Preview | Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
Trying to enter the fighting game genre isn’t always easy. With heavy hitters like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or Tekken, it’s hard to throw your hat in the ring. It’s especially tricky with licensed fighters, a genre that is overrun with tons of anime games. The developers at nWay decided to enter that ring with the Power Rangers license. The result? An accessible 3-on-3 fighter in the form of Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid.
The team at nWay are definitely familiar with the franchise, as they’re also behind the Power Rangers: Legacy Wars mobile title. The team felt that there hasn’t been a good console Power Rangers game in a long time, and they were committed to changing that. Working with the accomplished professional fighting game player, Justin Wong, nWay was determined to fine tune a solid fighter.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is meant to be accessible for newcomers but still deep enough for fans of fighting games. Part of the accessibility is the lower price point, costing only $19.99 MSRP. The game will also reportedly have cross-platform multiplayer between all current consoles, as well as PC. Online was a heavy focus and the developers wanted to make sure fans could find a match of their skill level on any platform. Finally, the team made sure to implement mechanics that would be easy for casual fans to grasp.
Battle for the Grid takes a lot of inspiration from games like Marvel vs. Capcom. Not only does it have the tag-team concept, but even the controls are similar. The face buttons act as a light, medium and heavy attack as well as a special attack button. The right and left bumpers are used to summon an assist from a team mate and double tapping will switch characters. The right trigger can be used to activate a super attack that’ll consume two bars of meter. Of course, fight sticks are also compatible with the game, so players can use their preferred options.
Moving on from the basics, Battle for the Grid also has a lot of advanced techniques and functions. Combos are a staple to fighting games and this game is no different. Still maintaining accessibility, there are auto-combos like repeated light, medium and heavy attacks (and in some cases, specials). Then there is the common combo sequence of light, medium, and heavy. All characters will typically share these combos and with some practice, players will likely find some different mix-ups.
The game also goes a little above and beyond with the concept of blocking. Not only can players block in the air, but they can also do counters while blocking (think Street Fighter V’s V-Reversal). Sometimes this will deal damage to the opponent, but sometimes it can do a nice pushblock to remove pressure. Of course, blocks are still susceptible to throws, performed by pushing both the medium and heavy attack button. Pushing the light and special attack buttons together can also perform an EX attack using one bar of meter. EX attacks are not only powerful, but can also be comboed into to deal some devastating damage.
Working with assists, there are a few things to take note of. Calling out an assist works like normal, bringing an ally out to perform a special attack. Battle for the Grid changes things up by allowing players to switch to their ally during the assist, allowing for a new type of mix-up. Players can also use a swap strike to force the opponent to switch characters. For a licensed fighter with a low price point, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is surprisingly deep.
Of course, the game wouldn’t be much without what lies at the core of every fighter: the roster. At launch, the game will have nine playable characters. Some of them have alternate costumes that changes them to a different character, but they will still maintain the same moveset. With a roster inspired by the comic book from Boom! Studios, the game mixes up characters that are well known and also fairly new.
Classic characters include Jason, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, as well as Tommy, the Green Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. The team at nWay described these two as sort of the Ryu and Ken of the game, with Jason focused more on rushdowns and Tommy more of a balanced fighter. Though not a ranger, the classic villain Goldar from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers is also a playable character, who is more of a slow brute type fighter.
Kat Manx from Power Rangers S.P.D. adds another rushdown fighter as the Kat Ranger. Fans of Marvel vs. Capcom’s Wolverine may take a liking to her moveset. Gia Moran, the Yellow Super Megaforce Ranger, adds another balanced fighter to the mix. Another brute fighter, the Magna Defender, makes his way from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Like Goldar, he’s a slow but powerful force that has some solid anti-airs.
Finally, the game features three fighters that originate from the comics. First up is the Ranger Slayer, a spy version of the Pink Mighty Morphin Power Ranger that uses a bow for plenty of zoning potential. The Mastodon Sentry, a soldier that resembles the Black Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, is another zone character that uses a rifle the keep his distance. And last but not least, we have Lord Drakkon, the evil version of Tommy Oliver that becomes a dictator in an alternate timeline. Being a bit more balanced, he hits like a truck but has more speed to pull off some solid combos.
These nine characters are only the start, as more or planned to join with the first season pass. When asked about a potential collaboration with Capcom, nWay remained tight-lipped about the possibility of the Ryu Ranger making an appearance. And while the playable character options are nearly endless, there are also the Ultra summons. Working like a revenge mechanic (like X-Factor from Marvel vs. Capcom 3), players can summon either the Megazord, the Dragonzord, or a large version of Goldar to attack the field. Depending on how many characters are left on the team determines how long the Ultra summon will last, and their effects are tied to attack buttons, similar to the Reality Stone Infinity Storm from Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite.
Having some time with the various characters, I was able to get the hang of the mechanics pretty quickly. Having been my first time, I wasn’t connecting any advanced combos, though I did pull off some of the basic options, mix-ups, and I even had a solid Ultra summon comeback. Supers were fun and creative and did a good job of showing off each character. I did notice some input delay, though the game is still in development, and I was using a gamepad during my preview session. Despite the input delay, the game was easy to pick up and has a solid foundation for a fighting game.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is expected to release this Spring for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, as well as a PC release later this year. As mentioned before, they support cross-platform play, and have a price point for the base game at $19.99 MSRP. A Digital Collector’s Edition of the game can be purchased for for $39.99 MSRP. This edition includes a season one pass, including three new characters and a warrior skin, as well as exclusive skins for Lord Drakkon and Ranger Slayer. Players that pre-order can also get the Green Ranger V2 skin for Tommy. What do you guys think? Are you excited for a new Power Rangers game?