Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a staple of my childhood and one of the TV shows that defined the early 90’s. As the adage goes, something is a success, so it’s manditory that must get a video game!! This was the first of several Power Rangers to hit the 16 bit consoles and it’s the first time I’ve played the game in 16 years. How has it aged over the years? Well, pretty decent, actually.
GAMEPLAY 6/10: Yeah, suffice to say, this is a pretty fun game to play. As prototypical side-scrolling beat’em ups go, it’s simple, if not mind-numbingly repetitive, but easy to pick up and play. Knock the crap out of putties, avoid obstacles, and go right.
You can choose between the five teens (What? No Tommy?!!), yet they don’t don’t have any real particular traits to aid your battle for better or worse. Except maybe varying degrees of attack range (Trini blows. Unless you’re a fan, but her range is the worst and I don’t advise picking her), outside of that, you battle through a quarter of the stage until the monster reveals itself. This leads to the morphing sequence, which is pretty awesomely handled for the 16 bit era, and you beat the ever-living snot out of putties while the theme music plays in the background.
Attacks are limited, standing strikes, crouching kicks, combos at your disposal and all while in civilian mode. As a Ranger you use each character’s respective weapon and gain one extra strike (hold up on the D pad and hit attack for the hard strike utilized in the combo), but except for Kimberly who fires the bow for long range damage, that’s kind of about it. Air strikes are altered in the same way to hit enemies that are out of reach. I think this gameplay is amalgam of the raw mechanics from Final Fight and the level design is a toned down equivelent of Mega Man stages. Later levels put an emphasis on avoiding traps and jumping puzzles with moving platforms, which can be tricky with the jumping. It’s similar to Double Dragon, where you lock into the direction you are leaping. It’s not incredibly frustrating, just a bit annoying. Putties are you primary enemy, and they can get pesky in groups. It won’t take them long to pick you off with knives……Wait, knives??! Yeah, putties have a variety of weapons that probably would have worked if Rita had given these tools to her henchmen in the show.
Dispatching enemies can be repetitive. Just get in close and wail on them, but the boss battles offer a refreshing change of pace with various patterns like teleporting and projectiles. The last two stages switch to battles in the Megazord, and while the control scheme is pretty much the same, at least both you and the enemy have health bars. Mega’s strikes are kinda slow, but effective once you get the timing down.
GRAPHICS 8/10: The visuals are pretty cool. All five Rangers in civilian mode are color coordinated and well defined. They each fight with martial arts traits from the TV show (Zack does break dance moves, Billy cowers while punching, Jason uses heavy strikes, Kimberly utilizes kicks, Trini fights with a kenpo variation). They look kind of bulky once they morph, but that’s just an asthetic thing to emphasize the “power” aspect, I assume. perhaps I read to much into it.
The primary opposition are putties, as mentioned before, but to avoid making the wave of them too monotonous, they come in a variety of colors. It makes me giggle a bit, because it looks like I’m always beating up Power Rangers fruit snacks. The bosses, all from the show, look very good and attack with an array of patterens. One problem I have, and this is an issue with most games on the SNES and the Genesis, is when some games try to go for the illusion of depth and put obstructions in the foreground. yeah it’s a nice little effect, I guess, but I’m trying to see what I’m hitting or trying to avoid, or jump over a gap. Again, something that has always bothered me with gaming for a real long time. Keep shit out of my way, so i can play my game. I already have a cat to obstruct my view of the screen. Or at the very least, put it at the top, so it’s not in the path I travel. The level designs, while on the topic, are a little substandard. there really isn’t much to look at, but I can’t say the backgrounds are terrible. Each level is nicely designed, but when you stack it up to games like Mega Man X, Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts, and Super Metroid, it pales in comparision and lacks a certain visual flare most side scrollers have. Only walking on one plain takes a lot out of it as well. I feel this game would’ve served better if done more like Final Fight and walking in thew third demonsion. The Zord battles look pretty sweet, even if one of the fights look like it’s taking place on the Godzilla stage from the old NES game.
IN CLOSING: While a repetitive game, it’s pretty damn enjoyable. MMPR is probably the best of the Power Rangers video games, especially that tournament fighter. In terms of depth, skill, and challenge, it may lack a little bit, but if you’re a fan of the franchise and want to take a trip down memory lane, this venture isn’t a bad route. But still, how in the bleeding hell is there no Green Ranger!?
PROS: Great soundtrack. Easy playability. Challenging bosses.
CONS: Wash, rinse, repeat gameplay. No Tommy is bit of a downer. No real variation of play style between the Rangers.