Being called a “Child of the 80s” has made me more aware of my mortality recently, than it has conjured memories of the actual time period.

The USSR? Gone.
Hair Metal? Mostly gone. (Thanks for this.)
Reaganomics? Relegated to post-punk indie hardcore band names.

These days you will be lucky to find any kind of media that doesn’t have 1 or 2 glassy-eyed teenagers waiting anxiously for “The Drop.”

Thankfully, the Wonder-Twin powers of Mighty Rabbit and Joystick Labs has manifested a game that absolutely drips 80s nostalgia and helps me forget that the twilight years are quickly approaching. Saturday Morning RPG [Free] is as close to a physical manifestation of my childhood as I am going to find, without a truckload of Pixiesticks.

Inspired by the JRPGS of the 80s and 90s, Saturday Morning RPG is nothing special on the surface. Its battle system, littered with quicktime events that modify damage done and taken, is straight forward and pedestrian. In fact, the game’s story (the supposed hallmark of the RPG genre) has the literary alacrity of an R.L. Stine novel. Luckily, none of this matters. One would argue that that is exactly the point.

Episode 1 of Saturday Morning RPG (which comes free of charge) has the game’s hero, Marty, fast asleep on his bed. In his dream, he is spending the day with his sweetheart Samantha, when she is kidnapped by Cobra Commander Hood. Hood intends to wed Samantha, whether she wants it or not. After being beaten down by Hood and his minions, The Wizard (and his powerful glove - which is (so) bad) appears before Marty to offer help. He gives Marty his Trapper Keeper, the spell book Marty can use to defeat Hood’s Army and rescue Samantha. And that is what Marty (and you) set off to do.

The Trapper Keeper enhances the vanilla battle system by throwing in spells and other wild cards. It’s first feature is customizable scratch and sniff stickers. Using up to five, the stickers provide benefits like +15 health or -2 Enemy strength for the length of the battle. The trick is that you have to scratch them to release their bonus, and you are only given a small amount of time at the start of the battle to do so.

Once the battle begins, your Trapper Keeper functions as your spell book. Spells vary from the mundane (a flaming basketball) to the awesome (a glittery-glove-clothed punch, delivered via Moonwalk). There are some balance issues that become apparent, such as getting more bang for your buck via spells and, therefore, not focusing on leveling up melee attacks, but I’m not sure the developers care. The actual gameplay is the plain cracker on which the aged nostalgia cheese is served. No one should complain about the cracker.

When you aren’t battling Lizards or Hood Soldiers, you walk 8-bit Marty around the episode’s environment (they are different in each episode) talking to people and, occasionally, collecting a quest or two. The quests don’t do much to flesh out the universe, instead trading lore for laughs. They vary from the eye-rolling “stop all the downloadin”, to the morbid task of setting animals free by flushing them down the toilet. Completed quests offer you either XP, Spells, or stickers, so they are worth doing when you find them.

If there were any complaints to be leveled against Saturday Morning RPG, they would be the ones I’ve already mentioned. The game is a very basic RPG. Encounters are not random (your character and my character are probably going to be pretty similar by game’s end), quests and quest completions are very linear, and the story lines are pretty dumb. There just isn’t much substance here...much like a Saturday Morning Cartoon.

In that respect, one could argue that this game captures the spirit of the Saturday Morning Cartoon perfectly. And, in the process, litters the game with wonderful nuggets of 80s nostalgia. To play Devil’s Advocate a bit, if the game is called Saturday Morning RPG, and playing it perfectly recreates the spirit and feeling of an 80s Saturday Morning cartoon, doesn’t that make it the perfect game?

You and I could argue about this all day, but I don’t think we could argue as to whether or not you should give this game a shot. The first Episode, which took me 2 hours to complete (I try to be thorough), is completely free. If you like it, you can unlock Episode 2 for a measly 2 bucks. That, to me, seems like an awesome way to sell your game. More Episodes are in the pipeline of course, with Mighty Rabbit shooting for a May/June release for Episode 3.

All in all, Saturday Morning RPG is exactly what it promised. A fun, easy going, RPG with a heavy coating of 80s nostalgia. With an upfront cost of “free”, it’s hard not to recommend it.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • http://twitter.com/Anubis_666 Gordon Little
  • http://www.facebook.com/OoOoOomonkey John Usher

    Nice review. This is now one of my fav rpg's of all time. It captures everything about my youth all in a game. It's the kind of thing money can't buy. Love it.

  • http://twitter.com/crunchewy Crunchewy

    This game is reasonably fun, and the first episode is free so you should try it, but it was largely killed for me by the overuse of rapidly tapping. I'm surprised that this review doesn't even mention that aspect of the game, when it is so central to it. That's a mechanic that should have been used sparingly, but instead you have to do it many times every single battle, in order to power up. Then to add insult to injury, there's a weapon (sword) that requires it's own rapid tapping if you use it. It wore me out for sure. Plus the game is very simplistic, only had one minor puzzle (in the first episode), and felt a bit like going through the motions. Still, I liked the style a lot and it was kind of funny, but I didn't feel compelled to buy the 2nd episode. If they change it in the future to not require so much rapid tapping, I could see buying future episodes.

    • JCat_NY

      I read complaints about the tapping thing in the forum threads, which even for free, prevented me from trying it out. It really looks like a well done, polished product, but I don't favor this tapping idea as part of the game mechanic.

      • TheJesusFish

        Not an E. Honda player I take it?

      • JCat_NY

        Nope, or anyone else in that cast.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/BBTDKD2P75GRROMMPAITETLCSI Raconteur

      I agree about the tapping. There should at least be some sort of alternative. I know what's "fun" is subjective, but I don't see where tapping quickly is really a test of anything but how young and spry your fingers are. It's also really terrible for your wrists and a perfect way to get carpal tunnel or other repetitive stress disorders.

    • Quarkles

      I know, right? Didn't the designers of this game consider your delicate fingers? You might break a nail. Or collapse from sheer exhaustion.

      • http://twitter.com/crunchewy Crunchewy

        I think all that tapping has jostled your brain a bit. I didn't like all the rapid tapping - it wasn't fun for me. I think it's more than fine that you did. I may yet buy the 2nd episode, because as I noted, in spite of the tapping craziness I did have some fun with it. But I hope future episodes will come up with a different way to power up, such as a timing based sequence. Or something.

  • Jacob Gehman

    You had me at Trapper Keeper.
    Gonna download instantly.

    • http://twitter.com/LearnIIBurn Tyler Piderit

      I hear there are secret Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers to unlock! Bingo!

  • shattenfreud

    I purchased this one day 1 and only am half way through first episode but am really digging it. I find its mechanics to be overall well done and tapping aspect didn't phase me at all. This is a well polished game and delivers on its promise of 80's nostalgic experience. I found myself feeling as though i was playing my nes again after watching my fave cartoons and thats good enough for me!!

  • Declan Bowers

    OH GOD WHY

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4OJSEASXHUB7FACV6VQPNJCELE Deric

    I remember way back when I got a hold of the beta, it was pretty fun. I will definitely have to get it now. 

  • Matt Sommer

    Is the $1.99 "episode 2" longer than the FREE two-hour episode?  I enjoyed the first episode for what it was, but I'm not sure I want to pay $2 for two hours.

    • Silverfist Jewelry

      That's a buck an hour -- even if you're working fast food you're earning ten times that.

      A movie is ten bucks for an hour and a half... you go to the movies at all, or do you wait until they're free on TV?

      .

    • http://twitter.com/TheMightyRabbit Mighty Rabbit Studio

      Episode 2 has significantly more content in it. There is several side-quests and a much larger area to explore.

    • TheJesusFish

      This is a joke right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dkcmetal Douglas Cook

    A recent update to the game has done away with the needless tapping to power up your character. Now you have the option of auto charging, a new tapping gauge, or the old way. Other special events still require some tapping, but this update has significantly improved the battle system IMO. I can't wait for episode 3 now. Just this minute completed episode 2.

  • http://twitter.com/tonydeli7 Antonis Deligiannis

    thanks for this! :)

Saturday Morning RPG Reviewed by Brendan Saricks on . Rating: 4