Power Rangers: Ninja Storm is a Gameboy Advance video game based on the long running kids show of the same name. The series was known for mixing story segments featuring American actors with action sequences lifted from the Japanese Super Sentai shows. The combination was a big hit and no one seemed to notice the most politically incorrect casting ever. The girl naturally had to be the Pink Ranger, an African American was selected for the role of Black Ranger and the Yellow Ranger was an Asian chick. Speaking of the Yellow Ranger, did you know that they picked a girl for the part even though the fight scenes featuring the character were recorded using a costumed Japanese man? Is it a lady or a boy? Sounds like a Thai holiday nightmare come true.
I have very little to say with regards to the game's plot as I haven't got the foggiest what it is. The in game cut scenes merely show bad guys up to no good prior to a level starting. There's no text describing what is going on so I can only presume that they wrote the story in the game's manual, which I no longer have access to. I cannot even hazard a guess based on the TV show as I never watched it. When it originally aired I was too old to be interested and besides I was already tired of ninja stuff having watched reruns of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles a million times over. I must however say that the show's cheesy theme song was rather catchy. Go, go Power Rangers... you mighty morphing power rangers!
The game's audio and visuals aren't terrible, but they won't be winning any gaming awards either. The graphics are nice and colourful, but the character designs don't seem to mesh. The Rangers are drawn realistically, almost as if they digitised the actors in question, but some of they enemies they fight look cartoony (such as a giant plant with a face which you encounter in level one.) It's almost as if two different artists worked on the title and didn't communicate with each other. That flaw coupled with bland repetitive backgrounds really lowers the quality of what you see on screen. The soundtrack isn't much better either. It's another example of a game with mediocre tunes that loop over and over to the point that they start to get annoying.
Simple is the best word I could use to describe this game. You pick the Ranger of your choice and then control him through a number of side scrolling levels beating up the enemies that get in your way. Pressing the attack button slashes your sword which can be switched for a ranged weapon by picking up the relevant power-up. There are no combos to perform and frankly they are not needed as most of the bad guys you come across will go down in one hit. Using the L button performs a special move, but I barely used it as the regular attack seemed to get the job done. The only other significant move in your arsenal is a weak throw that can knock down oncoming enemies and break down obstacles that get in your way (such us fences or cars.)
Pressing one button to down weak enemies gets real old real fast and the tedium isn't alleviated by varied enemy types. All the bad guys you come across in the levels look the same aside from a slight tweak to the colour scheme of their outfit. The colour of your foe determines what is special about them (e.g the yellow ones perform a baseball slide attack, the red ones can take more damage before dying etc) but it is rare to see them do their thing as most of the time you knock them down before they can unleash any offence. The only variation comes in the form of end of level bosses who aren't particularly tough. They all have easy to memorize attack patterns so it is easy to fend them of with hit and run tactics. Some of the easier bosses didn't even require dodging as you could trade blows with them and win as your energy bar would outlast theirs.
Beating a boss isn't enough to complete the stage though. Before you clear the level and earn a password to save your progress you must battle a giant guardian by piloting your Ranger's transformable mecha. I was expecting the action to switch to a fighting game at this point, but what we get instead resembles a dance game. You press the prompt that appears on screen (for example A and up) to land a hit before the monster you are battling strikes. After dealing enough damage the bar at the bottom of the screen fills up allowing you to perform a death move that blows up the bad guy. One thing of note is that these duels always take part at a forest outside of the city. It doesn't matter whether the level you are on is underground, in a warehouse or alien lair you always end up in the forest. You know the developers were lazy when they cannot be arsed to draw enough backgrounds to cover every stage.
There's very little to recommend here. Power Rangers: Ninja Storm is a run of the mill side scroller that gets boring after a few minutes due to its overly simplistic fighting engine. I can only imagine that hardcore fans of the show with an age that doesn't reach double digits would enjoy this. They will be content with playing as their heroes and won't get frustrated as the title is lacking in difficulty. The parents who cough up cash to purchase it may however be less than amused when said child is pestering them again for a new game seeing as how Ninja Storm can be completed in one sitting. Do yourself a favour and give this a wide berth. If this game was a character from the show it would be the Turd Brown Ranger.