Saturday Morning RPG – Review
The 1980’s are often described as the decade of endless dreaming and self-individuality. A plethora of the greatest films, shows, and music artists were born out of the decade. However, most notable and most influential were the cartoons that took command of tube-televisions sets across the country.
Everything from Transformers to GI Joe to Jem and the Holograms to Heman, Fraggle Rock and Ducktales were shows that inspired generations of children, with some having legacies so profound, they continue to this day. The shows inspired their viewers to use their imaginations, be heroes, and be the person you always dreamed of, as well as buy the plethora of toys off store shelves.
Today, in 2018, we undoubtedly live in a nostalgic culture that strongly harkens back to the days of the past, not just because people have strong childhood memories, but also because in today’s world, we fondly look back at the great themes, stories, and atmospheres these shows contained. This culture of nostalgia has given rise to various video games utilizing the style of decades past to convey a distinct game world for players to explore. Among them, is Saturday Morning RPG by North Carolina-based Mighty Rabbit Studios. One of the studios’ first project, Saturday Morning RPG is a role-playing game that greatly embraces the decade to which it draws great inspiration from. Boasting nostalgic presentation, a custom-made soundtrack from a legendary composer, and traditional role-playing mechanics, Saturday Morning RPG is quite a memorable adventure.
Enter the life of Marty. He is your average high-school student, who deals with all sorts of people, from bullies to nerds to jocks. He has his best friend and his crush on a girl, but there is a sense of adventure missing. He dreams of being the hero but knows that kind of life only exists in television. However, a mysterious trapper-keeper he comes across gives him powers. When the dreaded Commander H.O.O.D swoops in on his hometown, Marty will utilize his new-found powers to fight an assortment of enemies, from the hallways of his school all the way to Earth’s orbit. Across five lengthy and varied chapters, Marty will meet all sorts of allies and enemies in a bid to save the day and discover his destiny in the universe.
As a traditional RPG, players will navigate an overworld, interacting with various characters, discovering their intentions and thoughts, and perhaps discovering hidden side-quests. Occasionally, players will encounter enemies, which play out in turn-based battles. Using the trapper keeper, players will scratch the scratch & Sniff cards to enable perks for combat. From there, players will need to use their strength, wits, and incredibly fun attack to defeat their enemies. The enemies are varied, from H.O.O.D soldiers to giant lizardmen to giant robots. The trick is to defend yourself from attack, build energy, then use that energy to strengthen your attack power to unleash devastating retaliation. Players will need to use these systems well in order fight the various bosses in the game, including secret ones that lie within yet-to-be-discovered side -quests.
Saturday Morning RPG is a fantastic role-playing experience, filled with many surprises and secrets. If you are familiar with pop culture in the last three decades, players will pick up on the multitude of references and inspirations, from Star Wars to Top Gun and WarGames. The world of Saturday Morning RPG greatly embraces the 80’s and rolls it into its own world. While there are plenty of nods and references, the game has an original narrative, with unique characters and areas to explore. The story is consistently entertaining, with humorous quips and dialogue. Players will be laughing and smiling at the enthusiasm that the story projects.
This enthusiasm lends itself to the combat. From lightsabers to battle axes to paper airplanes, and even Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk, players will be attacking enemies with a variety of tactics inspired by pop culture. It is an absolute joy to use these incredibly clever attacks, as well as the animations that follow. One attack, in particular, involved using the fighter jets from top gun to literally bomb the enemy. The list of attacks are endless, but they were wildly entertaining. Even the boss fights and their names have a degree of wit and humor.
On one side-quest, I encountered a diabolical computer system, deep within a mountain. It turns out, the computer was a clear nod to the classic thriller film WarGames, starring Matthew Brodrick. As I fought the boss, I realized that I was doing hardly any damage and my health was running low. However, I came to the realization that I was overlooking an important lesson from the movie, and therefore, the battle. One of the final lines in the movie was “The only winning move is not to play.” Upon that realization, I simply refused to make a move. Doing so caused constant damage to the computer, eventually self-destructing. It’s moments like this that fill the entire game experience, making the adventure incredibly enjoyable. Following the adventure, players can enter a survival mode and replay chapters.
Saturday Morning RPG also sports a very imaginative presentation, as the character themselves are flat 2D sprites, but the environments are all in 3D. This gives the game a unique display, especially during the battles. The story is told in dialogue similar to a comic book. While there is no voice acting, the dialogue is fun to read. However, the crowning achievement of Saturday Morning RPG is the game’s soundtrack. Legendary musician and composer Vince Dicola was hired to write and produce a custom soundtrack for the game, which sounds absolutely perfect. The soundtrack has the game feel like an epic TV show, and at times, a generation-defining movie. It Vince even performs an original track titled ” No Guts, No Glory.” The soundtrack makes the experience even more enjoyable, and I would highly encourage players to pick up the soundtrack for their own personal listening.
If there are any gripes with Saturday Morning RPG, the battles can become rather repetitive. I could imagine other gameplay styles being incorporated, such as a rail-shooting section or smaller sections that nod to arcade classics. The game also contains 5 chapters, which is plenty of game time, especially with the secrets and alternate paths players can take. I only wish it were longer, as there is so much more that can be added to future content. The developers have expressed interest in a sequel, should the demand be present for it.
Saturday Morning RPG is a great game, from its incredibly delightful world ripe with 80’s influence to the incredibly fun combat and rocking soundtrack. The game is fantastic for those new to role-playing games and great for those that are experienced in the genre. For any adults that come across this, playing is is an absolute must as it will remind you of the good old days, where microwaves dinners were the norm and Transformers were made out of die-cast metal. Saturday Morning RPG is a must-play, and you don’t even need to wait until Saturday morning to play it.