I want to get this out of the way first and foremost: This is a game where, within the first three minutes, you're getting murdered by Cobra Commander Commander Hood, are gifted a magical Trapper Keeper from a pixelated rendition of the Fred Savage from The Wizard (named, naturally, "The Wizard"), and you get a "but enough talk, have at you!" thrown at you. You start battle by scratching scratch-and-sniff stickers, and your attacks consist of things like Care Bare StaresShare Bear Rainbows and turning into Optimus Prime Omegas Botchanger.

That's what kind of game this is.

I promised I'd explain a word that had cropped up more and more in my lexicon lately when it became relevant, and that time is now. Some people think of it as "being like Family Guy", or "being like the Movie Movies" (or "the Seth Macfarlane/Seltzer and Friedberg method" more directly) but for the sake of brevity, I simply refer to it as "funy", as in "hurr derr dat funy".

See, referencing pop culture is an easy way to get people interested in what you're writing or drawing. It makes people feel like they're 'in the know', like they're part of an exclusive group (of everyone on the planet) who gets That Joke. You can do it subtly, by playing around with tropes and cliches, or you can do it a little more obviously, by doing things like making Star Trek II jokes about "Ricardo Montalban and his fake plastic chest", or you can just parade out the references shamelessly with recycled oneliners, memes, and bootlegs of pop cultural icons. It's that third point where the joke stops being a joke related to pop culture, and where it starts being "pop culture, as a concept, is the joke". You've stepped into the realm of image macros and memes that make their way into newspaper comics. That's funy.

And, you know. Sometimes? Sometimes it works okay. But there's two things that have to happen for that to work:

1) You have to commit to it. If your only joke is that this character from somewhere else shows up, that's a cameo or an easter egg. If that cameo/easter egg is then expected to get attention, it's jarring and weird, like something foreign hijacking the plot. No, you have to go balls-to-the-wall with the references, not let anyone up for air. Otherwise, you get Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry Series. (It says a lot that Nocturne worked despite that.)

2) You have to have something else underneath all the pop culture. This is where a lot of things - including Family Guy and any given Seltzer/Friedberg movie - fall apart. They're substanceless outside of their jokes, or downright offensive. You dig and dig and then you fall through, or you let out the Happy Fun Stuff hidden beneath the adamantine. Even then, you can't cover all your bases; writing is usually the first thing to suffer from the onslaught of wink wink nudge nudges ("HEY LOOK IT'S THAT THING YOU REMEMBER" is incredibly lazy writing, let's be honest) but if your gameplay (or aesthetic/cinematography/etc in the case of non-game works) suffers then there's no amount of pop culture you can use to regain that lost luster. Before long, it just turns into polishing a turd, and nobody really enjoys shiny poops.

And for the first hour or so? Saturday Morning RPG has something that works, because they knew what to rip off for the actual meat and potatoes of the game. RPGs are about battles (either going through them or avoiding them, either way) and they realized they could just pretend they were a different sort of SMRPG. Everything is timed hits and button-pressing gimmicks when there's any input involved, from button-mashing (the game loves its buttonmashing) to timing your attack like a golf swing to, in one cirumstance, aiming a crosshairs and shooting an enemy into tinier versions of itself Asteroids style.

The problem is, the Mario RPG style of timed hits only kept itself steady through a plot that held it up, and music that is master-tier. (The graphics were good for SNES, but they look kinda weird now, so that's a non-factor.) Saturday Morning RPG has... battles. And references about the 1980s. Boy howdy, the 1980s sure existed! But so do modern days. Instead of McDonalds, you get to collect items from happy meal boxes from RcAstleys, which I assume can only be the burger chain that you will never give up, because it's never gonna let you down. (Disconcertingly, MacRick Tonite makes an appearance, crescent moon head and all.)

It's... I don't know how to feel about this game. It has a kind of goofy, overenthusiastic heart to it that a lot of "funy" games lack. The jokes aren't just there to cash in on nostalgia, but because someone looked at this and wept a single tear over the demise of Generation X like a Native American on a littered roadside. Someone here is so drunk on their own nostalgia that they wrote this game, sincerely, a game where you get recruited into G.I. Joe Private Johnson and have a side quest to find the Smurfs Jurks.

It was endearing by the end of the first chapter. It was starting to wear thin by the end of the second chapter. Once Chapter 3 ended, I just wanted to be done with it, despite the game not taking more than an afternoon, even with additional interruptions. I had dialed the scaling difficulty down to nothing (they have scaling difficulty options, by the way - something more games should have) just to bumrush through it to be done.

Yeah, I'll concede a partial defeat here - I can beat the remaining two chapters, but I don't really want to. If someone really wants to insist I do it, I guess I will, but fehhhh.

They had originally planned to make this an enormous, epic-sized episodic game, with plans for 20+ episodes. I'm kind of glad they didn't. The 80s didn't last that long, and I think my controller is slowly dying a tragic, abused death from the A button being hammered incessantly in order to power up the Thundercats sword.

It's $7 on Steam and... ehhhhn. Maybe if you're the kind of person who rewatches VH1's "I Love The 80s" every month or so. Otherwise, it's just sort of okay, I guess, but you could also buy a cheeseburger for that price and be fed.

EDIT: Agreeing with Xyzzy's consensus on AIM - I didn't clear All The Episodes like I said in the original rules, but I did, in fact, see end credits. Three times. Thus, as I said, a partial. If I go back for the other two later, then sure, if not, then sure.
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)

From: [personal profile] xyzzysqrl

They had originally planned to make this an enormous, epic-sized episodic game, with plans for 20+ episodes.

Having read the REST of this writeup I got to that line and knew what it was like to have fear struck into my heart.

I'm REALLY GLAD that didn't happen, least of which because this thing is in my library too.