Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid (Playstation 4 Review)
There was a point in my youth that “Go, Go, Power Rangers! You Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!” echoed throughout my house and in my wee Red Ranger loving heart. It’s a poignant moment of nostalgia that climaxes with movie and Ivan Ooze – who is sorely missing from the roster. From the word go, it was clear that I was the target of Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid and boy did I dress up in my best target shaped frock.
Just like the Western TV series, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a bunch of assets tied together loosely at the seams guising as a full product. The combat is so reminiscent of a great number of popular VS titles. The button structure echoes Dragon Ball FighterZ with light, medium, heavy, and special attack buttons that can all be pressed repeatedly to create chains of attacks. Throws are performed by hitting medium and heavy together and feel vaguely like traditional fighting game throws. On top of that assists function similarly to Dragon Ball FighterZ in that there is only one per character, but allow active switching similar to Marvel VS Capcom: Infinite and BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. The end result is an oddly satisfying Frankenstein’s monster of a game.
Individually, these mechanics have been derided and often feel janky, but here in the moment the absurdity of it all doesn’t matter. It’s Power Rangers, for crying out loud. There’s a lad that summons a giant mettle dinosaur with his sword flute – which is both a super for the Green Ranger and Ultimate Assist in Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid. This amalgam of familiarity does mean that the game does struggle to distance itself from comparisons, like all fighting games do, although it does try to add a little something extra.
That’s where the ultimate assist mechanic comes in. When one of the three members of your team ultimately falls, you gain access to an ultimate assist – of which there are currently three. By pressing both assist buttons you can summon this assist as a one of and it will proceed to batter your opponent with obnoxiously frustrating attacks for way longer than it has any right to. It creates situations where landing a successful hit as the attacker or defender can be abruptly cut short and can outright devastate an assist should the timing be off by milliseconds. The only solution at this point is to make use of a well-timed throw and hope your invulnerability can absorb as much of the ultimate assist timer as possible.
Even if you manage to survive the onslaught, it’s the combo system that’s Power Ranger: Battle for the Grid’s greatest strength and most glaring weakness. In its current state, infinites and touch of death combos are abundantly dominant. It feels like every hit will transition to a dead character. It might be fun (and disgustingly easy) to dish out a touch of death combo, however being on the receiving end is absolutely dire.
The same can be said for the general look of Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, it all feels so budget. Backgrounds don’t phase out properly during supers, the assets are all of varying quality, and the sound design is near non-existent. It’s not a brilliant game to look at and it’s limited in how it presents itself.
Where Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid does manage to embellish upon its source is the characters, no matter how finite the roster which will continue to grow throughout the year. I couldn’t tell you about SPD and I had no idea there was an actual series called Galaxy, but I can tell you that both of the associated characters feel completely different as do the original rangers – all of which feel a different kind of broken. With a balance patch coming in the immediate future, it’s hard to say how much will and won’t change, but it will address some of the easier infinites and hopefully Magna Defender’s ability to absolutely annihilate your health when blocking.
It isn’t until you look at the online that you can truly admire just how bad Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is. Simply put, you can’t block low. It doesn’t matter how good the netcode may be or how active the online community appears to be currently, you can’t block low. It’s dead on arrival until this is fixed and no number of league formats and smooth connections to friends will stop that.
Then there’s the story, or distinct lack thereof. Unless your idea of a perfect arcade mode is 8 unwaveringly dull fights with little to know reason that somehow leads to the same final boss, then it’s awful. Like, I wish I could say it’s worth trying somehow, although it isn’t. It’s bad and poses absolutely no challenge whatsoever and there are absolutely no rewards for even trying to enjoy it.
So, who’s Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid for? Well, I have absolutely no fucking idea. Yet, I am pretty sure that unknown is me. I love Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid. It’s the pinnacle of Kusoge. There’s so many really really bad design decisions and even poorer execution, yet you can’t help enjoy them. It’s completely mental, games are gone in a flash, and I have tried to rope anyone and everyone I could in to playing it. It’s not a serious game, not by any means and attaching some professional fighting game players as endorsements is kinda laughable because their earnest praise feels like anything but that. Then again, I’ve just spent more time than you’ll probably ever spend playing the game telling you it’s so bad that you absolutely must play it and fall in love with it.