Remember the magic that Saturday mornings used to bring? A number of years ago, it wasn’t odd that you’d catch me watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, and the like. Though these shows and their worlds dominated my attention the most on those fateful Saturday mornings of yesteryear, they held space in the back of my head every day of the week. Heck, they still hold a place in my mind – even if to a significantly lesser extent. But those properties are a part of my coming of age, my upbringing. So whenever I spot a reference in a game, whether subtle or patent, it brings a unique feeling of warmth that reminds me of those early Saturday mornings.
Nailing those references and that innocently-entertaining atmosphere is precisely what makes Saturday Morning RPG so special. If you merely existed in the eighties, or have experienced things from that time, you’ll likely appreciate most every single bit of this love-letter to the era. A love-letter written into an RPG rather than traditional stationery.
If the fact that the game is toted as a classic RPG has left you uninterested in playing it, don’t let that stop you, as this RPG is less-than traditional. It’s mostly free of the tropes that make some classic RPGs aggravating, and sports a short but sweet run-time. Grinding is a non-issue, you likely wont get stuck at any point in the game, and in-game combat situations aren’t over-done, so you likely wont grow tired of the game’s combat before the credits role.
The combat is more-Paper Mario less-Final Fantasy. While some attacks need no interaction, some require (or are simply made more powerful by) timed button-presses. The system is simple, satisfying and has a surprising number of layers. First of which is the magical notebook, a tool given to protagonist, Marty, a few minutes into the adventure. Over the course of the game, covers are collected for a notebook that buffs your character, like increasing their health by ten points. Another layer is the scratch-and-sniff sticker system. As you move through the game, you’ll be given stickers. These also act as buffs to your character, but require a bit of effort to enable. At the beginning of a battle, you’ll have to rapidly drag your cursor over each sticker as quickly as possible in order to equip them. Finally, there is the regular combat system where you use weapons to attack your foes – this is where the button-presses come in. While in a combat situation, you can either heal, charge-up, or attack. Charging-up is key in most fights, as it raises the damage inflicted upon your next attack. There is also a grand variety of weapons that keep the combat interactions interesting.
A deep story is nowhere to be found, but that’s okay. The game is a trip down memory lane first, and an RPG second. It doesn’t need to be full of plot twists or have a dramatic ending, clearly. But it needs to be cleverly written, charming, and funny, and that’s exactly what it is.
Saturday Morning RPG has a few issues, but none are glaring. The writing occasionally falls flat, and at several points a glitch caused my view to be obstructed while using a timed button-press attack in combat, but the game remains wholesomely charming and fun throughout. The jokes may not have draw a guffaw, but the pure innocence of the writing and the world does exactly what it intends to: remind you of those great lost Saturday mornings. And at that, Saturday Morning RPG is quite successful.
Version Reviewed: PC