Being let down by a game that’s nearly great can be more disappointing than playing a game that’s outright terrible. When the potential for a game that could be something great is there, one can’t help but think about what could have been. Unfortunately, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is one of these titles despite the solid mechanics at its core.
When everything is functioning properly, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a fun, accessible, and fanservice filled team-based fighter. Sadly, this is all marred by lackluster visuals, a small character roster, a lack of a real story that pays tribute to the entire series, and an overall feeling of being rushed to release prior to Mortal Kombat 11 and the end of the fiscal year.
If nothing else, one would expect Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid to do well in paying tribute to the long-running franchise. Developer nWay had not only done this before with Power Rangers: Legacy Wars for iOS and Android, but Shattered Grid, the comic event this game seemingly pulls from, is full of fanservice. While Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid attempts to do this in a few ways, it fails in others.
On the positive side of things, the character models and animations are all true to form for the characters they are representing, which did leave a grin on my face the first time I played. There are also some interesting characters in its pitifully small roster (more on that later) whose inclusion shows that the developers do have extensive knowledge on the entire franchise. Unfortunately, it fails to live it to its franchise and potential in other ways.
Despite promising a story, it’s basically absent in the final game. While Lord Drakkon is here, all players will get for anything story related is a couple of lines of poorly written, generic dialogue against still images with the final two characters you face off against in Arcade mode. For a franchise with years of history that should all finally coming together in this game, it is very disappointing and leaves the Battle for the Grid feeling hollow despite its premise.
Due to the title’s budgeted nature, there’s no voice acting outside of the announcer, which takes a lot of potential personality and unique flair out of the game. There are small bios for playable characters highlighting their history, but these are very short, and again, the roster is surprisingly lean. The accurate models, stages, and character picks show that the developers do know and care about Power Rangers, though the lack of any real story or personality in a game that is brimming with potential definitely makes Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid feel rushed.
In general, the presentation is one of Battle for the Grid‘s weakest areas. Outside of the aforementioned issues, the graphics are generally underwhelming and I’ve run into a few visual glitches since launch. One area where the presentation is surprisingly smooth and polished is in the online modes. I never ran into any noticeable lag when playing the game, which is impressive when even AAA contemporaries can struggle with this at launch. Unfortunately, it’s disappointing when that’s the only great thing about your game’s presentation.
If you can get past all of these issues, there is a surprisingly solid fighter at the core. One of the biggest goals for nWay with Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid was to make the game accessible, and it succeeds here. There aren’t many extremely difficult techniques to get the hang of so those who are bad at complicated inputs in fighting games shouldn’t be scared off. All four face buttons plus a direction pull off different attacks, creating a system where even more novice players can string together some competent moves.
There’s definitely more room for hardcore players to work with though, with the Battle for the Grid’s tag team nature and Zords opening up a lot of opportunities. One of three Zords can be used when the meter is filled up in battle and while you don’t directly control them, they will help out with some extremely powerful attacks that can have a major influence on fights. While fighting in actual Zords would’ve been awesome, this is still a clever and unique way to include them.
Even though the game is easy to get the hang of, its tutorial is surprisingly laughable, only teaching the absolute minimum. Considering Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid’s paltry selection of modes, a more fleshed out training mode would have at least given players more content to go through and learn the intricacies of gameplay in before delving into online matches.
While the actual gameplay is solid, it’s ultimately let down by the lack of content in terms of modes, stages, and characters available. At release, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid only has training, casual online matches, ranked online matches, versus, and a barebones arcade mode. This is the bare minimum for a fighting game to be considered complete, meaning that there isn’t much to Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid if you don’t plan on sticking around in the online modes.
I understand that this is a smaller, cheaper title, but having almost no single-player content is laughable when experiences like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate exist and are more worth it for the players’ money. Even with the online modes, there isn’t a way to create lobbies. For everything Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid gets right, it seems to do at least one other thing wrong.
Then there’s the roster, which only features 9 characters. That’s right, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a 3v3 fighter that only has 9 characters. You’ll be seeing a lot of repeats. There are some interesting pulls like the Ranger Slayer and Kat that show respect for the franchise, but there are many characters absent. I appreciate that they didn’t make the roster just Power Rangers, but they also don’t even have representation for each color ranger and notable villains like Rita Repulsa.
The roster ends up unfullfiling despite the absolutely large cast of characters available to pull from. For a 3v3 fighter in a franchise known for its ensembles, this meager lineup is very disappointing and barely worth the $19.99 price tag when Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is otherwise unimpressive.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is clearly set up for DLC, with some already available, but that doesn’t excuse a lack of content in the base game. This, above everything else, is what makes the game feel rushed. It seems as though they got 9 characters working in a barebones experience, and just decided to release Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid and add more later. It’s not worth your time at launch despite its smooth online play and solid mechanics.
While I am leveling my fair share of complaints at the game, I wouldn’t call it a lazy mobile port. It’s different from Power Rangers: Legacy Wars in a lot of ways; unfortunately, I would still say that Legacy Wars is the superior Power Rangers gaming experience. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid had so much potential, and nWay seemed eager to capitalize on that when I spoke to them in January, but the final product just feels rushed together due to its poor presentation and lack of content. Die hard Power Rangers fans may get a bit out of this, but most players will likely be done and never want to touch the game again after a couple of hours.
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