Power Rangers Megaforce Review
If you look at the back of the Power Rangers Megaforce box, you'll see this selling point: Vocal support from the Power Rangers will help you through challenging situations. Sounds interesting, right? A bunch of other Rangers helping you out as you battle? Even after playing just the first level, I was ready to either tape the volume slider on my 3DS in the off position or simply start screaming and be unable to stop. The Power Rangers tell you the same stuff. Over and over. All the time. If the Pink Ranger told me once to "break that and see what's inside!" she told me a thousand times. Seriously. Despite this, the biggest gaming annoyance I've experienced in a long time, Power Rangers Megaforce on 3DS is so-so brawler with a cool but criminally underused card scan system.
If you aren't already a Power Ranger fan, this game won't change that. The story is the same as the television show, which has followed an unchangeable format since episode one. A villain out in space - it used to be Rita, now its two even more hideous characters - unleashes a monster on an Earth city because... reasons. The Power Rangers suit up and fight minions - once called Putties, now called Loogies - before going toe-to-toe with the city-stomping villain; at first on foot, then by way of their giant robot Voltron-rip-off. The Rangers win, we all learn a valuable lesson and live to do the exact same thing again tomorrow. And the day after. And on into eternity. It isn't complex or even good storytelling, but it is better than just tossing enemies in the player's face with no explanation, I guess.
What's funny is Power Rangers Megaforce, for all intents and purposes, is the exact same game we all played on Super Nintendo, when the Power Rangers fad was in its heyday. You walk to the right, you blast through waves of enemies and eventually fight a boss as either a single Ranger or a powered up Megazord. The names and faces have changed, but the idea is virtually identical. As a brawler, it is merely OK. A TON of slowdown really hurts any decent pacing during fights with multiple foes, and the simple in-level goals (find 25 of this, beat this many enemies) are too easy and don't add anything to the fun. It's a nice touch that all five Power Rangers are playable, and each comes with their own weapon and play style. Unfortunately, all but the Red Ranger have some crippling defect and aren't fun to play with. For example, the Blue Ranger moves with about as much get up and go as your average senior citizen, and his weapon is overpowered but also painfully slow. The Pink Ranger is a little lighter on her feet, but with almost no jumping actually required in the game, her elevated jump height feels like a bad trade-off for a lessened ability to cause damage. Stick with the best all-around Ranger, Red, and you'll be able to get through the game with little trouble.
And get through it you will. With only five levels broken into short stages, Power Rangers Megaforce can be started and finished in the time between the nightly news and the end of whatever singing contest is on television that night (roughly four hours, if you don't watch television). For the $30 asking price, that just isn't much to go on. I suppose the levels have rankings and you could go back and up your scores on already-beaten segments, but c'mon... you really have to like a game to commit that kind of time, and I can't see anyone saying, "I've still got to fight the Elite Four in Pokemon Y, but it's on hold until I can up my stage rankings in Power Rangers: Megaforce."
The shining spot in the sea of "meh" is the card reader function. Apparently, there is a set of Power Ranger trading cards that can be scanned into the game and provide little boosts and bonuses. The game comes with one card, but more are available with certain Power Rangers toys and in blind card packs, though none of my local retailers seemed to have the latter. This ties in with the Megaforce card reader toy/mentor Gosei, who guides the Rangers on their quest. It's neat to see they incorporated the card reader idea from the show and made it work with the game, but even this is a passing fancy. Once you've scanned a few cards (thanks, Internet!) and seen how little they actually do, you'll be over the whole thing. And speaking of worn-off novelties, the game also allows you to take a photo of yourself and "be a Power Ranger." This translates to your photo appearing on the 3DS' top screen and being overlaid with your chosen Power Ranger's helmet. Yawn.
Power Rangers Megaforce is a classic example of a game that isn't awful, but just doesn't need to be in your collection. The brawling suffers from sameness and slowdown, the story has been the same since day one and the game just isn't very interesting. I love the card/camera mechanic and I really respect when developers take the time to incorporate it and do it right, but it isn't enough to warrant a recommendation or even stay intriguing for more than an hour or so. And, seriously, I'm all for vocal support, but the amount of repeated dialogue in this game is enough to drive anyone completely insane. You can probably skip this one.
Final Rating: 45%. It's the same Power Rangers game that you've played before, and before, and before.