As an adult with many hobbies, I find it increasingly more difficult to enjoy role-playing games. This isn’t due to the genre’s mechanics or my taste changing, however, but due to the fact that most RPGs are lengthy affairs that can span over 40 hours. That’s a huge time investment, so I was delighted when I ended up finishing Mighty Rabbit Studios’ Saturday Morning RPG in less than 10 hours. This lighthearted turn-based role-playing game, filled with references to 80s cartoons, is just what the genre needs more of: a tightly crafted game without a seemingly endless amount of filler.
As briefly touched on, Saturday Morning RPG is the gaming equivalent to an ode about the joys of being a kid in the 80s. Everything from The Wizard to G.I. Joe is fair play here, and while this could easily get obnoxious, the writing is light-hearted enough for it to be enjoyable instead. The main plot finds our hero Marty (that name sounds familiar) transported to a magical world where all of his favorite cartoon characters are alive. It’s a ridiculous setup, but that’s par for the course with a Saturday morning cartoon.
Each of the game’s five loosely connected episodes will take an hour to finish (although there are a bunch of optional objectives for those that want to spend more time in this wonderful world), and take place in completely different locales. It really feels like you’re watching an episode of Transformers and the Autobots are in a different exciting location each week. This format gels well with the game’s entire vibe.
Similar to Chrono Trigger, Marty will be able to see all of the enemies (who are led by the villainous Commander Hood) on the map itself. This means you can some confrontations, and there aren’t any terrible instances of random battles. Once the player bumps into a baddie, they’ll be thrown into the game’s enjoyable battle system that is easy to learn.
For the most part, Saturday Morning RPG features a standard turn-based battle system. The one defining characteristic, however, is that players can choose to charge up their attacks by using a battery. By essentially skipping an action turn, the player can then unleash an attack that will dole out 3 times the damage. These charges can be stacked together, and it’s the game’s most interesting battle system by far.
It’s also worth noting that players will have to keep a close eye on each battle as it isn’t hands-off after selecting an attack. Instead, players will be prompted to hit buttons while blocking or attacking to either take less damage or dish more of it to their opponents. There are a wide variety of attacks, which can be purchased in vending machines spread out in levels, and each of them will require different inputs from the player.
When you aren’t battling knock-off Decepticons, you’ll most likely be solving the game’s many side-quests. Most of these are pretty simple from a mechanic standpoint, as you’ll just be collecting items in the environment, but the story payoff makes them worth doing. Some of the funniest jokes are found in these optional side stories, and given the game’s short length you’ll want to see them.
While each individual episode wraps up nicely, the overall story that connects them together doesn’t. There is no conclusion to the game’s main threat, and it just kind of ends. As disappointing as it was to finish things off without a satisfying conclusion, it almost seems fitting when you consider the game’s influences. After all, the G.I. Joe crew never actually beats Cobra, they just subdue the enemy until the next encounter.
Saturday Morning RPG is such a refreshing take on an established genre. It’s light hearted, goofy, and a tightly made game. There’s not hours of fluff, and it’s a nostalgia filled package that makes it seem like it’s designed specifically for adult gamers with not a ton of free time. If you’ve got a few hours to kill, and love the 80s, then you can’t go wrong here.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version, which we were provided with.
While it doesn't come to a satisfying conclusion, Saturday Morning RPG remains an entertaining light-hearted romp that will strike all the right chords for those that grew up with Transformers and G.I. Joe.