Can Power Rangers Morph into a Cool Fighting Game?

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and much of the last ten years has been about reviving nostalgic properties for those of us in our 20s and 30s to enjoy all over again. In more recent times, one of those properties has been Power Rangers. While the show itself has just been running as normal all this time, the folks running the brand have also tapped into fans that have long grown out of watching the show. This has resulted in a long-running comic series, a line of legacy-themed toys, and of course a few attempts at video games. Most of them either haven’t been great, or have been mobile games, but something a bit more interesting is approaching. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is an upcoming multiplatform fighting game that, despite its obvious lower budget and price point, looks like a real-ass fighting game. Does it have a chance?

Despite its lower price point, there is already some consternation over how Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is being delivered. It has a small starting roster at nine characters, with a few more on the way via its “first” season pass. Remember, the initial asking price is only $20, which isn’t much at all for a lower-risk fighter with a small roster. But people are used to fighting game rosters that hover around 20-30 characters now. It’s going to be hard to please that corner of the fighting game community, and especially casual players.

But this doesn’t seem to be a casual game. While players will most likely be able to throw down without a ton of issues, especially since this appears to be a Marvel vs Capcom-inspired team fighter, there is also plenty of complexity on display. Video footage of Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid shows plenty of assist-based juggling, wall bounces, super move cancelling, and all the fixings you’d expect from a Vs fighter. There’s even participatory marketing from prominent figures in the fighting game community, including the legendary Justin Wong. While a lot of those guys are happy to accept branding deals, having Wong play the game does show that it supports that kind of skill ceiling.

Unfortunately, as it’s landing in Spring 2019 and doesn’t have a ton of marketing juice behind it, there’s no way Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid will be showing up at Evo 2019 in an official capacity. I can say that definitively, because the lineup has already been announced, and it is thoroughly Power Rangers-free. Not even the new Dead or Alive 6 made it onto the lineup, which brings me to my next point of worry about this game. This is once again an extremely crowded space.

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Right now, fighting games are packed! It’s a good thing, but it’s also pushing out smaller, more experimental fighters from even having a chance at that spotlight. Games like Blade Strangers have come and gone without making much of a splash at all, and older games like Skullgirls are long gone from the mainstream. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid will be lucky to have a side tournament at Evo 2019, although if Hasbro, Lionsgate Games, and developer nWay are serious about the game making an impact, we could see a booth set up at the event in official capacity, which is something adjacent games are known to do.

While it’s hard to see Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid becoming a major success that could one day see the main stage at an Evo event, there is potential here for a smaller scale hit. There’s legitimate buzz for the game, with trailers for it seeing thousands of views on YouTube. While the IP doesn’t have a great video game reputation, this one seems to be drawing eyeballs and engagement, and it could especially do well on the Nintendo Switch. With a low price point, it’s less of a risk for the people making and selling it, and that could mean longer term support with additional playable characters beyond the first season. nWay has been running a mobile fighter for a couple years now, so perhaps this step up to a larger, more serious stage could work out. We’ll see for sure when the game launches this Spring.

Lucas White
Lucas White

Writing Team Lead
Date: 03/20/2019

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