When we played Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid a few weeks ago, developer nWay assured us that they were committed to making the best Power Rangers game ever. Creating a console fighting game, it seemed to make sense when there hasn’t been one since 1995’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition (and even the Sega Genesis Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game for that matter). Now that the game has launched, it seems that they have succeeded, albeit barely.
Taking a lot of reference from Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, the foundation for Battle for the Grid was solid. A competitive 3-on-3 fighting game using story elements from the popular BOOM! comics and characters from multiple seasons, it set itself up to give Power Rangers fans a lot to be excited for. While this concept is a solid one, it seems that nWay hasn’t utilized the full potential for their execution.
At its core, Battle for the Grid has a solid fighting experience. Taking cues from games like Marvel vs. Capcom, the combat is surprisingly deep. Fans of fighting games will find a lot of combo potential and a lot of strategies with the various characters. Even casual fans can pick up the game and find an accessible fighter. From simple inputs like auto combos to advanced techniques like pushblocking, this game strikes a good balance. In this regard, nWay was successful in creating a game with excellent fighting mechanics.
Unfortunately, the fighting is the only real strong point, and even that still has some issues. While the fighting feels good for the most part, there are still little glitches that drag it down. Audio issues, hit box problems, visual bugs, and even problems with the camera during super attacks; it’s clear there needs to be more polishing. Most of these issues will show up primarily online, but some will show up offline too. It’s good to know that the developers are focused on fixing them.
Speaking of the online, Battle for the Grid is geared toward an online fighting experience. Currently, there’s only a casual and ranked match mode for online play, which leaves a lot to be desired. One thing to note is the lack of a lobby system, or even just the ability to invite friends for an online match. For people that just want to hop on and fight strangers, it might not be so bad, but for those that want to play with friends, especially those that got an extra copy of the game with the Collector’s Edition preorder, it’s a little disappointing.
As far as ranked matches go, Battle for the Grid has a pretty solid system. Players will start with placement matches, playing three matches against the computer, and then the rest against real players online. Based on how many wins or losses they get, they’ll receive a rank level and tier (bronze, silver, gold, platinum, etc.). This system works sort of like Overwatch’s competitive mode and honestly feels very rewarding in this game. Winning ranked matches will earn battle coins to move toward the next tier or rank, and occasionally, players will earn a bonus battle coin. It makes it feel less like an uphill battle and gives players a more approachable ranking system.
The presentation is a bit lacking and it barely even meets minimum standards. Aside from the ranked and causal matches, there’s an arcade mode that gives players a series of eight matches to fight through. For a handful of them, there will be small story segments that equate to just trivial banter presented with text boxes. Different characters get selected as bosses (mostly Goldar and Lord Drakkon), which changes things up a bit sometimes by making it 3-on-2 or even 3-on-1. Completing an arcade circuit unfortunately doesn’t give a satisfying ending with the selected character, getting another text box at best. Even the credits are disappointing, completely devoid of music and not even assigning job titles to the people presented.
While players can assign themed titles to their profile, much like many other modern fighting games, there isn’t much else. There’s a tutorial that gives players the basics of combat, but it doesn’t go any further, leaving advanced techniques for the player to discover. While this isn’t the end of the world normally, the game doesn’t even give a character specific move list. Players will have to actually play as each character and try out all the possible button combinations to find all their attacks. At least there’s a training mode that works well enough to do that in. A gallery would’ve probably been a nice touch too, whether it be artwork or a model viewer. Maybe in a future update.
As mentioned earlier, there are issues with the sound, not only in combat but even during loading screens. The game doesn’t have many tracks to begin with, but they often cut out, almost making it feel like the game is about to crash. Most of the sounds are fine, though there is a severe lack of voice acting. It’s odd too, because almost all the characters clearly have a voice when they fight, making the occasional grunt or shout. With the way the credits are presented, we don’t even know who provides those voices.
Graphically, Battle for the Grid is passable, but it’s not much more of an upgrade from Legacy Wars. In some cases, it’s hard to even say it improved outside of the animation, which is pretty solid. Character models look fine for the most part, but they almost look identical to their Legacy Wars counterparts. The exception of course is the Mastodon Sentry, who is the only new character for Battle for the Grid. Stages are also low in visual quality, most notably the Command Center, where Zordon looks straight out of a PS2 game.
Getting to the characters specifically, the roster is admittedly small, but for a $20 game, it’s reasonable. Skullgirls started with eight characters originally, and Battle for the Grid has nine. Each character plays differently enough, with a good amount of variety for almost any play style. I took a liking to Kat Manx myself, loving her rushdown capabilities and mix-up potential. Other characters are still fun to play as too, though some feel more fully fleshed out than others. As far as combos go, it feels like Tommy was given the most potential. It’s also worth noting that only four of the nine characters have an alternate skin.
While the roster is going to continue to grow, it’s a bit hard to justify the price for the first season pass. At 75% of the price of the main game, players will get three extra characters and two skins. While that’s comparable to other fighting game prices, it doesn’t offer that much more to the overall product. Diehard fans may have no trouble making the purchase, but the casual audience may not find it worth it. With a $20 price tag on the base game, at least it’s not a huge investment.
Overall, nWay still has a long way to go to morph this game into a mighty one. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a fun and competent fighter that definitely has room to grow. While it’s arguable to say it’s the best Power Rangers game out there, it’s really only because the previous games were so simple and lackluster. With updates coming, Battle for the Grid has the advantage that previous games didn’t have. It seems like nWay is taking in all the fan feedback and they’ve had great communication. Hopefully that means that they can pull a 180 and give fans the game they’ve wanted for years.