time but they, too, don’t pose much of a threat. Even the bosses are easy. There’s not much to their patterns and some are just more annoying than anything. Not because they’re difficult or challenging but because some of their moves result in fights that feel like they go on longer than necessary and once you’ve got their pattern down, it becomes a boring slog of repeating maneuvers.
The areas, themselves, are pretty bland. You’ll fight your way through an urban location, industrial district, sewers, building under construction, cave, oil refinery, and around Rita’s Moon Palace. There are some platforming segments and an annoying underwater sequence where you have to swim around obstacles as the water level rises and drops. What makes it annoying is that you can’t attack while underwater for some reason so you have to wait for the water level to drop before you can engage enemies. The whole sequence just drags things out.
The areas are bland primarily because the entire presentation is bland. As mentioned before, the Rangers are simple palette swaps, the animations are alright at best, and there’s nothing really exciting going on in the environments. Some backgrounds feature parallax scrolling but that’s it. There’s nothing really interesting to see. The music might be the best part of the presentation. The game does feature the classic theme song from the show and most of the tunes in the game are pretty catchy and jamming. On the technical side, the frame rate would dip here and there when the screen got busy but I encountered no major bugs or issues.
I can’t say I had an amazing time with Power Rangers. It’s a simple game that’s easy to pick up and play and is backed by some good tunes. Those are the only positives I think are worth mentioning. I don’t think it’s terrible but I did get bored pretty quickly. It’s not the best reflection of the show, it’s not a great looking game for the hardware it’s designed for, and the gameplay lacks depth. I’m glad the final two areas feature the change in gameplay style because I got really bored of the brand of beat ’em up action on offer. Playing as the Megazord in a fighting game style does make for a nice change of pace but doesn’t save the game from being average at best.
With so many better beat ’em ups for the Super Nintendo, it’s hard to recommend Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Die hard fans of the franchise might get kick out of it but it doesn’t take long to see that it lacks depth and challenge. Ultimately, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is an average game that fails to reach the same levels of quality and fun as its contemporaries. The two different gameplay styles is a cool idea but neither offer anything that hasn’t been done better in other games.