Gamers may have spent the past week deploring Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric‘s overtly broken state, but it’s a rarity these days to discover a game that can be left alone to complete itself. Power Rangers Super Megaforce manages to secure such achievement, which will already indicate the dampening read that you’re about to wade through.
I grew up watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – their tutelage under Zordon, continual warring with Rita Repulsa and Alpha 5’s incessant yelps of “Ai, Ai, Ai” – although later bowed out when they faced shape-shifter Ivan Ooze in the 1995 cult film. My interest in the Rangers and their colour-coded spandex suits waned, instead replaced by back-to-back Pokémon episodes on Saturday mornings – a world full of monstrous critters that far more readily captured my imagination. I can appreciate that their merry band is still going strong after all these years, even if this Nintendo 3DS exclusive doesn’t particularly even warrant the attention of its fanbase.
Nostalgic pangs as the Power Rangers Super Megaforce theme thunders in on the main menu soon fall by the wayside, especially when you quickly realise that your enthusiasm for the experience will never match that fuelling the “Go, go, Power Rangers!” chant. It is Story mode that will occupy most of your time, seeing as, well, that’s the only choice. Only Museum will sway your attention elsewhere, an encyclopaedia of Power Rangers character information – which aficionados will presumably already know.
Boasting a 30-strong character list, you will select your Ranger and AI-controlled partner before diving into the available stages. These are largely combat-focused, which is a shame considering it’s merely button bashing with occasional special moves letting you lay waste to on-screen enemies. Boss encounters gear you up in a Megazord, and, while few and far between, amount to the most enjoyable scenarios that Power Rangers Super Megaforce throws you into. Swinging your colossal robotic fists at your opponent, dodging, and blocking introduces more strategic play, even if the potential behind the implementation is largely untapped.
Each Ranger can be levelled to strengthen their stats but, aside from incremental health boosts, these aren’t particularly noticeable. Those that own Super Megaforce Keys have the added bonus of scanning them, unlocking legendary Red Rangers and power-ups for their brand loyalty. Without any to hand I couldn’t test this out, but it has the potential to be the most notable interaction that you’ll have with the game.
That’s where the game’s secret, omnipotent cheat code comes into play. When playing on any difficulty below normal, simply move your character onward until you reach the next combat scenario, place your 3DS on a safe surface nearby and observe. Your AI partner will slowly but surely neutralise all incoming enemies, without you needing to even enter the fray yourself. Sure, it isn’t as satisfying nor as effective, but it demonstrates the mundane lack of challenge that lies rotting at the game’s core.
That dreariness carries over into the game’s presentation, which falls immeasurably short – more comparable to the constraints of the 3DS’s predecessor. Never-ending car parks are filled with clunky cars and yellow school buses, leaping over them to collect hovering currency resulting in your AI teammate becoming stuck – mindlessly jumping after you unsuccessfully, only to be beamed miraculously behind you moments later with an apologetic, wry smile.
It’s the clear lack of passion behind the project that hurts most, and, while Power Rangers Super Megaforce may not be the strongest contender for wish lists worldwide, it’s troubling that even fans that take the plunge will inevitably find it undeserving of the brand. Hollow and devoid of excitement, this is precisely not what to do with a treasured license.