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Nintendo 3DS Review: ‘Power Rangers MegaForce’

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powerangersmegaforceTokusatsu is dying. The art of creating miniature cities besieged by rubber suited heathens is being dismissed by images generated on computers. That distinctive Japanese craft, which birthed Power Rangers in their multitude of reincarnations, is being bested by technological advancement. The beat-em-up is also dying. A staple of mainstream arcades, flickering marquees, and CRT screens saturated the late ’80s and early ’90s with Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and Double Dragons.

In both cases, the art has been lost. Tokusatsu has been dimming as its traditional artists are looking towards retirement. Younger generations are taught to build cities – even worlds – digitally without physical paint or balsa wood. Beat-em-ups are considered too passe, and developers now must crafts worlds, narrative structure, and rising combo system stakes into their product.

Then, Power Rangers MegaForce releases, signaling an ultimate death blow for both.

Classic Tokusatsu heroes would not be harmed by mud. Here, it’s deadly, and so misshapen are stage layouts that necessary collectibles are stuck in damage dealing dirt. MegaForce trots out to the same warehouse no less than six times in its two hours of available gameplay. The mud stage multiplies times five. A slippery ice world is seen six or more times, and street level antics in downtown become cyclical. None of this caters to the 3D-centric audience either. Stereoscopic views are left to menus and Megazord scuffles.

Loogies are the key villainous threat, disposable duds mimicking the infantile brain set of Foot Clan lackeys from Ninja Turtle brawlers. They exist to be maimed, dropping clumsily from ceilings or skylines in numbers mimicking the population of small Indiana towns, awaiting their destined doom at the hands of five interchangeable Rangers.

Despite its insistence on simplicity and slim reverence for snappy genre entries, it is clear MegaForce is wholesale mimicry of vintage arcade designs, sans the good sense to clone their appeal. Makers of X-Men and Double Dragon these developers are not. Loogies bunch up on screen initiating dire challenges such as surviving for 60 seconds against their horde or swatting away an arbitrary number of these pasty drones. Ideas of stage design and pacing are cast away.

MegaForce exists in a world of perpetual slowdown. No wonder 3D elements were deleted: system optimization this dreadful would have sidelined consoles worldwide once MegaForce carts began their infection. Those brief interludes where this Power Rangers romp achieves natural speed displays some genuine spark in this single button mash fest. A glimmer of fluidity peers through a veil of technical failure.

The only hook are collectible cards, scanned in through an imprecise camera-based reader function. Their application is ultimately disruptive, unleashing screen clearing special moves, ignoring the fact that  Loogie disposal with basic combo strings is faster. The limited muster of cross-product promotion is damaging to this thin business model.

MegaForce’s ultimate failing is voice work, inscrutably applied in such saturation as to run rampant without appropriate mechanisms to control repetition. The Blue Ranger randomly discusses hearing birds. The Black Ranger hates bugs. Female Rangers care about using cards. Rangers interrupt themselves to repeat identical lines. These dialog pairings act over music, burying any energy found within the soundtrack. The sheer voraciousness of voice work defies words, so here’s video evidence.

As traditional Tokusatsu artists lose their voice which comes projected on those charming miniature landscapes with real world properties, MegaForce must demand attention like a spoiled child. Its voice is loud and uncomfortable, utilized where it is unwarranted and unwanted, much like the modern deluge of computerized visual effects. It is an art without restraints or boundaries. MegaForce is primed to display the casualties of over saturation.

Power Rangers MegaForce is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.