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RELEASE DATE (NA): September 26, 2000 GENRE: Action
// review by SoyBomb

Insert witty saying about morphin' time here.

Back when I was about 9 or so, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was THE thing. I couldn't get enough of the show, and neither could millions of bright-eyed kids who enjoyed a bunch of (literally) colourful characters punch and hoof their way through hordes of Putty Patrollers before hopping in their 50-story-tall mecha suit and battling against gigantic crusty creatures as they topple and crush expensive condominium buildings, all to save Angel Grove — and the planet as a whole — from the clutch of Rita Repulsa and her kooky henchbeasts. Culling footage from Japanese TV shows including Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger and Gosei Sentai Dairanger for all of its battle scenes (though toning it down a bit for American audiences), it became a smash hit. Merchandise was everywhere, including action figures, VHS tapes, and yes, even that one set of rubber stamps I admit to once owning. Then the movie happened, they changed things up, the Rangers started wearing ninja outfits, and the magic sort of died for me.

The magic didn't die for everyone, however. The original actors may have opted to slowly back away to the fire escape, but Saban kept the series alive with annual changes to the cast and theme of the show, making way for Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers in Space, and Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy... all before getting to Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue in 2000. Adopting footage from Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoFive, Lightspeed Rescue followed a group of young adults living in Mariner Bay, California, as they deal with the horrors of a city built over a demonic cemetery of sorts. Unfortunately, we arrive to the show just at the moment when the demons below rise to raise havoc. (Why don't we see the good things, like Carter Grayson actually passing a calculus midterm?) Each of them has a special skill: one's a firefighter, one's very athletic, one's a nurse, one's a lifeguard, at the local aquarium...which is great if there's ever an onslaught of renegade tuna...

Naturally, this hip 'n happ'nin' show needed a video game adaptation. Kids love to live vicariously through digital representations of the Power Rangers — always have, always will. Versions were made for the PlayStation, the Nintendo 64, the PC, and the Game Boy Color. For some reason, I happen to have the PlayStation version in my possession, so let's focus on that.

Once you select which Rescue Ranger you want to be (I prefer Chip, although Dale works just as well), the game begins...with some of the worst video quality you'll ever find in an introduction. Seriously, is this a 2000 TV show or war footage circa 1953? I know they have to downgrade a little for the PlayStation, but this is embarrassing. And it's not just here; there is stock footage shown between every level, and it never gets better. Worse yet, often the footage is shown multiple times! Why do they keep showing the same sequences over and over? Maybe they could only license about a minute of video before it would have cost beyond the game's limited budget.

The game is a beat-'em-up, and a pushover of one at that. Your character only has two attacks, a basic punch and a kick. If you're lucky enough, they'll do something clever like a rolling kick, but you're not personally required to pull off any special moves on your own. It's not as though you honestly need more than this to take down the Battlings, since they're really easy to defeat, and aside from the colours of their belts, they're the only enemies you fight apart from bosses. The boss battles are a bit more of a challenge, but they still simply involve outpummeling your opponent. Bonus points (from me, not from the game) if you can knock a boss off the edge of a platform to the chaotic abyss below, if applicable. This certainly saves you some time. Each Ranger can also block as needed, as well as dodge-roll left and right using the L1 and R1 buttons. The R2 button is reserved for your special move, which is charged by collecting gems scattered around. The move is great for about half a second, after which time it's done, and you feel overall underwhelmed.

The Power Rangers love colour. The enemy apparently dislikes it.

The last move your Ranger will have is... jumping. Doesn't sound very exciting. But I did want to bring up this point because of how levels are designed, specifically the fourth area. Depending on where you're standing (and sometimes, even that doesn't matter), there may be an invisible ceiling right above your head when you jump, making your Ranger basically look stupid, pulling a goofy praying mantis move instead of actually leaping. Why there are weird ceilings in random places, mostly open areas, I'll never know. But this has another unintended consequence. There is a spot in the fourth area where I need to leap onto a box to get to the next part of the stage. Yet, for whatever reason, there was an invisible ceiling above me that prevented me from jumping high enough to land atop the box. ...Huh... Thank goodness I sort of glitched my way to the rooftop another way, but it shouldn't be this way.

After defeating certain bosses, they grow to be supersized, and you must then fight a second time as either the Super Train Megazord or the Omega Megazord, the latter of which sounds like a scratching rap record from 1990 if you say it breathily enough. In some sort of alternate dimension filled with cloudy pools of nothingness, you go head to head with some giant creature using the same moves as the Power Rangers, except you and the boss move incredibly slowly, as if you two were held down by a magnetic force. Or a molasses force.

The game isn't particularly difficult. You're given ample opportunities to regain your health back, and five delicious continues. If you save your game and reload, you'll get all of your continues back, making this a relatively easy trek. Your only real obstacles are perilous edges you can fall off of and steam. Yes, steam. STEAM HURTS. If you see any puffy mists floating from a grate in the ground, avoid it like the plague. That stuff seriously drains your health. Perhaps the one other difficulty point is in knowing where to go. Sometimes your next path is in an obscure point practically off-screen, and only the most observant person will be able to immediately tell where to go.

Once you've finally rid the world of all the evil demons, you get the ending. And let me tell you: the ending (and I mean the real ending, if you collect all of a specific item beforehand) is dismal and disappointing. It's just Captain Mitchell and his lab associates congratulating you over the intercom system as you read exactly what they say. They couldn't even be bothered to include a final cutscene. The credits roll, sans music. You can tell the point where they were rushed for time. I'd almost go so far as to say the ending makes the game not worth starting.

Though somewhat appealing from a graphical standpoint, Lightspeed Rescue still falters from time to time with glitchy movement between platforms and some odd framerate blips between 30FPS and 60FPS for reasons unknown. (And let's not forget the terrible episode excerpts extracted from quickly-degrading film reels.) Even the bosses are quite detailed, if a little flat. And I have to say, the music is surprisingly good, even if it rarely fits the situation at all.

Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue on PlayStation is your standard video game adaptation. It's a blend of fun and frustration, the latter being mostly the result of bad production qualities and programming choices. I actually enjoyed playing through the game, but the flaws stand out like a walrus at a cocktail party. You can do much better in game selection, but you could also do far worse.

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