Power Rangers HyperForce is without question the most unique entry in the franchise’s long history. While it sometimes feels like Power Rangers as a whole is struggling to catch up with the modern media landscape, HyperForce by HyperRPG is refreshingly on the cutting edge. A tabletop RPG streamed every week on Twitch, it’s very much Power Rangers meets Critical Role (perhaps the most famous of the streaming RPG’s).
The idea of a streaming RPG and how it possibly ties into the Power Rangers franchise was a little confusing for some longtime Power Rangers fans when the series was first announced. Even now as HyperForce approaches the end of its first season some hardcore fans are still on the fence about checking it out or still confused what the hell it is.
We sat down with Peter Sudarso, the Red HyperForce Ranger and current Blue Ninja Steel Ranger, to get some insights into what exactly HyperForce is and why fans should be checking it out. For the HyperForce faithful we also have some insights into the creation of the series, its relation to Power Rangers canon, and more.
Break HyperForce down for us. Imagine that I’m someone who has never played a tabletop game in my life. I’m literally just a Power Rangers fan, and I want to know what is. It’s two hours and it’s just six people sitting there? What?
The best way to describe HyperForce would be a live Power Rangers improv. A tabletop improve is the best way to explain it, because not a lot of people know what a role-playing game is. We are the characters. We play as the characters but we improv everything. The situation and the outline is given to us by the Game Master (GM), but we have to live within the construct and either play out what our character’s gonna do or choose what our actions are gonna be. So for the most part, we have a lot of fun with it because we get full control of our characters.
What’s the story of HyperForce?
HyperForce takes place a couple years after Time Force, so it’s almost as if it’s a Time Force sequel. Most of the Time Force rangers are either retired or off duty. The only one that’s left is Jen Scotts, the Pink Time Force Ranger, and she’s the teacher of the Time Force Academy. During one of the days when everybody’s just going about their daily life, suddenly things start to go bad. Some of the (Time Force) people have turned evil.
And then the team travels through time to figure out what’s going on and become Rangers. Tell us a little about your character, Marvin. How much of the characters was your creation?
It’s all me. Well, not all me. All me with the approval of Saban. Marvin is an alien from Kaien. He’s a humanoid, so if you’re familiar with the Super Sentai universe at all Kaien is actually the planet where Lucky, from Kyuranger, was from. Obviously, this is not the same Kaien, because the Sentai universe and Power Rangers universe are not the same. But I based it off of the same thing. He’s from the Lion Galaxy, which also alludes to the Lion Galaxy from Ninja Steel.
He’s, I don’t want to spoil too much about his character, but he’s someone who kind of had a rough start and was in the Time Force at the right time and became the HyperForce Red Ranger. It plays around the trope of Red Rangers being suddenly leaders because the Marvin character is a guy who is always struggling with his leadership. He is a leader, he knows how to make good decisions, but also he’s not sure why people just kind of follow him.
So a lot of the times that messes with his head. He’s like, “Why am I the leader? I didn’t ask to be a leader. Why am I Red? You just gave me this red. I didn’t want to be this Red Ranger. I just wanted to save my brother.” Now he has to deal with leading a team.
I know the series has a loose storyline, but it’s still all improv?
It’s all improv. So pretty much when we get there, they’re like, “Okay. So, these are things to remember. Here’s your story setting. Last week, this is what happened.” And they’ll give us a paper about what happened last week, just so we can remember, and then we’re literally dropped into the situation. And, we’re like, “What do you wanna do?” It’s 100% exactly like a role playing game.
And your GM will steer you in some ways?
Yeah, they’ll steer us, but… here’s an example. There was a situation a couple weeks back, spoiler alert, where I was stuck on a ship and I had 1 HP left, and the GM didn’t tell me how to get out. So I was like, “how the heck am I supposed to get out?” I know that if I can go in the control room, I can affect the plane in some way, so I started to head for the control room. I look in, there are like five monsters that can kill me in one hit.
So, with situations like that, it’s kind of harder, too. In the show, where you’re scripted, you know your character’s always gonna be safe. In a role playing game, you don’t know the outcome of your character. You don’t know if you’re gonna make the wrong move and suddenly kill somebody. You make the wrong move and suddenly your character dies. That part is a little bit difficult but also exciting because your actions have a consequence. Your actions also have a reward.
Does it ever get tiring, especially because you’re going on for sometimes three hours, to stay in character that long?
I thought it was gonna be. Coming into it I was like, “there’s no way in heck I’m gonna be in character for three straight hours.” Then when you get into it you forget about time, ’cause you’re just so engrossed with the idea of this world. When the GM is describing the cold, panel walls next to you as the fog rolls in, you see it.
During these episodes the team meets a lot of cool Power Rangers guest stars. Can you talk a little bit about that?
That’s my favorite part, dude. Being on Ninja Steel is great, I’m on a Power Rangers show where I get to play Power Rangers. But, HyperForce, I get to meet the rangers. Like, these guys come in. We’ve had Mike Ginn (Gem) show up from RPM. We had Jen Scotts. Aisha Campbell came back. We had a bunch. We even had JDF come into the show! Yeah, he reprised his role of Tommy Oliver. Dr. Tommy Oliver. I’ve always wanted to work with all these past Rangers.
That’s the coolest thing about it, we get to play with the rangers who have been on the show and now get to reprise the roll as themselves. This series is also not scripted so JDF coming in had to be Tommy. He didn’t have to come in as JDF learning lines, he had to be Tommy and had to improv lines as Tommy, and that was a really, really, really interesting dynamic for me.
Is there a wish list of rangers that you would want to appear on the show?
Oh gosh, yes. I would love to see Sky from S.P.D. He’s one of my favorite blue rangers. I’d like Chip from Mystic Force. Kira from Dino Thunder.
I’m sure the next question on fan’s minds is whether HyperForce is in continuity with the main Power Rangers series. Does it “count”?
HyperForce does not affect the show. The show does affect it, though. I wouldn’t say it’s the Power Rangers continuity but it follows the Power Rangers continuity. It also plays with it as if it was like a big drawing board. It is a Saban approved show but I wouldn’t say that it’s Saban canon, but it does follow the Saban’s Power Rangers TV series continuity.
My main goal for HyperForce is to get it enough traction that it actually does impact either the show or make a segway into the comics. That would make me so happy, if I could see a HyperForce Ranger in the Boom! Comics. Or in the video games.
You’ve mentioned you had a hand in designing the HyperForce Rangers. Tell us how that came to be.
When I first got introduced to (HyperForce) I was actually just brought on as a player, because me and my brother (Yoshi Sudarso) were trying to make the same thing and we pitched ideas to Saban and Saban was like, “oh you know, we’re actually already doing something like this. So, we’d love to bring you on board anyways.”
They introduced me to HyperRPG, we talked and I was like, “you know, you guys should do original Rangers.” Because, originally, I think Saban wanted to do something else. They either wanted to do, you get to be an old ranger, like I get to pick, “Oh, I wanna be Wild Force Red.” And someone else gets to be someone else, and we get to do legacy type stuff like that.
Then they decided to go down the direction of creating their own original team and when I heard that they were going to create it, I, as a ranger fan, was super eager and just started drawing a bunch of stuff and sending it to them.
Brian Casentini, he’s one of the producers of Power Rangers, saw the design and actually took a liking to it. He was like, “hey, this is not bad. This is pretty good. Show me what else you got.” I started designing a bunch of different suits. I think I ended up, overall, I did six or seven different bases. Out of those seven he would pick one and I would turn them into a ranger team. I didn’t design the helmets fully.
I think the only ones I designed fully of the helmets were Lion, Cerberus, and that’s it. The other ones were pre-designed by another person that Hyper RPG brought on. They liked my suits, but they liked their helmets, so they wanted me to do a redesign of the helmets so they would match my suits. I redesigned the Lion completely because that one was going to be mine. I redesigned the Cerberus completely just so the Cerberus had a different feel, The other ones are pretty much his that I modernized and made it more sleek for the suit base.
HyperForce is coming to the end of its first season. Do you know if you’re picked up for another one?
That’s up to the fans and Saban. Everyone that’s a fan of HyperForce wants a second season. They’re all enjoying it. I don’t know if Saban’s gonna approve and go for a second season. That’s not really up to us. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, well, that’s fine. We had a chance to do it at least.
I think if they go for a second season I don’t know if I’d be renewed, anyway. I think if they’re gonna do a second season, they’re gonna go the same vein of Power Rangers where they switch teams every time. Which, I think would be nice as well and would prefer.
Will the first season end on a satisfactory enough note that, if it was the last season or only season, it wouldn’t end on a massive cliffhanger?
I think the stories gonna wrap up in itself because everything’s meant to be a stand-alone. Even if they wanted to continue on and do a second season, they’re probably gonna switch the themes. They might not even do Time Force anymore. They might do something else like, I don’t know, Ninja Storm.
What would you say to the people who are kind of on the fence about checking out HyperForce? The people who are like, “I don’t know if I want to watch this for three hours.”
I would highly recommend getting into the podcast. (The series is streamed live and then becomes available in podcast form.) Maybe just listen to it while you’re driving, listen to it while you’re doodling, or while you’re working. If you don’t have time for that I would highly recommend just reading the comprehensive PDF’s (fans make). We have a lot of dedicated people in our audience, and a lot of them are just really, really, really kind and really passionate and will make things for people.
These PDF’s are just really great summaries so that way people who don’t have time to watch it, especially since our time slot is 6PM to 9PM pacific time on Tuesday nights. However if you do get a chance, watch it live. I think that’s the most exciting part of HyperForce. HyperForce is the community. When you’re live, you feel the energy. You realize that even the actors don’t know what’s going on. Being in that room, the chatroom of everybody not really knowing what is going on, there’s a magic to it.
What do you have to say to the really hardcore HyperForce fans who make those PDF’s?
Thank you. You guys are the best thing about the Power Rangers universe. I think the fandom itself is the best thing, and I think HyperForce fans are the epitome of what a Power Ranger fan is. Some of the older fans and some of the Ninja Steel fans can be a little bit, I wanna say, not negative, but demanding, of the actors.
They do like to point out a lot of bad things about it instead of just reveling in the enjoyment of the franchise. Which I totally understand because, obviously, Power Rangers has a lot of flaws, but the HyperForce fans are just so excited. They’re excited to have a new series that’s catered towards them because at the end of the day that’s what HyperForce is. We are a Power Rangers team created by fans, designed by fans, run by fans. All the actors are fans. Meghan is a huge fan. Andre is a huge fan of Power Rangers. Even Paul. Paul (Schrier) was playing Bulk, and he’s always wanted to be a Ranger. Me. Cristina V. We’re all Ranger fans, so it’s literally fan-centric Power Rangers content.
Stay tuned for the rest of our Peter Sudarso interviews where he discusses Ninja Steel, Power Rangers continuity, and addresses the statement from this interview “I’ve always wanted to work with all these past Rangers.” Does that mean we won’t be seeing past Rangers in Super Ninja Steel? Stay tuned!
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. He’ll fight with all his might! Follow him on Twitter!