Power Rangers: UNITE is a turn-based casual card battle game that mixes in elements from other popular TCGs. Spanning 22+ seasons of the Power Rangers television series, from Mighty Morphin’ to Dino Charge, there is no shortage of different Rangers, Zords, and Villains. There are over 250 cards to be played with or against in the Other Earth where the villain Nerodark is trying to bring all of the Rangers’ old enemies together.
I remember watching Power Rangers as a kid and getting into bust-ups with my brothers that only ended when one of us started crying. We wanted to be just like them because they were so cool (much to our mother’s despair!). Power Rangers: UNITE brings back a lot of nostalgic memories and I am hopeful that the card game does the series justice. There is a lot to live up to, not only for my nostalgia and many others’ I am sure, but also because it is in a game category that has many other titles fighting for your time and attention.
Is Power Rangers: UNITE a mighty morphin’ game, or just a poor transformation? Read on to find out…
Right off the bat we have the Super Mega Force Rangers (Who? — wow, I’m old) defeating a tough enemy and they are then immediately pulled into a new world. This isn’t their Earth, but an alternate dimension where all of their old enemies have been given new life and are causing chaos and disaster across this Other Earth’s cities. The dialogue and story are as hammy and poorly written as the series, but this has always been a part of the Power Rangers’ charm. The only thing missing is explosions behind a corny team pose!
Power Rangers: UNITE uses a number of different popular mechanics, most notably casual and tactical card battle mechanics. The board uses a traditional “lane combat” system with 2 rows of 5 spaces for each player. The front row is used for the Forces cards that usually consist of Rangers, Zords, and Mega Zords which will attack whatever is directly in front of them each turn. If there is nothing in front of them, they will attack the opponent directly. This applies to the enemy forces too, so it has some tactical elements to it with card placement, for example.
The back row is where you will play your Action, Edge, Gear, and Tactic cards. Action, Gear, and Tactic cards are immediately active upon playing, whilst Edge cards are played face-down and revealed when an activation criteria is met. These play in a similar way to Spell and Trap cards from more popular TCGs. Some have instant one-off effects, whilst some have lingering or timed effects. The first couple of missions will tutor those who have yet to experience card types of this nature before.
You need to spend your Power resource to play cards. Simple cards cost very little, whilst Mega Zord cards will cost a lot more. Balancing out the cost of cards and what the opponent has is more tactical than I would have given the game credit for when you consider the target demographic is probably a younger audience. Power is refreshed each turn or can be given by other cards that can be played at a smaller or zero cost.
Everything about the game screams simplicity, but has an underlying strategy to it that just might appeal to big kids. The card art uses promotional shots and screen caps from the TV shows, but some of these are of a noticeably low image quality. I would have expected the selected screen caps to be of a decent quality, especially as this advertises the show to those who haven’t yet been exposed to it. Battle animations on the other hand are pretty cool, if a little repetitive.
There isn’t anything new, exciting, or innovative about the gameplay or mechanics of Power Rangers: UNITE. Instead we get a solid game that does the basics very well. If you want something new then you’d better keep on looking elsewhere. Each battle lasts a few minutes with a little bit of dialogue between each mission in the chapter of the story. It’s certainly a colorful and entertaining affair, but it just doesn’t have much of a creative spark or imagination.
MODES AND FEATURES
Power Rangers: UNITE has one of the most cliché stories you’re ever likely to read. The big bad guy wants to unite all of the other bad guys and in doing so accidentally brings different generations of Power Rangers together. This causes one of the biggest battles ever fought between the Rangers and their old adversaries. The story takes place over a number of chapters and every Ranger gets to have a little bit of dialogue. The bad guys always tell you how they’re going to crush you once and for all, but we all know that the bad guys never win in Power Rangers, right? It’s probably a cool story for kids though because I know I loved it when I was at that age.
Multiplayer is offered as an extra mode for you to put your team of Rangers up against another’s. Play is taken in turns as per the standard rules of the game and whilst you wait for a match-up you can continue on with your single-player campaign. A notification at the top of the screen will notify you when an opponent is ready to do battle. I was quite impressed with this feature as many games make you wait in a cold, dark lobby all alone, crying to yourself whilst you wait for an opponent to connect — which can take a very long time (especially the crying).
The store contains several booster packs that vary in the quantity of cards and series of Power Rangers cards it will contain. So far there are 4 different series on offer, with the developers claiming that they do intend to add more content to the game later. The packs aren’t ‘break the bank’ expensive, but if you are getting this for a child to play then you will most certainly want to turn on your purchases password as it is very easy to spend a lot, and quickly! The smaller packs can be purchased for free using the in-game currency earned through missions and online play, but they do offer less cards and a significant decrease in the number of Rare cards.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
The nostalgia of Power Rangers: UNITE really set in when I was able to build my own deck after the basic story missions. I quickly loaded up on the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers cards and began to use them. However, the best decks will often contain a mixture of Rangers, Zords, and other cards from all of the different Power Ranger generations. Despite my love of the original series I did see the benefit of mixing the Rangers up a little and it does give you more appreciation for the story when you do.
One of the key cards is the Rangers in their teenage form. These (except the elite rangers, such as Tommy) can be played for free and can activate their Ranger powers the following turn and transform into their colored Ranger outfit with its added abilities. When you do this they are unable to attack that turn, but do have better statistics for attack and health when compared to their teenage counterpart.
Make use of low cost cards as much as you can, especially those that can generate extra Power or grant additional card draw. Although you do need to discard down when you have more than five cards at the end of a turn, this can be of benefit as one of the Rangers does fetch cards from the discard pile for you. I often found that having too many Zord cards would limit the number of plays I could make a turn. Rather than stocking up on these you should use the Action, Edge, Gear, and Tactic cards to deal damage or eliminate the opponents’ Forces cards when yours cannot get the job done alone.
I have to admit that Power Rangers: UNITE is an enjoyable game. Sure it doesn’t bring anything new to the table and plays a lot like a few other popular games, but it does deliver a solid, decent gameplay experience. The nostalgia factor was lost a little when the music looped so much that it got the theme song stuck in my head for a whole day, and I’m sure I will have this earworm for a few more days as a result. You can avoid this by turning off the music at the earliest opportunity, unless you want to suffer the same mental anguish!
The design of the game is only let down by some of the poor screen caps used for the card images. The rest of the game is very well put together and easy to get around. Menus are simple and the deckbuilder makes it incredibly easy to build and modify decks. Overall, the game has some very good points.
If you, like me, want a little nostalgia for a short while you may enjoy this. Kids are going to love it regardless of appearance or mechanics. All they will care about is that is contains their favorite Rangers who they can use to beat the bad guys from any of the series’ long-running seasons. There’s only one thing left to ask — is Tommy the Green Ranger or the White Ranger to you, and how strongly are we going to disagree on this?
For more screenshots, click here.
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