It still blows my mind that there are fans out there that are not aware that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is based on a long running Japanese series. Even I put two and two together years ago. In the US there were a slew of American developed based on MMPR but that doesn’t mean they were only ones. The Super Sentai series, of which the various incarnations of MMPR are based on, has been running since the mid-70s with video game adaptations following not soon after. Chōjin Sentai Jetman was one of the first and while it isn’t spectacular it is a solid action romp, if a bit short.
Chōjin Sentai Jetman is based on the fifteenth entry in the Sentai series in which the team faces off against the forces of Vyram. Stylistically Chōjin Sentai Jetman adapted a bird motif; this series was an homage to Gatchaman. Older anime fans will note the similarities immediately and it is pretty cool. What is also cool is the game’s developer. Natsume does the honors and if you’ve played Shadow of the Ninja or Shatterhand the game looks eerily similar. This isn’t their best work but it does explain why at the end of the day the game is solid.
The game takes a page out of Mega Man’s handbook and allows you to tackle the levels in any order. It also goes a step further by including the entire jetman cast. The five rangers all supposedly have different stats and weapons but in reality the Red and Black jetman both use swords plus have the most hit points while the Blue and Pink jetmen use guns. To make up for that alleged advantage they have the least hit points at 6 and the weakest attack power. That leaves the yellow Jetman who I would wager is supposed to be a composite of the two types but comes up short and is worthless. His fist attack has the shortest range but he has 7 hit points, that’s a plus I guess? Fans of the color yellow got hosed here.
This is a pretty simple game by platformer standards, especially for 1991. Your primary weapon is your only means of offense aside from a kick attack. There only items are hearts to restore health and extra special attacks which to be honest I forgot about. The action is slow and you are rarely confronted by 2 or more enemies. It also doesn’t help that there are only 3 or 4 enemy types in the game. The slow pace will allow you to run through the levels pretty quickly which makes an already short game go by even faster. The game is also incredibly easy as a result. Regardless of which character you choose you would have to do something monumentally stupid in order to die. The only time I ever died was during the cool boss fights.
Where the levels themselves are by the numbers the game’s boss battles are actually pretty inspired. Upon meeting a boss the requisite Zord is called out for a one on one fighting game style battle. These fights are actually pretty fun since you’ll have to use actual strategy to win. As you move around and attack both sides have a special attack gauge that fills up to four levels. Your attack depends on the level of the gauge and it is imperative to pay attention to what the enemy is doing in order to block to reduce or negate incoming damage. It isn’t terribly complicated but it is nuanced enough that button mashing will not work. There’s even a battle mode that will let you smack the bosses around for practice.
When I mentioned that this resembles many of Natsume’s prior works I wasn’t joking. The game looks as though it is using the exact tile sets from the games I mentioned which means it looks good but is also derivative. The few levels that don’t look cobbled together lack the same visual flair. The sprites are a bit ugly with the exception of the game’s bosses. The battle mode features large detailed sprites that have decent animation if nothing else. The soundtrack fares better and is excellent although the game’s short length means there aren’t too many songs.
Chōjin Sentai Jetman could easily have been a cheap, licensed piece of trash but turned out far better than expected. While the game is solid its lack of difficulty and short length do make me hesitant to recommend it however, especially as there are numerous better import only platformers.