Releasing in a state that disappointed many, over time the game has released more content that’s reinvigorated players and helped hold their interest. Having gotten to a better state, it’s a shame that it still isn’t very impressive.
Type: Single-Player, PvP
Developer: nWay, INC
Publisher: nWay, INC
Release date: 24 September, 2019
As a kid, I watched Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, which has gone through quite a few iterations. Looking back, I can’t say it’s a great show, but it made up part of my childhood. I even played some of the video games, including Power Rangers Fighting Edition for the SNES. It had a unique mechanic with its special moves that I’ve never seen replicated elsewhere, so obviously Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid (PRBG) wasn’t going to play the same way. The game was released in poor condition, but with a year of revamping, it seems to have improved considerably. Has PRBG morphed into a mighty fighter, or is it only mighty disappointing?
At its core, this is a 3v3 tag team style fighter, somewhat like the Marvel vs Capcom series. With appropriate timing and skill, not only can you set up combos with your character currently on the field, you can call in another team mate to continue the onslaught. They can’t be called in if you’re already being attacked yourself, whether blocking or taking damage, so it’s not a get out of trouble move. Personally, I find it works well to call in an assist or swap out when the enemy is being combo’ed or on the ground, since they can’t interrupt it.
There are 5 game modes available in PRBG. Training has both a tutorial to go through in order to learn the basic controls and mechanics, as well as an AI dummy to beat up on to practice combos. Versus allows you to play against another person or the AI. Arcade is like Versus against the AI, but you play 8 rounds sequentially. There’s not much to get invested with in this mode, as the only dialogue that occurs is from the last 2 fights, and it’s based solely on your 1st slot character. This seems rather bizarre to me, as this game is wholly centered around team-based fighting. Story Mode has you battle against preset opponents with a large amount of the playable characters, swapping in and out between how many people are fighting, who you control, and even which side you’re on, as you’ll sometimes play as the bad guys. There’s little indication as to when you’ll play as a villain, so it can feel quite jarring to suddenly see yourself beating up the team you were recently playing as.
Unless you’re obsessive about completing games and play Arcade Mode several times, Online Mode is where you’ll likely get the most playtime from the game. You have the option to play casual or ranked matches, or to join or create your own lobby. When I tried this mode out, there was a bit of delay finding a match once or twice, but it was pretty quick overall. Plus, while fighting, I didn’t notice any lag or problems with my inputs.
Like many games, you can play using either a keyboard or controller, though I’d imagine most would prefer a controller for a fighting game. Although PRBG has all the spectacle of other fighters, the way you perform special moves is very different. Instead of using quarter or half circle rolls of the ‘D-pad,’ it goes with a system similar to the Super Smash series. Simple button presses, while holding the ‘L joystick’ or ‘D-pad’ in the correct direction will trigger special moves, though this varies from character to character. Other moves are similarly easy to pull off, such as calling for assistance by using the ‘bumper buttons,’ or tapping the ‘shoulder buttons’ to activate your super moves. This system makes it so that anybody can pull off the basic moves in the game, though developing combos still takes practice and work.
The story for PBRG, and the reason for its somewhat odd name, is because it’s a rendition of a comic book special celebrating the Power Rangers 25th anniversary, called Shattered Grid. Having not read the source material I can’t say how faithful it is, but since they used only a handful of characters, it must be excluding quite a bit. Without giving too much away, as clearing Story Mode only takes a couple of hours, I’ll only mention some of the bigger plot points that come up. A nefarious villain with aspirations of obtaining a huge power boost by tapping into The Grid, is wiping out Power Ranger teams. You’ll join in the attempt to put an end to this madness. From what I noticed here, and while looking up some of the comic’s synopsis, there are elements of time travel, reality-altering, and cross-dimensional shenanigans. Basically, the sort of things that diminish my interest in comic books. With some of the dialogue being very cheesy and flat, as well as over-the-top stakes and drama, I think the story was more silly than interesting.
PRBG is a 2D fighter, with character models that are serviceable. Since most of the characters are people in suits/costumes, they didn’t have to make faces for them, which seems to have been to their advantage. The few exceptions, such as Goldar, work alright, though the background image of Zordon’s face is horrendous. As a fighting game, it’s fairly quick-paced, so you don’t see a lot of the action in detail, because it happens too fast to notice. However, there are other indications of sloppiness, such as when you shuffle back and forth, dust kicks up from your feet, regardless of the terrain you’re in. I’m not that bothered by the lackluster visuals, but this is an area that could use more polish.
It’s hard for me to describe, but when it comes to the music, I’m not a big fan. The instrumentation sounds flat and doesn’t have a rich, full sound like I’d expect. Also, many of the songs have guitar riffs that sound like a garbled mess. I’d say the sound effects are just fine though, with many characters calling out their attacks, in a way that seems quite fitting for the Power Rangers.
- I’d say PRBG does fall under the easy to learn, hard to master tent. The controls are laid out so that special and super moves can be activated easily, but even though some combos are easy to pick up, figuring out how to juggle your opponents reliably takes time.
- I fought online matches on a random weekday evening, and found people to play against. That’s a decent sign of the game having consistent players, which is likely aided by it being cross-platform.
- I’ve noticed more fighting games take up the idea of a shared story line, which in theory allows for a more cohesive, interesting plot to develop. However, I prefer playing each character’s story, so I have a good reason to try them all out, and get to see more about each person individually.
- Even though the roster has beefed up from its starting point, with every fight consisting of 6 characters, 20 is still pretty limited. Games like this tend to consist of a few dozen fighters, and with this being based in Power Rangers, there’s more than enough candidates to select from.
- There are features I’m surprised are missing. For instance, they undermined the point of making the game easier for new players since there’s no difficulty settings to set how hard you want the AI to be.
- The DLC has added features that should have been included with the game since release.
- Not all super moves act the same way. For instance, some only require you to connect with the first hit and the enemy will take full damage. Others takes a while to reach the opponent, such as Tommy or Trey, who can be hit out of their super if they’re too close.
- Finding a good team balance is important, as you want to be able to contend with different play styles and character types. Playing Story Mode lets you try several characters, so it’s a good first taste to see who you would find useful.
- Since you can regain health by swapping characters out, it’s quite wasteful if you allow a character to stay in too long and get knocked out when they could have recovered.
- From what I noticed in Training Mode, hitting an enemy with two level 1 supers does more damage than hitting them with 1 level 2 super.
My feelings toward PRBG are rather tepid. On the one hand, I think the fighting mechanics are in good shape, as I found battling against the AI and others in online matches to be pretty fun. However, with how often I kept having to fight the same characters in Story Mode, and an Arcade Mode with little to strive for, I don’t see much reason to keep playing it. Having others to fight against is beneficial, but I’ve always gone into fighting games to beat the AI and overcome in-game obstacles, instead of fighting others. With the Online Mode being so reliable, and with players still available to play against, I’d recommend this game primarily to those who seek that aspect out in fighting games. Otherwise, unless they refine the game in future updates, I wouldn’t suggest getting it. Click here to see me play through the game’s Story Mode and a few online matches.