Having been the exact right age for it, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers hit in 1993 and blew my little mind. Dutifully watching every episode, I was convinced that most of the skill involved in karate was those guttural “Hi-YAH!”s, and that I could definitely do most of what the “teenagers with attitude” did. When I became a teenager…
It turns out that Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid has a few more moves than I remembered being in those three seasons and a chunk of Power Rangers Neo. Because, of course, this is a sideways-on fighting game - nobody has done a Power Rangers fighting game before…
This one lets you select a team of three characters to take on other players. Or, rather, on launch that was basically all that you had open to you. I’ve hesitated to write this review since launch because it was honestly so underwhelming. You had the pre-season Ranked PvP option, Casual PvP, versus, tutorial, training or the arcade mode. No, I don’t mean a story mode, think Street Fighter II where there wasn’t a reason for fighting, you just did it.
Since launch there has been a story mode added, which has 12 parts to it and follows a very similar plot to the recent Boom! Studios comic event Shattered Grid. An evil version of the Green Ranger from the future is attacking other dimensions to steal morphers. It’s a decent run of comics, and the game adapts it well enough. As you play through each part, you’re set up in multiple bouts against different foes. Sometimes you’ll be fighting as the character you’ve just been beating up, some are as the bad guys, one is incredibly short for some reason, and one has you fighting Goldar while a giant Goldar battles the Delta Squad Megazord in the background?
As well as the story mode, the team has added three more characters, bringing it up to 12 characters, not counting paid DLC or different costumes. This, of course, means that you’ll be fighting against the characters you’re playing as in PvP bouts. When you can connect to someone to fight them…
The characters in Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, as of Update 1.1, are the following 12:
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Green Ranger
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Red Ranger
- Super Megaforce Yellow Ranger
- Comic Original Ranger Slayer
- SPD Cat Ranger
- Lost Galaxy Magna Defender
- Comic Original Lord Drakkon
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Goldar
- Comic Original Mastodon Sentry
- 2017 Movie Cenozoic Blue Ranger
- Mystic Force Udonna
- Comic Original Dragon Armor Trini
Only five of the 19 different series’, the most recent movie and the Boom! Studios comic are represented - technically the Blue Ranger isn’t Billy Cranston though. Of course, to fit in with the story as presented in the comic, it was fine to have only seven of the original nine characters. Magna Defender was in a group shot, and Goldar was a cameo at best. However, they managed to fit them all in well enough, and some of the cutscenes may be hinting at some of the characters to come, including Shadow Ranger from SPD.
Speaking of the cutscenes, nWay has actually gotten some of the original actors back to reprise their roles, notably the Red Ranger, Green Ranger, Goldar and Zordon. In a press release it was claimed that Meghan Camarena was the original Pink Ranger, but although she does a passable impression of Amy Jo Johnson’s Kimberly, that was incorrect. Camarena was in an official production of the tabletop RPG Power Rangers Hyperforce, which streamed on Twitch, though, so is technically a Power Rangers alumni.
Graphically, the game looks alright on the Switch. Each character looks distinct, with their signature weapons where applicable, and the bigger characters move heavily. Each character has their own range of attacks, and though one effect from one of Goldar’s attacks is weirdly flat, everything looks very show-accurate. nWay have clearly paid a lot of attention to detail, so it would explain why the game launched with so few characters.
Unfortunately, since Battle for the Grid’s storyline is very linear, the majority of your time with the game is probably going to be spent attempting to connect to other players to fight them. Then returning to the main menu and going through the hassle of selecting your characters again, because it timed out. The problem with making your game player-versus-player focused, is that you need players to connect to.
I’ve been stuck at having only played seven of the eight required qualifying matches on the pre-season for weeks. Three of them were against the CPU, and three of them were against the same person one after the other. Horrifyingly, the first match against another player was someone who was Level 34 - I was Level 1. As it’s searching for an opponent, it has a Power Rangers-related fact at the bottom of the screen. Even though it shows one fact for each matchmaking attempt, I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of them by now…
Actually, I have an issue with the trivia itself - not all of it is factual. One claims that Lost Galaxy was the final season that Bulk appeared in - but he was later in both Samurai and Super Samurai. That’s a glaring oversight for a game that’s so full of Power Rangers knowledge.
As I’m not much of a PvP gamer, I had hoped that Battle for the Grid would have had more in the way of single player content. It’s quite upsetting that the multiplayer focus has resulted in a game that leaves you nothing to do, because it’s so difficult to find a match. You can play and replay the arcade mode, of course, but it’s unlikely that you’ll keep returning to the story mode.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is far from morphenomenal. The combat is alright, it looks good and the bit of voice acting in it is well done. Unfortunately, it’s lacking in content from the fighters to people to actually fight against. It’s great that nWay is adding in more characters for free, along with some as paid DLC, but it’s too little too late. The game came out in March and I’m yet to compete against four real people. In fact, I’m yet to meet a third real person. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t more people playing this which wouldn’t be the game’s fault, but the fact that there’s so little to do unless other people are actually playing is a massive disappointment.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
There is fun to be had here, but it’s limited by not having enough to actually do in the game. If more people were playing online it might be a different story, but it’s not.