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Saturday Morning RPG Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Saturday Morning RPG is a good-natured tribute that plays into your nostalgia for G.I. Joe, Transformers and a bevy of other cartoons from the 1980s. Unfortunately, this clever idea is marred by repetitive gameplay and a whole lot of filler. But even with its imperfections, I found myself won over by its irresistible charm. Rating: 64%
Saturday Morning RPG
Saturday Morning RPG Saturday Morning RPG Saturday Morning RPG Saturday Morning RPG
  • Review Score:

  • B-
If reviews were based solely on wildly creative ideas, then Saturday Morning RPG might be a real contender for my "Game of the Year." It's a good-natured tribute that plays into your nostalgia for G.I. Joe, Transformers and a bevy of other cartoons from the 1980s. It has one of those concepts that is immediately compelling; the kind that can't miss. But alas, this brand new PlayStation 4 and PS Vita game proves you need more than a killer gimmick.

You play Marty, a normal everyday schoolboy with the typical girl problems and insecurities. One night, as he lays in his bed fast asleep, Marty is given a chance to become a real hero. A mysterious stranger known only as The Wizard bestows a magical Trapper Keeper that aids this would-be action star on his mission to defeat the enemy forces and rescue the girl he's been pining over. And thus begins an epic feud between Marty and the nefarious Commander Hood that extends far beyond a simple dream.

The next morning, our hero is shocked to discover that the magical Trapper Keeper has somehow found its way into the real world. Even more alarming is the presence of military guards searching the local school. It doesn't take long for Marty to realize that Commander Hood is all too real and looking to unleash his devious plans.

As the title suggests, Saturday Morning RPG is a cheeky parody of old school role-playing games from Japan. The combat is turn-based, giving Marty a choice between a few types of attacks. Players equip five different magical abilities from the Trapper Keeper, each designed to administer a unique (and admittedly goofy) attack. For example, the USS Star sends tiny fighter pilots off a battleship to bomb the enemies, the compass will literally cut the floor from under the bad guys, laserdiscs can cut Christmas presents in half and that Transformers toy will turn you into a Mack truck.

Saturday Morning RPG (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

These magical attacks don't just look different; they require their own unique mechanics to be triggered. Some of the attacks have you mashing the buttons as quickly as possible; while others are simple quick-time events. You never really know what you're going to be asked to do until it's too late, which is part of the problem. As fun as it is to experiment with the dozens of wacky attacks, I found that many simply weren't practical. And since you only have a limited amount of slots to fill up, I ended up sticking with the same few moves throughout most of the game.

In order to make these magical attacks more effective, players can boost their multiplier by charging up power. This comes straight out of Dragon Ball Z and suddenly makes every attack four times stronger. Players can also start out each battle by using the PlayStation 4's touchpad to literally scratch-and-sniff a series of helpful perks. This is a cool idea, but I quickly grew sick of wiping the touchpad before every single battle. Like a lot of Saturday Morning RPG, ideas that started out novel end up overstaying their welcome before the game is over.

Saturday Morning RPG (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Marty's adventure was originally released as an episodic series on mobile platforms. While it's short enough to binge in a single sitting, this PlayStation 4 collection is best when played in short bursts. The combat and structure is frustratingly repetitive, to the point where even the silly pop culture references started to lose their appeal. The small changes to the mechanics made from one episode to the next aren't enough to sustain what is a killer concept.

Perhaps my biggest complaint about the episode format is that it often feels like there's a lot of filler thrown in to pad out the run time. You'll run through a lot of the same looking dungeons in each chapter, rarely with any story beats to break up the action. It doesn't help that Marty spends the entire adventure on his own. This doesn't give us much of a chance to use the dozens of attacks we've accumulated. Despite its many good ideas, Saturday Morning RPG is too small and drawn out.

But despite all of these imperfections, I am unable to deny its charm. Maybe it's my nostalgia for 1980s cartoons or the snappy writing, but I found myself won over by its silliness. While not as deep as I would have liked and a bit too repetitive, fans of this era of animation will find a lot to like for not much money. I can only hope this all leads to the Disney Afternoon RPG.
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