Review – Saturday Morning RPG for iPad

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Saturday Morning RPG is a new indie game series that was largely funded through a Kickstarter project last year. The result is a hilariously tongue-in-cheek game series that combines the best elements of 8-bit gaming, turn-based combat and a wistful look-back at just how great it was to be a kid.

Much like previously reviewed game The Bard’s Tale poked fun at traditional RPGs, Saturday Morning RPG pokes fun at the cartoons, films and commercials we grew up with as kids: G.I. Joe, Power Rangers, Care Bears, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros. Super Show, etc. None of the references seem disrespectful or crude, though, which shows how the makers must love, admire or at least respect those classic programs.

The main character, Martin “Marty” Hall, is an average ’80s teen, complete with dreams of adventure, social awkwardness and moments of adorable teenage angst, a la the films of John Hughes. The first episode centers around Marty trying to prevent a wedding between the love of his life, Samantha, and the evil Commander Hood, who seems to be a combination of Cobra Commander, The Shredder and Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, among many other comedic cartoon villains.

The gameplay in the Saturday Morning RPG series consists of either walking around—while bumping into various characters—or engaging in combat, which is easily the most impressive part of the game. The combat is turn based, allowing Marty a variety of combat moves, strategies and weapons to fight with.

However, these are no ordinary weapons. From Marty’s arsenal of magic, otherwise known as a Trapper Keeper, he can call on powers such as the paralyzing Michael Jackson glove, a pack of zebra-summoning Juicy Fruit gum or a Transformers-style action figure that turns Marty into a semi-truck.

The Trapper Keeper also comes with different stickers that the player has to scratch in order to access certain benefits during a battle, including increased health or poisoning an enemy. There’s five sticker slots available, but I was never able to scratch them all in time.

Saturday Morning RPG is unique in that it’s actually an episodic series of games that’s designed to work in “seasons,” much like a traditional Saturday morning cartoon. The episodic style of gameplay is reminiscent of some series produced by Telltale Games, including Sam & Max, Back To The Future and Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People.

What’s great about the episodic style is that the player’s stats, weapons and in-game decisions carry over into every succeeding episode. This means the player has a chance to build up a really strong character through multiple episodes. However, it also means enemies get progressively harder through each episode, which means players have to constantly stay on their toes.

The only downside is that, as of this point, the episodes are pretty short, lasting less than a couple hours each. As of now, Saturday Morning RPG has released two episodes for its first season, and the third one is said to be in development. The first episode is free while the second costs $1.99, which didn’t seem to be proportionate to the amount of gameplay, cost-wise.

In my opinion, it’d be better to have each episode priced at $0.99, since it would encourage more downloads. If each episode was $1.99 I wouldn’t be able to purchase every single one, since that’d cost me at least $15 by the end of an eight-episode season. That’s more than I pay for several games on my computer.

Since the first episode is free, I highly recommend checking it out. If you like it, Episode 2 is also a must-play. The series promises to be a wonderful journey into the adventures of a character who, in the end, represents the child in all of us. Here’s hoping there’s a Pink Ranger in Episode 3, or at least a Power Glove. Game on.


Beth Elderkin

Beth Elderkin is an award-winning multimedia journalist currently working as a news producer in Austin, Texas. She's been a game reviewer for iPad Insight since 2011, and also runs a gaming blog at easymodego.tumblr.com.

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