Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
  • Genre:
    • Beat 'Em Up
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • Natsume
  • Publisher:
    • Bandai
  • Released:
    • US 11/23/1994
    • UK November 1994
    • JP 11/25/1995
Score: 75%

This review was published on 03/10/2018.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a side-scrolling beat 'em up developed by Natsume and published by Bandai for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Famicom. It was originally released in North America on November 23, 1994, Europe in November 1994, and Japan on November 25, 1995. Games bearing the same name were released for various other platforms, such as the Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, and Sega CD. However, despite sharing the same title, the games on these platforms are entirely different experiences. For example, the Genesis version is a one-on-one fighting game that has more in common with Street Fighter than the SNES version of Power Rangers. Then there's the Sega CD version, which is an FMV game that literally uses footage from the television series, except the image quality is atrocious. On that note, most of these games aren't very good. The SNES version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is surprisingly decent, though, so this review will focus exclusively on it.

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In case you haven't figured it out from the above paragraph, this game is based on the TV show of the same name. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is an American live action superhero show specifically geared towards children, and it first premiered on August 28, 1993. It's the first entry of the Power Rangers franchise, which quickly became a pop cultural phenomenon alongside a line of action figures and other merchandise. The show is infamous for adapting stock footage from a Japanese TV series called Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, which was the 16th installment of the Super Sentai franchise by Toei. Most of the action scenes in Power Rangers are taken from Super Sentai, whereas the dialogue scenes are usually all new. This tradition went on for quite a while, as the Power Rangers franchise now spans many seasons. If you were a kid growing up in the 1990s, chances are good that you watched Power Rangers.

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This game takes place during the first season of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show. Set in a fictional town called Angel Grove that's located in the nonfictional state of California, the show begins with two astronauts discovering an extraterrestrial container. Upon opening the smelly container, an evil alien sorceress named Rita Repulsa was released from her 10,000 years of confinement. Once freed, she and her army of nasty aliens set out to conquer Earth. The wise sage who originally captured Rita, Zordon, then ordered his robotic assistant Alpha 5 to pick five "teenagers with attitude" to defend Earth from Rita's attacks. The five chosen teens ended up being Jason Lee Scott, Kimberly Hart, Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan, and Billy Cranston. Zordon gives the teens the ability to transform into the titular Power Rangers, arming them with an arsenal of futuristic weaponry and giant robots called Zords that can combine into an even bigger robot known as the Megazord. With these tools at their disposal, the Power Rangers head out to face off against Rita's forces.

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You start out every stage in your normal form, sans colored suit. Thankfully, all the playable characters are highly skilled at the art of martial arts, being able to punch and kick their way to victory. The controls are elementary, my dear Watson; you move left or right by pressing those directions on the d-pad, duck by pressing down, jump by pressing the B button, and attack by pressing the Y button. Like most brawlers, rapidly pressing the attack button does a simplistic combo, and you can throw enemies by pressing the attack button while walking towards them. Unlike most beat 'em ups, however, you can't walk upwards, downwards, or diagonally. Around the halfway point of most stages, you'll morph into a mighty Power Ranger. Besides the colored suit, your morphed state grants you a weapon, a single use of an explosive bomb attack that hits everything on the screen for big damage, and the ability to wall jump. The weapon isn't much more powerful than your limbs, but it has more reach, so it still gives you an advantage. Regardless, it's neat that you get to play as the main cast both inside and outside of their suits.

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The five teens mentioned earlier just so happen to be the five playable characters in this game. You're able to pick a different character prior to starting each stage, which gives you the opportunity to try them all. Aside from unique sprites and animations, there's not much of a difference between characters when they aren't in their morphed states. They all have the same basic attacks and attributes, but they do look pretty different. Billy's animations are the best, because they're hilarious. He's the stereotypical nerd of the group, so all his attack animations have him look really hesitant and afraid. Somehow, this doesn't at all hinder his performance. While they're still fairly similar, the characters do have some actual differences when transformed, like distinct weapons. Also, Kimberly is the only character in the game with a ranged attack, being that she can shoot arrows from her bow by holding up on the d-pad and pressing the Y button while morphed. Other characters merely do a powerful grounded melee attack with the same button combination. It'd be nice if the differences between characters were more pronounced, though.

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For most of the game, you'll be fighting the "Putties" from the TV show. They come in many colors, and sometimes wield weapons or shields. You'll occasionally come across robots, too, but these aren't from the show. Enemy variety is a little low, but this is made up for with actual level design. You begin in a typical city setting and eventually progress into forests with enemies that hide in the trees, factories with conveyer belts, under construction buildings with horizontal bars you cling to, caves with secret bases, and other cool places. There's even a sewer level where you must swim your way around various traps. The platforming is simple, but it helps alleviate the genre's usual monotony. Additionally, four digit passwords are used to continue the game at a later date, which is convenient. The only downside is that the game lacks co-op.

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Just about every episode of the TV series had a "monster of the week" that the Power Rangers had to defeat, except it was more like a monster of the day, considering the show initially aired nearly every afternoon on Fox Kids. This game goes for a similar concept with its bosses. You'll get a sneak peak preview of the boss in the middle of every stage, but you don't actually get to fight it until the stage's end. The fights themselves are somewhat creative for a beat 'em up. Examples include Bones, a cocky skeleton that falls apart and reassembles with fewer limbs each time, Gnarly Gnome, a garden gnome who spends the whole battle teleporting around the arena, and Eye Guy, a monster made entirely out of eyeballs. All the bosses are familiar faces from the show's first season, so you'll likely recognize them if you were a Power Rangers fan back in the day.

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Towards the end of the game, you'll enter the Megazord to fight massive monsters. Whereas the rest of the game plays like a beat 'em up, these particular battles play like one-on-one fighting games similar to Street Fighter. For instance, you'll always automatically face your opponent, and you can block attacks by pressing the d-pad in the direction that's opposite of where you're currently facing. However, unlike conventional fighting games, you still jump with the B button instead of pressing up on the d-pad. Attacks are primarily done with the Y button; you'll do sword swipes from afar, but punches and kicks when up close. If you attack while holding up, you'll do a stronger strike that's slower than the rest of your moves. To do special attacks, you press the X button once your "POW" meter has reached the appropriate level, and higher levels result in stronger specials. Despite obviously lacking the depth and complexity of real fighting games, these battles are fun.

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Natsume is no stranger to the Super Sentai series, having previously created several games based on the franchise, such as Chojin Sentai Jetman and Super Rescue Solbrain for the Famicom, the latter of which was released on the NES as Shatterhand. This game isn't as outstanding as Shatterhand, but it certainly beats Chojin Sentai Jetman. It's not amazing, but this is one of the best games based on the Power Rangers property. If you're a fan of the old Power Rangers show, then you should consider checking this game out.

Word Count: 1,447

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