Now, for the record, there are some pretty good Power Rangers games already out there. It can drag on, but that 1994 Mighty Morphin Super Nintendo one has a lot of good things going. But as of 2015, it looks like the best, smartest, funniest Power Rangers video game is not about the Power Rangers—not Turbo, not Zeo, not Lightspeed Rescue, not Time Force, not Wild Force, not Mystic Force, not Megaforce, (Christ how many of these are there) not Samurai, not Dino Charge—but your own self-produced Power Rangers, in Chroma Squad.
Enthusiastically crowdfunded in 2013, Chroma Squad is about a team of fed-up ninja zentai fighters (or at least a stunt crew that play them on TV) who leave their jobs to start a new super action mega force savior crew. A funny hybrid between a grid-based strategy RPG (think Final Fantasy Tactics) and a business sim (think any sports game that ends in "Manager"), you not only guide your custom space crusaders through their fights, but you make sure it works within a budget.
Each main battle campaign follows your basic Mighty Morphin mythos. A group of diverse positive-minded teenagers start off with only their most basic karate skills. As the heat of the battle rages on, your team builds up its skills. Everything leads to an inevitable showdown with the grotesque latex monster, sometimes as a assembled giant-mech.
You aren't just defending the universe, after all, you're protecting your ratings
Like other strategy RPG games, you can try to coordinate team attacks for a larger spectacle, though unlike others in the genre, these combos aren't only for overall damage or you own satisfaction. Between fights, you take on a role closer to a producer than a roundhouse-kicking rainbow coloured galaxy hero. You buy props and weapons, arrange elements for the next episode, answer emails and gauge audience reaction. You aren't just defending the universe, after all, you're protecting your ratings.
While you spend more time doing flips in front of the camera, the work you do as a makeshift Saban producer can all give you an edge on the battlefield. Answering emails can lead to certain perks. Your audience engagement, bolstered by accomplishing certain stunts or narrative goals during battle, is required to maintain certain actor contracts. You can build bigger studios for more massive theatrics.
Chroma Squad is a clever mash-up. It is also incredibly nerdy, scattering crumbs of the '90s in dialogue and visual reference, from Kamen Rider to Pop-Up Pirate to Barney the Dinosaur, for those internet nostalgiaphiles ready to inhale them. It isn't as intense as other strategy games, those looking to exercise the skin they've toughened in Fire Emblem won't find much, but the outright kookiness of the concept at least carries most of the weight. It is certainly the best option so far for players looking to kick some Puttys in the chest—and experience the essence of Power Rangers, as both myth and international franchise.
All images: Chroma Squad