Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid Review
I’m pretty sure Power Rangers is inadvertently one of the reasons I am a nerd. OK, there are plenty of reasons. However, being exposed to colourful ninja teenagers and giant kaiju-inspired mechs battling it out probably had something to do with it. Now, not only does that lend itself to some must watch TV for 90’s kids; it seems like obvious source material for a fighting game. Surprisingly, Battle for the Grid is the first to make it to console for over two decades.
Developed by nWay — the team behind mobile hybrid-fighter Power Rangers: Legacy Wars — the basics for a fighting game set in the Power Rangers universe are most definitely here. Unfortunately, that’s about where it starts and ends for Battle for the Grid and “basic” is definitely the most accurate description.
A simple, team-based, 2D fighter, with an unremarkable look and even more uninspiring arenas, Battle for the Grid leaves a lot to be desired right from the beginning. The combat is basic, with light, medium, heavy attacks and a couple of extra moves thrown in alongside assists from your teammates and mostly bland (but character-specific) super moves. Battles played out incredibly similarly, with combos chaining in the same way each time and seemingly no room for anything more complex than a few quick hits and the potential for a corner juggle. Even building up a super move or unleashing a Megazord lacked the proper pomp and circumstance, arriving with more of a whimper than the expected bang.
It’s certainly a fighting game, albeit not a very interesting one.
Modes are broken out into Arcade, Versus, Casual and Ranked modes; the latter two being online modes. I played Arcade and beat the seven stages in around forty minutes with one team of three. The difficulty curve wasn’t significant nor was the variation, but we’ll get onto that shortly. Trying to find a fight online was tough — disconcerting seeing as we’re less than two weeks out from launch — but worked without a hitch in the few matches I played. There’s a training mode too, but there’s not much skill to hone.
Mediocre gameplay is pretty much a killer blow to any fighting game. However, with the amount of variety you can pull from a franchise like Power Rangers — one with twenty-six seasons of TV, a huge comic book run, and a twenty-five plus year lineage — you might just get away with a passable game. After all, that’s one hell of a roster to pull from.
And therein lies my biggest issue with Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid — there are only nine characters to choose from at launch. Classic characters like the Green Ranger (Tommy Oliver) and the original Red Ranger (Jason Lee Scott), appear alongside newer additions like Lord Drakkon and Kat Manx. More characters have been promised as the game’s ‘seasons’ unfold, but that lacklustre roster is not going to keep people happy for very long. It’s a scattershot selection that isn’t going to please die-hard fans, regardless of what their favourite iteration of the Rangers is.
The threadbare roster foreshadows the rest of the game’s rudimentary approach to everything else: Single sentences of dialogue are the only thing that resemble a plot, we’re treated to minimal (although accurate) sound effects for special moves and Zords, and voice acting is nothing more than shouts of “Fight” and “KO” at the beginning and end of battles, respectively. Everything about Battle for the Grid gives it that ‘budget title’ feel. That’s not the way any fan wants to see their favourite franchise treated.
There are a few highs to be found amongst this total mischance, however. The characters themselves are decently rendered, with the few moves they have representative of their TV or comic book counterparts. Being able to rain down fury with the Dragonzord as a super move or call in a Megazord to decimate an opponent is fun; however, I can see that being short lived.
To be disappointed with a licensed game in 2019 shows how far games have come when dealing with famous franchises. How nWay has managed to fumble even the most basic fan service is baffling. Even if this hadn’t been a spectacular fighter, the opportunity to make it a fun one was there for the taking. As it stands, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a third-rate 2D fighter that you’ll likely tire of half way through its forty-minute Arcade Mode.
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