Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES)

GO, GO, POWER RANGERS! MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS!!! I don’t care how old I get, that song will always make me feel like a little kid again. I don’t know a single child of the 90’s that didn’t watch Power Rangers. So while we’re already reliving my gaming childhood, we might as well dive into my television childhood as well. When I think about it now, the background of the show is just ridiculous. Take a Japanese costumed superhero show, and splice the actions scenes with newly filmed American high school drama scenes to make a whole new show. As ridiculous as it is, it worked.

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The show took off so quickly, and was marketed with so many different products, it was only a matter of time before they started making video games of it. By the start of the second season, games were being made for every system. The Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Game Gear, Game Boy, and the topic of today’s article, the SNES. It was produced by Bandai, the same company that produced all the other official merchandise, so I actually have pretty high hopes for this game. It’s been years since I last actually WATCHED a Power Rangers episode, but that shouldn’t matter. A good game is a good game. So let’s see how this one stacks up.

Gameplay

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Rita Repulsa has um, shown up in the sky and set the whole world on fire? I’m not really sure what happened because there’s no actually cut scene or text or even a story in the manual. Bad things happen, so go be the Power Rangers I guess is the only story this game is going to get. As the Power Rangers, you get to pick any of the 5 original Rangers to play as. I’m going to choose Jason, the Red Ranger, since he’s basically the leader, so he’s probably the best.

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Anyway, the game plays out as a basic beat em’ up game and the controls are kind of limited. You can only move left and right and you only have a basic punch and jump as well as a crouching attack. You can also throw enemies if you attack them while standing close enough. This will happen a lot since it’s a pretty close combat style game, which is actually kind of fun. Beat up all the Putty enemies in the area and you’ll be prompted to go to the next screen. It’s all pretty basic stuff.

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Before long, you’ll enter a park area and be confronted with a skeleton like monster. Seeing him reminds you that you can transform into your Power Ranger suit which is so much better than your street cloths. This must have scared the skeleton pretty good, because he runs away, leaving behind a small swarm of enemies for you to mow down.

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only for “emergencies”… Like pressing the button by acccident

 

Fighting in the Ranger suit is so much more enjoyable than in the human form. You feel so much more powerful, especially since you now have an actual weapon. In Jason’s case, he is equipped with a sword which gives him a huge increase in the range of his attacks. You also now have access to a screen clearing special move, indicated by the “BOMB” icon down in the bottom corner. You can only use it once so it’s best to save it for emergencies.

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I also want to note that the game has a number of interactable environmental elements, like several of the cars in the background. You’re actually capable of attacking them until eventually they explode. Probably more useful to actual combat however are the random barrels and even park benches that show up in certain levels. As you would expect, you are able to pick them up and throw them at any oncoming enemies.

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Mow down all the enemies in the park and you’ll eventually come face to face with the skeleton again. He’s the first area’s boss, and it’s actually quite an enjoyable fight. He doesn’t have any actual health bar, but he does have nice reaction animations to being hit, so that’s good enough. He moves really quickly, and you’ll really have to do your best to stay on top of him. Thankfully he telegraphs his attacks nicely making them pretty easy to avoid.

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As you hack away at him, he’ll eventually explode into a pile of bones. It’s not over yet though, he’ll just reassemble himself as best he can. It looks like he’s lost his arms during the fight, but that isn’t stopping him. Keep hacking away and eventually he’ll just be a floating head, which was actually kind of hard to fight because he’s such a small target. He’s overall not that hard, and was an enjoyable first boss.

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Between areas, you’ll be given a password so you can start from that spot again later. Honestly, thank God. Why is it that so many retro games refuse to let you beat them without dedicating your whole life to memorizing every detail of the game? Anyway, after clearing the level you’ll also be brought back to the character select screen and be able to pick a different Ranger to play as if you want. I’m going to stick with Jason for the time being, he felt really well balanced.

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Death Count: 1

 

The next area starts out in a wooded area, before switching to a warehouse like location. You’re still fighting the same generic Putty enemies, but this time there are a few environmental factors to watch out for. Things like auto guns mounted in the woods, or rolling barrels in the warehouse. These aren’t huge changes or anything, so it’s still pretty straight forward. Just mow down the enemies like usual.

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Again, about half way through the level, you’ll encounter the level boss and transform into your Ranger suit. This time around we’re fighting… what is that, a giant garden gnome? I never did like garden gnomes. They always look so creepy and vaguely evil, and this just proves it.

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The second half of the level takes place inside one of the warehouses and introduces a few new mechanics. Several of the platforms are just begging to be grabbed, which of course you can do. Then while hanging, you can swing up to the top of the platform. That’s not all, you also have to use a wall jump technique to grab some of the platforms that are just out of reach for your normal jump.

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There are a lot of interesting things in the second half of the stage. Things like random conveyer belts that don’t really lead anywhere. They just kind of pose a minor annoyance. Then there are sections with flaming garbage raining down from the heavens. Why is there just random flaming garbage? Then there are these weird indestructible spike things all over that place that seem to serve no function at all other than to be annoying.

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We eventually get to fight the giant garden gnome, and truth be told he’s actually a decent threat. He is constantly teleporting around the stage. Something I unfortunately can’t show with still images. Anyway, he’ll rapidly teleport between the various platforms before stopping on one to attack, leaving you very little time to actually get a hit in. I found it best to just stay still and attack him when he gets close. It’s kind of a slower fight, but still not overly difficult. Plus you get to kill a garden gnome. TAKE THAT CREEPY GNOME!!!

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Death Count: 2

 

We’re onto another area and this time I thought I’d mix it up and play as Trini, the Yellow Ranger. Maybe it’s just me, but she didn’t feel as strong, and it seemed like her attack range was a lot shorter than Jason’s. Whatever, she makes up for her lack of range with the comedy of her crouching attack being basically kicking the bad guys in their privates.

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As for the area itself, we’re now in the sewers, and that doesn’t really fill me with confidence. Being anywhere near water means that soon we’ll be swimming in it, and nothing is worse than video game water levels. Thankfully that doesn’t happen until after we meet the boss. It’s a, um, mass of eyeballs? I’m going to stick with eyeballs.

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I’m really starting to regret picking yellow ranger for this level. It’s not just because her attack range still seems short even after transforming. I can deal with that. No, it’s the sections where she’s crawling and an enemy is trying to poke her in the ass. The fact that she’s a woman makes that feel horribly inappropriate somehow.

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And there it is, just like I feared, we’re now SWIMMING. And just as feared, it makes the controls very annoying. To be clear, the swimming controls themselves are actually pretty good. I never felt out of control in the water. No, what’s annoying is the fact that you CAN’T ATTACK WHILE SWIMMING! Oh, but of course the enemies can still attack you while underwater. Thankfully most of the underwater section is just swimming through section without taking damage from the turbines with very few enemies around. So it could have been worse.

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It’s time to finish things with the eyeball monster. He only has a few attacks, so he’s not that hard. He’s got a laser attack which is fairly easy to dodge. Then he’ll occasionally throw a bunch of small eyeballs at you which is a good time to just hack away at him.

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After enough damage, his body will explode away revealing a giant eyeball squid thing second form. If you’ve made it this far, you won’t have much trouble with this second form either. Really the only hard part about this second form is the fact that the target is smaller, making it harder to hit.

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Back to the character select screen again, and we might as well pick a different ranger again, this time I’ll go with Kimberly, the Pink Ranger. Her range still feels kind of short, but I’ve gotten used to that after playing as Trini. This time around, it looks like we’re fighting in some kind of half destroyed hotel. Aside from new environmental hazards like falling chandeliers, this area isn’t fundamentally much different from the other areas.

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Make it to the half way point, and we see the area boss which is some kind of Genie Dog? I really wish I knew these guy’s names. I don’t want to just call him Genie Dog. Anyway, Kimberly’s transformation into the Pink Ranger is amazing. She uses a bow, so swinging it like a melee weapon gives her the best range yet.

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Also, since it’s a bow, she can shoot arrows at the enemies from completely across the screen. While the range is good, the damage is terrible. I couldn’t even manage to kill a single enemy with it. Oh well, it’s not like I would be using it much anyway.

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The second half of the level takes us to the top of the building for some fresh air. First we start out by climbing up a narrow elevator shaft from hell to eventually get to the roof. There are random electrical orbs and falling spike bombs all the way up until surprise, the whole elevator explodes and you need to jump the rest of the way. Then we get to have the fun of running across exposed I-beams and hope we don’t trip and fall to our sudden death. Exciting!

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Amazingly, this level also includes the only example of a mid level boss in the game. At least it feels like a midlevel boss. This robot blimp floated around shooting lasers and took quite a bit of damage before he was defeated. It was quite enjoyable to fight something other than the Putties the whole game. Then again, it was also kind of annoying that it stayed under the platform for quite a while, completely out of my attack range.

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Death Count: 4

 

This of course brings us to the boss fight with the Genie Dog. An appropriate name it would seem as he does fight with what appears to be magical powers. He’ll throw disks into the air which shoot lasers down on you, he’ll breath fire, even summon small lightning dragons. One of the more common attacks has him throwing 4 daggers into the air. They’ll hover and spin for a moment and then one by one dart down towards you.

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The pink ranger’s amazing attack range actually makes her very well suited to this fight. The Genie dog will teleport across the screen after each attack and the range of the bow allows you to get some good hits in before the attack finishes. The attacks are also very patterned and predictable once you’ve seen them a few times, so be quick, and be careful, and before long he’ll go down like the rest.

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So, who should I pick for the next stage? I haven’t used Billy, the Blue Ranger, Or Zach, the Black Ranger yet. For some reason Billy just looks so out of place, and slightly fat. I remember him being kind of a nerd, but I don’t remember him being overweight at all. So instead, let’s go with Zach, even though they gave him parachute pants. I guess those were technically in style then, but that doesn’t excuse them for being terrible. Then again, maybe there’s something to these parachute pants. In complete defiance of gravity, Zach actually picks up both feet and hovers there when he throws someone. It’s got to be the pants!!

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Anyway, onto the level itself. We appear to be in some kind of underground cave. There isn’t really anything else special in this area, and it felt someone short compared to the other human form sections. Not that I’m really complaining. It’s the most fun after they transform. But before that, we need to see who our villain is. This time it’s the Green Goblin! No, that’s a Spider-man villain, so let’s just call him the Green Ninja. Then again, the Japanese Spider-man show did kind of inspire the whole Super Sentai / Power Rangers show. It’s a very strange show, you should watch it if you ever get the opportunity.

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Continuing deeper into the cave, we quickly find ourselves in some kind of underground laboratory. This section is rather long and somewhat difficult. Not because of the Putties, never because of the Putties. No, this section is hard because of the variety of flying robots raining death on you, and the wall mounted guns forcing you to watch your footing.

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Death Count: 5

 

Oh, and did I mention the run though the giant laser room? That’s right. At one point in the level you’ll be running down a hallway towards a giant laser which will regularly fire at you, practically filling the screen. Your only hope is to duck down into one of the small gaps, or you’ll be consumed inside the laser’s path. It does give off a warning siren, so you have plenty of time to get in position, and I do love how the enemy Putties also take damage from it.

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Destroy the laser and you’ll soon be face to face with the Green Ninja. This guy gave me a lot of trouble before I found out a good strategy for him. He is always in motion jumping around the room. Then when you do land a few hits on him, he’ll constantly ninja smoke bomb teleport across the room.

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Death Count: 7

 

Possibly the most annoying attack is when he jumps into the air and drops a bomb on you. Normally it wouldn’t be a difficult attack to dodge, but he’s always jumping, and you’re trying to get in position for when he lands. So the attack ends up catching you a bit by surprise. Also he hovers in the air in defiance of gravity. It must be the pants again!

 

And now the moment everyone is always waiting for in a Power Rangers episode. It’s time to summon the MEGAZORD!!! This of course changes the whole dynamic of the game. Now, instead of the beat em up that we’ve been playing the whole game so far, the action changes to be more of a fighting game. For the record, I really suck at fighting games.

 

 

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Death Count: 10

 

As you’re fighting the giant horned moth thing, you might notice that in addition to a life meter, you both also have a power meter. This second meter will gradually fill as the fight goes on and allow you to do special moves depending on how far filled it is. You’ll really need these because they can do some amazing damage if you get them to land right.

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It took me quite a few attempts before I managed to beat this guy, but it was worth it in the end just for the finishing move. Summon the lightning and slice clean though him. That’s the Power Rangers I remember. So that’s it, we killed the giant monster and saved the world.

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Not quite yet I’m afraid. There’s one more fight with another giant robot on the moon! This guy is a push over compared to the last. Or maybe I’m just more used to the controls. Either way, he barely lays a hand on me before I’m rushing him ready to finish him off.

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Death Count: 14

 

OH NO!! He has a second stage!! Of course he would have a second stage. He’s now stronger and faster than before and took me forever to figure out how to beat. He just seems to be able to do so many more attacks than you can. He’s constantly throwing energy balls at you, and seems to have a few special moves that don’t deplete the power gauge. I swear one time he actually ABSORBED my special attack to refill his own power bar.

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But I think the most annoying thing about him is the fact that he can actually BLOCK your attacks. Try as I might, I didn’t find a single button that allowed ME to block any attacks. How is that fair?

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Death Count: 17

 

Don’t give up though. Every battle I learned a little more and got a little better. Eventually I did manage to beat him and it was such a rewarding feeling. It’s something I haven’t felt from the last few games I’ve played. He might be hard, but he’s not impossible, and that sense of accomplishment after you beat him is a true sign of a great boss fight.

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Not to sound racist, but could they have made Zach’s sprite look any more like a monkey right here?

 

The ending cut scene however was, shall I say, less than spectacular. All 5 rangers are piled into the car driving down the road. Then they all stop at the juice bar to watch on as Zach dances in a way only a black person could get away with. Roll credits and thank you for playing.

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Verdict

Gameplay – 7 / 10

I found the game to be very fun. Most of the game is a bit on the easy side, but still very entertaining. While all the rangers play generally the same, they do have subtleties to them that make they feel like individuals. Then when they are transformed into ranger mode, they all feel just incredibly powerful. The boss fights are where this game really shines. Every one of them was well done and entertaining, with a good balance of skill and pattern recognition. It was definitely a welcome change from some of the recent games I’ve played. My biggest complaint was with the sudden gameplay shift and in my opinion difficulty spike at the end. I can’t really say I can think of a better way to control the Megazord, but the sudden shift is a bit jarring. Then the final boss I found to be just slightly too hard in comparison to the rest of the game. It made it satisfying when I finally won, but required just enough retries to become ACTUALLY frustrating.

Graphics – 6 / 10

The graphics were generally very good. The sprites were moderately detailed, and the bosses were entertaining. The backgrounds might have been a bit generic, but they were still very well done. The low score is actually more about the lack of diversity. Right up until the area boss, the Putty enemies are the only kind of enemy you’ll be fighting. There have a few pallet swaps, but they die so easily that it hardly makes any difference. There are a few minor robotic like enemies, but they are presented more like environmental hazards than as enemies.

Audio – 8 / 10

I thought the music was generally great. It had that nice high energy atmosphere to it you would expect from a beat em up while still maintaining the Power rangers feel. Then the fact that they digitized the vocals for the main theme was a really nice touch.

Story – 2 / 10

Rita Repulsa has sent Putties to earth to…something. But the Power Rangers do…something something to stop something or something. And that’s about the entire story present in this game. Even the manual doesn’t really say anything about any kind of story. There isn’t even a text page explaining what’s going on or anything. It’s just “You’re the power rangers. GO!” Then again, the show was always about the “Monster of the Week” so there never has been a really deep story to begin with.

Total Playtime – 1h 49m

It’s a little on the short side, and you could finish it in one sitting. That’s what I did. But it’s an enjoyable length, and with the lack of diversity in enemies it would only be worse if it went on longer. But there’s a lot packed into that short time. Each stage threw in something new, and the change in play style when in the Megazord kept the game fresh right up to the end, even if it was a bit jarring.

Total Deaths – 17 Deaths

In general, it’s an easy game. The early parts of the stages before they transform can be a little difficult at time, but they all feel near invincible once they do suit up. The boss battles were where all the challenge is. They all have nice attack patterns, but they still present a decent challenge. The final boss however I felt was a little too hard in comparison to the rest of the game. The game compensates for this though by giving you infinite continue as well as password saves to start off where you left off.

Overall Score – 7 / 10

Overall I liked the game, but there just wasn’t anything particularly special about it compared to other games like says Mega Man. With only one real enemy throughout the bulk of the game, the levels didn’t really have fully fleshed out personalities and could easily blend together. The bosses however were very enjoyable and easily made up for the lack of diversity during the rest of the stage. Also it felt really satisfying playing as the Rangers just mowing down enemies. Unfortunately the putties were a little too easy to defeat most of the time. They attacked in small, easy to manage groups, and kind of shuffle around rather than charging at you. Then contrast that with the final boss fight in the Megazord, which was just a notch too difficult to not be frustrating, and the balance just isn’t there. With a few small changes this could easily be a great game, but as it is, it’s just an ok game. If you’re a fan of Power Rangers or beat em ups in general, you should give it a try, because you’ll probably enjoy it. Just don’t expect to be particularly amazed.

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The world is safe for another day

 

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