Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie: From Mullet to Morphin’

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were a cultural phenomenon in the early ‘90s. Because of that, it should come as no surprise that video games based on the series appear on every console of the era and have their own legacy as well. While it’s easy to have mixed sentiments about the plethora of spin-offs in the history of the TV show, all which range in quality, the first two seasons of the program- and the first movie based on the hit TV show- were something iconic and special. Bringing in $66.4 million in the box office (with a budget of just $15 million), the success of the film and dedicated fan base of the TV show- made the video games series possible. 

Developed by SIMS Co. (the team responsible for the Game Gear Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game released in 1993) and published by Sega of America, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie Game on the Sega Genesis was a completely different game than the ports released on the Super Nintendo, Game Boy and Game Gear Versions. Commonplace in the industry at the time, something like that would never happen today. Could you imagine two teams working on PlayStation 5, Steam, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One versions of the same game, at the same time?! Anarchy!

The differences in the Power Rangers Movie games on different consoles, however, are obvious when playing, but not by the box art, which was largely the same, featuring the movie logo and either the White Ranger- or all of the heroes. Although both the Game Gear and Genesis versions have the same producer in John Pedigo and the same developer in SIMS and Banpresto, the handheld version is a one-on-one fighting game that builds off the super successful original Game Gear game, adding more of the plot of the film. The Genesis version is a beat-em-up that appears pretty tame at first but gets interesting when Zord battles occur in the middle of the game. Add in some kick-ass tunes and some nifty digitized cut-scenes and you have a solid beat-em-up experience overall.

Taking the action from feet on the streets to the skies with zords is fun and was a cool element in an otherwise straight-ahead beat-em-up of the era and one that was much different than the original game, which like the Game Gear game of the same name, was a one-on-one fighting affair. For Pedigo, weirdly, the game’s ability to develop into something different mimicked how he ended up getting involved in the video game industry. 

“I was working for a temp agency doing a variety of jobs and I got a friend a job at the agency, which hooked him up with a game counselor postilion for Sega,” Pedigo said. “I got the same job a few weeks later and we commuted from San Mateo to South San Francisco to be game counselors. If you look in old Sega Visions magazines, game counselors were reviewed in certain issues, I’m in there with a very stylish mullet. I was a game counselor for a year and a half, moved up to the third-party test team, and a couple years later I became an Associate Producer for the Sega Product Development.”

Before he got involved with Sega however, Pedigo was also a dedicated gamer. This made the transition from player to advisor an easy one and created a handful of special memories he hasn’t forgotten since. “I’ll be dating my self here a bit. We had a Super Pong (which we still have) and an Atari 2600,” Pedigo said. “My dad had a Fairchild Channel F and an Intellivision at his house. I remember in middle school, how excited my friends were for this game Pac-Man at the 7-11 across the tracks. I actually found Galaxian and Galaga as my favorite arcade games. I did have a VIC-20 in there at some point too (Shamus anyone?). I never really got into the NES as I didn’t have any close friends who had one. I wanted one and played a few times, but that never happened. The friend I got the job with got his hands on the Japanese version of the Turbo Grafix 16, so I was playing that just before I started at Sega. Once at Sega, a Genesis came my way eventually- I mean I played it all day at work as a game counselor, trying to answer questions while playing games, good times. I remember trying to play Cyberball and it didn’t have a pause feature, and I am putting callers on hold for a long time so I could play.”

The new road- from gamer, to advisor, to tester, to assistant producer, took some time, as Pedigo worked on a variety of titles including Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition, Poker Face Paul’s Solitaire, Taz in Escape From Mars and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Game Gear title (still lauded today as one of the console’s top titles), but by the time he was ready to produce a game on his own, he was ready. As chance would have it, he’d get the helm to another Power Rangers game, but this time around, he had more control.

“The Genesis version is the first game I published as a producer,” Pedigo said. “I was amused but super glad to have a project that I could call mine without too much hindrance from the bosses. I didn’t really know the MMPR very well, they weren’t on TV after school for me. I hadn’t had after school TV for at least eight years, so they weren’t on my radar. But after dealing with the product, I found them super campy and fun. I wasn’t ashamed of working on the title, like some other producer would have been. It was all good to me, a newbie game producer.”

Ask any producer and they’ll tell you that their job is to make sure everyone on the team has what they need to do their job. From the beginning of the cycle, Pedigo knew what he needed to do. “Genesis game cycles were about 18 months usually from design to shelf,” Pedigo said. “But it was different in the development of all the MMPR games. They handed me the first game (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Game Gear) almost complete, about 70 percent done. I got it through QA and manufacture. I think everyone was surprised at how well it sold and with the movie, in development, I think it was no brainer to do a follow-up title for both. With Sega of Japan heading the development, the cycle was shorter just because they knew what they were doing, plus the game engine only really needed new paint. Once they decided to go forward with the movie versions, they pretty much handed that to me and said go.”

Producing the Power Rangers Movie Game on Game Gear as well at the same time, Pedigo’s hands were full, but a solid relationship with Saban and Sega made the process a smooth one. “The second time around I was way more involved as SOJ was removed from the growing popularity of MMPR in the US,” Pedigo said. “I went to Burbank and met with Haim Saban and his team. They gave me all kinds of concept material and scripts for the movie. I forwarded all of this along to SOJ, who developed again, with a third-party developer, SIMS. We took a look at the material and SOJ and I got together on how it should work. We really didn’t have to work too hard to be honest, as Saban was sending material almost daily. There was a change in the movie story that we had to roll with, but it was not a problem for SOJ. Out the door on time, both Genesis and GG, in conjunction with the movie.”

Back then, getting a game to release with a film was pivotal and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, accomplished this on both Sega systems. More than two decades after the release of the game, the Power Rangers still influence his life. “For my birthday, my co-workers got me a pretty big pink MMPR pinata that I had in my cubicle for a few years,” Pedigo said. “20 years later, my daughter was wearing a Pink Power Ranger costume around the house just for fun. Cycle complete.”

Thanks to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie’s smooth development cycle, Pedigo doesn’t have any regrets about the game, but he does have one thing he would have done differently if he had the opportunity. “I wished I had held onto all the material I got from Saban. I probably would have made a killing on eBay,” Pedigo said. “Scripts, posters, pictures, concept art, oh my. Overall they were great product development experiences for me. Mainly because SOJ had their act together. I learned much harder lessons with other games, developers, and Licensors. Much much harder lessons.”

The experience Pedigo had on other games weren’t nearly as smooth-sailing, but left him with plenty of stories to tell- far more than most producers of the era. “Bugs Bunny showed up on my doorstep as a design and rumors of some animation already completed. When it was time to give Warner Brothers an update, a dev from England showed up with 800 frames of animation. We flew down to Burbank together to show the frames to somebody with a really big office. What I didn’t know is that the developers decided they would make their own version of Bugs Bunny, sort of a morphed old and new. So we play these frames of animation and the Executive for WB proceeds to tell us in no uncertain terms how important BB is the WB Franchise. She did not hold back and she used a lot of F-Bombs, at an extremely high volume. ‘Don’t ever fuck with Bugs Bunny, there would be no fucking Warner Brothers if it wasn’t for fucking Bugs Bunny.’ This went on for 10 minutesWe walked out of there with our tails between our asses and the dev did not say one word to me after we flew home and he left our offices. A week later, that development team dropped out of the deal. Sega somehow finds another developer willing to take on the job. I fly to England and go over every single frame of animation and these guys pulled it off. I mean they really did a fantastic job picking up the pieces and we got WB approval and got the game (Bugs Bunny in Double Trouble) out the door, I am super proud of that one.

“The hardest thing I learned is not to become too good of friends with outside developers. The thing I might best be known for besides the MMPR titles is some vaporware called X-Women. A Marvel approved all woman X-Men Genesis title, probably the last first- party Genesis title, that never was developed because of too many problems with the dev team and my inability to manage them. We were going out and partying at raves and clubs in the off time and when it came to manage their slowdown (coder personal problems) I couldn’t control them. Parts of the team bailed and I couldn’t talk to my coder…and Sega said it was time to cut the dead weight as the Genesis was done. So the title was never developed beyond a few working characters and levels.”

Regardless of all of the ups and downs he endured in the industry, Pedigo is proud of the mark he left and the people he got to meet. “Sega let me experience some cool things. My first trip abroad, I got to meet Muhammad Ali and one the coolest experiences was meeting and hanging out with Ronnie Montrose,” Pedigo said. “Ronnie was a guitar player who headed the bands Montrose [Sammy Hagar’s first real gig] and Gamma. Some of his licks are widely sampled in the music community. He was at Sega to record music for the game Mr. Bones and we got to hang out. He recognized my name and it turns out he knew my Dad from Junior High. So I got to hang out with him for six months or so talking about all kinds of stuff. He was a really, really cool cat. Unfortunately he took his own life a few years later.”

Later serving in a variety of roles on games such as X-Men: Gamemaster’s Legacy and The Adventures of Batman & Robin, as well as Jak 3 and Rise to Honor, Pedigo has worked on not only the Genesis and Game Gear, but the Sega CD and PlayStation 2 as well. Nevertheless, the exploits of Zordon, Alpha and that band of six teenagers- with attitude, played the biggest role in his career in gaming.

“I really think highly of the Game Gear versions especially, super great gameplay and I think in general thought of more highly than the Genesis versions,” Pedigo said. “I am a gameplay guy…if gameplay isn’t good, I don’t care how good the graphics are. Not a problem so much these days with games, but when you have a title that has to be under four megs you have some limitations. I think the gameplay on the MMPR Game Gear titles was some of the best of its time. I really enjoyed playing that game and I would have loved to produce another or even use that engine in another title. If the Genesis version held in high esteem by the fans of MMPR, I am all good with that.”

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