April 11, 2012

You Can Also Transform And Roll Out.

I got my mother playing Draw Something, and she seems to be having fun! So I went onto the app store to see if there was anything else we could play that she’d enjoy. While I was there I stumbled across this thing in the featured apps called Saturday Morning RPG. It was supposedly an RPG based on 80’s cartoons. I could dig that. It was using a fairly standard structure for apps now, where the first episode was free, then you buy more, so I went ahead and played the first episode.

It was okay? It was okay.

The battle system is kind of a combination of a, say, Grandia style system, where the attacks you pick affect how soon you act, and a Mario RPG system, with little minigames for more damaged and timed defense presses. It was a pretty good battle system for a light and breezy RPG you’d play on your phone.
The battle system goes like this. You see an enemy on the field, and get into a battle. You scratch Scratch-n-sniff stickers before battle to give you buffs in a little minigame. You can swap and equip these stickers to give you access to whatever buffs you want, but the order you scratch them in is randomized, so you may not always get to the ones you want to use. Then the fight proper starts.
You have three main actions. Punch is your default attack. It does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and is useless to try to use unless the enemy has, like, 2 HP left. Then you have a charge option, which lets you burn MP for a DBZ-style charge up to deal more damage on your next attack. This is the only use of your MP, and your MP recharges slowly over time in battle. Finally, you can use your items, which are basically little spells. Each spell has a set number of uses each battle, and you can only equip five. They’re 80’s references of a sort, for the most part. You can make guys explode with a Care Bear Stare, or trample them with Fruit Stripe Gum Zebras, for example. Each attack has a speed associated with it, and may or may not require passing a minigame in order to be effective. For example, when giving a Thundercats Ho! with your Sword of Omens, you have to do some rapid tapping to charge up the attack in order to deal the most damage. That’s a fast attack, though. The Care Bear Stare, which does a similar amount of damage as a fully-tapped Sword of Omens attack, doesn’t have a minigame, but is a lot slower.

Anyway, the battle system is simple, but keeps your attention. It’s fun. The rest of the game is kind of bad.

The entire premise is great. Fighting 80’s cartoon villain analogues with silly reference attacks is a good idea! But the problem is, it’s a good idea if it’s funny, and being funny requires writing. I was flat-out shocked at how there is basically NO dialog in this game. It’s ridiculous. There needs to be either 80’s cartoon writing that’s funny on its own ridiculousness, or you need to crank the references up so they’re smart and witty. Having a quest that just quotes this PSA and does absolutely nothing with it is just a huge waste of time. Was this just a group of programmers without a writer? If so, that’s a shame. They should find someone who can write some really entertaining dialog. That needs to be the basis of this, seriously.

Anyway, feel free to try the free episode if you want. Personally, there was nothing in it to make me want to buy the next one for a dollar, but maybe that’s just me. Maybe it’s fun enough. I don’t know. I just know I was a bit let down that the writing didn’t live up to the premise. Oh well.

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