Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie
by Polly

Like any good little cash cow property, once Power Rangers completed overtaking the airwaves of your morning and afternoon programming blocks and spawning numerous godawful spin-offs (Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills and I am NOT even kidding) it was time to make the leap to the big screen. Time to soak up even more of those desperate parents' hard-earned dollars to buy their childrens' love and/or shut them the fuck up. And of course, once the 90-minute extended episode of a cheesy childrens' TV series was over, there were also plenty of toys, clothing, and other merchandise for the grown-ups to soak all those dollars they obviously didn't need for anything important into. This obviously would include another round of videogame adaptations for all of your favorite home videogame consoles.

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie is the second SNES licensed game from the series, this one obviously based on the movie. I guess. I never saw the movie, so I honestly have no idea how close this game sticks to the film's premise, but who cares? All we wanna know is if the second Power Rangers outing on the SNES is any good! I'm sure it's been bothering some of you out there for YEARS now, so I'm going to go ahead and release you from your burden of forever having to wonder and let rip (LIKE A FART!) with this here review.

MMPR: TM fits nicely into the same genre as the first. It's a fairly standard beat 'em up with only a couple of strange quirks that's very easy to pick up, get a handle on, and put down. Again, you're presented with a selection of six Power Rangers from the movie (and I still have no idea who they are!), and again there are subtle differences between all of them, but nobody really stands out as clear-cut winners or losers. The slight variations in each characters' stupid teenager moveset makes playing as each of them at least once something you should try out, but once again when you morph into Power Ranger mode, there's not much difference other than each character's powered-up special weapon. Combat has been simplified so that each character only has one move for attacking normally, jumping, and crouching, so seriously, there's not a whole lot to have to consider here. Just pick your favorite color and go. Or if you're Rhete, pick either female.

This iteration of the series does have some nice tweaks that help make playing it feel like a lot less of a slog than the first. The first being that you have to earn your Power Ranger suit. Unlike the first game where morphing was automatic, you now collect small lightning icon power-ups from every enemy you destroy to fill a gauge at the bottom of the screen, and when it's full you can press the X button at any time to change into your Power Ranger self. Since changing into your powered-up form restores your life and clears all bad guys on the screen, there's room to be a bit tactical, using it to save your ass when you're either low on health or the odds are just too stacked against you. Charging the meter again in Power Ranger form allows you to use your character's special weapon as well as unleash a bomb-like attack that'll clear the screen of enemies and significantly damage bosses. Once you reach a boss, you'll automatically morph, but with the game's focus on having much tougher stages than before, you'll want to get morphed as quickly as possible since you'll be dispatching enemies much quicker.

The next two additions kinda go hand-in-hand. These are the inclusion of a two player mode and a sort of "lane-switching" mechanic for moving around the screen.

Firstly, the two player option is fucking fantastic. This game is a god damn blast with two players, and I've spent a majority of my time with this game in two player mode. Replaying this game again for review purposes is one of the only few times I've ever gone at it solo. It's surprsing how well this game is tuned for two players. The amount of enemies feels almost perfect, bosses are handled very well, and getting around the various stage hazards doesn't make a second player feel tacked on whatsoever. This is all helped out so much thanks to the lane-switching mechanic I brought up earlier.

While the game may look like your typical 2D brawler akin to something like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage, it really doesn't play like anything in that genre all. No matter where you are on the screen, you have no up or down movement, only left and right. In order to move up and down the screen you use the L or R button to jump to the top lane or bottom lane. This sounds needlessly convoluted at first, and you may wonder why they'd go this route instead of the standard 2D brawler set up (which is what the Genesis version of this game uses), but I find that it works surprisngly well. It'll take some getting used to at first, but you'll soon feel like you're just playing a 2D platformer with brawler components. This works really well coupled with the two player mode because players can keep the numbers of enemies down and work together to juggle enemies and bosses between the two lanes with uppercuts.

The case for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie gets even stronger when I tell you that this game also features two key elements that were missing from the first game: Variety and Challenge. Even though you'll spend a good amount of time punching around the same putty army as you were last time, many of them now come equipped with weapons and new ways of attacking you that you've constantly got to adapt to. But freakin' HOORAY, putties aren't the only damn thing you'll spend your entire time with this game fighting. The enemy variety has expanded to include loads of menacing new robotic vehicles, humanoid, and insectoid type enemies, ninja-type mini-bosses that'll teleport all around the screen, and a numerous amount of stage hazards that will require some damn good twitch reflexes to get by. The game constantly switches up what it's asking of your gaming skills and will require a decent amount of practice to fully grasp how you should approach each new enemy and obstacle.

That being said, MMPR: TM is hard. It's the good kinda hard. It feels like an incredibly tough but fair arcade game. You'll be utilizing a lot of memorization skills and pattern recognition to get past everything that the game can throw at you, and because it's fair you do feel accomplished when you topple one of the game's tougher enemies or obstacles. I guess the only real problem here is that the kids who this game was aimed at likely didn't have the patience for it, but fuck them! They had their game last time around. Let the grown-ups have a turn! Because so many grown-ups really care about Power Rangers. Or....just really decent action games!

MMPR: TM doesn't really go too far out of its way to be much better visually than its predecessor. Overall, there's quite a bit less animation on both the player characters and enemies, but the amount of animation and color that is here seems to be spread around a lot more consistently. Backgrounds are fairly hum-drum as you'd typically expect from games like this. Streets, factories, secret labs, you've seen everything before, but thankfully with the increased variety of enemies and in-stage obstacles, the visuals never really fall into "boring" territory. They get the job done and still look pretty nice in the end.

Continuing the trend set by the first game, this game's selection of tunes is spectacular. It's the same style, upbeat action pieces with memorable melodies, and they actually fit the action happening on screen a hell of a lot more this time around. Again, I have no idea if these tunes are original or 16-bit renditions of themes present in the TV series or movie, but they're simply fantastic and definitely worth a listen.

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie is a game that was likely glossed over by a lot of people simply due to its license, but it's actually a really damn good game that's worth your time. It's short, sweet, and and challenging enough to give those looking for a little hybrid platforming/beat 'em up action something to punch around for a bit. Grab yourself a friend (and I know that's probably difficult for you) and give this one a run-through for some old-school arcadey funtimes.

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