For over 25 years, people both young and old have been watching Power Rangers, reading Power Rangers comics, and playing Power Rangers video games. I first played a game in this franchise on the Sega Genesis but there have been many released since then across many platforms and none of them have been very good. Well, developer nWay has created a new fighting game called Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid and while I was able to see flashes of something great here there are many things that prevent it from reaching its full mighty potential.
Battle for the Grid is a 3v3 fighting game similar to a Marvel vs. Capcom. Before any match you select your team of three fighters from the nine available in the game. This isn’t the most in depth fighting game as nWay instead focused more on simple controls. You have a button for punches, kicks, a ranged attack for some fighters and so on. You also have a button for assists that will call in your other characters that you can use to create bigger combos or to get you out of a tight spot. You can also tag out your fighters and let them regain some health while they aren’t in the fight. You also have a super meter that builds up at the bottom of the screen that you can then press R2 or L2 to use when you reach a certain amount. These allow you to unleash a special combo move and a stronger Ultimate ability unique to each fighter. Finally, before the match you select one of three super like assist moves that have you either calling in a Megazord or Goldar to deal some massive damage for a set amount of time. You can use this move by pressing R1+L1 together when the circle icon on the screen lights up.
I actually rather enjoyed the combat more than I thought I would going into this game but the game really forces you to learn most of it on your own. There is a brief tutorial but it doesn’t do as good a job as it should of teaching you things. Instead you’ll have to learn on the fly against the CPU or online against other players. While the roster is limited I did enjoy how different each of the characters feels. You have the Black Ranger Sentry is more of a ranged fighter who can also lay down traps to damage opponents. Then you have the Red Ranger who has some great physical combo skills. I did find that some of the moves though are a bit too unbalanced which I really found to be a problem when I started to play online but I’ll touch on that more in a bit.
One of the biggest issues with the game is the lack of content in it. Like I said there are only nine fighters in the game at launch with three more coming in the season pass you can purchase. Now this will get better as nWay has announced that three more characters are also coming to the game in a free update which will take the roster to twelve and then fifteen once the three season pass fighters are released. But the lack of content isn’t just related to the roster but everything about the game.When you select a fighter you can change their skin and color. Each one has a different color to choose from but there are barely any alternate skins unless you purchase the season pass or the collector’s edition of the game.
The season pass gets you an alternate skin for the Red Ranger while you can get an alternate Pink Ranger skin if you bought the collector’s edition of the game. Did you buy the standard version and wish you could get the Pink Ranger skin that the select screen taunts you with? Too bad as you can’t get it unless you dish out $40 to buy the game again as the collector’s edition. Why is that skin not in the season pass? Why can’t you purchase it separately? These questions confuse me and it just hurts this game that much more. I understand if you’re a game like Mortal Kombat that has tons of content and you want to tie an exclusive skin to your season pass. In a game like this though that barely has any content, a move like that just hurts the appeal of this game that much more.
There is a severe lack of modes as well. For single player you have the Arcade mode which gets stale quickly. Then you have a versus option to play locally against another player or the CPU. A practice mode and tutorial round out your single player options. Then you are left with casual and ranked online matches. If you don’t want to play online there really isn’t much here for you to enjoy and that is a shame when you compare this to many of the other great fighting games on the market. The arcade mode has you fighting through eight stages of opponents with no real story in it at all. When you get to the last couple of stages there are a couple of text boxes but nothing that really amounts to anything. There is also no way to set the difficulty and when playing the arcade mode I found it pretty easy until the last couple of rounds. At that point the difficulty curve just takes a huge leap and I found myself getting beat into corners and unable to do anything to get out of it. Some more work needed to go into this to better balance it. I beat this mode with two fighters but there really is no incentive to play it anymore as you don’t earn anything for beating it.
I dove into the ranked online matches next and played some rounds to get a feel for how the game performs there. It starts off by having you play three matches against CPU opponents before it matches you with your first real person. Matchmaking times were pretty short so it seems like there is a decent player base here. I really didn’t have any lag issues so the netcode seems to be pretty good but there doesn’t seem to be much to work towards. There are tiered ranks you can advance through but the only thing you seem to unlock are new player banner titles. Playing against other real people also just further highlights some of the unbalanced gameplay here as people will get you in a corner and just spam certain moves preventing you from doing anything. I’m not sure if there is anything nWay can do to patch this but if there is they need to address it.
In terms of graphics and audio Battle or the Grid comes up short as well. All of the characters look fine considering this is a $20 game but the environments you fight in are kind of dull. The audio is the biggest disappointment to me as there are no voices in the game at all. You get a intro cutscene before and after each fight with none of the fighters saying anything. There aren’t even that much in terms of sound effects when fighting or grunts from the fighters at all. The music is fine but I wished they could’ve included some music from the various Power Rangers shows or something. I really enjoyed that about the Sega Genesis title I played as a kid and it’s a shame that so little work went into the audio parts of this game.
If you’re planning to get all of the trophies/achievements in the game you are in for a huge grind as well. You’ll have to win hundreds of ranked matches, advance to the highest online ranks, level up your characters hundreds of levels and play a thousand online matches. Again it seems like little thought went into the list and instead they just decided to do the easy thing and make them really grindy. The last thing I want to say about Battle for the Grid is that it just feels kind of disappointing for someone who watched this show when I was younger. I stopped watching sometime after the Lost Galaxy season so several of these fighters in the game I was unfamiliar with. You would think the game would do something to teach you about these fighters but no I had to go look them up myself online to learn who Lord Drakkon and Ranger Slayer were.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid isn’t a bad game it’s just one that isn’t living up to its potential and that to me is what is really disappointing about it. It has solid fighting game mechanics but need some better balancing. The lack of modes, limited roster currently, and lack of really any meaningful audio work all make this fighting game hard to recommend even to hardcore Power Ranger fans. If nWay can continue to add more fighters and features to the game in the future this has the makings to be a good fighting game.
*Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.