With the new reboot of Saban’s Power Rangers hitting movie theaters, it’s little shock to anyone that a tie-in game released alongside it. What will surprise you is that Power Rangers: Legacy Wars is actually quite decent as far as mobile fighting games go. This isn’t to say everything is in tip-top shape, but developer nWay Inc. manages to morph the tap and drag fighting genre into something far more substantive thanks to two key components.
One key aspect is that Power Rangers: Legacy Wars is purely PvP outside of a training mode, so out of the gate you are pitted against human players who actually present a challenge. The nice thing is that even if you lose, you earn experience that goes towards unlocking a daily chest that grants you new characters and small amounts of currency. You also gain and lose rankings, meaning the game is always keeping track of who you’re able to go toe to toe with, ensuring typically fair fights. There’s also no energy charge limiting how many times you play, further encouraging you to dig into the gameplay rather than grappling with time limits. Instead, countdown timers are exclusively limited to unlocking chests.
The second key part that makes this all worthwhile is that Power Rangers: Legacy Wars is far more about strategy than execution. If you’re a fan of card games or Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle system, Power Rangers: Legacy Wars is right up your alley. You have an always regenerating ability bar that is your primary resource in battle, effectively a stamina gauge. You burn several chunks of it to use your various moves, be that calling in one of your two allies for a power move, blocking, or firing off an attack. Rather than limit you to three preset abilities, your powers rotate like a deck of cards, forcing you to switch up your strategy and preventing your opponents from spamming you to death. The ability bar also needs time to replenish, adding risk and potential reward for those who fire off a string of attacks only to be left vulnerable for crucial seconds while your opponent gets back up.
The amount of effort that went into making Power Rangers: Legacy Wars’ combat feel fluid and deep is above and beyond expectations. On top of the base ability bar mechanics, there’s a rock-paper-scissors system regarding what attacks interrupt each other, which also makes saving your block ability very important. The level of nuance and complexity made so natural and accessible to the player is impressive. The netcode was also incredibly smooth during my time playing. Combined with the quasi-turn-based nature, it was easy for both my opponents and I to stand a chance in a fight. After some practice, I was winning several battles in a row and had unlocked multiple Rangers across the eras.
Your team consists of one leader that you’ll primarily play as, and two assist Rangers who can pop in to fire off a special attack. Special attacks can be ranged or up close, and have different firing rates, so they really help add some flexibility to how you assemble your team. Each leader also gets a different set of attacks, so be sure to try out multiple team combinations to find out which one works best for you.
The amount of effort that went into making Power Rangers: Legacy Wars' combat feel fluid and deep is above and beyond expectations.
Building your team is a bit less intuitive than it could be. While it’s very easy to unlock new characters from chests earned from victories, the way you upgrade them is where the game’s design becomes far more grind-intensive. You see, you don’t simply level characters up with experience, but have to receive shards in loot boxes that go towards leveling them up. Except these loot boxes are random, so you might get level ups for an assist hero you never use. The one way the game compensates for this is that you can spend power coins, one of the two in-game currencies, towards unlocking or leveling up the featured heroes on the storefront. Except the coins needed for each shard multiply significantly, so be sure to have some saved up in advance if that’s how you want to go about it.
There’s also the opportunity to unlock a few of the series’ villains, although they all appear to be done in the style of the current film, and certain characters like Lord Zedd are not currently available. It also warrants mentioning that while Power Rangers: Legacy Wars does grant you a fair amount of currency for free, it’s very clear they want you to spend your cash on in-game currency as those lootbox wait times can be multiple hours long. Yes, I’m not kidding, hours. Plus, you have a limit of four loot boxes in your inventory at a time, so… yeah, that’s not fun times.
Finally, while the gameplay is polished, the same cannot be said for the visuals and audio design. The starting zone you play in has a giant gap where the background just ends that you can see every time a match starts. The environments in general seem like an afterthought. Characters have no real voice work, not even old clips from the various movies and shows, and the soundtrack is just annoyingly repetitive action movie tracks you’ve heard a thousand times. Thankfully this doesn’t detract too much from the core experience thanks to some decent combat animation work and good user interface design conveying all the important information you need without cluttering up the screen.
Still, looking past these foibles, nWay Inc. should be proud of themselves. Power Rangers: Legacy Wars manages to be more than a simple license tie-in, instead offering a solid mobile fighting game with a decent roster of characters and some fantastic gameplay. I came in uncertain of what to expect and walked away honestly itching for a little more. Fans of the franchise will get a kick out of seeing fan favorites like Tommy Oliver and Rita Repulsa fight it out in what-if scenarios. Fighting game fans will appreciate the depth and accessibility of the gameplay. Just bear in mind that it is a freemium mobile game and that the developers had to focus their polish in order to make the game worthwhile, if not perfect.