Power Rangers Dino Thunder – PS2 – Review

In today’s world of the need
for instant gratification, ADD, 1067 cable channels, and fads that change and
disappear at six times the speed of light, it’s a rare thing that any one
entity in the universe of children’s entertainment sticks around for more than
a few blinks of an eye.  The Power Rangers is one of those rare exceptions, as
it has seemingly been around since the advent of color television.  While my
son never got into the Power Rangers, there was no way as a parent of a
ten-year-old action figure fiend that you couldn’t take notice of the
phenomena.  Besides its impressive staying power, I was always a bit amazed
that it continued to survive through countless different iterations, as
evidenced by any trip down the toy aisle and the numerous different series of
Power Ranger toys.  Usually when a show changes something drastic about its
makeup, it’s a kiss of death, the jumping of the proverbial shark.  But not
with the Power Rangers, it just keeps on chugging away, as is evidenced with

In PRDT you
must control the Red, Yellow, Blue, and Black Ranger as they combat the evil
Mesogog, with the help of giant mechanized dinosaurs known as Zords.  The game
is presented in the typical licensed game/platformer style of play, with the
single difference being that the gamer has the ability to switch between
various Zords at will.  Each Zord, representing a different dinosaur, has
their own special attacks and abilities, but in practice, there isn’t a whole
lot to differentiate one Zord from the next, beyond their look.  The
differences between the Zords will be familiar to anyone who’s ever played any
game that offers multiple characters to control.  Some have lighter armor, but
are capable of moving faster, while others conversely have heavy armor and
move slower.  And of course, there is the obligatory middle of the road
characters that fall in the center of the two extremes.  Pretty standard
mechanics and sensibilities.  From there you’ll traverse nine different worlds
(3 bonus worlds) that cover roughly fifty different missions.  While
completing missions, you’ll be asked to dispatch Mesogog’s minions, as you
collect several different collectibles and or power ups, and solve simplistic
puzzles.  The puzzles seem to revolve mostly around using the special attack
of a specific Zord to clear an obstacle or switching to a Zord more adept at
reaching higher ground.

Unfortunately, this is
where the game derives a lot of its troubles.  Gamers will feel as if they are
constantly completing the same missions over and over, albeit with a different
Zord in different surroundings, across all fifty plus missions.  While this
game was no doubt created to cater to the young gamer, I’m not sure whether
most of them will be kept entertained long enough to see themselves through
very many of the missions.  Speaking of the missions, while fifty plus
missions sounds pretty impressive, most of them will take even the most novice
of gamers no more than a handful of minutes to complete.  Another problem the
game suffers from is that controlling the Zords, feels no different than
controlling a human sized character in any other game.  When controlling
dinosaur shaped and sized robots you can’t help but to expect the sense of
controlling something huge, powerful, and with hefty weight, but the Zords
feel light, insignificant, and almost floaty.  The other aspect that most
gamers would expect from controlling massive robots, especially in the midst
of environmental features much smaller and more fragile than you, is the
ability to destroy or at least damage something, anything, besides enemies,
but alas, you can’t.  Finally, the collectibles in the game feel almost like
an afterthought, and all, save for just a couple, are hardly worth the effort
of collecting.  For example, you can collect 100 Dino Bolts to replenish your
Zords health, or you can pick up Power Cells that restore power much quicker
and are dropped by every enemy you defeat.  Beyond that, there are various
other items, which unlock new Zords and worlds, of which neither can be used
in the main game.  These extras are saved for the Power Games, which is a
collection of simple bonus games.  The only collectible besides the Power
Cells worth your attention is the Dino Claw, which allows your Zord to pull
off its special attack, vital for progressing past some obstacles.

Now, for anyone that’s
read any of my recent reviews of licensed games knows that I’ve been both
impressed and appreciative of the obvious love and effort that’s been poured
into recreating the characters, worlds, and environments of the licenses. 
Unfortunately, PRDT takes a step back in that regard.  It’s not that they’re
horrible or suffer from debilitating technical problems; it’s just that
they’re very bland and sparse.  The Zords themselves are suitably colorful,
but they look almost out of place in the barren environments they find
themselves in.  There’s just not any life to the worlds.  Their animations are
pretty good and some of their attacks are flashy, but any given time, your
Zord is only one small part of the screen you’re looking at.  The enemies also
suffer from the same fate as the backgrounds, blending right into their
surroundings all too often.  On the whole, there’s just not enough detail and
polish to stand up against other games in this genre, which seem to be raising
the bar on a consistent basis as of late.

Thankfully the sound of
the game fares much better.  Not being familiar with the license itself, I
have no idea if the voice actors from the show are used, but they do a good
job of delivering their lines, with the same over the top emotion and cheese
that seems to be hallmarks of the series.  The sound effects are pretty
standard, but effective, with various grunts, groans, and explosions.  The one
aspect that I would’ve liked to see done a little better is the sound the
Zords make as they move.  Once again it goes back to what gamers expect from
controlling giant robots, we expect thunderous, ground shaking footfalls,
which sadly we don’t get.  Something as simple as ramping up the sounds the
Zords make as they move would have solved not only this problem, but also part
of the problem I spoke of earlier when I said that it doesn’t feel as if you
are controlling a massive robot.

In closing, while it
suffers from a fair amount of problems, it is by no means an awful game.  It’s
obvious that the developer intended this game for the very young,
inexperienced gamer and it will probably appeal to the diehard fans of the
show that fall into that category.  But sadly, for the show’s older fans that
have become accomplished gamers in their own right, this game will not hold
their attention for long.  So, if you’re a parent of a young gamer that lives,
breathes, and eats Power Rangers, that has trouble keeping up with an older
brother or sis’s gaming, then this game would probably make a great purchase
for your budding gamer.

Scoring Details

for Power Rangers: Dino Thunder

Gameplay: 5.5
Very, very simple
with very little variety.  There’s just not enough here to keep the attention
of anyone, but the newest of gamers who just happen to be Power Ranger
fanatics.  What is here, works and doesn’t become frustrating, it’s just on
the under-whelming side of things.


Graphics: 5.0 
Bland and devoid
of detail.  The Zords look nice, but at times they kind of reminded me of the
old Colorforms some of us old timers used to amuse ourselves with as kids in
the way that they stick out from everything else and never seem to quite fit
in with the background.  

Sound: 6.0
The voice acting
is pretty good and I’m sure the dialogue is probably in line with what is
offered on the show.  The rest of the sound is pretty basic, but functional.

Difficulty: Easy
This game is very
easy, which should appeal to the target audience.  For anyone else, there’s
just not any challenge. 

Concept: 5.0
Licensed games
are getting better and better all of the time, excelling in capturing the
look, mood, and feel of the license, while presenting compelling gameplay. 
Developers who did not take this into consideration do so at their own peril.

Overall: 5.3
While it doesn’t
stand up favorably against most of the licensed games currently available,
it’s not a failure by any means.  Young fans of the show, and their parents
will appreciate the simplistic gameplay that allows the kids to actively
interact with their favorite characters.  A good entry level game for the
beginners, but anyone else should probably take a pass, but then again, at a
budget price, older, complete diehard fans, may want to take a chance.