Unfortunately, this holiday season has brought out my inner cynic and it’s not from what you might expect. The garbage software titles, or shovel-ware, that were produced for the Nintendo Wii are well documented and now it seems the same thing is happening with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect. There are some great uses for Microsoft’s Kinect system for the Xbox 360, but the recent flood of licensed Kinect releases is obviously just an attempt to cash in on holiday spending and to exploit uniformed gift givers. Los Angeles-based Saban Brands in conjunction with Namco Bandai are the most recent offenders.
Power Rangers: Super Samurai is for the most part is an on-rails Kinect fighter. Where Super Samurai is better than Namco’s other holiday Kinect release, Dragon Ball Z, in that this game can actually be played with someone else. If you’re going to shadow box in your living room, you might want some company. As with all Kinect games, you’re going to have to adjust the lighting in your room and have a good amount of space for co-op. Even with optimal lighting though, there are bound to be some issues.
For those who don’t know, Power Rangers are the live action equivalent of what was done to much of the early Japanese animation as it was imported to the United States. In early shows like G Force or Speed Racer, the original Japanese script and voice work was dumped and completely redone with a more western story and different voice actors. Power Rangers took that one step further. Saban produced the Power Rangers shows by dubbing the action sequences from Super Sentai Series and filming new footage with American actors for the story sequences. That may sound hokey to some, and for the most part, the show, and therefore the Super Samurai game too indeed are hokey.
Power Rangers: Super Samurai promises to let players become a samurai and a ranger on the path to defeating the evil Master Xandred. Those who feel they need to train up before, during or after the undertaking can do so in the unremarkable training mode. Super Samurai lets you select the Power Ranger of your choosing to start your adventure in a world that looks an awful lot like one from a console generation past. That same level of presentation goes for all of the character models and animations as well.
The adventure itself in Super Samurai is a sequence of battle types, at first players will fight their way through the area using vertical Karate chops and performing evasive maneuvers by ducking, jumping, and stepping to the side. You will then face a boss where you will perform the same moves until the end where you must execute a character specific finishing move. After beating the boss, your Power Rangers will form the MegaZord where you use similar moves to pilot the mech and fight a giant Mega-monster.
Power Rangers: Super Samurai would be a great game for younger fans of the Power Rangers series if it weren’t for the recognition issues of the Kinect sensor. Young children could forgive the dated graphics and repetitive gameplay, but they will most likely get stuck on the boss battles and get bored during lengthy loading screens. If it’s not compelling enough for adult gamers and too broken for younger gamers, who is this really for? This game is particularly frustrating to me because I have played good Kinect games. Unfortunately, Super Samurai like a few other titles that have been released this holiday season isn’t one of them.
Power Rangers: Super Samurai is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.