Saturday Morning RPG is a callback to an older era, one of analog TV, mixtapes of actual cassettes with music recorded straight from the radio, and those lovely trapper keepers many of us fondly remember. If you're a fan of the bygone era where Michael Jackson was king, Marty and Doc were zipping through time, and Nintendo was the most totally rad thing on the block, then Saturday Morning RPG is right up your alley.
I can't speak enough at the number of direct 80's references mashed into this game. Our main man Marty Michael Hall gets help from The Wizard (still wearing the power glove) through a magical trapper keeper capable of turning everyday objects into powerful tools and weapons while on a quest to take down the evil Dr. Hood. Of course, while that's happening on the forefront, Marty zips around on his hoverboard fighting against 8-bit enemies in a classic RPG-style setup all while frantically scratching his scratch n' sniff stickers at a chance for told. The only way I could make this sound any more steeped in 80's mystique is if I somehow manage to throw in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a Bill & Ted references as well.
The game itself revolves around Marty on his quest. Gifted with the magical trapper keeper, this turns things like stickers and toys into assets and parts for his overall arsenal. The scratch and sniff stickers provide bonuses in each battle, while the items themselves form the weapons Marty uses in combat. The stickers are a range of items but provide bonuses like extra magic or defense against enemies. Things like Care Bears, Michael Jackson's famous glittering glove, or even Zebra Stripe Gum make an appearance. All have their own sets of attacks, abilities, and stats, so collecting these items is key for Marty to have a broad range of items to choose from.
Combat itself combines both classic turn-based RPG games with quick time events thrown in to mix it up. Before the start of a battle, practically jamming your analog stick back and forth will scratch those stickers off and provide the boosts in combat. Stickers with better bonuses are considered rarer but are harder to scratch in time before combat starts. This little balancing act helps keep some of the game in check, lest you're an overpowered character right off the bat. While fighting, it's possible to select to charge up your character using your magic, through choices of rapid button presses or even a quick charge. The button presses result in a better charge but can be frustrating time and time again. From there, picking an attack will have another QTE pop up to deal additional damage or even at all. Defending operates similarly with a timed button press for the "best" defense rating and some extra magic back in your pocket.
It helps keep the game interesting and keeps you involved, but even after a point fairly early on I was tiring of the QTEs. Some battles can take a while due to the sheer number of enemies and having to constantly time my button presses or mash the A button to charge up wasn't always the most exciting thing. I'm not saying it's a terrible issue, especially given there are some options that don't require a QTE, but you suffer for it in combat in that regard.
Outside of combat, the game is broken down into a series of "Episodes" (hence the name of Saturday Morning RPG) with also Arena and Endless options to pick from. The Episodes themselves are the main game and provide some great fun, while the Arena and Endless are side options available to help. Honestly, the Episodes contain a number of main quests and side quests a piece and capture a lot of love and nostalgia from the 80's, so that's where your focus will really be.
Saturday Morning RPG is a solid title and worth taking a look into if you're either a fan of the 80's or RPGs. While the QTE aspects can tire out early on, the rest of the game is solid enough on its own with a decent plot. Toss in all of the references and callbacks to the 80's and you're in for a treat.Note: Saturday Morning RPG was reviewed on Xbox One. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.