Saturday Morning RPG
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Saturday Morning RPG is developer Mighty Rabbit Studio’s 2012 take on the much loved turn-based RPG genre. It was first released on iOS and Android, a year later on PlayStation and now in 2018 the game debuts on Nintendo’s Switch. I’m pleased the game is available console formats as not being a keen mobile gamer it would have been easy to completely miss out on playing this title. It also makes perfect sense for the dev team as it has the potential to reach a much wider player base. Mighty Rabbit is partnered with Limited Run Games who specialise in creating some wonderful releases of popular indie titles. This importantly means that we also will get to see a physical release on Nintendo Switch, something that is always welcomed in our ever-growing digital age and limited storage capacity. Unfortunately due to the very nature of the physical release being truly limited that ship will have sailed.
The world created for Saturday Morning RPG takes inspiration from 80’s morning cartoons and draws heavily from the pop culture of that era. You take on the role of protagonist Martin ‘Marty’ Michael Hall, I’m immediately seeing a reference to Back to Future films in the naming convention, you even get to use a hoverboard as part of the characters run mechanism. Marty is an average high-school student facing the toil of having to attend class when really all he wants to do is play in the local arcade and loaf around. However, a mysterious wizard aptly named The Wizard pays a visit to Marty and gifts him incredible power through the use of a magical notebook. The Wizard is sporting a familiar accessory in the form of the ill-fated Power Glove by Nintendo, which sadly after only one year in production was discontinued. The magical notebook looks suspiciously like a Tracker Keeper and bestows Marty the power to use everyday objects in the battle against evil forces and the world’s most notorious villain, Commander HOOD! Some of my favourite items you get to use are Optimus Prime and Michael Jackson’s white glove.
Since initial release Might Rabbit have offered strong support adding a number of new chapters into the mix, bringing the total to five playable scenarios. Each set up as its own episode, keeping with the theme, and can be accessed via the main menu. The menu presentation is great, you navigate around a room while choosing from a number of different gameplay modes, including the story episodes, arena battle and endless. Each of the episodes can be completed in an hour or so but this is largely dependent on whether you complete all side quests and collect all of the items. At the end of an episode you are given a ranking, I managed to score a number of B’s on my initial playthrough but this only made me want to go back and improve on those scores. Experience and power-ups carry over from episode to episode and when replaying which gives a better chance of survival, initially there were occasions where I just couldn’t for the life of me defeat all of the enemies. Episodes are free roaming so exploration plays its part if you are into finding every item out there. Now looking at the games other modes, Arena pits you against suped-up versions of the games baddies in mortal battle and the endless, well endless much as you would expect.
The combat system is fundamentally turn-based, staying true to the RPG genre but adds a unique twist which allows boosts to be won via a pre-battle scratch card. The touchscreen on the Switch is perfect for this. Multipliers that can boost an attack are built up by mashing the action button as fast as you can or hitting it at the right time while being guided by an on-screen bar, akin to the swing bar from a golf game. It took a little while to perfect my timing but once I had it proved of real benefit.
Saturday Morning RPG is a weird mix of chunky pixel art characters set against low textured 3D environments, it works for the most part and creates a memorable view on the world. The animation is basic but functional and originally being a mobile title it is good to see that it runs ultra smooth here, even as its zooming in and out of scenes. It features a full soundtrack by legendary composer Vince DiCola and his composing partner Kenny Meriedeth, it’s particularly enjoyable. Saturday Morning RPG features an in-game achievement system, I really go into these on Xbox and PlayStation so can see the appeal but as the Switch doesn’t have its own propitiatory version I feel that they are not entirely necessary here. For me the whole point of achievements and trophies are to have a running total against your ID to show off with other gamers, essentially proving who was the biggest geek. I still hold slim hope that the big N will add these at some point as part of the operating systems firmware updates like Sony did for PlayStation 3.
Coming into Saturday Morning RPG reasonably fresh, apart from a few screenshots and simply wanting to play it, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall experience and glad that it is now a completed vision. Besides a few minor issues, none of which are deal breakers, it is well worth a shot if you are in need of an easy-going RPG filled with nostalgia and callbacks to a golden age of cartoons.
TBG Score: 7/10