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30 Hidden Gems #23: Saban Game Gear Fighting Games


Welcome to my blog series! This is 30 Years, 30 Days, 30 Hidden Gems. In honor of my 30th birthday, I'm posting about a different lesser-known video game every day in November. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it. If you want to start at the beginning, check it out here.

Saban Game Gear Fighting Games
Release Dates: 1994, 1995
System: Sega Game Gear

This might be cheating since it’s actually three games, but hey, it’s my blog.
To be a boy in the 90's was to love the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It was the quintessential after school action fest. Giant robots, cool costumes, martial arts, monster that literally exploded in a shower of sparks when they got hit, this show had everything that our prepubescent minds lusted for.
It was a runaway success story, and that of course spawned two things. The first was imitators. Parent company Saban and Fox Kids were licking their lips to capitalize on the success of Power Rangers. With that came similar shows such as VR Troopers, Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad (which I loved,) Big Battle Beetle Borgs, and The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog, among others. None were as successful as Power Rangers, but they all had their ups and downs, and some were okay in their own right.
The second thing to come out of Power Ranger’s success was, of course, video games. A whole slew of them. At the time these games came out, the only console I had was an aging NES, which was too old to see the newest and best Power Ranger games. Fortunately for me, I also had a Sega Game Gear. I’ve already touched on the pros and cons of that thing, but it was my saving grace when it came to reliving my favorite show.
I got the first Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Game Gear game for Christmas. Funnily enough, I couldn’t play it at the time. I had dropped my system a few weeks before and broken it. My parents sent it away for repairs and it had not come back yet by the time I got the game. The wait was crushing, but when I finally got my Game Gear back, I tore into that Power Rangers box and had the time of my life. To this day, it’s still my favorite game on the system.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a fighting game, essentially. When you boot it up, you can go into the “Versus Mode” and play it like a fighting game. You can even hook up to a friend with a link cable. To me, though, the appeal was in the story mode, which was a little bit different. That was a hybrid between a fighting game and beat-em-up. It functioned like a fighting game, but each level was split into two stages.
The first stage began by picking one of the five rangers and facing down a bunch of the Putty Patrol (the main villain’s dopey minions.) After you beat a set number (they all have really low health) you face off against Goldar as a mini boss, then finally take on the main villain of that level. The second stage of the level was a straight fighting game match between you, now as the Megazord, and that level boss. Halfway through the game were a couple levels based on the “Green With Evil” storyline from the show, and after that, the Green Ranger became available to select as well. Naturally I picked him almost exclusively once he was unlocked.
The game had excellent graphics. As stated, I always loved the sprite work on pretty much any Game Gear game. The actual fighting was pretty solid. Admittedly, I’m not the best as fighting games so I can’t comment on depth, but it was fun enough and captured the spirit of the show about as well as the Game Gear could. I absolutely loved the game. I still do.
A year after the first Power Rangers games hit shelves, the franchise hit a milestone: it’s first movie! Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had come to the big screen. With a new villain, new zords, new powers, and suits that looked more like armor than spandex, it was awesome. To me. Back then.
Anyway, the new movie brought new games with it. For we Game Gear owners, that game (aptly titled “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie,”) was... basically the first game. It ran on the same engine and followed the same structure. It was mechanically identical to its predecessor, only changing the paint to reflect the movie.
The first half of the game actually follows the second season of the show. This time Tommy is available from the outset in the form of the White Ranger, and Zedd is the one sending bad guys to fight them instead of Rita. The game is pretty much the same as the first game. Then you get to level three, and the main boss is Goldar. Goldar? The same guy who has been the mini-boss of all the other levels so far? Yes. They couldn’t make a third monster, they just throw in Goldar as the boss.
Then we get one level fighting Ivan Ooze’s purple henchmen, followed by a cutscene that glosses over the entire second act of the movie, then the climax is just zord battles. There aren’t even enough “on foot” to play as each ranger.
I don’t mean to imply that the game is lazy. The developers did an excellent job with the new backgrounds, music, and sprites, it just isn’t as broad of a scope as the MMPR game that came before it. Since it runs on the same engine, the actual gameplay is still ace. I just think of it more as an expansion pack than a whole new game.
There is a third game in my Game Gear library based on a Saban property. It’s VR Troopers, one of those ranger-like cash ins mentioned above. The shows was about three teens with Power Ranger powers who have to go back and forth to the virtual world, where monsters are trying to take over both our world and that one. Or something. I don’t know. They transform and fight monsters. That’s the plot.
The game is different from the Power Rangers game. It’s more of a straight up fighting game, without all the pomp and circumstance of the Power Rangers games’ story mode. With fewer heroes and no zords, the VR Troopers game bumps up the amount of enemies. I swear it had almost every single bad guy from the first season in this game. Including my personal favorite, Dark Heart. That guy was cool.
One thing that always stood out to me about it was the option to adjust the sprite size. You could swap them between big and little. I always preferred the little versions, as the big sprites were kind of fuzzy, but it was really cool to have the option. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in another game.
I never got into this one as much as the others. Probably because I wasn’t as big of a fan of the Troopers as I was the Rangers. Also the music kind of sucks. Still, I didn’t hate this game, and it’s a neat little curiosity to have in my collection.
If you’re a Game Gear owner, the Power Rangers games are among the best on the system. VR Troopers is okay, too. Check them out and go relive the nineties.
Thanks for reading! My plan is to make this a series, one entry every day this month. I hope you'll stop by tomorrow for the next entry.
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About Adam Pone of us since 10:34 PM on 04.28.2013

My name is Adam. I've been gaming as far back as I can remember, ever since the NES my parents owned when I was a wee lad. Writing has been a passion of mine for almost as long, and I've made quite a hobby out of combining the two pastimes.

I have a very wide taste in gaming. I'll give just about anything a shot, regardless of age, genre, or hardware. I like to think of gaming as an entertainment medium in the same vein as literature and film rather than a simple toy.

When I'm not writing or playing, you might find me in church, in the woods (probably on a four wheeler and/or carrying a gun), or in my room playing my guitar.