Early last week we reviewed a new iOS exclusive RPG called Ash [$4.99], a game inspired by the fantastic RPGs of the 16-bit era that featured some engaging gameplay and an excellent story. Our only real problems with Ash were the overly difficult nature of the early portions of the game and an awkward control system that required touching all over and blocking portions of the screen during play. The feedback in our forums echoed these same problems of an otherwise highly enjoyable title.

Developer SRRN Games took this feedback to heart, and yesterday they released an update to Ash that rectifies both of these problems beautifully. There is now an option to turn on a d-pad and action button from the pause screen. The d-pad is unobtrusive, tucked away in the lower corner, and makes moving around in the game a whole lot easier.

The other big change to Ash is that the beginning portion of the game in the town of Nikel has been made significantly easier. You now start with better equipment and will find more potions to heal your health. Also, the overall character level cap has been raised from 32 to 40, and any experience you had earned after capping out previously will go towards gaining these additional levels now that the update has hit.

It's really hard to find anything to complain about in Ash after this latest update. The control movement is much better, and after starting a brand new game I can definitely tell that the difficulty curve in the early goings is a lot smoother. I'm looking forward to playing through the game again just for kicks, and I sincerely hope that SRRN will put out a sequel in the future. If you like RPGs but were holding back on Ash because of any of the negative points from our original review, rest assured that they have now been taken care.

  • Rip

    For a retro RPG that uses ORIGINAL assets, try Monster RPG 2.

    • http://twitter.com/ScottColbert Scott Colbert

      Try doing a little research; they licensed the graphics engine moron. And ASH is fathoms better than Monster rpg2 anyway.

      • Rip

        You're the one that needs to do research. They licensed the art, not the graphics engine... or do you know the difference? Licensing RPG Maker assets isn't using original art. It's using stock art that cost $60 all toll then selling it for 4.99. This is the worst journalism ever.

      • Thaurin

        So what? Really? You either like the graphics, or you don't. I don't care where it's from. They legally licensed it. Maybe it would be the 500th time I saw the same tileset, but it's not (for me). In the end, all that matters is: is it fun? And do I consider it worth my time and money? The rest is unimportant.

  • Anonymous

    There's something almost depressing about a game that looks like it was made in RPG Maker being advertised as a 'great new RPG!'.

    This kind of game isn't really a 'throwback to the 16 bit era of RPGs', it's more of a lazy and cheaply made cookie-cutter game. At least new RPGs in the 16 bit era always tried to introduce brand new mechanics and make things more fun and enjoyable in each new game... whereas this game just tries to copy everything that was dated even back then, and somehow manages to make it feel even more generic on top.

    • Anonymous

      I don't see what is so "depressing" about a game made with RPG Maker. Have you never wanted to make an RPG but lacked the skills to program or draw?

      Someone invested their time to make something they think others would enjoy. You on the other hand...

      • Anonymous

        The problem here is that a game which comes across as 'lack of skills in programming and art' is considered a great new commercial RPG.

        I can respect the hundreds upon hundreds of RPGMaker games that people make for fun and upload them to various websites for free, they're great as a little hobby to have! Those aren't making headlines on big gaming websites and priced higher than many other iOS apps, however. This one is, and it's a little jarring to see a 'fan-game' styled game shown in this way.

        It's like, say, going to a book store and seeing posters for a brand new book called 'Larry Pottar 10: Larry's Quest in Magic College' with a photo of Harry Potter on the front of it taken from the internet. It's just a little weird that something that comes across as something made by a fan in their spare time is being showcased next to all the well-edited and lengthy novels. Sure, it's still a vehicle to tell a story, and hey, the basic story might be alright, but there's still something really unoriginal about it.

        As for most 16 bit RPGs being generic snoozefests... in most cases, I'd still be more interested in those, because they have unique art styles. 7th Saga is considered to be one of the worst 16 bit RPGs for example, but when I compare 7th Saga to Ash, 7th Saga somehow comes across looking way ahead in both the uniqueness of the world's setting and by having its own visual flare.

        In conclusion: When a brand new commercial RPG has the appearance of a fangame that's even more generic than one of the worst SNES RPGs, I definitely find that a little depressing!

      • anonymous

        hmm. faaag

    • Jared Nelson

      You totally missed the point. Ash is about telling a story first and foremost, and it uses a style inspired by 16-bit RPGs to do that. And it totally succeeds. Of course the gameplay isn't groundbreaking, it never claimed to be. But it is very good, and a nice way to experience the story of the game.

      And please, every 16-bit RPG didn't try to push boundaries like you claim. Aside from the dozen or so that are considered absolute classics, there are easily three times that many that are completely generic snooze fests.

      • SRRN Games

        Jared:

        Thank you for your kind words; I can't tell you how much we all appreciate them.

        To Tango:

        I said this earlier, but like an idiot I missed the reply button. Here it is again: "Hey, we're sorry you feel that way. We were definitely aiming for a throwback vibe. Shoot me a PM if you want to discuss it further, and hopefully Ash 2 will address your concerns. :)"

        All I will add to that is while we did use licensed art, everything else in the game is completely original--including our engine, which was coded by very, very talented and dedicated programmers. RPGMaker VX doesn't have a "push here to make iOS-compatible RPG" button. It took my team many sleepless nights to create the framework that powers Ash. The literal "last" thing we did was drop the graphical assets in.

        Perhaps you don't think that matters, and if so, I can respect that. If you find the story or the concept uninspiring, that's totally legitimate--I wrote the story and I'll be happy to take that criticism. But my devs are all rock stars who really pushed themselves to make this game smooth, stable, and fun. They deserve all the credit in the world for what they've done, and I would be an awful manager if I let our decision to license art overshadow their very real technical achievement.

      • Anonymous

        I can appreciate that you've all worked hard to make this game, and it's great that you've rebalanced the difficulty post-release to address peoples concerns!

        Still though, if you ever do manage to get some graphical work done in the future (maybe after raising funds with the Ash series, and starting another RPG project afterwards), I honestly think games like this could be improved tenfold just by giving it a distinct and unique flair to set it apart from other RPGs with similar graphical styles.

        It's a little hard to explain, but imagine if ten more games came out on iOS using the exact same graphical style, tiles, and portraits... Is there anything that would set Ash apart from those other RPGs as something special?

        To make another comparison... there's a few DS RPGs at a similarly low price on Amazon UK now, such as Hoshigami, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Blue, and Spectrobes. Naturally, I'm not going to be so silly as to say that you should have the funds/staff as Nintendo or Disney to make games comparable in quality, but consider that these three games are -all- worth buying just because they all have very unique battle systems, unique visual styles, and different atmospheres. If they all had the same graphics and battle systems as each other, people would probably lose interest after playing just one of them.

      • SRRN Games

        Tango:

        I see and respect your point. All I can say is that it was, from the start, our intent to create the experience of playing a 16-bit RPG on the iPhone. The reason we did it is precisely *because* there weren't 10 other iOS RPGs like it. Had there been, I can promise you that we wouldn't have done this.

        To the extent that you think we are cookie-cutter or generic, I take full responsibility for that: it was our intent to *not* innovate in large ways when it came to gameplay and visuals. Even if we had managed to secure great original art, we would have asked it to conform to this style, because that's the experience we wanted to evoke. And Ash 2 will absolutely have original art, but again, its style will resemble the RPGs of the past by design. Your points on the battle system are well received, however: we have a lot of big plans for making combat more interesting that we just couldn't fit into Ash. One of our highest priorities is making sure Ash 2 incorporates more of those ideas.

        I hope that helps clarify what we did and why we did it. To answer one of the questions you asked: "Is there anything that would set Ash apart from those other RPGs as something special?" I can honestly say I think it would be the story. But hey, I wrote it, so I'm not exactly neutral. :)

        Thanks for your comments, Tango. I really do appreciate your willingness to engage in honest discussion.

  • SRRN Games

    TangoBunny:

    Hey, we're sorry you feel that way. We were definitely aiming for a throwback vibe. Shoot me a PM if you want to discuss it further, and hopefully Ash 2 will address your concerns. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Speer/1407361755 Michael Speer

    for an indie rpg vibe it would have been cooler to have retro music to go along with the retro graphics. I do agree that 4.99 for a game that has an unoriginal art style and is an indie game is priced too high. However, it is great to see an indie developer work hard on releasing an update and listens to gamers to improve the gameplay to justify the higher price tag. This game has countless hours of gameplay, support the small guys, this is probably the best rpg besides crimson gem saga for the iphone

    • Jared Nelson

      I thought that at first. I love retro chip tunes, and the music from some of the 16-bit classics is among the most memorable to me. The dramatic score in this game didn't really seem to fit.

      But as I kept playing, I ended up really appreciating their choice in music. I think it helps convey the drama and emotion in the game really well, probably better that a retro soundtrack could have. The dev mentioned they struggled with the choice of what kind of soundtrack to use, and I think it could have worked well either way.

  • Beaubarre

    Hello,

    I like it pretty much as it was, before the update. But I like challenging RPGs like Bard's Tale series was.

    Even if the graphics are unoriginal, the text is well written and the pace is OK so I don't regret my 4.99 at all.

  • Anonymous

    One of the best games i have played ina. Looooong time. The story sequences/dialogue is very very well done. I bought it on sale (free) but after playing it I wish I had bought it. I would like a sequel :).

  • AWESOMENESS

    OMG! ASH is the best RPG game ever. If SRRN Games makes Ash 2... i will buy it right away. Best story ever and well written. I hope to see Ash 2 in the app store.

  • Anonymous

    Black Guard = Red wings? / Magistrate = Golbez? / Nick = Cecil?

    Although i see a little bit of similarities to a certain game, the story is very original and very well written. That would be cool if you can play as a black guard in the next one