“I don’t know, guys; he’s already married to Rita, maybe we should just let Zedd have this one.”
After a great showing with Power Rangers: Samurai Steel, Saban has gone back to the well for more explosive spandex-clad martial arts action with Power Rangers Legends. Unfortunately, it seems that Timmy—er, Tommy—and the rest of the Rangers have fallen down this particular well.
Graphically, the game is superb, capturing the look of the television show—or arguably exceeding it, depending on how far back into the series’ 20-year history you want to go—with its bright, colorful, and detailed characters. The backdrops look good as well, though they lack variety at this point, all focusing on a New York City setting in front of a building instead of the park, juice bar, or unpopulated valley.
The music features some genuine Power Rangers tunes to get you into the mood, though hearing “Rangers Together, Samurai Forever” while using a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger is a touch odd, to say the least. Stranger still is some of the voice work, wherein Green Ranger Tommy Oliver sounds more like Red Ranger Jason Lee Scott (with some even saying that’s who is actually providing the voice).
While the game looks good and sounds… well, not bad, it’s the gameplay that makes the game suffer. It uses the same style of gameplay as Infinity Blade and Avengers Initiative, but unlike those games, it simply doesn’t work here at all. Power Rangers fights tend to be fast and furious, while these are slow and clunky as you attempt to figure out how to dodge repeatedly before being given the opportunity to land a few strikes.
On top of that, many of these battles are against the Putty foot soldiers which are typically used as cannon fodder in the show to wear the Rangers down– you know, the guys that the Ranger can’t even be bothered to morph to face. Yet here, you take them on one at a time, where they prove more than formidable thanks to the game’s plodding pace and iffy controls.
To paint a picture of the action for you, imagine an enemy winding up for a swing of the sword, but instead of just swinging, there’s this awkward hesitation about it. And while slow, the timing of your dodge must still be precise, or else you’re going to take damage. Or you can try to counter, which seems to so seldom work that it’s not even worth trying. Add to that the attacks that can’t be blocked—hope you made sure to buy plenty of health items through in-app purchases (you can use currency earned in-game as well, but if you want to get anywhere…)!
If the awkwardness weren’t enough, the controls don’t seem like they know whether the game should be played with one hand or two. One would be ideal, except that they spread the buttons and icons out all across the screen, making two more efficient… that is, until you’re finished dodging. When it’s finally time to counterattack, you do so by swiping the screen in a variety of directions, Fruit Ninja-style. Unfortunately, doing so is awkward from a two-handed position, and it doesn’t read a wide range of directional input very well, hindering your attacks.
The game has some neat potential, however. More Rangers and villainous scenarios are yet to come, with other Rangers already available to be unlocked. There’s a small sense of customization, too, as you can purchase various weapons from Ranger history with which to arm your teenager with attitude, plus the ability to increase different stats.
Nonetheless, all the improvements and cool aspects of the more fringe elements don’t matter if the core isn’t any good, and that’s where Power Rangers Legends falters. Instead of a feeling of “Go, Green Ranger, Go,” your experience is more likely to feel like what would happen if you put Bulk and Skull behind the wheel of the Megazord, and there’s no Power that will protect you from that.