In 1995, after two Morphinominal years of Power Rangers mania, the biggest kids’ brand in the world at that time was making the leap from the small screen to the big one.
Naturally, this meant only one thing: a tie-in video game! But, as you might have already guessed given the entire point of this feature series, there wasn’t exactly just one tie-in game…
The SNES Version
The most significant similarity between both home console versions of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie is that they’re both effectively 2D brawling arcade-style games like Final Fight/Streets of Rage. You, and a friend if you’re popular enough, march through levels beating the stuffing out of enemies as they wander towards you.
In either version, you can choose to play as any one of the six Power Rangers – Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, Pink or White – but in the SNES version you’ll always start off in their bog-standard Teenagers-with-attitude forms.
Collect enough energy from enemies such as the Putty Patrollers, and you’ll be able to Morph into your more powerful Power Ranger form. Refill that energy bar, and you can use a special attack damaging everything on the screen.
At the end of each level, you’ll fight a Power Rangers monster in a boss fight – but Lord Zedd and Rita must be taking a nap throughout the game as they never “make their monster grow” and spark a MegaZord fight.
Despite being called Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie, absolutely nothing in this game has anything to do with the events of the movie in question. None of the game’s locations such as a shopping mall, a blimp and a military facility or three appeared in the movie. Nor were any of the boss monsters. Even the Putties weren’t in the film – instead replaced with the bird-like Tengu warriors. Presumably in a ploy to get Fox to pay for the costumes for the next season of the TV show.
Ivan Ooze, the film’s erstwhile antagonist, appears right at the end as the final boss of the game… after you’ve defeated a massive brain in a jar, that is. By pure coincidence, we’re sure, following this brain-in-a-jar fight and Ivan Ooze’s Dracula-like cameo, you must escape his fortress before it explodes. Absolutely nothing suspiciously familiar there.
It’s rather evident that this Power Rangers game definitely did not start life as a Power Rangers game. Which is quite surprising as it’s otherwise well built around the brand itself. There’s an ambitious-for-the time almost TV-style intro, the well-implemented Morphing mechanic and they even go to the trouble of ending the game in a classic Power Rangers style with a (basic) Bulk and Skull skit.
In other words, whatever Bandai retrofitted the Power Rangers license on top of here, they at least did a solid job of it. The main action is fun, and there’s a decent variety of attacks. The gameplay is overall somewhat tough, but not necessarily unfairly so. As a kid back in 1995, you’d have been more than happy to put the time into mastering it.
Even if it’s not really got anything to do with the movie, it is at least a delightful Power Rangers game. Although it’s a pity that only the main Power Rangers theme appears as recognisable music throughout the game. The audio is overall fine – but as we’ll get to, it could have been much better.
The Mega Drive Version
On the Sega side of things, Bandai were still the producers, but this time subsidiary Banpresto took on the development. Immediately, this version makes much clearer its connection to the movie itself. Starting off with a Star Wars-like scroll of text telling us the actual story (more or less) of the first part of the film.
Jumping straight into the action, the Power Rangers rescue the citizens of Angel Grove from Ivan Ooze’s “Oozemen”. Unlike the SNES version, there is no boss fight at the end of this first level. Instead, we see a short description of… er… the entire rest of the movie. Yes, by the second level, we’ve already blown right past all the events of the movie – Ooze attacking Zordon, the Rangers losing their powers and being sent to a distant planed to regain them and claim their new Ninja Zords – and are now back on the streets of Angel Grove to fight Ivan Ooze’s giant monsters.
After a brief fight with more identical Oozemen, the Rangers call upon their new Zords and defeat both Scorpitron and Hornitron. Perhaps realising that they’ve just used up the entire movie in two levels, the game takes a break for a pair of flashbacks telling the story of Tommy’s change from the Green Ranger to the White Ranger as well as the infamous mid-series cast change for the Red, Black and Yellow Rangers.
This dalliance in exploring the full history of the Power Rangers series gives the game something of a distinction among Power Rangers games. It means that original Rangers Jason, Zack and Trini also appear alongside their replacements Rocky, Adam and Aisha – despite the former having departed long before the movie itself.
It also doubles the number of MegaZords and White Ranger Zords present, as well as, ultimately, the enemies. Most of the time you’re only ever hitting identical Oozemen or Putty Patrollers. A couple of monsters and Goldar appear in these flashback levels, but that’s basically the limit of the variety.
Eventually, the game does remember that it hasn’t quite gotten around to kicking Ivan Ooze in his Ivan caboose yet, so gives up on its flashbacks for one last MegaZord fight with Giant Ivan. Culminating in a pretty epic battle ON THE MOON WHICH IS NOW ON FIRE BECAUSE REASONS set to the Power Rangers theme.
Once again, this version also closes out things with a text-based Bulk and Skull skit, this time set to their theme, as is only right. The music in this version is really where it stands out. Far from just recreating the iconic theme song, sound composer Hikoshi Hashimoto has completely recreated Ron Wasserman’s entire Power Rangers soundtrack.
So, which is best?
While the SNES version is almost certainly a completely different game retrofitted into being a Power Rangers game, the Mega Drive version is practically a love letter from some hardcore fans. Unfortunately, the gameplay and visuals really don’t live up to it’s Nintendo brother. The sprites are much flatter; the animation’s quite choppy; there’s a severe shortage of enemy variety, and the combat is much, much more basic.
Both games suffer from a classic 2D brawler issue of enemies being knocked out of reach of the visible screen, but the Mega Drive version makes it utterly impossible to avoid when fighting bosses such as Goldar, dragging these fights out in a particularly un-fun manner.
Unfortunately, while this version is definitely much more faithful both to Power Rangers as a whole and the movie it’s named after, it’s just not as good a game as the SNES version.
If only there were some way to bring the two together to form some sort of MegaGame…