More than meets the eye.
The ‘80s will always hold a place in the hearts of people who lived through and view the decade with rose-colored glasses. This is certainly the appeal of Saturday Morning RPG as it debuts on Switch. Developer Mighty Rabbit did a great job of providing a short, easy-to-grasp role-playing game that pays homage to the era of hoverboards, teen angst, power gloves, and Transformers. Noticeable problems can make the experience frustrating, but Saturday Morning RPG is a quirky game that makes it worth getting mad over.
Saturday Morning RPG is episodic, with the first five episodes available to play on the Switch. The overarching story deals with Marty, an average high schooler who just happens to have mysterious powers that help him ward off the group known as HOOD, an homage to Cobra from GI Joe. One thing that is very obvious from the get-go is that this game is a love letter to everything that is 1980s pop culture. From movies to television shows to verbiage, Saturday Morning RPG is chock full of references one can easily get if you grew up or are very familiar with the era. It’s smartly woven in the writing, which is both crisp and funny.
One of the highlights is the battle system. It’s a mixture of Super Mario RPG (timed hits and defense) along with a dash of charging multipliers for extra damage. With his powers, Marty is able to use many items he finds on his journeys to use against enemies, ranging from a Care Bear-like item that emits a rainbow beam to a paper plane that can turn into an actual airplane, causing massive damage. Many stat boosters can help you out in battle as well thanks to a Trapper Keeper-esque notebook that aids Marty with stickers and covers that up his magic, health, and other attributes.
The experience is a mostly positive one, but one drawback is that it can get difficult fast. There were many times throughout gameplay where I would be feeling comfortable, then all of a sudden lose three times in a row to a new, much more devastating enemy that would be quick to dwindle down hit points like they were nothing. It took multiple tries to defeat bosses at times, which can become a chore. Battles themselves can also be long and drawn out at times, especially when multiple enemies are on the field.
Saturday Morning RPG isn’t overly long -- it’s maybe about five hours at the most. It’s easy to understand why they went with the episodic format, since the goal is to feel like you’re playing a Saturday morning cartoon show, hence the name. I wish it wasn’t so linear in scope, because it was quite fun exploring the town and talking to people, Mini quests in each episode give a taste of Marty’s world, but I can’t help but think what it would be like if there was a full-fledged town to explore.
Saturday Morning RPG has a lot to like. The presentation is top notch, the gameplay is excellent, and the vast amount of ‘80s references sprinkled throughout the episodes are fun, promoting a positive vibe. I wish the world had a bit more depth, and the difficulty spikes get annoying fast. But with Saturday Morning RPG, the positives end up outweighing the negatives.