Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Mighty Rabbit/Limited Run Games
Developer: Mighty Rabbit
Medium: Digital/Vita Card/Disc
One game kept coming to mind again and again as I played Saturday Morning RPG: Retro City Rampage.
While the two titles may not have that much in common in terms of gameplay — the latter is an action-packed parody of early top-down GTA games, whereas Saturday Morning RPG is a fairly straightforward RPG that just happens to have a genre atypical setting — there's no denying that the same spirit runs through both. Like RCR, Saturday Morning RPG is chock-full of '80s references. You can't take more than a few steps here without running into something that, somehow, plays off the pop culture of that decade. The main character is named Marty Michael Hall (so nods to Back to the Future AND Anthony Michael Hall, all in one shot). Your main enemy, HOOD, is a thinly-veiled take-off on GI Joe's COBRA. The Wizard and the NES Power Glove play a major role in one of the episodes. Care Bears, Transformers, Karate Kid, Trapper Keepers…basically, if you can remember some piece of '80s kid culture detritus, it probably pops up here in some form or another.
Unfortunately, that's where the comparisons with Retro City Rampage end. See, where that game hid a pretty addictive game beneath its nostalgic exterior, Saturday Morning RPG's nostalgia just hides more nostalgia. After awhile — probably around the hundredth time you attack someone with a Moonwalk — you start to wish that the developers had a little more to say that "Hey, remember this thing from thirty years ago? Us too!" It's the Family Guy approach to humour, where references to things stand in place of actual jokes, and it works nearly as well here as it does there.
Okay, that was a low blow. Perhaps a better analogy would be a Russian nesting doll, since no matter how far down you go in Saturday Morning RPG, you're just left with more and more of the same. I mean, yes, the setting is fairly novel for an RPG, but that's where the innovation ends: the plot isn't particularly engaging or memorable, the battles start feeling repetitive very quickly, and the world you're exploring is kind of empty. On the plus side, I guess the game gets points for being relatively short, but that's not enough to make it worth your while.
In fact, there's only one reason for Saturday Morning RPG to be worth your while: you really, really miss the '80s. As someone who endured it the first time around (albeit as a small child), I can't say I'm in any rush to go back, and the gameplay isn't interesting enough to be worthwhile for RPG enthusiasts. If, however, you a snap bracelet/chia pet/rat tail-shaped hole in your life, then I think you've just discovered your new favorite game.