If you happen to have read my review for Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid when it dropped back in 2019, you will probably have sensed the frustration I had with it. Not because it was bound to be the rubbish licensed tie-in that I was initially expecting, but rather more surprisingly by just how much potential the three-on-three competitive fighting game possessed.
Its very soul was directed by lead combat designer Daniel “Clockw0rk” Maniago, a respected competitor from the Marvel vs. Capcom scene, along with a little balancing help from some of his friends, including fighting game legend Justin Wong.
The result of such knowledge was clearly evident within the game’s core gameplay from day one. Unfortunately, all the potential and possibilities in place were bitterly overshadowed by the bare-bones presentation of a rushed product that was simply unfinished. It felt less like an early access attempt to entice fans of the series, and instead, presented itself more as a proof of concept for a conceivable crowdfunding campaign.
While it’s true that there’s no second chance at a first impression, that’s not to say that all is damned for eternity. At least, that’s certainly not the case for Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Super Edition. For not only does it come back swinging in blazing Super Sentai-style force, but it also manages to do so by teaching the bigger boys of the genre a thing or two whilst dangling off a shoe-string budget.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Super Edition essentially takes all the post-launch DLC Fighter Packs and a plethora of drip-fed improvements and compiles them all into a single, much more complete and affordable package. Voice over work from some of the TV cast members across the generations is now present, a story mode addition coined by the creators of the comic book series has been added, and a practical online lobby system helps bind together a much more comprehensive offering that essentially improves upon, well… pretty much everything.
The game’s roster has drastically increased from an underwhelming cast of nine characters to now a far more respectable 23 in total. What’s more, Capcom fighting veterans Ryu and Chun Li have returned to their role as the Crimson Hawk and Blue Phoenix Rangers after their previous stint in mobile card brawler Power Ranger: Legacy Wars.
It’s certainly a 2D fighter that has progressively built up a following for good reason, and adding two of the most famous fighters in video game history will hopefully help broaden the attention that it deserves. While Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Super Edition usually lacks command inputs to dish out special moves, both Ryu and Chun Li do require their traditional quarter-circle motions and charge attacks to get the job done.
As for the rest of the cast, you can expect a simple universal control mechanic that is still very capable of distributing a strong variety of moves, personalities and interesting play styles across the board. Low, medium and heavy attack buttons can be mixed up and combined with a Super Smash Bros.-style special attack button to help bend and break the rules. This means newer players can finally learn to grasp the madness of a team-based 2D fighter without being completely dedicated or becoming overwhelmed by the usual thumb-flipping pyrotechnics that can often be required.
Yet despite accessible combat options, you shouldn’t go in assuming the playing field is completely dumbed-down and on equal footing. Those who have the skill and experience for timing and distance management can juggle the opposition with potential touch-of-death combos, should the underpinning combat algorithms be deciphered.
With that said, the unfortunate lack of a Guilty Gear-style “Burst” or some form of combo breaker feature will inevitably be enough to scare off some. After all, the idea of helplessly witnessing a chosen team getting the sparks knocked out of them by a seasoned opponent whilst praying to Buddha hoping for a turn to hit back can feel both, demoralising and frustrating as can be expected.
However, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Super Edition does its best to reach out with an olive branch to help provide enough incentive and encouragement for a keen practitioner eager to learn the ropes. And for others, maybe even provide newfound respect for what these particular over-the-top combo-heavy types of fighting games are all about.
Outside the relevant and easy-to-follow tutorial system, the best place to learn all this of course would be to hop between the training mode and participate in battles online. While finding quick casual matches can be temperamental at times, it’s within the excellent lobby system where wars can be waged, new allies can be found and talent can be discovered. Assuming that a lobby isn’t set to private, up to eight players can join a room and match up across four battle slots simultaneously. There’s the choice to seamlessly spectate a fight whilst waiting for the match to see who you’re up against, or simply sit back and observe how others play.
I would often find myself hopping between lobbies and facing off with plenty of players with a similar skill level. Other times I would stumble across a shark tank completely out of my depth to where I would admit defeat, place my pad down, and watch competitors bringing their A-game against each other in such an entertaining and frequently educational fashion. Examining inventive ways in how players can tag in teammates to extend combos, and seeing them unleash their Megazord abilities to maintain tactical pressure can frequently demonstrate just how experimental and crazy the fight mechanics can get.
While such online dramas are expected from a modern fighting game, what makes Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Super Edition that extra bit more special is the excellent rollback netcode and how it offers universal crossplay across all formats – including the usually more stubborn Sony platforms. What’s more, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid -Super Edition manages to handle the crossplay online feature incredibly well.
Diving into ranked battles was a cinch for the majority of the time, although the absence of a best out of three runback would have helped put my salt at bay. Most importantly though, I very rarely ever experienced any lag whatsoever during a long string of fights over both a wired and a wireless connection. A feat that still tends to be quite the rarity for the genre.
What Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid has evolved into today is a far cry from the state it was released in two years ago. While it’s still evident that the development budget sits much lower than the likes of Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat 11, it still manages the mould nicely around the fibreglass helmets, lycra suits and cardboard cities that the source material is famously known for. It also happens to look half-decent on the Nintendo Switch as there is very little that has been compromised to get it running smoothly on the system. The animations that represent each fighter’s move list flow together gracefully at a smooth 60 frames per second and is more than capable of creating as much tension as any other fighter out there currently on the market.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Super Edition is far more fun and interesting than it has any right to be. To see a game evolve from something that has the potential to be half decent into a genuine contender makes it seem so much more accomplished than any world-famous studio currently pumping millions of dollars into a landmark title. Whether you are a fan of the series, have a general interest in fighting games or are an all-out combo fiend, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Super Edition is well worth the investment.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by nWay