FEATURE: "Power Rangers Megaforce" Review

Longtime action game fans may scoff, but not all games are made with the hardcore in mind

I get sent the darnedest things for review. Obviously, I'm not complaining, but like the recent (and surprisingly good) Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, sometimes I get sent something that's not quite on everybody's radar. Power Rangers Megaforce is--if our last bit of coverage of the game is any indicator--not on many gamers' radars. But here's the thing: it's not just gamers that play video games. Fans of Power Rangers, and especially kids, will find a lot to love in the 3DS Megaforce actioner, so I'm taking this review from two perspectives: one as the lifelong gamer who craves challenge and good design, and the other as a wide-eyed kid who gets the chance to play as his mighty morphin' heroes.


AS AN ADULT, Power Rangers Megaforce is like a million games I've seen before. It's a side-scrolling beat-em-up that lets you play as different Rangers, where you fight your way to the end of the stage, collect items, and beat bosses. Unfortunately, all the Rangers feel kind of samey, albeit with very slight differences--the Blue Ranger has a distance weapon and isn't so hot at close-range combat, while the Pink Ranger moves faster and can jump higher than the others, letting you reach out-of-the-way items. In my opinion, one of the most fun features of the game uses the 3DS camera to take a picture of yourself, and you can watch "yourself" transform into a Ranger at the start of each level. Only the saddest person on Earth would not find joy in turning themself, or their dog, or a bottle of Spaten into a Power Ranger.




BUT AS A KID, holy crap! You can play as all five Rangers and freely switch between them in battle most times! There are sections where you have to play as one particular Ranger, usually to beat a certain number of enemies or collect items that are hidden in boxes around the level. Because the Power Rangers always fight as a team, sometimes the other Rangers will jump in and help you if you're surrounded! And you can become one of the Rangers--the 3DS camera takes a picture of you, and you transform! Each level's final boss is a huge Megazord fight in the middle of the city--all the Rangers team up and form the Megazord, and instead of the fast on-foot brawler segments, you're playing as a gigantic robot. You'll have to be more careful and put a little more forethought into these fights, since the Megazord can't exactly stop on a dime.




AS AN ADULT, this game is pretty easy. Like, really easy, even on Hard mode. Little skill at platforming or crowd control is needed--just walk forward and mow down every Putty Loogie in your path. While you can level up your Rangers by scanning in cards from the Power Rangers trading card game, this doesn't serve much purpose for experienced gamers other than getting 100% completion. As you make your way through the game, you can unlock information about the characters and a variety of photo frames and wallpapers for the game's menus and your own personal transformation screen. It's not a matter of if you can finish the game, it's when.




But looking at it AS A KID, the low difficulty's kind of a good idea. While the video games of my youth were crazy difficult, kids' video games today are more about getting to be your favorite characters and go on adventures with them, instead of getting the crap kicked out of you over and over again. For kids who are huge Power Rangers fans, it's a neat extra to get the photo frames--they'll want to go back and replay levels and get higher scores to try and unlock the different frames and wallpapers to customize the game to their liking, or get to make their transformation sequence cooler by standing alongside their favorite Ranger.




The real problem playing this game, no matter who you are, comes from the sound. Now, the music's fine--it fits the game, and is especially appropriate during the awesome Megazord boss fights, which really have a sense of scale and weight. However, while you're playing, the other Rangers chime in with repetitive advice ("Break it to see what's inside!" "Get the enemy with the card!") or completely random and pointless sound bytes ("I think I hear birds." "Where are we, anyway?") that loop over and over again, and you'll still get distracting pop-up windows while the game's on mute.


Power Rangers Megaforce isn't a bad game in the same way that the Megaforce TV series isn't a bad show. It's just aimed at a different audience from the norm, and people should be more understanding about that. I know we've got a lot of parents here on CR, so if you've got kids who love Power Rangers, this is one game that'll be in their 3DS for a long time. However, if you're a hardcore gamer and you were expecting Code of Princess or Dragon's Crown, then... yeah, I don't know what to tell you.



+ Goes out of its way to make you feel like part of the Power Rangers team

+ Megazord boss battles have a great sense of scale, especially for a handheld title

+/- Overall, the game is a little too easy, but that's perfect for kids

- Painfully repetitive "advice" from sidelined characters doesn't go away, even on mute







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