Stumbling around the forgotten past of gaming can be surprising sometimes.
Today, by Random ROB decree, I played Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers for the Sega Genesis. I’ve had an… odd relationship with the Power Rangers since I was a young buck, as the show premiered at just the right time for me to be too old for “baby stuff” like spandex clad dino warriors. While I wasn’t yet old enough to get over my own viewing insecurities, I was old enough to declare that “the kids today” were being suckered by an inferior product, and this new Power Rangers thing was nothing like my beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What’s more, clearly this whole show was a rip-off of Voltron, another darling show from when I was approximately a toddler. Screw these stupid Zords, I want my technodromes and robeasts back! Note that I was approximately ten.
But I was, as much as I loathed admitting it, a slave to brightly colored robots. I deliberately didn’t own the action figures or morphin’ bots, but I did watch the show with some dedication, despite the fact that I’d deny it if asked. Even if I wasn’t sharing my fandom, my mind was constantly racing with the possibilities of plots like the green and white ranger sagas, and that terrible time when Tommy lost his powers and Jason ran around with that silly little chest shield. My favorite color has always been green, so I was doomed to always be a fan of that sixth ranger, but I also enjoyed the remainder of the cast, whether it be cool Zack, cute Kimberly, or Billy, who, let’s face it, was probably the character closest to my own sensibilities. He used big words!
I distinctly recall visiting a theme park in my childhood, and spending all of my spare time in line lamenting the death of the old zords, and pondering the promise of the new “mythical” mechas appearing to combat Zedd. But… ya know… that show was baby stuff… I just happened to catch that new episode the night before. Yeah…
So, successfully shunning all the merchandise, I avoided Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers for the Sega Genesis when it was new. I did play the SNES MMPR game as a rental, though, and that was a mediocre beat ‘em up that didn’t require anything more than an afternoon. I was able to finish it before anyone saw me playing it, which was all I could ask for.
Eventually, I purchased both the SNES and Genesis MMPR games (and the Sega CD version, apparently? ROB, please stay away from that one) probably a decade later, when SNES and Genesis games were still floating around and freely available down the street from the super market for five bucks. At that point, as these things inevitably go, I had a certain level of nostalgic fondness for the franchise, and, hey, why not pick up a piece of childhood, albeit one my previous self would find entirely shameful.
I’m going to assume that I played the Genesis game for a whole five minutes to test and make sure it worked, and then tucked it away until today, when ROB Law demanded I pull it off the shelf.
And you know what? It’s a pretty good game.
First of all, in contrast to its SNES sibling, this is a straight-up fighting game. As I discussed in a previous post, it is my belief that fighting games are as close to movies and TV shows as video games are ever going to get. Person A has a conflict with Person B, fight, let’s see who wins. All killer, no filler. This works wonderfully for the Power Rangers, as, while I love pounding on Putty Patrollers as much as the next guy, it gets a bit old after about seven seconds, and then I’m just wondering when we’re finally going to whip out the Zords. Making this game a fighting game brilliantly subverts that issue by fast tracking along to the main event right from the start: here’s your minotaur, grab your t-rex bot, and let’s fight!
The one-player, story mode of this game drops everything lame about MMPR (learning lessons, fighting putties, karate rapping) and skips right to those all-important final five minutes where it’s just monster mashing, followed by gigantic monster mashing. Choose from any of the original five rangers, fight on foot (on the same stupid bridge background every time, I guess), win, and then everybody grows up to skyscraper size so there’s an excuse to form the Megazord. The second level condenses the entire five chapter Green Ranger Saga into two fights, and they’re the only two fights that matter (vs. Green Ranger, vs. Green Ranger in Giant Robot). Afterwards, Tommy is added to your roster, and you can even command the Dragonzord when fighting on the moon. Yes, there’s giant robot fighting in space, and that’s not something a lot of franchises seem to be able to pull off.
And, really, this isn’t a bad fighting game just for the sake of fighting. Yeah, the draw here is that you’ve got six Power Rangers, Goldar, a couple monsters, the zords, and the one-eyed robot that Goldar piloted during that one season season finale, but there is a difference between the (mostly color swapped) rangers, and everyone has a useful collection of anti-air and projectile moves. It’s no Street Fighter 2, and “combos” were still in their infancy in the genre, but I’d rather play this over Fighter’s History, or Hybrid Heaven’s Versus Mode. Or maybe I’m just impressed that they made Billy a charge character, because that makes way too much sense.
So, yes, I was surprised by this game, and in a good way. I was expecting another Izzy, or Arcade’s Revenge, but this is just a fun game. Sure, it only lasts twenty minutes, but they were an enjoyable twenty minutes, and I got to poke Goldar with those weird trident-sai-fork things, so I’ve got no complaints.
Good job, Banpresto, who apparently put this game together. Guess you guys understand the appeal of giant fighting robots. See if you can do something with that.
FGC #69 Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
- System: Sega Genesis. There are, of course, other MMPR games for other systems, but this one is unique. Actually the Game Gear version follows the same basic gameplay, but has a different roster… with Shellshock, that ninja turtle clone with a traffic light implanted in its back. I miss that guy. Oh man, that terrible little system got the Polluticorn, too?
- Number of Players: Two, as must be the case in a fighting game. I called Green Ranger!
- Bulk and Skull? Sadly, no.
- Feminism Now: With Kimberly, Trini, and the monstrous Madame Woe available, this might be the greatest number of playable women in a Genesis game. Rita is, of course, the main antagonist, and while she isn’t playable, she does get the bulk of the dialogue. And Scorpina hangs out in the background for some reason. I’m sure it’s completely by accident, but that’s a lot more women than you’ll find in the first three Sonic games (0).
- Canon? Oddly, the two “generic” monsters that appear in this game, Mighty Minotaur and Madame Woe, were two out of a total of five monsters that weren’t defeated while giant size in the original show. It’s not like anyone ever cared about the validity of the Power Rangers universe, but it’s funny how that worked out.
- Trident-Sai-Fork Thing? Apparently it was called the… Power Lance? Oh, it was supposed to be combined into more of a staff? Huh. Why does the smart guy always get a staff?
- Did you know? Most people know that in the original Japanese version of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, the Yellow Ranger is actually a man, so whenever you see the costumed Yellow Ranger in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, you’re actually looking at a dude. But a lot of people don’t remember the obscure USA original sitcom Weird Science, where, in one episode, main character Gary Wallace claims to be play the Yellow Ranger to impress some women. His lie is met with a disinterested, “Isn’t the Yellow Ranger a girl?” I have always wondered if the writers of that show knew of the international gender disparity, or if it was just an appropriate coincidence. The world may never know.
- Would I play again: Well, the game does only take twenty minutes.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Ninja Gaiden 3 for the NES! Into every ninja’s life, a giant floating fortress of death must fall. Please look forward to it!