2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the Power Rangers franchise, with its celebration including but not limited to: the interdimensional comic crossover event, Shattered Grid, an upcoming graphic novel called Soul of the Dragon, a visual history book, the ongoing Power Rangers Hyperforce Twitch tabletop RPG series, the sixth semi-annual Power Morphicon convention, and an upcoming primetime anniversary special episode of Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel. With all of its retained and regained popularity, why haven’t we seen a modern triple A style game based on the franchise yet? The 25th anniversary provides a great opportunity for an announcement of one, and developers have plenty of options to choose from, but first to understand the possible future of Power Rangers games, we have to take a look into the past.
Power Rangers Games First Arrived on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis
Games based on the Power Rangers franchise have varied in quality ever since 1994. Beat’em up titles such as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, and fighting game, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition are fondly remembered, despite not holding up well. The Sega games weren’t exactly on the same level of quality as their Super Nintendo counterparts, with the Genesis version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers being a clunky fighting game rather than a beat’em up, and a lackluster Sega CD game where you might as well just be watching the show on TV instead of responding to inconsequential button prompts. Even though these games were mediocre at best, they still continued into the following generations of consoles due to the ongoing popularity of the franchise.
As Consoles Improved, Quality Worsened
Later titles each based on a then currently airing series, which started with Power Rangers Zeo: Battle Racers for the Super Nintendo, have been received rather poorly, with scores of 55 or lower. Something to note is that some series such as Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, had vastly different versions depending on the console. For example, the Nintendo 64 version of Lightspeed Rescue is a 3D adventure game, the Game Boy Color version is a sidescroller, and the PC version is an activity center, despite all sharing the same title. This lack of consistency hasn’t done these games any favors either, all receiving reception ranging from mediocre to terrible.
The 15th anniversary game, Power Rangers: Super Legends, for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS had a great concept, making select Power Rangers from almost every past season up to that point playable, but had its potential squandered by its poor quality. According to Chris Adams’ IGN review of the Nintendo DS version, “As an action game, it fails on all fronts,” receiving a 4.0 out of 10 rating. After Super Legends, the pattern for each series getting its own game continued, but still didn’t improve, which brings us to the present, where there is finally some progress being made.
Recent Releases Show We’re So Close to Having A Great Modern Power Rangers Game
In the past few years, there have been a few more Power Rangers video games of varying quality, the first of which isn’t an official Power Rangers game, but is heavily inspired by it and happens to be one of the most well received games featured in this article. Chroma Squad is a tactical RPG developed by Behold Studios and published by Bandai Namco, in which players manage a team of stuntmen who create their own studio and show after getting tired of being bossed around. During development Behold Studios was sued by Saban, but the charges were later dropped.
There was a Power Rangers console game released two years after Chroma Squad, and although it takes some cues from the beat’em ups of the past, it didn’t quite provide the experience fans wanted. That game is Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle, and it may be inspired by a few of its predecessors, but that didn’t prevent it from looking and almost feeling like a cheap mobile game rather than a real Power Rangers console game experience.
Perhaps the most popular recently released Power Rangers title is Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, a mobile fighting game which not only has characters from each series, but also features characters from the recent comics, such as Lord Drakkon — an evil future version of the most popular ranger, Tommy Oliver –, the rangers from the 2017 film adaptation, and even Ryu from Street Fighter, who received his own ranger suit and was featured in an official online short film. Unfortunately, Legacy Wars isn’t as deep or complex as the fighting games we see on consoles these days due to being restricted to mobile devices, but it may be an indication that the franchise is heading in the right direction.
The most recent Power Rangers game to be released is Nexon’s Power Rangers All Stars. A mobile RPG where players can mix and match their own three ranger team to traverse through a variety of levels, but it seems not many people are aware of it.
Now that ownership of the franchise is transferring from Saban to Hasbro, maybe we’ll be able to finally see a high quality modern Power Rangers game.
But what would a higher quality modern console Power Rangers game be like? Well there are a few routes they could go with it. The first would be a fighting game inspired by Legacy Wars, using the same characters with more complex controls. They could even adapt the Shattered Grid storyline, and have an upgrade and armor system similar to Injustice 2, where players can essentially create their own unique ranger from an already existing one — this mechanic would play into the storyline as well, and wouldn’t be the first time the Justice League inspired the Power Rangers.
Another idea would be for the next Power Rangers game to be a stylish action game similar to Transformers: Devastation, with the six original rangers as separate playable characters and a co-op mode for up to at least four players. However, this would be limited to the classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger team, and although they’re the most recognizable team, many fans could be unsatisfied with the lack of variety, which brings us to the third possibility.
One more idea for a Power Rangers game, which would again work well with the Shattered Grid storyline, would be a game which takes inspiration from Dynasty Warriors, having a giant cast of different playable characters and the ability to have at least four players in a session at once. Both Shattered Grid and the Power Rangers Super Megaforce series feature armies of rangers fighting against evil forces, so a Dynasty Warriors inspired Power Rangers game is a definite possibility.
It’s Morphin’ Time!
These are just several of the possibilities that could happen with the next Power Rangers game. With all of the changes Hasbro is making to the franchise, such as finally developing a sequel to the 2017 film and producing the upcoming Power Rangers Beast Morphers series, one would hope that Hasbro also has a different approach to licensing Power Rangers video games. It seems that we’re making some progress, but it may be some time before we see Hasbro have an impact on Power Rangers games.