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Saturday Morning RPG (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 14.05.2018

Review for Saturday Morning RPG on Nintendo Switch

While the majority of animated programmes still adhere to an episodic structure, there's been a noticeable push towards more serialised narratives in recent years. Along with that, programming schedules have all but moved away from the weekend, especially for Western cartoons. In that respect, Saturday morning cartoons are simply a relic of the '80s and '90s, which is exactly what makes Saturday Morning RPG for Nintendo Switch so fascinating. Episodic, aesthetically very '80s, and a genuine JRPG; the Saturday morning cartoon experience is back in action.

Originally released in 2012 for iOS, Saturday Morning RPG follows the adventures of high-schooler, Marty, as he tries to take down the nefarious Commander Hood. It's a story that reeks of '80s nostalgia, constantly referencing the music, movies, and television of that era. In that respect, this is an RPG that's lacking in an identity of its own. That said, though, that lack of a central identity does come together into a weird amalgamation of everything '80s, which gives the experience a consistently inconsistent tone that feels rather appropriate given the premise.

Screenshot for Saturday Morning RPG on Nintendo Switch

JRPGs and Saturday morning cartoons don't exactly go together, but the decision to blend the two genres together does pay off. The aesthetic, while rooted in Western '80s nostalgia, does have its own unique charm to it thanks to the inherently Eastern gameplay. The concept of a traditional turn-based RPG itself is one cemented in the early days of the videogame craze, at least third generation on. As for the combat itself, it does have its own flair to separate it from the typical JRPG fare, although that isn't necessarily a good thing.

Battles start by scratching stickers as fast as possible on Marty's notebook. Each sticker has its own property that, when properly scratched, either buffs Marty, nerfs the enemies, or does a mix of both. There is a short time limit, and better stickers do require more scratching, so speed is absolutely necessary. Conceptually, it's a fine idea, but constantly spinning the joystick before each battle gets tiresome fast. Ultimately, it's better to just slap on some quick scratch stickers to save some physical and mental stress.

Screenshot for Saturday Morning RPG on Nintendo Switch

Once in battle, Marty can attack normally, use abilities via normal objects he's found throughout his quest, or charge up to do more damage. Charging up is absolutely necessary for combat. As Marty starts with a 1.0x multiplier in each battle, his attacks barely do any damage. Charging up boosts up Marty's multiplier every time he uses, but attacking resets the multiplier back down to 1.0x. At first glance, this is a great idea that adds depth to combat, but, like the stickers, it gets tiring fast. Random encounters start to feel more like boss fights in terms of length as Marty needs to keep balancing his multiplier with attacks. On top of that, abilities have limited uses per battle, meaning his best attacks can't be used consistently. Again, a fine idea in its own right, but dragged down by the sheer length of each battle.

It truly cannot be stressed enough just how repetitive and exhausting combat gets. It's great initially, but it's too convoluted for its own good. It even has Paper Mario-esque reaction commands when attacking and blocking. Battles become a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Each idea is fine on its own, but all of them blend together into a thick, borderline incomprehensible, mess.

Screenshot for Saturday Morning RPG on Nintendo Switch

To further the repetition is the episodic structure. Each episode effectively stands on its own. Marty can play them out of order, while keeping his level and equipment intact, which is a nice touch, but it does mean the writing has to stand out all the stronger to make up for the lack of a traditional narrative. The script does work for the most part, especially when considering the overall '80s cartoon aesthetic, but it perhaps isn't creative enough for its own good. With only a few scenarios to play through, it feels like Saturday Morning RPG never lives up to its potential. Rather, it feels like a Saturday morning cartoon that got cancelled just five episodes in. For an episodic structure to work here, with this premise, it needed to be much longer.

It's all made worse by the fact that the experience doesn't start bad. It's actually quite refreshing early on due to just how novel it is. The problem is playing through subsequent episodes and realising just how repetitive it all is. Shorter, more focused, episodes could have helped along with a less cluttered battle system. This is an RPG better suited for very short play sessions, or at least it would be if the episodes were shorter. Saturday Morning RPG does know what it wants to be, to its credit, but perhaps that's the problem.

Screenshot for Saturday Morning RPG on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Although Saturday Morning RPG certainly captures the feelings of playing a Saturday morning cartoon, that quality may very well be its downfall. The episodic format, coupled with the fairly involved battle system, make for a breath of fresh air in the early game, but they quickly become repetitive and rather dull, much like a typical '80s cartoon. The aesthetic is plenty pleasant and the writing has its moments of charm, but Saturday Morning RPG is ultimately a JRPG not meant to be played powered through. In small bursts, its combat and episodic story structure might shine, but they fall apart quite hastily when played all at once. It's best to take each episode a week at a time, like a proper Saturday morning cartoon.

Developer

Mighty Rabbit Studios

Publisher

Actigame Publishing Corp.

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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