Genre: Beat-‘Em-Up Developer: Bandai Publisher: Bandai Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
If you grew up in the nineties, or raised a child in the nineties, you no doubt knew all about the Power Rangers. If you were the former, you thought it was the most awesome thing in the world, while if you were the latter, you thought it was the dumbest thing ever created. Either way, you knew it was a big deal, as it led to a full-length movie that actually made it to theaters in 1995, which, of course, was made into a video game to cash in. Making more sense than the fighting game that was made in 1994, which had the rangers fighting each other, it was made into a beat-’em-up, one of my favorite gaming genres, so when I saw it at a store for five bucks, I had to buy it.
The game starts off with an intro showing the rangers’ faces gradually appearing behind scrolling text explaining the plot while the theme song plays- and this isn’t just the theme song that played in the show’s intro, this is the full theme song with lyrics (“no one will ever take them down, the power lies on their si-ii-ii-iiide!”). Those sweet lyrics don’t show up in the 16bit instrumental, sadly, but it’s still nice, nonetheless. Theme song aside, the music isn’t bad. It’s not as good or as crisp as some other games made during the later part of the Genesis’ life span, but it’s nice on the ears, at least. The voices, mostly consisting of “Yaaa!” when you use a special move and the Rangers yelling the names of their Zords are as expected from an average Genesis game as well, clearer than the voices in Altered Beast, fuzzier than those in VectorMan.
The graphics are just okay. The Rangers are essentially palette swaps with the same animations and such, and all look a bit short and less muscular than they did in the show (I think they were trying to make it so that the genders were ambiguous, unlike the SNES game, in which the girls were totally ripped). Again, not bad, but not impressive. I would have expected a little more from a game made in 1995. The cut scenes and images in between levels look better though; they’re taken from scenes from the show and movie and converted into 16-bit form, but they still look pretty colorful and fairly detailed.
For the most part, the gameplay is that of a standard, generic beat-’em-up. You press C to jump, B to attack, A to use a special that takes up a little health like in Streets of Rage, double tap forward to run, and hold down B to do a character specific attack, usually a ranged attack. You beat up thugs until you’re directed to advance further in the level. You get six characters to choose from, obviously the six Rangers. As mentioned before, they are essentially palette swaps, so they all play the same, save for their final hit in their combo, dashing attack where they pull out their weapons, and their character specific attack. Some levels involve a boss fight where you play as one of the Zords fighting a giant monster or two, in which the C button is now used to block instead of jump. It’s a nice change of pace after using the same Ranger moves throughout the game.
My biggest gripe about this game is that it feels like there wasn’t a lot of effort put into it. The first two levels seem to drag on unnecessarily long, with repeating backgrounds that start to annoy you, as you’ll notice you’re passing by the same “Day Moon” store sign and that bar which for some reason is named “We Need a Hero,” several times. And even then, the game is pretty short; only six levels in total, so it’s a very easy game overall. There is also a shortage on enemy sprites. The only enemies you’ll face for the first two levels, besides the boss, will be the oozemen, which are all the same: the same moves, same animations, no variety. After that it will just be the putties, and again, no change or variety in enemies until the boss.
The final boss is a bit disappointing as well. You’re supposed to fight Ivan Ooze, but it’s just Ivan combined with a bee monster called Ivan Ecto-M that looks nothing like him. It ends really abruptly, as you only need to bring him down to a certain amount of health, then the name entry screen comes up before the final cut scene, making you think, “wait, it’s over?” And of course, the whole Rangers having the same move set thing just doesn’t sit well with me.
With all these negative aspects, you’d think this is a bad game, but it’s honestly not. When I say it’s a standard, generic beat-’em-up, I mean it in a kind of good way. It’s quite fast paced and the mechanics have everything most beat-’em-ups have: plenty of moves to use, running and dash attacks, ability to throw items and enemies, multi-player, etc. There’s nothing really wrong with the core gameplay engine. It’s actually pretty fun and satisfying at the end of the day.
So overall, would I recommend it? Well, if you’re a beat-’em-up fan, or are just fond of the Power Rangers, I say go for it (it’s cheap after all). If not, there are tons of better games out there, so it depends on whether you’re willing to spend five dollars on a game that you’ll probably only play through once or twice before shelving it.
SCORE: 6 out of 10