Power Rangers Megaforce Review: It's not Morphin' Time
I like Power Rangers. There, I said it. I collect the toys, the action figures, the morphers, and occasionally dip into the Super Sentai stuff as well (the Japanese series). I realize that I'm not the target audience for it, but turns out, there are troves of adult Power Rangers fans out there. For that reason alone, I can't dismiss the fact that even though the recent games are targeting kids, they're just plain bad. In fact, the last time I remember playing a legitimately awesome Power Rangers game was the side scrolling beat 'em up for the Super NES. That game captured the essence of the series. The levels split up into parts where I played as the teenagers with attitude for the first half, and then the super powered fighting force the next, and every level featured a different monster based on the show. It was the epitome of Power Rangers, and sadly, I've yet to play a game that makes me feel like that game did.
Power Rangers Megaforce tries, and it tries really hard, but ultimately fails.
At its core, Megaforce is a side scrolling beat 'em up. Pick a Ranger, or sometimes be forced to play as Robo Knight, and move right on a given stage, destroying enemies known as Loogies and the occasional monster Boss.
Where Megaforce flips the formula on its head is by introducing level progression through stage events. Throughout each level, you'll be tasked to perform certain tasks in order to advance, though there aren't many. You'll either have to dispose of a given number of enemies, survive for 60 seconds, pick up enough Gosei medals or find the Power Card. That's it. What makes this progression worse is that it is literally the only way each level progresses. You could jump past every single enemy on screen until you get to one of these stage events, beat it, and continue to past all enemies again. It's a little flawed to say the least.
This could all be forgivable if the combat was fun. Sadly, the game underdelivers on that front as well. The Rangers have their standard weapon attack, a gun attack and a power-up move that they get later on in the game, which allows them to go into Ultra Mode. It's a straight up button masher, which unfortunately doesn't even look that great because the animations are somewhat stiff.
To round out this rather disappointing package is the framerate. It dips everytime you fight against enemies. The only time it manages to have a solid framerate is when you're fighting one or two enemies at a time. Any more than that, and you're playing in slo-mo.
However, the absolute worst part of Megaforce, which I'm not even sure kids would be OK with, is the constant chatter and banter between the Rangers while you're playing through a level. I don't know what the devs were thinking when implementing this feature but it's maddening. The other Rangers that you're not playing at will constantly talk to you, saying thin's like "Where are we?" "Don't fall in the swamp!" "Break it and see what's inside!" "Take 'em out!" "Let's finish up and go home!" Here, just take a look at this video I took, and now imagine that happens in every, single, level.
It's not all bad news with Megaforce though. The Megazord battles are somewhat entertaining, if not too easy. Basically you have a trio of options when facing a giant monster; Attack, defend and use a special move. The strategy comes in with defending at the right time. If you time it right, you'll be able to parry a monster attack and deal damage back. The special move will break through the enemy's defense, leaving an opening for an attack.
There's a bit of nostalgia awaiting older fans like me when you find out levels can be replayed as the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. It's pretty cool, I'll admit, but even after taking off my nostalgia goggles, it's a little disappointing that more work wasn't put into this. For example, when unleashing the ultimate attack, the game will show the Megaforce Rangers instead of Mighty Morphin' team. Trivial, sure, but hey, us fans care about these things.
Megaforce is one of those games that also almost entirely forgoes the use of 3D. Aside from some of the menus and the Megazord battles, every level disables the 3D functionality.
Outside of the main game, you can also scan a number of cards from the Power Rangers Action Card Game, which unlocks various in-game bonuses to various Rangers, and also unlocks a few photo frames that you can take pictures in. Some really awesome ones allow you to take a picture in the original Power Rangers morphing sequence. Also, you're able to take a picture of yourself and the game will "morph" you into battle before each level. It's cheesy, sure, and definitely could have been handled a bit better, but hey, the kids will love it.
And that's actually where I'm torn. As a Power Rangers loving adult, I can't for the life of me recommend this to any other adult fan or gamer. I also realize that I'm not their target audience, and kids who idolize the Rangers will most likely have a good if not great time with it. My kids review score would have been higher in that regard, but as a game, it's just not that great.