|The Power Rangers are still
kickin. They no longer own the air five days a week and twice on Saturdays, but my
six year old still watches them dutifully in their 7:30 a.m. timeslot. He wears the
t-shirts; he plays with the toys. He is the target audience for the whole franchise, this
game included. The powers that be know where the money is and dont even try for a
Power Rangers Light Speed Rescue has no more a plot than "take this!" and "hi-yah!" can sum up. It is meant solely to put young children where they want to beon the screen, in the suit, amongst the action. Mission accomplished. They can don the colors of their favorite rangers and fight for good in Titanium Quest, or they can battle as one of several giant robots in Megazord Arena. There is a 2-player option in either mode, so a friend can join in and perform those trademark pseudo-martial arts moves along side them.
Titanium Quest is divided into three episodes. Each consists of several types of rescue missions in which the player(s) must complete tasks and defeat enemies. The first type of mission is Ranger Rescue, where they simply guide the rangers around on foot. Controls are about as simple as they comedirectional movement, frontward attack, backward attack. On the screen there is a health bar, a clock, a number representing the amount of objectives left to complete, and a radar to guide them there. Then there is the Vehicle Rescue Mode. These are side-view games in which the screen scrolls forward automatically and the player(s) must move up and down to collect items and hit targets. Hover Jet Mode might be the most complex of the mission styles for younger children, as they will have to master basic flying controlsyou know, up is down, down is up, bank left, bank right. It is also the one my son likes the most. Each episode, like the television program, then ends with a battle against some huge, nasty alien in the Megazord Arena.
The Megazord Arena is set up like a first-person fighter. The player(s) view the action from the cockpit, moving the giant robot around, attacking and dodging. There is nothing here to give you the illusion that you are actually a giant robotno extreme perspectives, no physics, no stomping on buildings or flying through the airjust like I said, attacking and dodging. And in the 2-player mode the players go head to head, attacking and dodging until their thumbs cramp.
The game looks good, though the N64 is capable of much better. Imaginative level design certainly helps in the Ranger Rescue and Hover Jet Modes (there is virtually no level design to speak of in the other two). The colors are vivid, the graphics clear, the characters solid. Between levels the presentation is much like a comic bookstill frames with captions, all with a certain smash! bang! boom! quality to them.
The sound is great, however, and will certainly captivate the kids with crunching impacts, popular catch phrases, and, of course, those cool "Go! Go! Power Rangers!" theme songs.
The game is kind enough to save each episode and allow players replay whichever missions they liked best, which is the key to replay value for younger kids. Unfortunately, it uses the N64 memory card, which you may have gotten along without so far. Even if you have one, unless you are a Turok fan you will probably have to go find the darn thing. I wish Nintendo would make up their minds and stick with one memory format.
Some games are geared toward young children, but aim to please adults as well. Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog are famous for this. I recently reviewed Lego Rock Raiders for the PSX, which was a perfect blend of product licensing and simple yet strategic gameplay, with a cooperative 2-player mode that provided an opportunity for parent and child to put their heads together and bond via video game. Power Rangers Light Speed Rescue is none of these. For anyone over ten, the game is just too easy, the scenarios too ridiculous. In one Rescue Ranger mission your task is to clean up piles of toxic alien goo that have collected in the park. Okay, but you dont so much "clean them up" as you just punch or kick them and they disappear. Now, I dont know how you clean your house, but well, you get the idea. If it werent for their ability to operate vehicles, I would question whether or not Power Rangers have opposable thumbs. But, again, we are not the audience for this game. Fans of the franchise are going to love it for the franchise, and the fact that it has some pretty decent missions and levels is just a bonus. I can appreciate it because it is an excellent entry-level game for young children. With simplified versions of 3D adventure, first-person fighting, and flying controls, youngsters can get a little of what we zealots love so much about the industrythe opportunity to experience anything.