If you grew up in the 90s, chances are that your childhood was marked by the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In 1993, producer Haim Saban adapted the 16th season of the Japanese television series called Super Sentai to create what came to be known in America has the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. During the first few seasons, the show’s story revolved around teenagers who gained the ability to morph into powerful rangers in order to stop the evil Rita Repulsa from taking over the Earth . Spawning countless more seasons to the show, numerous movies, toys and video games throughout the 90s, Saban’s Power Rangers soon became a cult classic.
In 1994 a video game, entitled Might Morphin Power Rangers (MMPR), based on the TV series came out on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was developed by Natsume and released by Bandai of America.
Although I was surely aware of who the Power Rangers were as a child, I wasn’t that much of a fan of the series. I believe this might help me deliver a more authentic analysis of the game rather than a nostalgia-driven review.
Controls and Gameplay
At first glance, the MMPR game seems like a rather simplistic beat ’em up. Even though you get to choose your ranger at the beginning of each new level (called area), the move set of your character seems quite limited and too similar from ranger to ranger. During the first half of an area, your character resembles a civilian and can only perform a jump and basic attacks using the Y button. Upon reaching a certain point in the level, your character will morph into a Power Ranger and unveil some more moves. Using Y and the directional pad will cause your ranger to use slightly different attacks with various strength. Your ranger will also get the ability to use a special attack that will eliminate every enemy displayed on the screen. You will most likely be able to use this move once per level as the item used to replenish it appears to be very rare.
During the first level out of seven, you will find yourself constantly walking to the right and scrolling to the next screen while fighting very easy enemies. The enemy A.I. in the game can be very awkward. The enemies cannot really jump nor run; they will only walk in a linear movement. Also if you don’t move your character, the enemies will most likely not move towards you and will wait. You could probably let your ranger stand still in the game, then go grab a cup of coffee and walk your dog before you continue your gaming session and your character would likely still be alive (at least during the first few stages of the game). But as this is a beat ’em up, you will probably want to move forward and attack the enemies yourself as you progress through the level. So the weird way the enemies can behave might not affect your enjoyment of the game.
In addition, the enemies can be hit by different hazards found throughout the levels (e.g. lasers, ranged attacks from other enemies, …) making it much easier to defeat all enemies on screen before walking to the next one. The hit detection can also feel a bit awkward from time to time, especially when you are fighting a flying enemy with a smaller sprite than usual. Even though you might stand right on top of the enemy’s sprite, you can’t seem to be able to hit it. Fortunately, this situation only happens a couple times in the game.
On the brighter side, rather than remaining a simple side scrolling beat ’em up like you would have initially thought, the game rapidly evolves into something a lot more satisfying. Indeed, MMPR is a beat ’em up that borrows a lot of elements from great games of other genres to keep things interesting. As you progress through the levels, the game’s difficulty will slightly increase and new components will regularly come into play. For example, during some stages you will find yourself playing a (simple) Mega Man-like platformer rather than a basic sidescroller. You will also be able to jump and climb walls à la Ninja Gaiden on some levels. Moreover, as you reach the later levels of the game (area 6 and 7), MMPR becomes a very fun and light ‘mech’ fighting game with a completely different move set than the one you had as a ranger. This part kind of reminds me of a Super Famicom game called Gundam Wing Endless Duel as you transform into an enormous robot (called ‘Megazord’) and fight with gigantic bosses.
Graphics and Audio
MMPR offers truly great visuals for a SNES game. The background and characters’ sprites are quite colourful and crisp. The in-game art almost resembles that of a cartoon show and this is in my opinion a very pleasant aspect of the game. As this beat ’em up slowly evolves to incorporate components from other genres, the level design and art style also changes. Rather than seeing the same old street throughout the whole game like in some typical beat ’em ups, the game’s art designers will take you to numerous areas, each having their own visual characteristics. The design of the various enemies and bosses seen in these levels have been taken from the MMPR TV show.
The sound effects used in the game are somewhat well done but not noticeably outstanding, although it serves its purpose. While the effects may seem of average quality, the soundtrack of MMPR is excellent. The tunes offer a mix of ”synthy” rock music that will encourage you to move forward and keep beating the enemies down. You will also find among the tracks some classic Power Rangers music including the series main theme with a voice singing the lyrics. The amazing soundtrack is surely one of the strongest points of this game even though the tunes might appear a bit redundant as they will start over at the beginning of each new major segment of an area.
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game is very short. You will most likely be able to beat it in one sitting. The save feature is non-existent and replaced by a password system that can seem a bit useless for two particular reasons: 1) the game lasts for about an hour and 2) is fairly easy. This is probably due to the fact that the Power Rangers’ target audience were children … but then again that is not a very good excuse since some – if not most games of this time were harder and also aimed at a young audience.
Although if this can be seen a flaw, it can surely also come out as a good thing. This game is easy, short, has simple controls that you can quickly master and offers a wide diversity of levels to keep you interested in playing. This makes MMPR a perfect game to pick whenever you feel like playing a quickie or don’t have a lot of time on your hands but want to play some SNES. Because it is so short and sweet, I often find myself playing this game over and over even if it does not really seem like one of the top games available for the system.
Since in my opinion the good aspects of the game clearly overcome the bad ones, I grant this game 4 out of 5 stars.
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