When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Power Ranger. I was just about the right age when Bandai’s five transforming teenagers hit the FOX kids TV block, and I dared not miss any episode, or else I was commiting heresy. The theme song was for a time my personal anthem, and whenever I got a chance I displayed my fancy martial learned straight from the show to any passerby willing to check them out. Heck, I even purchased the first Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Karate Club VHS instructional video.
Power Rangers: Super Samurai
Developed and Published by Namco Bandai
Available on the Xbox 360.
You could say that Namco Bandai’s Power Rangers: Super Samurai was made for the 10 year old me.
Power Rangers: Super Samurai is one of the latest Kinect games available for the kids out there. Based on the latest season of the hit TV show, players get to fend off enemies as the Samurai Power Ranger of their choice, do battle as a Megazord against giant monsters, and train alongside the Rangers themselves.
The game takes place during the Super Samurai saga, where five new teenagers must fend off the threat of Master Xandred, the Nighloks, and the Moogers, Xandred’s foot soldiers. Armed with new samurai powers, the team must work together to save the earth from the forces of evil.
There are two main modes in the game, each aiming to keep your children (or you perhaps) busy for a while. There’s Ranger Mode, the story mode that has players take on mission after mission to foil the plans of Master Xandred, and Training, where players can participate in three different activities to test their martial arts skills.
In Ranger Mode, players choose from one of five Power Rangers (each with unique weapons and attacks) and take to the streets to combat the Nighloks and Xandred. This is done by having players standing directly in front of their screens and performing a special Kanji to transform. Once changed, players must then attack foes by repeatedly swinging their arms and kicking to clear waves of minor foes and move forward. By waving arms left or right, the Ranger will strike with their weapons, kicking will kick, and dodging to the side will allow players to avoid attacks. By defeating certain enemies that carry power-ups, players can also upgrade their weapon by performing character-specific gestures. Enhanced weapons will deal powerful attacks.
Occasionally quicktime events occur during battle, prompting players to dodge or jump to proceed. While these sequences aren’t very exciting, they do break up the repetitive slashing quite nicely.
Once the waves of minor enemies are finished, players must duel the boss of each stage. The boss grows into gigantic proportions, so the player must preform another Kanji in order gains control of the titanic Megazord, a mech composed of each Ranger’s individual Foldingzord. Gameplay in the boss battle is very similar to the street battles, but has the addition of a life bar for the boss, a new first-person view, and the occasional quick-time event where the player must replicate the Rangers on-screen actions to repel enemy grabs and finish the boss once and for all.
As you can imagine, the gameplay in Ranger Mode is quite repetitive. Rushing from enemy to enemy gets old quick, and the Kinect’s movement recognition is unfortunately not as responsive as I’d like. As is the case with most third-party Kinect games, player recognition isn’t exactly the best, with many actions being ignored or unrecognized by the game. There also seems to be a bit of delay as well. Thankfully, wildly swinging your arms around seems to do the trick most of the time. While I imagine that kids will initially love the chance to step into the shoes of a Power Ranger, after a couple of stages they’ll probably lose interest.
Training allows players to get fit alongside their favorite Rangers. There are three activities in this mode, but they are very similar. Breaking Challenge is sort of a “Simon Says” mini-game where players must replicate the Ranger’s moves to then be able to create blocks they can destroy. Ranger Training is basically the same as Breaking Challenge, minus the blocks. And finally Nighlok Training is the same as Ranger Training, but this time you get to train with the bad guys. As was the case with Ranger Mode, Training mode from a lack of options. While there are additional levels that increase the challenge of each activity, it really isn’t enough to keep people entertained.
The game, as average as it is, ties in nicely to the Power Rangers saga with nice visuals and excellent sound. The character models are accurate and look good, although the animations are somewhat stiff and wonky. The game also sounds like the show – with zapping attacks, the cries of fallen enemies, etc. – and the main theme song makes an appearance as well. Fans will be pleased looking at their favorite Rangers kick butt and hearing the programs hit tunes.
While it isn’t exactly the best game out there, Power Rangers: Samurai Squad is an interesting experience that tries to capitalize on the dreams of children everywhere. It finally allows players to be a Power Ranger, but the gameplay isn’t varied enough to make them feel like one. While kids might be jumping for joy as they morph for the first time, expect them to abandon the game a couple of hours later. Better luck next time, Rangers.