Here we go.
I have a soft spot for this series. Mostly ’cause I watched the everloving hell out of it for two years of my childhood. I had more of the toys than any one child should own, and I even had the fan club kit that came with color-coded shoelaces. I got green laces. Get like me.
That said, there is a very good reason I have no desire to watch the show today, other than the obvious “I am an adult with adult responsibilities” excuse that everyone else uses. The show itself is incredibly hard to watch, since it was made with a low budget and relied heavily on stock footage from a then-recent season of a long-running Japanese television series. It’s obvious Saban cut corners with with MMPR in a lot of bad ways. The plots were simple and wafer-thin, since they only really existed to get to the parts with the fighting and the giant robot/monster explosions.
But Power Rangers didn’t need to be The Wire. It needed to be exactly what it was, an action-packed television show. It’s kind of amazing how well the series has done, since it’s been going strong for 20+ years. This low-budget American/Japanese hybrid has become a pop culture firestorm.
Mostly, I remember the SNES game, because it’s really, really well done.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was developed by Natsume and published by Bandai. Natsume is known today for the Harvest Moon and Rune Factory franchises, but on the SNES it produced a ton of underrated gems like Wild Guns, Pocky & Rocky, and Ninja Warriors.
Think of MMPR as the entry-level Ninja Warriors. It’s got a similar style, albeit simplified so anyone can play it. Actually, I think MMPR blows Ninja Warriors out of the water.
What is the plot of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, you ask? Let me show you:
After 10,000 years, Rita Repulsa has escaped from her space-prison. A magical blue head-in-a-jar named Zordon recruits five teenagers ‘with attitude’ to take on Rita and her army of weekly monsters.
I really wish I was making any of that up or embellishing it in any way.
You can select your favorite character in this game, which is pretty cool. Each ranger plays pretty much the same, but they have different weapons, which can change things up a bit. Pick a favorite color, and jump in! For the purposes of this post, I chose Zack, the Black Ranger.
(Yes, the Black Ranger is played by an African-American man, and the Yellow Ranger was played by an Asian-American woman. Apparently, the producers didn’t realize that people could see that as being racially-insensitive until roughly episode 10 or so.)
You start the level beating up a bunch of palette-swapped mooks. This game follows the Turtes In Time style of having the same enemy colored differently to show difficulty or to show that it has a special skill. In the first level, all these guys are basically harmless.
At the halfway point, you get a glimpse of the boss. You then get to see what we’ve all been waiting for:
A sweet morphing sequence! This turns you into the actual Power Ranger.
Where you can promptly kick ass and take names. You also get a unique weapon for each Ranger. The Black Ranger uses an axe. Sometimes it’s a gun, but right now it’s definitely an axe.
After beating the hell out of endless foot soldiers and platforming through rough terrain (though not much of it), you get an encounter with the boss of that level, like the monster of the week on the show. Beat him, and you’ve got another level to conquer. The end of the game even shifts genres a little bit, turning into a fighting game to simulate the Megazord combat from the show (That segment even spun off into its’ own game: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Fighting Edition. But that’s another time).
This game is great. The difficulty is a bit on the easier side, but since a lot of the people who would buy this were kids when this was new, it’s understandable. The controls are flawless, and every potential misstep will be because you made an error, not the game. An experienced gamer can breeze through this in an hour, as it’s definitely a short game, but that hour will be one of the most fun you’ll have on the Super Nintendo.
Natsume, as a developer, is very good about making quality titles out of anything it gets its hands on. Any other company could have just thrown together a Power Rangers game. A few actually did (case in point: the Sega Genesis version. Boo!), but that’s for another time.
It’s a very rare case to see a licensed game transcend the common pitfalls of the genre. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers is one of the few licensed games that deserves to be rescued from the rest of the shovelware. Go play this. It’s not expensive on eBay. Hell, go emulate it. It needs to be played.
Even if you’re not a fan of the show, if you’re a fan of retro games, play this game. It’s well worth it.