Saturday, 7 February 2015

Nerdversity Reviews - VR Troopers (Genesis/Mega Drive and Game Gear)

Nerdversity has spoken a lot recently about a franchise we love here: that being Power Rangers and we admit, we love it's Japanese origins in Super Sentai, but one other thing we're fans of here at Nerdversity is other Saban shows. Last year, we had the opportunity to talk with Brad Hawkins, famous for his role as Ryan Steele in the VR Troopers TV series, well, did you know there was a game made of the series in 1995 for Genesis/Mega Drive and Game Gear?

VR Troopers has a fairly standard plot in regards to gaming. Grimlord puts a new Arcade machine in Tao's Dojo, which sucks Ryan, Kaitlin and JB into the virtual world. The three of them must fight their way back to Reality.

Rather than being an action game like later Power Rangers games, British developer took a leaf out the first Power Rangers game book and made it a fighting game, in the same vein as the likes of Street Fighter. The title screen has the options for story mode, 2 player and options. Options menu allows you to change the difficulty, set the round timer and how many rounds per fight.

Now, unlike other fighters where you pick a character and you're locked to that until the end of the game, you can swap your Trooper between fights. Each trooper comes armed with an array of punches, kicks and throws, as well as special moves ripped right from the TV show. Though to be fair, if you're going for the Genesis version, at least use the six button controller, as the specials are put on the X,Y and Z buttons, which is better for gameplay. It makes using JB's Laser Lance a lot easier by just tapping the X button instead of forward + punch.

Though speaking of gameplay, the controls feel very floaty. Until you can get the accuracy down, you'll find yourself flying across the screen with jump kicks and jump punches that won't connect, same for counter moves. Plus you'll find yourself taking some cheap damage from opponents when you fly over them and they'll counter with an uppercut or kick to you from behind. AI can vary game to game and from opponent to opponent, even between rounds. Some enemies might be stupid enough to walk right into your attacks, allowing you to claim an easy, perfect victory. On other occasions, you might find yourself scraping by with barely any health, as sometimes the AI can be very cheap. The first fight, Tankotron, he has a tendency to sweep kick you in the corner, same for repeatedly uppercutting.

The heroes:

  • Ryan Steele (Atomic Shuriken)
  • JB Reese (Laser Lance)
  • Kaitlin Star (Power Ring)
The enemies
  • Tankatron
  • Decimator
  • Darkheart
  • Kongbot
  • Magician
  • JB Clone
  • Kaitlin Clone
  • Ryan Clone
  • Kamelion
Between rounds, you enter Battle Grid mode, just like in the TV show. However, forget about using any of your special moves here, you're restricted to punches and kicks. The trick is to defeat as many Skugs as possible in the alloted time. This is done by knocking one skug into the other. However, in Battle Grid mode, the skugs are cheap as they will always knock you down with a flying kick or flying punch. Do NOT get trapped between them, as they will cheaply pummel your Trooper, which only lucky button mashing will get you out of, well, maybe a few times. Despite being a bonus stage to rack up more points, you actually HAVE to beat the stage by surviving the clock. Failure means you go back to the previous fight and you have to beat him all over again to have another crack at the Battle Grid stage,

The music and the visuals do a good job of emulating the look and sound of the show. Each of the characters has a few pieces of short syntheised speech, which is usually little more than just a few karate yells. Plus Ryan and JB yell "YEAH!" or "ALRIGHT!" when picked on the select screen.

The mega drive/genesis version is fairly cheap on places like eBay, except the Game Gear version, which is a little more harder to find and thus more expensive, but there's very little difference between either version. 

In conclusion, it's not exactly the worst game ever made, but it's no masterpiece either. I'm sure fans of VR Troopers could look past the flaws, steep difficulty and random AI and find something fun, enjoyable and something to love. Same for fighting game fans. 

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