Power Rangers Super Samurai
About five minutes into a climactic battle – to use the words “climactic” and “battle” very loosely – with a many-mouthed monster called Splitface, I was ready to walk away from Power Rangers Super Samurai, a game that’s even worse than “Kinect title based on kids’ TV show” might suggest.
I’d spent several minutes randomly flailing my limbs at the TV while trying to match the on-screen icon showing me how to do my red Power Ranger’s finishing move, which seemed to involve making a fist with one outstretched arm and sliding the other arm along it like an amorous boa constrictor.
Finally, I waved one hand randomly to keep Splitface busy while using the other to grope for the game’s instruction book on the coffee table. As I held it front of me to see if it might explain how to do the attack that would shave off the last bit of Splitface’s health bar, the finishing move suddenly activated. Somehow, the act of holding the instruction book up was interpreted by the game as the signal to engage the red Ranger’s fiery spinning sword of death.
This is depressingly indicative of just how bad Power Rangers Super Samurai is, even for a game aimed at a younger audience. I’m pretty sure that in some legal jurisdictions this game would constitute a form of child abuse.
Inspired by the latest season of the long-running Power Rangers TV show, Super Samurai is an arm-waving beat-em up similar to the recent Avengers: Battle for Earth, minus any attempt to be technically competent or remotely fun.
You begin by picking your Power Ranger of choice from the Fruit of the Loom spectrum, then launch into eight on-rails levels that consist of beating up a bunch of enemies, dodging the occasional attack through ducks, jumps or sidesteps, and fighting a couple of boss battles.
In honour of the five Power Rangers themselves, here are five horrible things about Power Rangers Super Samurai:
1) The game only loosely tracks movement, and any sort of vertical or horizontal arm swiping is registered as an attack. You can do a lazy swishing of your hand back and forth, as if you were a 19th-century dandy slapping the cad who just insulted you, and that will get you through 80% of the combat.
2) It looks like an uprezzed first-generation Xbox title. And not even a late first-generation Xbox title. I’m pretty sure Azurik: Rise of Perathia was a better-looking game.
3) The variety of enemies is ludicrously thin, and their attack strategy usually consists of standing in place and waiting for you to charge up and clobber them with a couple of swipes.
4) After defeating each level boss, a cutscene made up of footage from the TV series shows the Power Rangers assembling into Megazord for a final battle. This is the one part of the game that strays close to being fun – giant robots clobbering giant monsters, with a splitscreen view of the Rangers piloting their mecha-leviathan – but these fights are over within 60 seconds. It takes less time to win than it does to watch the cutscene that introduces the battle.
5) There’s a training mode that’s an awful mash-up of Simon Says and Dance Central, except moves are registered with such terrible accuracy it’s far less enjoyable than that sounds.
If you have small, easily amused children who are diehard Power Rangers fans, this might keep them busy for an afternoon. But even as a $40 “budget” title, it’s borderline robbery.
In fairness, though, the final two levels of Power Rangers Super Samurai could be absolutely transcendent, and I wouldn’t know. After finally figuring out that the red Ranger’s finishing move was activated by making a sword-holding gesture, I dragged my way through six stages and then just gave up. Turned the Xbox off and walked away, resisting the urge to open a window and fling the disc out.