Video review to follow shortly
Growing up in the 80s and 90s Saturday mornings were a time for watching cartoons. Transformers, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many others. Saturday Morning RPG exists as a homage to these cartoons and the whole era in general.
In it you play as Marty, a boy who has a dream in which “The Wizard” gives him a magical notebook with awesome power that allows him to use everyday objects as weapons and spells against the evil forces of HOOD led by nefarious leader Commander HOOD. In this dream the Commander is marrying his girlfriend Samantha and Marty stops him.
When he wakes up everything appears normal until he heads into School and finds out the powers are real as are the forces of HOOD.
Saturday Morning RPG takes place across 5 episodes, each of these is dripping with references to classics such as Saved by the Bell and Transformers.
The game is a heavy throwback and you won’t appreciate a lot of the dialogue if you didn’t grown up watching these programmes. Marty is a reference to Back to the Future and even has a hover board for example.
Vince DiCola, the producer behind Rocky IV, Transformers the Movie and Staying Alive partnered up with the experienced Kenny Meriedeth to produce this soundtrack. This is a musical journey paying homage to the cartoons of the 1980’s featuring a blend of synth rock and orchestral styles.
Each of the 27 tracks has an influence, from saved by the bell to Transformers and for someone who grew up as a child in that era these tracks brought back those memories.
Visuals & Performance
The first thing that strikes you on loading up the game is the visuals, characters are 2D pixelated flat images and are sat on top of a sketched background with some depth. The merging of these styles hurts the eyes, the cartoon style text boxes and the movement of characters that shows how flat they are don’t anything to improve the visuals either.
With all of this said there is a certain charm, a loving purpose to the gaudy textures and imagery of the 80’s.
Some will love the purposeful throwback but I personally found the visuals to be poor, performance on the other hand is without fault.
Saturday Morning RPG is a JRPG, as Marty you move through the episode encountering battles before transporting to a battle screen to engage in turn-based combat. Your notebook is the source of your powers and you collect a number of stickers to the front of it that you can swap in and swap out, these are modifiers that impact each battle. You scratch these stickers before the battle by moving your Left Stick as fast as possible.
You can equip a number of items from a model aeroplane to a slice of pizza, each acts as a spell or attack.
During the actual battles you take turn based attacks, many of your spells play out as mini games – your baseball attack for example requires you to swing the bat at the right time whereas your holy ruler – an attack in which a nun turns up to spank your enemy repeatedly is a button mashing spell. The faster you mash the button the more damage you will do.
Another interesting aspect is multipliers, as well as a health bar you have a magic bar which you can use to spend on multipliers, these multipliers increase the strength of your next attack by 3-4 times depending on how well you perform the mini game to activate it.
These multipliers become a major strategic factor in battles. The use of these mini games and multipliers is fun at first but after a while does become repetitive, in between battles you are in a linear storyline with a few side quests that never quite got there for me. The difficulty is quite low and there are no decisions to be made to give you more gameplay interest.
Outside of the main campaign you have an Endless mode in which you take on waves of enemies until you are killed, there is also an Arena mode in which you take on the games boss battles. Neither is great but both offer you a bit of respite from the main mode.
At $9.99 in the US and £7.19 in the UK the game this game is priced at at the same point as on other consoles, given the additional portability this makes it the best version of the game in my opinion. That said the game is 6 years old and no new features have been included, for the price you will get all 5 episodes and each will take about 1 hour and a half to complete or a total of about 7 and a half hours to complete thoroughly.
Pricey and short lived
Gameplay isn’t too deep