The “Mighty Morphin” Power Rangers have had their fair share of video games. Most of them have been of the beat ’em up variety, as well as one decent fighting game in the mid-nineties. And why not? The over-the-top nature of the shows and movies translate well to gaming fisticuffs, especially if you’re going to borrow from the Marvel vs. Capcom formula. At least that’s what Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid tries to do.
It has to be said right off the bat that this is a budget title. It’s no mobile port, but there was clearly a limit to how much was being put in. With that said, Battle for the Grid does a decent job satisfying Power Rangers and casual fighting game fans alike.
The Marvel vs. Capcom formula is represented clearly. That means fast-paced, 3-on-3 fighting with assists and flashy super moves. Only this is with a Power Rangers flavor that hardcore fans of the franchise will appreciate.
Starting with the character roster, there’s representation here from the original series (Jason, Tommy, Goldar), Super Mega Force (Gia), and Space Patrol Delta (Kat). That’s cool and all, but the measly number of starting characters (9) is painfully obvious when picking a team of three. I say starting characters since there are future DLC plans, but it does make Battle for the Grid feel barebones for early adopters.
As for how Power Rangers looks, it can be serviceable at best and downright atrocious at worst. Player models are okay for the most part, but the game’s limitations are clear in the disparity between levels (of which there are only five). The biggest offender is the Command Center, especially with the super ugly Zordon in the middle. I know he didn’t look that much better in the original show, but we have the technology to spruce him up in 2019, people.
Make my value grow
Thankfully, the gameplay is somewhat of a saving grace. While Battle for the Grid won’t meet the level of speed or flash found in Dragon Ball FighterZ, it does represent its source material well. Seeing the Ranger characters flipping around and duking it out feels fluid and admittedly looks cool. Ranger Slayer, Gia, and Kat especially make the action shine with their acrobatics.
It helps also that Power Rangers has a very simple light, medium, and hard button layout. The B button acts as your special move button with different ones executed via pressing left, right, or staying neutral. It’s not unlike Smash Bros. games in that sense, but with a stronger emphasis on combos. Some timing is required to pull off the more difficult juggle combos. But otherwise, anyone can button mash their way to feeling like a badass.
Having pro fighting game players such as Justin Wong involved in fine-tuning the combat mechanics is definitely appreciated as well. Their expertise is especially felt with mechanics such as “pushblocking” being added to give combat some depth. Of course, there are flashy and damaging super moves at the cost of your meter. Then there is the game’s comeback factor with the ultra attack, which has you summon a Megazord, Dragonzord, or Mega Goldar for some screen-filling mayhem. It’s a fun gimmick that gets old fast when there are only so many giant robots to choose from.
Go, go content rangers
When you start up Power Rangers, the menu gives a few options. Ranked has you test your worth online. Casual is the same thing without the ranking system. Arcade has you battle with random CPU teams with some story elements sprinkled in. And of course, there’s Versus and Training to play local matches and practice respectively.
Online matches felt surprisingly good with only the rare instances of stuttering or dropped matches. The Arcade mode seems like a bit of a missed opportunity, however, as it could have been a cool love letter to hardcore fans. There’s very little dialogue between characters, not even when winning a match, which is strange for a fighting game. Major battles are only made more difficult by fighting enemies with multiple health bars to whittle down. You don’t even get an ending. For a game about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the lackluster presentation is extremely glaring.
At a price point of $19.99, there is some leeway to be given to Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid. It’s extremely fair for what is ultimately a fun, Marvel vs. Capcom-lite clone. There is also future support ensured with more characters and skins. If you’re a fan of the Saban franchise, this is one of the better gaming experiences you’re going to get. But it’s hard not to wonder what could have been.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
David has been involved in games media since 2012 running his own blog, YouTube channel, being a founding member of RETRO Magazine, and now as host/producer of ARGcast – Another Retro Gaming Podcast. He also dabbles in voiceover and is occasionally a stunt double for Jude Law.