Saturday Morning RPG: A Short Pause Review - At $10, There's More Than Meets The Eye
Title: Saturday Morning RPG
Developer: Mighty Rabbit Studios (@TheMightyRabbit)
Platforms: PS4/PS Vita/PC/Mobile
Hey, remember the 80's? I know I do. The fine people at developer Mighty Rabbit Studios remember too, and it shows; their latest offering on consoles is a tribute to all the things I loved during my youth. In Saturday Morning RPG you play as Marty, a high school student who rides a hover board, but for some reason, still has trouble striking up a conversation with the girl he likes. After receiving a magical Trapper Keeper from a mysterious figure known as The Wizard, Marty gains the ability to turn everyday objects into powerful weapons for fighting evil. Marty uses this power to stop the nefarious plans of Commander HOOD and his minions, in an epic adventure that spans five episodes.
From the beginning of Episode 1, you'll notice the unique visual style in which the game is presented. Each character is a flat, pixelated, 2D figure amidst a fully-rendered 3D world. The game also features a rocking, 80's-inspired soundtrack courtesy of composer Vince DiCola, most famous for his work in movies such as Rocky IV, Staying Alive, and Transformers: The Movie (a 1986 animated feature, not the Michael Bay one).
As Marty explores the environment and runs into an enemy, a turn-based battle is triggered. Unlike the passive turn-based battle system in many games of this type, Saturday Morning RPG's battle system keeps players busier than a Fraggle on a radish farm. First of all, Marty can affix up to five scratch-and-sniff stickers to his notebook that can be "scratched" at the start of a battle to grant various stat boosts. You only have a few seconds to scratch all 5 stickers, which is done by either rubbing on the DualShock 4's touch pad, or by quickly moving the left analog stick back and forth. Once the battle begins in earnest, Marty can defend against enemy attacks by means of a well-timed button press.
Additionally, there are dozens of different items found throughout the world that can be equipped as weapons. Many of these items, when used in battle, require the execution of some kind of action-command or mini-game to realize their full damage potential. Marty can further increase the amount of damage he doles out by charging up his attack power before using an item. Each time you charge up, it costs a turn and depletes a portion of Marty's magic meter, while simultaneously increasing his damage multiplier (up to a maximum of 9.9 times normal damage). The magic meter will be partially replenished each time Marty successfully blocks an enemy attack. So, with clever and strategic use of both the charging and blocking mechanics, Marty can defeat powerful enemies faster than you can say, "By the power of Grayskull!"
My biggest frustration with Saturday Morning RPG came at the end of Episode 2. I got to the final boss fight in that episode and it was insanely difficult. I felt like my level was not high enough to even stand a chance against my foe. So I thought, "I'll just go defeat some more enemies and raise my level. Then I'll be powerful enough to beat these guys." Unfortunately, I had already defeated all of the enemies in the episode, aside from the final boss. Once you defeat an enemy in Saturday Morning RPG, they don't come back. So, I felt a bit helpless at first. It is possible to manually adjust the level of the enemies (which is what I ended up having to do to finish that episode), but you are required to make that adjustment from the main menu after quitting the game. I only wish there would have been some way to either adjust the difficulty level in-game, or grind out a few levels when you feel underpowered. This really is a minor complaint, though, as I didn't have any other issues with level scaling in the subsequent episodes.
The many pop culture references in Saturday Morning RPG are definitely the most appealing facet of the game. Practically everything in the story — from the characters to the items, and even the scenery — refers to something from my childhood. Seriously, there is enough pop culture in this game to choke a Smurf! I don't want to spoil some of the jokes, but suffice it to say that you'll laugh more than a few times when you see some of the subtle — and not so subtle — nods to 1980's movies and TV shows (if you're old enough to remember them).
You don't have to be over 30 years old to enjoy Saturday Morning RPG, but it helps. Almost everything in the game is a reference to someone or something that 80's kids remember from their formative years. However, some younger gamers will still pick up on many of the references, and many will be able to appreciate the humor involved. To quote G.I. Joe, "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle."
Saturday Morning RPG was reviewed using a PS4 code generously provided by our friends at Mighty Rabbit Studios.
- Chock full of pop-culture references
- Hilarious characters and story
- Fun, engaging combat systems
- Retro charm
- You can only change the difficulty from the main menu
- No way to gain XP once all the enemies within the episode have been defeated