It has been 14 years since the last Power Rangers fighting game on consoles. Now in 2019, with the resurgence of the brand’s popularity, developer nWay has brought us Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid onto modern consoles and PC.
Battle for the Grid (BftG going forward) is a 3v3 team-based fighter starring various heroes and villains from across the Ranger pantheon, from Jason, the Original Red Ranger to Gia from Megaforce/Super Megaforce Yellow. Even including characters the popular IDW comic series with the Ranger Slayer and Lord Drakkon. Borrowing mechanics from similar team-based fighters like Marvel vs Capcom 2, BftG allows you to both swaps between your fighters or call them in to assist you with an attack.
The chaotic action that this subgenre of fighting games is known for – the fast pace, high damage, and crazy combos – has been pulled off exceptionally well, which should be expected when the game has pulled in top-tier fighting game community talent to make it. Daniel “Clockw0rk” Maniago, most well known in the MvC and Capcom vs SNK circles, is the Lead Combat Designer at nWay. The expertise he has brought has paid off in spades as the fighting gameplay is the best aspect of BftG. Controls were tight and responsive, and battles are tense.
The inclusion of gigantic Zords, giant robots that are as much a part of the series history as the colorful spandex suits, make their appearance as being summonable tide-turners. Calling forth either the Original Megazord, Dragon Zord, or a Giant Goldar will have them stomp, swipe and attack your foe for a few moments, dealing incredible damage. Perhaps even too much damage. They can easily turn the tide of any fight.
Fighting games, by and large, live and die by both their post-release support and the quality of their online experience. Coming from a smaller studio, my concern was immediately towards how the netcode and online play would perform. Luckily, I have found it to be rather spot on and solid. My time has been split between the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation versions, and most matches I have played have had a little-to-no lag from what I could tell, with the occasional match being a bit hard to play.
The main issue, I encountered was the matchmaking process taking longer here and there (an issue I encountered more on the Switch version once the PlayStation version was released), and also being matched up with the same handful of people over and over. Considering you don’t get an option to change your roster between matches, when you select to find a new match, fighting the same individual with the same team three or four times in a row can really detract from the excitement.
The biggest downside of BftG, the incredibly small roster, is also the area that the developers are devoting their most time to improving. Having only 9 characters at launch you quite quickly would find yourself facing the same characters over and over, even when playing through the arcade mode. Thankfully, nWay has already added three additional characters for free, separate from the promised characters in the season pass.
On the topic of the game’s presentation, I feel that it does a good job overall. Being a budget title, I wasn’t going into this expecting jaw-dropping visuals or audio. The rangers and villains all look good and capture each of their own unique season’s traits. The levels you have access to are less impressive, but with all the insane action going on, I never found myself lingering too much on the backgrounds. In addition to the free additional characters, nWay has given fans, they have also included additional stages, a voiced story mode, and added voice lines from many of the original Ranger cast. All of these features are welcome and only serve to improve and give more value to this fun nostalgic fighter.
Background music is rather generic and forgettable as well, having none of the excitement that you would find in any of the shows intros or the fantastic music from Ron Wasserman (old school ranger fans should look up his stuff, he did the music in Mighty Morphin).
I’ve been pleasantly happy with Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid. When first announced, I was hesitant but hopeful and with more and more reveals and announcements regarding who was working on this game, the hope began to swell. My excitement for this game easily topped other much larger AAA fighters that are coming out around the time of this is, and I think that the game delivers in most areas easily.
If you are a longtime Rangers fan, I highly recommend picking this up and giving it a try. Even if you aren’t much of an online player, you can still have some fun in the arcade mode. The combat is a blast. The visuals, especially on the rangers, are good. Online is usually perfectly playable. And the support nWay is providing this game has me incredibly excited for what more will be added down the line. I would even go as far to say that Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is morphinominal!
This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro and Nintendo Switch systems with a PS4 review code provided by the publisher, and Switch version purchased off the eShop.