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Developer: Mighty Rabbit Studios
Price: Free ($1.99 for Second Episode)
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime: Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Saturday Morning RPG is an RPG, natch, that peddles in 80s nostalgia. This is different from the 80s RPG nostalgia that Dragon Fantasy revels in, as not only is the RPG gameplay here a bit more modernized, but in that it chooses to satirize and celebrate 80s geek culture as a whole. The logo is a take on the old GI Joe logo, weapons in the game reference Michael Jackson and Voltron, and there’s plenty of pop culture references to go along with it.

The story is one of the prodigal hero Marty, who magically gains powers, then goes on a fantastic adventure, where big evil villains in a black-and-white morality world must be defeated, and the damsel in distress must be rescued. The setting shifts from a dream world to a school environment where the teachers are all soldiers with the game’s evil organization, so it is not a game grounded in reality. The overworld actually shows enemies in it, though battles shift to an off-screen battle dimension.

The combat is the interesting part of Saturday Morning RPG: it’s turn-based, but is based around charging up a damage multiplier and then unleashing limited-use special attacks. These attacks range from tossing a CD to do damage, with a timing bar that, if stopped in the right place, can do massive damage. There’s a giant robot that can hurt all enemies, but has low accuracy. The game’s mechanics seem to live and die on the risk-reward scale: better and more useful items are harder to activate, or have low accuracy. The surefire ones have limited usage, or do slightly more damage than the main attack, which is used mainly just to recharge the energy bar that powers the multiplier, or as a last resort.

Battles feel like they could move along at a faster pace, as even the battles against typical goons feel like they take up a couple of minutes, just because the main character doesn’t do much in the way of damage with default attacks, and the ones that are powerful often fluctuate in power. In fact, with boss fights, it feels partially like it’s a matter of luck, especially with bosses that can heal themselves. Eventually, it just becomes a war of attrition. There is a curious enemy scaling option in the main menu where enemies can be set at a certain level manually, but it feels like a substitute for proper difficulty curvature.

Saturday Morning RPG is a freemium title, with two episodes at the moment. The first episode is free, with the longer second episode for $1.99. The first episode serves as a sort of extended demo, long enough to give a good taste of the game, without giving away too much for free. It’s a curious experience, in spite of the battle pacing issues.

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