A first for me this week, as the game I’m covering today is not from the home or arcade but rather from a handheld device. Playing games on the go is an area of the industry that has consistently grown and evolved over the past thirty years. What first took off with Nintendo’s chunky Game Boy is now continued by mobile gaming. Over nearly three decades, we’ve gone from Tetris to Fruit Ninja with many other games in between.
For the next four weeks, I’m going to be looking at retro games for handheld consoles in a series I’m going to imaginatively title as “Handheld Month”. Hey, no need to look at me like that. My writing team have started demanding to be paid with actual money again, as opposed to chocolate coins, so I’m afraid that’s the best title you’re going to get.
I’ve decided to start off the series with the machine I have the least experience with, that being Sega’s Game Gear. I was certainly aware of the Game Gear as a youngster and enjoyed the rare chances I had to play it. However, more of my friends happened to own Game Boys, so as a result, most of my early exposure to handheld gaming came on Ninty’s magical brick as opposed to Sega’s slick black device.
There was never any question of me getting my grubby mitts on either a Game Boy or Game Gear of my own, owing mostly to the fact I was a mere child, so I was reliant on my parents buying one for me with a thing that I believed was known as “money”. This was something only grown-ups seemed to have and was mostly the reason why I didn’t get a lot of things as a whippersnapper.
Despite my numerous pleas, my parents weren’t biting. They already felt I sunk too many hours into my Super Nintendo at home, so the last thing they wanted was for me to have a miniature one that I could take out with me. Taking me outside was one of the few occasions they got a brief respite from hearing Mario splat Goombas or Donatello slamming a kendo stick into a Foot Soldier’s midsection, and it wasn’t something they were eager to sacrifice.
I was always very impressed with the Game Gear whenever I happened to come across one, due to the fact it could play games in colour and also seemed to have a nifty collection of games. Before I started this article, I decided to ask around Game Gear owners of the time to see which games were worth a look at. One game that was mentioned was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Released by SIMS in 1994, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a basic fighting game that is very true to the show and is an enjoyable, if somewhat limited, game that any fan of the show from back in the day would most likely enjoy. For those not acquainted with the concept, Power Rangers follows the exploits of five teenagers who are given incredible power by a giant floating head called Zordon so that they can foil the exploits of giant-nailed witch known as Rita Repulsa.
It’s a thoroughly silly show that has been mocked since the day it first hit screens back in the 90s, but for people in my age bracket, it was required viewing for quite a while. In effect, the show was little more than a high tech toy commercial, a sales pitch at a meeting where someone spiked the water fountain with LSD.
With a hugely popular franchise ripe with commercial opportunities, it was only natural that the games industry would try and grab itself a slice of the Ranger pie. Rather than be a disappointingly pish cash-in though, Power Rangers on the Game Gear actually isn’t that bad. It’s not going to win any awards or anything, but it’s a solid 6/7 out of 10 game that does a good job of being faithful to the show whilst also being reasonably playable to boot.
Picking one of the five Rangers, you have to battle a slew of annoying Putty Soliders along with the occasional attack from mainstay Rita henchman Goldar. Should you survive that, you are then confronted with one of the numerous monsters of the week that plagued the Rangers back on the show. After you defeat them in Ranger form, Rita will then use her staff to make the monster super-sized, meaning the Rangers will have to call their robotic “Zords” into battle to finish them off once and for all.
The fights themselves are simplistic enough, resembling a slimmed down and less polished version of Street Fighter II, but they are complimented by some nice looking cutscenes that capture the show’s general oeuvre. As story mode progresses, you eventually do battle with the evil Green Ranger, and once you defeat him and break him from Rita’s control, you can then control him as well as his own Zord. No matter how old I get, I’ll always get a nostalgic rush from hearing the eternally memorable tune of the Green Ranger’s “Dragon Dagger”, and it’s recreated nicely in the game.
Power Rangers hardly reinvents the wheel, but it’s enjoyable enough for what it does and would provide decent enough entertainment if you were out and about and wanted a game to kill 20 minutes or so whilst travelling on the bus. As well as the story mode, there is also a versus mode for simple one-on-one scraps and the option for link play if you know someone else who owns both a Game Gear and a copy of the game itself.
If you were a fan of the TV show, then it’s likely you’ll enjoy the presentation here as the game certainly “gets” what it was all about and does an excellent job of transferring it into handheld form. If you’re starting up a Game Gear collection and consider yourself a Power Rangers fan, then I can’t see how you’d be disappointed with this.
Next week I’ll be sticking with the Game Gear and unleashing over two decades worth of pent up anger on a game I’ve hated for years. So, you won’t want to miss that if you’re a card carrying fan of “Disgruntled Mike”.
Thanks for reading
Until next time;