Saturday Morning RPG starts off with a reference to the 1989 Fred Savage film The Wizard. That's pretty much all you need to know about this upcoming iOS game — from Care Bears to Transformers, it's a non-stop barrage of warm nostalgia.
It's also a role-playing game filled with areas to explore, sidequests to crunch and enemies to kill. There's a combat system, reminiscent of Super Mario RPG but mostly like indie gem Charles Barkley's Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden. It's both turn- and rhythm-based. You have a variety of special attacks at your disposal, most of which require your fingers to dance around the screen, tapping at the right times to meet the goals of various minigames. While playing on my iPad, it was tough to do this properly without resting the tablet on my lap or a desk.
And the tap controls are very, very specific. To beat battles without dying a gazillion times, you'll have to remember exactly where to press and when to press it. You can also tap to defend yourself from attacks and tap before each battle to unlock scratch-off stickers that give you bonus effects in combat.
As a result of those mechanics, there are no mindless encounters. Even filler enemies feel like rewarding challenges. This is great when you want rewarding challenges, but frustrating when you just want to get through a dungeon and random enemies take way too much time and effort to take down.
Pop culture references are the hook in Saturday Morning RPG, but what might be most impressive is its soundtrack, a lovely set of tunes composed by Transformers fan cult hero Vince DiCola and collaborator Kenny Meriedeth. This is not a game you'll want to play on mute. But it's a game you'll want to play.
Saturday Morning RPG will be out Thursday, April 5 for iOS devices.
Saturday Morning RPG [Mighty Rabbit Studios]