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Power Rangers is a 1994 video game released on the original black and white Gameboy. It is based on the first season of the highly successful Mighty Morphin Power Rangers kids show. The program starred five young heroes who protected the world from alien invasion using martial art skills and giant robots. Sounds cool in theory, but I was never a big fan, preferring instead to watch the animated X-Men cartoon which aired on SKY TV around the same time. The game spans five levels and allows you to play as any of the original Power Rangers whose code name comes from the colour of the costume they wear.
CHARACTERS & GAMEPLAY
The roster of playable characters is made up of Trini (yellow), Jason (red), Zack (black), Billy (blue) and Kim (pink.) Irrespective of who you pick you'll end up playing as "the grey ranger" due to the system's lack of colour. Cosmetically speaking it doesn't matter what choice you make as your character's in game sprite looks identical to everyone else. Lazy presentation means that no effort was made to alter the appearance of the male/female members of the group. Surely it wouldn't have been too difficult to at least draw a more slender ranger with a slight bust for those picking the girls. Alas this wasn't the case so I can only assume that Bandai's artists think that Billy is just as attractive as Kimberly.
Gameplay is divided into side scrolling levels were fighting and platforming is the order of the day. The regular levels are followed by a boss fight were you pilot the Megazord (a robot made up of mechanical dinosaurs) and use it to take down a giant monster. When controlling the ranger of your choice one button will handle jumping and the other makes you punch. By pressing select you can activate your ranger's weapon which I never bothered using as the benefits it offered were greatly outweighed by the move's drain on your health bar. I'll stick to using my fists thank you very much. It may not be flashy, but when a single punch is sufficient to knock out enemies why bother wielding a vampiric weapon that sucks away at your endurance.
EARLY GAME DIFFICULTY
The first level which has the player patrolling the city of Angel Grove was arguably the toughest stage in the entire game. Even though the game's opener isn't particularly long I found myself dying whilst I got accustomed to the controls. The main reason for me struggling with the level was my surprise at how little damage your ranger could sustain before croaking and having to restart from the beginning. After a little practice however I got the hang of things and managed to get through one of the most unfriendly cities in America (aside from alien "putties" who try to hurt you, every street seems to have buildings were the inhabitants toss bombs at you from open windows.)
From this point onward the game got much simpler thanks to the end of level bonus stages. The bonuses stages have you avoiding incoming fireballs that are attempting to singe the Megazord. You can dodge the projectiles or swipe them away with the mech's lance. Doing well in these stages boosts your health bar for the upcoming level which made things considerably easier. In theory level two was harder than the first one, as it featured tunnelling enemies and a hail of rocks raining down from the sky, but overall I found it to be a cakewalk. This was thanks to the increased energy bar giving me a bigger margin of error to play around with in regards to how much damage I could take.
LEVEL 3 NIGHTMARE
I didn't find Power Rangers to be particularly enjoyable which I suppose shouldn't come as a big surprise. The majority of licensed video games tend to be below par and this one was based on a property I didn't care for. Out of the five tedium filled levels I would have to rank stage three as being the worst. The platform heavy factory level required precise jumping to overcome, which wasn't always possible due to the game's weak jumping mechanics. The Power Rangers have no trouble performing somersaults in the TV show, but in this game their agility has been significantly nerfed. Due to ineffective leaping I often found myself missing a platform, plummeting down to the bottom of the stage and having to retrace my steps for a second bite at the vaulting cherry.
My how I cursed the sadistic architect who designed the stage. The factory you navigated was chock a block full of annoying spikes. I can stand pitfalls with piercing hazards, it's a staple of many video games after all, but the level even had spikes on the roof! If you jumped too high, to traverse a pit, sometimes your character would end up getting impaled on the low hanging ceiling instead. The frigging spikes proved to be more annoying than any other obstacle in the game including the acid puddles in level four or laser traps in level five. Very strange level design I must say. You'd think that the game's perils would gradually get tougher the further you progress, but if anything the last level proved to be the easiest to beat out of the five on offer.
With dull gameplay and an uneven difficulty curve there is little to recommend here. Power Rangers comes across as another hastily put together licensed game which will only offer entertainment value to young fans of the show who will be less critical towards the title's obvious flaws. I was unimpressed by the game's poor animation which is guilty of cutting corners. The best example I can come up with would be the start of level four were you drop down a cave tunnel. No one bothered to draw any animation frames for when a ranger is falling so you simply stand in a battle pose as you descend down the shaft. If you press left or right during the sequence you even get to see your character walk in mid air.
The lack of attention to detail is further showcased by an area were you have to destroy bouncing boulders. Your character cannot crouch to hit the rocks so you have to walk back, fall down to a lower platform and then perform a jumping kick to shatter the stones (providing that they don't glitch and vanish into thin air which sometimes happens.) The only reason why Power Rangers escapes the humiliation of a one star score is because the boss fights were mildly entertaining. As someone who grew up watching giant robot shows I guess I got a kick out of controlling the Megazord. Unlike most of the game's regular levels the boss fights do require some degree of skill (even if it is only memorising the two attack patterns that the creature you are facing spams.)
I'd give Power Rangers a wide berth as it's no fun and poor value for money. The game is short and few players will want to endure it for a second time round to tackle the higher difficulty setting. Most of the Power Rangers games aren't up to much and this one has the ignominy of being one of the worst (if not the worst) of the bunch.