I loved the old Power Rangers fighting game that I’d played on the Mega Drive in my younger years, so I actually went into Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid with some expectations. Sure, it wasn’t coming from some super-established developer that’s prolific for crafting the finest fighting games whilst it also looked like it clearly had a small budget, but the thought of taking part in some epic showdowns between the iconic heroes and vicious villains of the franchise? Count me in.
In fairness, developer nWay have actually done a good job in putting together a fighter that’s fun to play. However, despite having a wealth of options to choose between, it’s in the game’s roster where it really disappoints with just nine characters to play as. It’ll leave a sour taste in the mouth of Power Rangers fans who’ve given the game a try and leaves the whole experience feeling a little bit too bare-boned.
Gameplay-wise, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a three-on-three fighter with players able to swap characters mid-combat, pull off assist moves, and even link together combos to dish out heavy damage on your foes. It’s essentially like Marvel vs Capcom, with each team member having to be defeated in order to be deemed the victor. Besides your three characters, you also have a choice of three Mega assists to bring into the battle – you can use these once one of your characters has been defeated and their attacks cover most of the battle arena, so they can do some real harm to your rival’s health bar. Again, like Marvel vs Capcom, the swapping of characters adds a tactical touch to each battle, with well-timed swaps and assists making the difference between a victory and a loss. The health bar of your inactive characters will charge up a little too, so it’s a good way to give yourself a breather if you find that one of your better characters is running a little low.
Add to that the fact that the game itself is pretty accessible thanks to just how easy it is to pull off combos and super attacks, and you’ll quickly find that Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid can be pretty fun to play. It feels slower paced than other arcade fighters so you’ve got a lot more time to think your actions through too, be it unloading a multitude of combos, switching up characters, or just blocking some incoming attack from a foe. Sure, it can keep things a little simple at times, but it’ll ensure that anyone can just pick up the game and be half-decent at it regardless of their experience with the fighting genre.
It doesn’t matter if a fighting game is fun to play if it doesn’t have a good roster though, and unfortunately it’s here where Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid disappoints massively. You know how the franchise has a rich selections of different Power Rangers on offer as well as a ton of different villains? Well, you’ve only actually got nine characters to play as in the game and that doesn’t even include a full team of Power Rangers. There is a mixture of heroes available based upon the different TV shows (some of which feel a little too similar to play as), but the villains are a pretty disappointing – you have Lord Drakkon, Goldar, and the Mastodon Sentry. Whilst I’ll always have a lot of love for Goldar, seeing iconic foes like Rita, Lord Zedd, Dai Shi, Emperor Mavro and Ivan Ooze not make the cut was a HUGE shame. The developer has promised more fighters are going to arrive in the future (in fact, the first three have been confirmed to be free which is great), but it’s difficult not to feel short-changed by what’s on offer to begin with.
Oh, and the arena selection is disappointing too, with only five levels to play across. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid might not be a full price game, but that’s no excuse for it to feel so lacking as far as the content included is concerned.
Whilst the lack of content is hugely underwhelming, it doesn’t mean you won’t have fun playing Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid with friends in both the local and online multiplayer modes. Admittedly, I haven’t had a lot of luck getting into too many online matches, but those I have played have been lag-free and played well. Playing locally with friends makes for a good time too, even if it won’t take you long to experience all of the different characters and levels there are to play across – as mentioned earlier though, it’s an accessible game so playing with a bunch of friends together should make for some surprisingly competitive showdowns.
If you prefer playing fighters on your own you’ll be glad to see there’s a story component attached to the standard Arcade mode, though it’s lacking in any real depth and cinematic presentation. It mainly consists of a few text messages to read in-between showdowns and isn’t really up to much, but hey, it adds a bit of personality to the game and seeing the Power Rangers from different generations interact with each other is neat. Outside of that there’s not a lot to get stuck into as far as single player is concerned though, so unless you’ve got a second player to join in you might be done with the game after an hour or so of playing.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a lot of fun, even if it doesn’t offer the same levels of depth seen in other titles in the genre. It’s also accessible enough for just about anyone to easily pick up and play it thanks to the ease of the controls, with things like assists, combos, and special attacks nailed together with a few buttons presses. It just makes for an enjoyable time.
However, a lacking roster and selection of arenas to battle across ends up leaving the game feeling more underwhelming than anything. With only nine characters to battle with (a lot of which actually feel really similar anyway), even the most dedicated of Power Ranger fans are going to be left bored after just a couple of hours play. Add to that a lack of different game modes outside of the multiplayer and this might be a fighter you’ll want to give a miss – at least until the free DLC characters start coming out anyway…
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch