Power Rangers Megaforce is not good. Not good by any stretch of the imagination. In fact it may well be one of the worst games we've encountered in a good long while. Sometimes titles come along that try to cram too much in, sometimes corners have to be cut due to budget restraints, but sometimes games like Power Rangers Megaforce crop up that just can't get a single thing right.
Based on the long-running series following the exploits of the primary coloured do-gooders, this 3DS brawler follows in the footsteps of side-scrolling beat 'em ups of yesteryear like Double Dragon and Final Fight. At least that's the idea, as while fundamentally similar, Power Rangers lacks polish. A lot of polish. In practice you'll guide your chosen ranger from left to right, occasionally dispatching gangs of
enemy thugs using short and long range attacks, or smashing open crates in search of items, and... that's about it. There's really nothing more to it: the game is as simple as they come. It wouldn't be so bad if the game was fun to play, but sadly that most basic of video game boxes remains un-ticked. The controls are so unresponsive it feels as though either the game's stuck in slow motion, or the characters are wading through treacle. Maybe both.
Taking missions and advice from a talking mask thing called Gosei, the game sees you battle through wave after wave of nondescript enemies until facing off against a boss at the end of each level. In practise this is monotonous enough, but even the half-hearted attempts to mix up the formula such as using specific attacks to remove obstacles or switching between rangers fall flat. You might need to use the 'fire' card attack to melt an inexplicable block of ice that stands in your way, or perhaps give the currently selected ranger a chance to recharge by choosing another instead, but there's no room for experimentation, and no real difference between characters. Split into chapters, each with a handful of levels to trudge through, there's a reasonable amount of content on offer for those who can stick with the game that long (we salute you), although we reckon that most will call it a day long before the credits roll. Despite slight visual changes, each level plays the same and boils down to a simple test of patience rather than anything approaching 'fun'.
Unfortunately, we can't even fall back on the old 'it plays terribly, but it sure does look nice' chestnut, as Power Rangers Megaforce is certainly no looker. Blurry character models, glitchy animation and cutscenes populated by cut and paste photos of the characters don't impress. Adding to the rushed feel are numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes which, while they may not bother some players, annoyed us and made the whole thing feel as though it was knocked together in an afternoon. Strangely the title screen displays in stereoscopic 3D, but the in-game action is resolutely 2D which feels a bit misleading to us, although we suspect that the addition of 3D depth wouldn't have done much to improve the game. It's not an easy game on the ears either, with some canned electric guitar riffs endlessly cycling in the background while sound-bites from the rangers themselves burst out of the speakers repeatedly and seemingly at random (although we couldn't help but agree with the Black Ranger's catchphrase: 'Let's finish up and go home!')
While extras like 'classic clips' from the series and an AR card feature do spice up the package, there's little else to say about Power Rangers Megaforce. This is a dull, irritating game to play. In fact, it's a struggle to find anything to recommend about it. Suffice it to say that there are many, many better offerings on the 3DS to scratch that scrolling beat 'em up itch (Code of Princess being a good recent example.) Earth's defenders may never surrender, but with games like Megaforce, we definitely give up.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS