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VR Troopers Episode Review: The Battle Begins Part I

January 7, 2013

In September of 1994, a show called VR Troopers premiered on television. Following off the success of the massively popular “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, a second “Ameri-Toku” show was created, combining show footage from Toei’s Choujinki Metalder with Toei’s Jikuu Senshi Spielban in order to create a new three person, live-action, superhero team known as the VR Troopers. Unlike the Power Rangers, this trio are young adults (with one of the stars, JB, currently in college) trying to make their way in the world. However, despite these characters apparently being older than the Power Rangers, the show has just as much 90s cheese as the old days. Seeing as it is 2013, and it’s been almost 20 years since this show regularly aired, the humor may feel a little… outdated for some. That being said, for those who are ok with cheese, and are willing to keep an open mind, VR Troopers may prove to be entertaining. With that said, let’s dig into VR Trooper’s first episode and see just how well it holds up.

The opening scene shows a character name Ryan Steele hanging out by a temple (or what I assume to be a historical landmark. Forgive my ignorance on this matter) that he and his father spent a lot of time by when Ryan Steele was younger. As he reminisces about times with his father, he explains that his father has been missing for a few years, and foreshadows that upcoming events in the episode will lead him one step closer to finding his father. I’m going to be honest, if it wasn’t for the actor playing Ryan Steele’s way of making everything sound awesome, this part would probably bore me. Good thing too, because these flashback scenes will happen in almost every episode’s opening and closing scene, so get used to that.

VR Troopers choose to follow a similar route to Power Rangers, in which they have their main characters be proficient in martial arts, as seen with Ryan Steele and JB competing in a city-wide tournament. It’s always nice to see your main characters be able to fight out of suit, and was a great way to inspire more kids to take up martial arts. The only thing I found odd about this scene was the dog running around the the dojo during the tournament, with no one making a fuss over it. But hey, maybe that’s just nitpicking.

We’re later introduced to our final main character, our lead female, Katlin Star. She works as a reporter over at “Underground Voice Daily”, and briefly interacts with her wacky boss, Woody Stocker. Expect a lot of 90s cheese here in future episodes, as briefly shown by her boss in the beginning. However, since there’s a lot that needs to be set up in the two part intro, the scene is kept brief as Katlin Star is asked to head downtown to cover a construction project industrialist Karl Ziktor is about to start in the city… which apparently no-one was informed about until now. She calls up Ryan and JB to join her as she heads over to the spot in the city.

After being briefly shown a protest demanding there to be no more nukes (Wow, who knew this show would take a political stance?), Ryan and JB arrive on the scene to meet up with Katlin, who says that apparently Karl Ziktor is planning on demolishing an old neighborhood (which looks more like two buildings) to build a nuclear power plant, with everyone questioning who gave him the right to do that. (Maybe the city, maybe he bought the land… also its just two buildings. That looks nothing like a neighborhood and more like two old office buildings…)

We’re then introduced to Karl Ziktor, who is currently watching the building about to be demolished from his office. As evil women with emotionless expressions stand behind him, and he strokes his pet iguana (making him look less threatening by the second…) he gives the order to demolish the buildings, much to the dismay of the protestors and the main cast. Karl Ziktor is pleased by this, as apparently the demolition of these two buildings somehow brings him closer to completing his plans… for some reason.

Later on, while the trio are hanging out at their dojo (where JB is attempting to organize their boss’s files), the computer starts to act crazy (to the point where the monitor actually shakes) as a transmission is shown on the computer. A man named Professor Hart says he is contacting Ryan Steele, as he has a message from his father. Curious as to what this means (as are his friends) Ryan, JB and Katlin follow the Professor’s instructions as to where to meet with him to find out what he wants.

Karl Ziktor’s goons intercept the transmission though, and Ziktor instructs them to head back to virtual reality, allowing them to transform into their true forms, weird robot alien looking things known as Skugs, who teleport out of the room. Ziktor also teleports out of the room, transforming into the menacing Grimlord as he does. Grimlord, our main bad guy of the series, instructs his various robotic and mutant minions to stop Ryan Steele from approaching the lab at all costs.

Fortunately for our heroes, Grimlord’s drone fighter has the worst shot ever, as even after the gang stops the car and runs into the woods, the drone fighter can’t even hit A PARKED CAR. Grimlord instructs the drone fighter to blow up the bridge the gang needs to take, (which he successfully hits, to my shock) causing the gang to panic for about 5 seconds, until they find an alternate path during a commercial break somehow.

The gang finds the location they were instructed to go to, a landmark/portal that leads to a secret lab run by Professor Hart, who turns out to be a computer program. He instructs the trio to put on virtual reality glasses, where a pre-recorded message from Ryan’s father informs them of everything that is going on. Grimlord is trying to break through a reality barrier with his giant army, and Ryan and his closest friends are the only ones who can stop them. Using special gems that allow them to transform into armored heroes known as VR Troopers, the gang can be given special powers, weapons, and abilities to take down Grimlord’s army.

Grimlord, furious that they made it to the lab, orders his army to attack. Hart informs our heroes to transform and confront the army head on. Ryan goes and confronts one foe, while Katlin and JB confront another foe. Katlin (despite saying she’ll distract the weird robot) vanishes and JB finishes off the foe with a badass double laser blade (VR Troopers, pulling off the only awesome part of Star Wars Episode 1 almost 10 YEARS before the movie came out.) Meanwhile, Ryan, despite being told his powers would guide him in battle, gets his butt kicked and falls off a cliff. With his communications down, Katlin and JB frantically attempt to locate him and Grimlord assumes they killed him. The episode ends with Ryan Steele, laying on the ground injured in suit.

Final Thoughts:
Despite some questionable plot points, this episode was a nice first outing. The characters seem interesting, it has an awesome intro theme, and the fight scenes are pretty fantastic. It’s kind of disappointing that the lead hero gets his butt kicked in the first episode, but I suppose this builds drama. Still, it isn’t by any means a perfect episode, and even with an open mind, somethings in the episode seem very questionable. Overall though, I’d say it’s a nice way to start off the series, and a cliffhanger was a fantastic idea to keep the audience excited about the next episode.

I give this episode a 4/5. It was a pretty good first episode despite some flaws, and sets up a lot of great things to come.

For a review of Part II of “The Battle Begins” click here.

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