IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!

Okay, okay okay okay. This is a mainly UK site, and I don't actually know if this particular slice of pop culture traveled across the pond very much. And if you're significantly older or younger than me, you probably don't have much stock into this either.

But Power RangersPOWER RANGERS. This property was, and remains, something truly special to me. You know how I'm the guy that does most of our really different, super-Japanese games? How I'm the one that knows that material? Yeah that all starts here. That all starts from the scrubbed and dubbed fight scenes from Super Sentai, mounted to some rough and tumble acting about supposed teenagers played by then late 20-somethings. And it is magical.

So what are we actually looking at? Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, is a tagteam 2D fighting game using the property, pulling characters from all throughout its history. While the original Mighty Morphin' make a strong set of appearances, we've got characters from several seasons throughout the years and okay look they included the Magna Defender.

The. Magna. Defender.

I can play as the Magna Defender!

Look, I know the Green Ranger is set up as the typical "best Ranger", but the Magna Defender is, god, damned, amazing. His look is so very much unlike most characters of the series, and certainly most of that vintage, and he's just this walking tank of power. The man doesn't even need his own Megazord in his show, he just gets big!

I'm gushing.

Back to the game.

So, you've played a tagteam fighter before, right? When's Marvel, and all that? You know how this works. You get three characters into a match, each one can be called upon as an assist or tagged in.

Now, there's some key differences in the core gameplay from your typical tagteam fighter that are worth mentioning. The first is the moveset. This is kind of striking a middleground between a traditional fighter and, say, Smash. Every character has a basic light, medium and heavy attack, plus three specials on the B button. 

Your normals, to use the fighting game parlance, all have little mini-strings, plus you've got crouching and airborne versions and such, so it's still a fairly extensive list. But each character is definitely a fair bit simpler and more universal than you might get in, say, an anime fighting game.

That said, this perhaps works to the game's advantage in a few key ways. This is a one-round game; every match is just first to lose all three fighters, and with a lot of health sticking in that precious "will recover if you tag out" zone, you're going to need to be able to not only use all three of your Rangers, but also use them on the fly. I'm already seeing clips out there of people pulling off some pretty amazing combos with steady switching and assists, too. If every character was as complicated and unique as some of these games can get, it would be a bit...much, to keep in your head.

The big thing the game does, to feel Power Rangers-y, is that your biggest Ultra Attack that uses up all your bars, calls in the Megazord to smash its sword down on the opponent as you attack. (Or for giant Goldar to smash his fist across the field, or the Dragonzord to drill its way into your opponent, you get the idea)

At the core, what you end up with in the gameplay loop is a bit of a light fighting game, but in a good way. At least from what I've played, characters feel reasonably balanced, without any particular abilities making me scream and want to tear my hair out. And the simpler movesets means you can pick up your favorite Ranger and just get to work pretty quickly. I’m not sure if it has all the competitive depth of some games, but it definitely has more than enough for a lot of fun with your friends.

That said...I've kind of been beating around the bush about one very core issue, and that's content.

There's not a lot here.

Like, at all.

Nine characters(not counting alternate costumes and such), five arenas, three Ultra attack options. Each character has a light little Arcade run, but that's basically all there is to go off of for single-player stuff to do.

Now, of course, there's the flipside to this. Which is that Battle for the Grid, is a budget game. It's only 20 dollars for the base game, another 15 for the season 1 pass with three more characters coming. (40 for the deluxe edition with both, and some extra skins) Oh, and it's also getting three other characters for free in the same timespan. The roster's going to close to double in about two months.

So that puts us in a tricky position. On the one hand, we're kind of not looking at a whole game here. On the other, when the cost of entry is so much lower, I feel a lot less concerned about these trends. Just over half the cost of a AAA game, for a good starting point with more on the way, is far less of a raw deal than what I've gotten from some actual AAA games in the past.

And I have to admit...A steady stream of characters, does increase engagement. Having someone new hitting the roster every couple weeks, might be what the game needs to stand out.

Really, if I'm entirely honest, the roster size wouldn't even bother me that much if it was a strict 1v1 fighter. It's the tagteam element that puts so many of the game's characters into play at once that's really the trouble, and even just a few characters more will do a lot to help with that.

Oh, and given this is a fighting game, one has to take the competitive scene into account. Like, let's be real. This is not getting on the main stage at EVO next year. (I swear to god if this ends up on the main stage at EVO next year I'm going) That makes any call a bit of a double edged sword. Recommending smaller, more obscure competitive games gets inherently difficult, because of that same obscurity...and yet it’s what the games need to survive.

So, at the end of the day, where does this land us?

Well...Here's the thing.

I'm loving this game. I'm adoring it. I want to master the Magna Defender and Jason and...maybe Gia. I like her back and forth playstyle.

At the same time, I have to admit I'm biased. You saw my rambling mess at the start of this review. I adore Power Rangers. I love this goofy weird franchise put together out of clips from an entirely different franchise. I love all of its weirdly specific little bits of lore, like the Morphing Grid.

Yeah. Everyone's power connects to a fundamental Morphing Grid. That's why the game's called that.

I love that the main villain isn't even Lord Zedd(I'm assuming they're saving him), but god damned Drakkon, an evil Tommy Oliver from an alternate timeline where he just went all in on villainy and overtook Rita Repulsa instead of rejecting her.

That's a thing from the recent licensed comics, it's not even from the show!

So...Okay. I guess what I'm saying is this. You know whether or not you wanted this game to be good. If you don't care about the property, it doesn't rise to the level of being someone's first exposure. But if you do care? Yeah, it's good, jump in. I'll be right there with you.