Saturday Morning RPG: Review

x-screenshot7Do you want to experience your 80’s nostalgia adventure with a sidequest of 80’s, plus 80’s dripping all over and then random 80’s quotes, factoids and callbacks thrown in for fun? If you responded with bodacious, righteous or schweet then you are the target audience for Saturday Morning RPG.

Episode 1 opens with Marty Michael Hall encountering the nefarious Commander Hood and his totally not-Cobra Command army capturing the girl of Marty’s dreams, literally. When The Wizard, who uses a power glove, grants Marty a magical trapper keeper he sets off to save Samantha and begin the adventure of a decade…and you can guess which.

I can easily source all the references in the above paragraph, and numerous other Easter eggs throughout the game, which is where most of the enjoyment comes while playing Saturday Morning RPG – remembering my childhood. The formula doesn’t become overused in subsequent episodes as new allies, items and villains are introduced on a regular basis to keep things fresh and the references flowing.

Combat options are also evolving as you move from chapter to chapter. Marty’s trapper keeper turns everyday objects like a baseball card, action figure and video game cartridges into weapons during turn based battles. Every weapon is worth trying out at least once to see a Metroid inspired bomb roll, the Carebear stare or doing your beat He-Man impression. But I did find myself sticking with a couple tried and true options that I could always count on.

x-screenshot1Most weapons incorporate a mini-game with the combat, which is a timer gauge, QTE or button-mashing prompt. Even while on defense you can’t just sit back; enemies are constantly charging at you in large groups and when you are at low levels with a small HP bar, you’ll need to time defensive prompts to stay alive.

These prompts offer a nice variety at first, but can sometimes require a little too much interaction. Between furiously rubbing the touchpad to unlock scratch and sniff bonuses, timing defenses and the attacking mini-games I did find myself gravitating to the simpler one click charge and attack options. Which is good game design – I could still be effective in battle without being forced to mash X as fast as possible for ten seconds during each attack.

Each episode will take 1 – 2 hours to finish, depending on how many sidequets you complete and a couple plot threads are loosely tied together, but for the most part each instance is insular. Just like a cartoon from yesteryear. It’s a great narrative conceit that opens the possibilities for additional encounters and fits the source material perfectly.

Despite the name, not all of the callbacks are limited to cartoons. There are a plethora of musical references, film, toys, memorabilia and 80’s culture laid into the dialogue, menus, music and battles. The 80’s vibe is so engrained into the DNA of the game I wouldn’t even know if someone who doesn’t know the era would find the setting enjoyable.

But I was born in 1984 and can easily recommend this as a refreshing RPG with lots of charm.

Saturday Morning RPG is available for PS4 and PS Vita (crossbuy) plus PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and OUYA.


Trophy Analysis

x-screenshot5Saturday Morning RPG has 52 bronzes, which is more than some game’s total trophy count and 3 silver, 2 gold trophies. Most of these can be earned through natural play and completing all of the sidequests. There are a couple branching sidequests that can be completed in different situations and trophies tied to each outcome. Replaying episodes is encouraged. Speaking of replaying episodes – there is one trophy for reaching level 50 and another for collecting all 128 scratch and sniff stickers. After beating the game and replaying 3 levels I am at level 28 and collected only 70 stickers – it might take twice as long as the campaign to earn the Platinum.

Level Up, Friends!