Tuesday, September 8, 2009

GameFAQs Review - Power Rangers Super Legends (Nintendo DS)

In 2007, Power Rangers celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with a 2-part episode that united some familiar faces of the franchise's past. Despite its intentions, the episode had left a sour taste in most people's mouths that is rather hard to do away with. So in a vain attempt to salvage the anniversary, Disney has their gaming studios develop a couple games commemorating the franchise's fifteen-year history; one for the Nintendo DS and another for the Playstation-2 and PC platforms. Both share a similar scenario (Rangers from different points in history team up to fight the bad guys), but the actual set-up and gameplay is different. For now, we'll start with the DS version.

STORY: The general premise is familiar enough: monsters are attacking and it's up to the Power Rangers to stop them using their morphing powers and zords. In Super Legends, a monster named Glutto plots to travel back in time to eliminate older Ranger teams, forcing the Omega Ranger to attempt to unite past Rangers against Glutto. It's a nice variation of the old stock story and a good attempt to bridge the various Ranger teams together... but nothing special. 9/10

GRAPHICS: The graphics in Super Legends are fairly standard - nothing particularly special, but good enough in that you'll just about recognize who's who and what's what. Each Ranger has their own little helmet, costume, boots, and whatnot as opposed to a generic color swap which would have been the norm back in the day, and each enemy is also well designed. The intermission scenes, depicted in a comic-book format, are actually well-drawn and not quite as offensive as I had expected them to be. While the side-scrolling art is solid, the shooter and Zord portions of the levels are fairly bland. The shooter levels has some of the most generic-looking ship models I've seen (goes well with the levels themselves - more on that later) and the Zord fights have some bland modelwork incorporated. However, it's not too bad... just could have used a little more effort in the art department. 6/10

SOUND: Oh goodie. Another Power Rangers handheld video game with insipidly generic music and sound effects; as if the last couple game soundtracks weren't generically dull enough, Super Legends takes the cake with a sleep-inducing soundtrack that drones on in the background as an afterthought. Nothing truly memorable or even remotely catchy, it sounds like one of those stock soundtracks that they quickly put together and put it aside for future use until they find a use for it in some random product. There are no familiar theme songs involved in either vocal or instrumental format, which is just lousy. Even the lowly Time Force game on GBA (which you should never, EVER play, because it can ruin your life) had a nice little rendition of that show's theme song - complete with vocals. Surely, some effort could have been done here, but I guess that's too much work. Fortunately, you have the option to tone down the audible mess, but then all that's left are a bunch of standard punck/kick sound effects pulled from a cheesy martial arts flick. On the bright side, they got the Putties sounding right, but that's about it, really. 7/10

GAMEPLAY: Super Legends is your typical beat-em-up that has you control a number of Rangers from different seasons (some need to be unlocked) and then has you navigate through fairly generic levels fighting through putties, krybots, and other enemies - all the while collecting crystals that will earn you moves as Ranger poses and Corkscrew kicks. You have three basic attacks: a standard punch/kick attack, a sword attack (that is used by every Ranger in the game - including some like the original MMPR Pink Ranger who NEVER used a sword in the series - lazy), and a gun attack which can be used to stun enemies momentarily. Now granted, this is all superfluous as you'll mostly use your sword because of your punches' ineffectiveness against certain enemies.

I wasn't going to bring this up, but some have been complaining about the choice of Rangers included. While some choices would have been better than others, that's really irrelevant because they all play the same anyway. You could have the most  overrated Ranger in the franchise's history be playable with the added ability to change his color as well as his hairstyle and he'd still have the same moves as the others. It wouldn't make much of a difference in the long run. However, said overrated Ranger is available as support with his classic Green outfit.

As you play through the various missions, you'll come across the shooter levels where you guide your Ranger on his air vehicle and blast away various generic enemies. There isn't much to say about this mode because it's simply nothing special. Pick up some power-ups, shoot down some enemies, repeat cycle until the level ends. It's nothing that we haven't seen in other, better games. It's not to say that it's horrible, but you'd expect some variety after playing a good number of these episodes.

The Megazord battles are a disappointment and the only sour taste in an otherwise-good package. It's bad enough I have to pull out the Stylus to conduct the battles (I sort of prefer the old-school method of button-mashing to unleash the zords' power and leaving the Stylus for Brain Age or something) but then I've got to use my lasers to chip off my enemies' vital parts... that doesn't sound right. I haven't been able to block effectively (the game tells you to draw a circle to block, but it almost never works and I take a hit anyway) when in melee battles and I have no clear indication of whether I'm winning or losing. On top of that, there's no indication of what zord I'm using. It's a novel concept, but crappy execution kills it and it's not quite appropriate for giant robots whose sole purpose is to beat the crap out of each other with fists, blades, and occasional energy attacks, not lousy lasers that couldn't even take out an Imperial Stormtrooper even on his most inept day. 6/10

CHALLENGE: The game isn't so difficult when you think about, but it tends to be repetitive. That and the Megazord fights are cause for disappointment and frustration. 9/10

REPLAY VALUE: Generally speaking, there is some replay value as there are certain side-quests and conditions that must be met in order to unlock certain Rangers. Your efforts in each level is graded by a bronze, silver, or gold medal and you'll want to be good enough to get as many gold medals as you can. Also, you'll probably want to build your Ranger up to be as powerful as possible and thus replay the levels to collect as many of these crystals as possible. Not much incentive if you don't care for beating up Putties in your spare time, but it's a start and is certainly more incentive than playing through the same monotonous levels with the same Rangers over and over again without so much as an option to play as someone else. 5/10

OVERALL: Okay, so here's the deal. It's pretty much a given that the developers were able to concoct a more involved PR game than recent efforts have produced. Rather than throw together some lame Operation Overdrive game (which could have been an improvement if they designed it along the same lines as this), they put together a slick little package that spans close to the franchise's long lifespan and produce a story that actually makes me care about the game. Having said that, Super Legends is not that great of a game when you look at it for what it is; a straight-up brawler with the occasional SHMUP and Stylus Megazord mini-games thrown in for good measure. While the added "level-up" system to gain new abilities, as well as the added sidequest to unlock more playable Rangers give this game added incentive, it is still pretty much the same game we played for years - just plays a little better yet still cumbersome and stiff. In any case, it's an improvement over the GBA-generation of Power Ranger games and hopefully will be a taste of things to come as far as future games are concerned. I commend the designers for putting a lot of effort into making this a worthwhile game and doing things that wouldn't have been done at any point, but as far as I'm concerned, the game - despite its high points - definitely needed more work. Any fan of the series - old and new - should pick this up with an open mind, but for the non-fan gamer looking for a good challenging game, I'd say look elsewhere. 6/10

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