Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
  • Genre:
    • Beat 'Em Up
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • Natsume
  • Publisher:
    • Bandai
  • Released:
    • US July 1995
    • UK 1995
Score: 70%

This review was published on 03/15/2018.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is a side-scrolling beat 'em up developed by Natsume and published by Bandai for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was originally released in North America in July 1995 and Europe in 1995. This is considered to be the sequel to the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game for the SNES, which was also developed by Natsume. Like that game, a number of different games were released under the title of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie for a couple of other platforms, such as the Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, and Game Boy. Even though they share the same name, these games are completely different from one another. As such, this review will be exclusively about the SNES version, because it's arguably the best of the bunch. Despite boasting far more features over its predecessor, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is the slightly worse game overall.

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In the early 1990s, a live action superhero television series called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was born. It was essentially an American localization of a Japanese TV show known as Super Sentai, though it had enough new footage to be its own thing. Super Sentai was made by Toei, but Saban Entertainment handled the distribution of Power Rangers. Either way, Power Rangers was a huge hit, spawning a line of toys and other merchandise. The series was so popular that it became a pop cultural phenomenon, and is remembered to this day. Shortly after the success of the show's first season, Saban decided to make a movie called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. As uncreative as that name is, this is the first Power Rangers production to not feature any archived footage from Super Sentai. First airing in theaters on June 30, 1995, the movie was successful financially, but received middling and polarized reviews from critics. Several games were made based on the movie, and this is one of them.

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Together with their class bullies, Bulk and Skull, the titular Power Rangers participate in a charity skydive for the Angel Grove observatory. This whole thing is in anticipation of Ryan's Comet, which is scheduled to pass by Earth in two days. Skull and Bulk miss the target landing zone and accidentally land on a construction site where a giant egg has been unearthed. The main villains of the show, Lord Zedd, Rita Repulsa, and Goldar arrive at the construction site and crack open the egg, releasing an evil morphological being from 6,000 years ago named Ivan Ooze. Prior to his imprisonment, Ivan ruled Earth with an iron fist until he was overthrown by Zordon and a group of young warriors. Freed from his egg, Ivan hopes to get his revenge on Zordon and retake Earth. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers must now make history repeat itself by saving Earth from this ancient evil. That's the movie's premise, but the game does take some pretty big liberties.

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The controls are pretty basic: the d-pad is used to move around and duck, the B button is used to jump, and the Y button is used to attack. The combat has been simplified considerably since the last game, as rapidly tapping the Y button no longer results in combos and throws have been removed entirely. In place of those things, you now have the ability to jump between the background and foreground by pressing the L or R buttons. Enemies are capable of performing this action, as well. Depending on the area, this might also have you switch between an upper level and a lower level. If there are objects between you and the background, then you won't be able to switch planes. You can also knock enemies into a different plane by attacking while holding up on the d-pad. While the plane switching is a neat feature, it doesn't make up for the lack of depth in the combat, since beating up foes is still what you primarily do in this game.

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When you kill most enemies, they'll drop little thunderbolt icons. Picking up these thunderbolts fills up a "power" gauge at the bottom of the screen. By pressing the X button, you can expend a bit of your power gauge to use a special attack when you aren't morphed. However, if you press the X button when the gauge is completely full, you'll morph into a mighty Power Ranger. Morphing fully restores your life bar and increases the power of your basic attacks. If you fully fill up the power gauge again after you've morphed, it'll start to flash wildly and slowly drain on its own. During this, you'll be able to use your weapon until the gauge has been fully depleted. Naturally, weapons have more reach and are even more powerful than your limbs. Additionally, if you press the X button before the flashing gauge is depleted, you'll trigger a powerful attack that hits all foes on the screen for major damage. The power gauge is the only thing giving this game a shred of depth, so it's an appreciable effort. However, the way in which the game limits your use of weapons is lame.

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All of the playable characters are taken directly from the main cast of the movie. Those include Tommy Oliver as the White Ranger, Rocky DeSantos as the Red Ranger, Adam Park as the Black Ranger, Aisha Campbell as the Yellow Ranger, Kimberly Hart as the Pink Ranger, and Billy Cranston as the Blue Ranger. Initially, all the characters will appear to be nearly identical outside of their looks and animations, but there are some subtle differences between them. For one, they're all capable of performing unique special attacks outside of their suits if you press the X button when enough of the power meter has been filled. For example, Tommy executes a spinning screw kick, Rocky kicks across the screen, Adam does a Hadoken-like move, Aisha uses her rump as a weapon, Kimberly performs a somersault kick, and Billy throws grenades. When morphed, they all have different weapons, though their specials are effectively the same despite looking different. Anyway, the characters are a little more distinct when compared to the previous game, but still not distinct enough.

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As with the last title, the "Putty" enemies from the show are your main adversaries in this game. To counteract the fact that you can't do combos anymore, most enemies die in one or two hits. This gives the game a more visceral feel, but it also simplifies combat to such an extent that it becomes dull. It's for this reason that the game has a bit more going on in terms of level design. In the first stage, you start out on the city streets before progressing into a mall, and then the whole place goes up in flames. During the fiery part, you have to avoid Mario-like fireballs that shoot out from deadly pits. The second stage places you on an aircraft carrier out on the high seas, where wind assails you as you're assailed by assailants. Within the third stage you'll find yourself snowboarding down a snowy mountain. Some of the bosses are taken from the second season of the TV show instead of the movie. The level design isn't too bad, but this game is much harder than the last title, as you have fewer hit points and limited continues. Also, the Megazord battles of the previous game are totally absent here.

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The SNES version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was already a little lacking in the depth department, but this game is even more shallow. It's a beat 'em up with no combos whatsoever. However, while it's a step down from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on the SNES, the game is not without its merits. Besides having somewhat decent level design, it also has cooperative play between two players, which is something the previous game lacked. As far as licensed titles go, this is still one of the better ones out there. At the very least, it's the best game based on the Power Rangers' first movie.

Word Count: 1,359

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