Picture it: Raleigh, NC. 1993. Latchkey kid gets off school bus and walks home. He gets inside, plants himself next to his sister and cuts on the TV. A guitar riff rips through the living room. It’s time again.
As it stands, we are a long way from 1993. But Hasbro, Lion’s Gate Pictures, and BOOM! Studios have seen to it that the Power Rangers are more alive than ever, creating works of art (and enough action figures to float the plastic industry for another decade) in the process.
A New Way To Play
nWay Entertainment decided to combine our chromatic heroes with another 90s latchkey kid touchstone: the arcade fighting game. The result is Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid. This is a three-on-three fighter akin to Dragon Ball Fighterz or Marvel vs. Capcom 2. In it, you choose your team of three rangers from throughout history then punch, kick, and fireball your way to saving the Grid that’s being battled over. The goal is to stop breakout comic book villain/rockstar Lord Drakkon from taking over the Grid and creating the events of “Shattered Grid” all over your TV screen. The combination of craft, source material reverence, and tight gameplay make the game a good time.
The game is tight, y’all. Between tightness in controls and being good on a tight budget, it really hits the mark. Mechanics are key in this game. It’s got a second nature feel while also making a game that feels new from the basics of team-based fighters. There are three basic attacks and a special. They stack, they link, they tap together to make auto combos and come together to make advanced combos and do it all smooth and crisp. Ever played Marvel vs. Capcom? Put it in 3D and replace the Hulk with the Dragonzord and it’s a dead ringer. For all the proof you need of that, I’ll give you a fun fact: this game was play tested by fighting game legend and fellow fat guy Justin Wong. It’s low lag. It’s fast paced. It’s FUN in an era that forgets that that’s a thing games can be. The game is nice to look at visually. It’s not cutting edge, but it is well beyond passable. And at just $20, it won’t be one you agonize over buying if it’s your bag.
Options, Good and Bad
At the same time, BftG is not without flaws. The most glaring ones come at you in waves, in that they are all present from jump, but you gotta take them one at a time. First of these is the roster, at a massive nine characters at launch. You, of course, get Jason and Tommy. You also get the Mastodon Sentry, Ranger Slayer, and Lord Drakkon from the Boom! Studio comics.
There is also Mia, or Super Megaforce Yellow, and SPD Kat Ranger. Finally, you have Mike Corbett, or Lost Galaxy’s Magna Defender, and Goldar. Let me be clear – I’m not into fluff. However, I’m also not into a fighting game whose roster I can name entirely from memory with no effort. I’m also also not into the endless quest to make Super Megaforce a thing people like. I’m also also also not into the fact that NOT A SINGLE BLUE RANGER IS IN THE BASE CAST.
East coast ain’t got no love for Billy Cranston or TJ aka Blood2Crip aka Selwyn Ward First Black Leader of the Power Rangers? On a scale of 10 that loses you a solid point right there, but I’m saved, so I won’t count it this time. Beyond that, the online leaves a bit to be desired as they require you to trudge through CPU battles before you get another person to match up with. The single player consisted of…arcade mode, at launch. While fun, this left much to be desired in the story and writing department, a standard which has been built on the backs of NRS and their Injustice and nu-Mortal Kombat franchises.
There’s Always a Patch
You may have noticed that the words “at launch” came up a couple of times when going over the tripping points found in this game. Well, that’s because nWay released a BIG post-launch patch shortly after release (and before the first draft of this review was set to run. Womp womp). This patch addressed a few of the issues, though not in a way I would say satisfactorily buttons them up. The relatively weak sound and single player was shored up with a story mode, complete with returning cast members: Austin St. John as Jason, Jason David Frank as Tommy/Drakkon, and even DJ Fielding as Zordon! Additionally, there are 3 more characters to play with. These are Power Rangers Mystic Force’s Udonna, The Cenozoic (2017 movie) Blue Ranger, and the Black Dragon Armor Yellow Ranger, from the Boom! Studio comic once again.
On the one hand, FINALLY A BLUE RANGER. I know the game’s only been out a month, but the exclusion was felt hard. Further, it’s cool that the devs listen to the community, and hopefully they keep that energy moving forward. Still though, it comes up a bit short in the grand scheme.
All told, this was a fun romp through nostalgia and a great game for hardcore fighting gamers in way that a game like Divekick is – mechanics on point, at the expense of everything else. I would definitely give it a go, especially for the low low price of $20, but be wary that this is an oceanic idea reduced to a kiddy pool. Splash at will but expect at your own risk.
I give it 7.8 dramatic KIYAH’s out of 10. But let’s talk about it.
Written by guest writer DJ Rogers. You can follow his nerd adventures and gaming thoughts on Twitter.