Mighty Rabbit Studios have been around since 2010 and are bringing their games to the Vita, with the latest being Saturday Morning RPG. They also launched their own publishing service to get physical versions of Vita games, starting with their own. We spoke to Douglas Bogart as well as Mighty Rabbit’s President, Josh Fairurst to find out more.
Hello Josh and Douglas! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a little bit about Mighty Rabbit Studios?
Josh: Mighty Rabbit Studios is a small game developer based out of Cary, NC. We’ve been making games since 2010. Our first game was Saturday Morning RPG in 2012 – it was received well by critics but it bombed financially. Out of that financial crisis, we found work building Breach & Clear and followed that by building Breach & Clear: Deadline (a more action-oriented B&C spinoff). Both of those games were built as work for hire while we slowly continued work on Saturday Morning RPG. Earlier this year we launched our physical game publishing wing, Limited Run Games. I’m a huge game collector so launching LRG is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m incredibly excited for what the future holds for Mighty Rabbit Studios!
Douglas: Our mascot is awesome!
We are talking today about Saturday Morning RPG. Can you explain what it is about?
Josh: Saturday Morning RPG is an episodic Japanese-style RPG set in a world inspired by 1980s Saturday morning cartoons and pop culture. In the game players take the role of Marty, a high school student who has just been gifted an extraordinary power – the ability to channel magic through everyday objects. Through this power Marty manages to gain the ire of the evil Commander Hood, who happens to be the world’s most feared villain.
The adventure spans five episodes and your character stats, choices, and inventory are carried forward into each episode you play. Episodes can be played multiple times and in any order. Each episode features a relatively self-contained story, much like the cartoons it draws inspiration from, so playing them out of order is possible.
The game has a ton of enemies to fight, lots of items to collect, and many environments to explore. It’s a lot of fun and I really hope it finds an audience that appreciates it on the Vita.
What sort of gameplay and experiences can gamers expect to encounter in the game?
Josh: The game is a turn-based RPG with active elements (like Mario RPG or Paper Mario) – players can time button presses to defend in combat or boost attack damage with special inputs. For example if you decide to use the “Joystick” object in battle, you have to play a mini-game resembling PONG or Breakout in order to damage the enemy. For players that want to do as little input as possible during battle, there is items that do not require it. Battles can kind of be as active or inactive as you want them to be.
When you’re not battling, you get to explore the world of Saturday Morning RPG. While exploring you’ll talk to NPCs and gain side quests, new battle objects, and equippable scratch n’ sniff stickers that boost your stats in battle. Some side quests require the player to make choices which can ripple into later (or even past) episodes.
Is the game more of a love letter to those that grew up in the 80s of do you think that anyone can enjoy it?
Josh: We don’t beat people over the head with 80’s stuff – as in, it’s not so 80’s it hurts. We didn’t slap neon colors everywhere and scream “THIS IS THE 80’S!!” at the top of our lungs. This was a conscious choice on my part because I wanted it to have an appeal that wasn’t specific to a decade. One of my favorite TV shows is “The Wonder Years” – it’s set in the 60’s. I didn’t grow up in the 60’s and I have no personal frame of reference for that decade. People who grew up in the 60’s get added nostalgia from the show, but you don’t need that nostalgia to enjoy it. They didn’t go all out stupid with the 60’s stuff to the point where it would alienate people. I guess an apt way to put this is our intention here was to create something genuine like “The Wonder Years” rather than something in-your-face like “That 80’s Show” (remember that hot pile of garbage)?
The short answer is that yes, people who grew up outside the 80’s will definitely still find something to enjoy here. We’ve seen kids as young as five playing the game and loving it. They don’t catch the references, but since we don’t beat anyone over the head with them, that’s not really an issue. The references and callbacks add to the experience rather than being the experience.
Will there be any notable differences between previous versions of Saturday Morning RPG and the Vita version?
Josh: For starters you can play the game entirely on the touch screen or on the controller. That hasn’t been possible on any other platform. This next thing doesn’t really impact gameplay but I’m proud of it (on an attention to detail level): On every version but the Vita and PS4 version, the main menu features VHS tapes; on the Vita and PS4 version, those tapes are Beta tapes. Sony invented the Beta format and lost out to VHS, so we felt it would be nice to keep Sony formats in our Sony versions.
The game’s music is primarily composed by Vince DiCola, who worked on Transformers: The Movie, Rocky IV and more. How did that collaboration come about?
Josh: We reached out to Vince in 2010 to see if he’d compose the theme song to the game. I didn’t really think he’d respond and figured the best we’d get would be a no. Much to my surprise, Vince said yes and not just to composing the theme song but to composing the entire game! He had just recently done a version of the Gran Turismo theme with Doug Bossi for GT5: Prologue and really wanted to do some more work for games. He was really excited to work with us and we were really excited to work with him! For Saturday Morning RPG, Vince worked alongside Kenny Meriedith – Kenny is one of those guys who has done a ton of stuff you’ve probably heard but hasn’t been in the spotlight. His resume on his old website read like a laundry list of everything I watched growing up (Duck Tales, Power Rangers, X-Men, and more).
Vince and Kenny have been amazing to work with and I really hope they get more work in games. They’re insanely talented and don’t seem to get the amount of attention or praise they deserve.
Although a separate initiative, Mighty Rabbit Studios have set up Limited Run Games – which we covered in Issue 7 – how is that going? Will Saturday Morning RPG receive a physical Vita version?
Douglas: It’s going great! We have a lot of great releases coming out, and met a lot of great people at PSX. The fan reaction was incredible, being able to sell out of our first game in 103 minutes is just amazing. We are definitely a fan driven company and take feedback into serious consideration. We will start numbering the spines for example based on feedback. One of the greatest things that happen to me personally was having fans come up to me at PSX and telling me how happy they are that there is a company out there that is putting out physical releases. Even developers knew who we were when I would approach them because fans have been tweeting about us possibly working together. I just want to give a sincere thank you to our fans!
Saturday Morning RPG will definitely have a physical version, we are very excited to be able to make that happen! RPG’s just feel at home on a Vita, so Saturday Morning RPG is a definite must have.
Breach and Clear was limited to 1500 copies on the Vita – do you plan to increase this at all for Saturday Morning RPG?
The PS4 will have 1980 copies, and the Vita will have somewhere between 2200 to 2300, we haven’t decided on a concrete number yet. We will be doing more Vita copies due to the overwhelming response from Vita fans. 🙂
Editor’s note – since this review was requested and published the physical print run has been and gone!
What have been your favourite experiences on the Vita?
Douglas: For me game wise it’s been the Danganronpa series, Freedom Wars and Senran Kagura.
Is there anything coming out for the Vita that you are excited by (or want to sort a retail release for?)
Douglas: I’d say Cosmic Star Heroine, not just because we are doing a release for it, but because the amount of work Zeboyd Games has put in it and how great it plays. Retail wise there are a lot of games, but I would love to put out Salt and Sanctuary, Nuclear Throne, and Crypt of the NecroDancer. Honestly most of the games I got to see at PSX deserve physical releases.
Will Cosmic Star Heroine also get a Limited Run Games release?
Cosmic Star Heroine is confirmed for both PS4 and Vita.
Our final question – what do you think is the better Vita model, the OLED 1000 series of the slim 2000 series?
Douglas: VitaTV! Haha. Semi-joke, I love mine, but in terms of the actual Vita, I love the slim series, it feels better in my hands and has a normal charger.
Josh: I’m an OLED guy. Those colors, man! They just pop on that screen.
This interview first appeared in our January issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Stay tuned to our magazine for more exclusive and magazine first content soon!