Remember Shining Force? It was a turn-based RPG created by the dudes over at SEGA for the Genesis. It’s since been ported and sequel-ized to all hell. Little Brad Nicholson and huge Brad Nicholson is a big fan of the original game. It managed to make the turn-based experience engaging without punitive design constructs, a clever pairing that has somehow been lost to the ether. Well, not completely lost. Hunters: Episode One does a great job in being interesting, tactical, and precise, without making you want to pull your hair out or turn off your iPod Touch or iPad.

That’s high praise from me, folks. I’ve got the patience of a bear standing in front of a car filled with raw salmon. But I suppose I should slow down. Hunters: Episode One is a turn-based strategy RPG with all the trimmings -- a top-down camera, characters who can move a select number of spots per turn, devastating range and melee attacks, and tons of brain-tickling scenarios. Unlike the high fantasy of a Shining Force, Hunters is based in a dystopian sci-fi universe that, according to a text crawl, runs purely on the almighty dollar. Mercenaries, it seems, are much in desire, too.

A solid tutorial sequence will set you up with these essentials: each level, which can be plucked from a central hub, earns you cash upon completion. And as you use each of your characters you’ll earn experience points that can be used, in turn, on pumping them up in the usual core RPG categories. Swords are not a part of this future as far as I can tell, but massive hammers as well as sub-machine guns, assault rifles, and shotguns are.

Each character can move a certain number of spots depending on who they are, and a generous amount of war fog obscures the map and keeps you from knowing what’s around the corner. This, as always, adds a major strategic edge to the AI, which in this specific title, seem rather cunning and ruthless. Attacks, by the way, can also be triggered depending on range.

I’m digging Hunters. It’s an ambitious, deep title with tons of equipment and stat options and a lot of menus. It's also content heavy heavy -- with a quirky catch. Five levels will be added to the game on a daily basis and you'll only be able to play those levels during this period. However, on the IAP end, the game will be supported by ten-or-so level "story packs" that'll add to the barebones core narrative and give you levels to play whenever, without restriction.

  • What I like the most about Hunters, I think, is the lack of punishment. If one of your guys eat it, he doesn’t croak forever, nor does he lose his experience points. Sure, he won’t be able to continue in the current mission, but you’ll have him around for the next one. Seriously, it’s nice to be able to breath while playing a turn-based strategy RPG again. The camera isn't too shabby, either. With pinch and zoom, you can do just about anything you want to with it.

    Oh! And I can't forget about the difficulty. The game’s earlier missions, at least, are tuned well. Enemies are neither too all knowing nor oblivious. They react and respond just like you would in a given situation, leading to actual, engaging fights. The level design, which features a lot of corners, is a boon, as you’ll never really know what’s around the bend as you split up troops to get accomplish minor level-based goals.

    Developer Rodeo Games tells us that Hunters: Episode One is “on the precipice of launching,” so we’ll definitely post a more detailed review when it hits the App Store. We're particularly curious to see how the daily content gimmick works out, we're thinking that could be real cool.

    • Anonymous

      Now this looks great :) I love SRPG's :)

    • Vauxhall95

      Wow! Your title looks great! I miss these types of games. The presentation is well done and looks fantastic on the iPad.

      Do you have a price point set yet? Any discounts for first day adopters?

    • Vanamonde

      From that description I wonder if the developers were fans of Xcom/Laser Squad.

      • Anonymous

        The devs have said as much on the Upcoming Games thread.

    • ravenvii

      Silent Storm desperately needs to be ported to iOS.

    • Chingyul

      Kind reminds me of Faselei for the Neo Geo Pocket. Loved that game.

    • http://ps3explained.com/ Flame

      Looks really good!

    • Mcconahey

      Sequeli-zed to all hell is a bit of an overstatement for the Shining Force series. There are I think 5 different games that retain the original tactics game play between the genesis, gamegear and Saturn. If anything - there really is a lacking for true sequels with this series - I think man fans would agree.

    • andrzej raczynski

      damn, had me all the way up to the point of mentioning short term availability content and IAP. too bad, looks like a great engine.

      • Anonymous

        I too, would rather go without the IAP and just buy the whole game straight off, and the short term thing doesn't sound too good. Gran Turismo 5 does the same thing with it's seasonal events and thanks to that it's lost some of the best race events it had, I can't see how throwing content away could be considered a good thing.

    • Ian Logsdon

      I'm excited to try this game out, it reminds me a lot of fallout tactics. I've been looking for a decent scifi based RPG. If it has a cool story, bonanza, if not, I'm still waiting for my perfect game. System Shock 2 for ipad or a Fallout app maybe.

    • download games 

      I'm excited to try this game out, it reminds me a lot of fallout tactics. I've been looking for a decent scifi based RPG. If it has a cool story, bonanza, if not, I'm still waiting for my perfect game. System Shock 2 for ipad or a Fallout app maybe. For more details visit http://www.bugfreegames.com

    • thebleeptruth

      Can someone explain the description about those levels being available in a given time period? How many permanent levels would there be? Is this gonna be some sort of a freemium game? This game looks great. Big fan of Turn-Based-RPGs since FF Tactics. But so far, unless I didn't understand the description correctly, the structure is a bit disappointing. I'd rather go the old-fashioned way and pay an actual price and then look forward to updates whether they are free or IAP.

    • Wisedude

      Could be very good if it's close enough to xcom but that's the only game of this genre I really rate the rest of them haven't been close.
      I'm hopeful but expect to be disappointed as usual.

    • Dtale

      Jagged alliance had me hooked for many hours, this reminds me of That game. I just hope it won't be to IAP heavy...

    • Sebastian

      Is it an inside joke that you use the same screenshot twice?

      I know in the one shot it's on the iPad and in the other it's the screenie itself but seriously... that really just looks bad.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yo-Zeff/643060961 Yo Zeff

      nice ..

      reminds me of

      http://www.tacticsarena.com/

      I hope somebody will make TAO on ios

    • C.Hannum

      I lost many, many months of life to JA2, been looking for a turn-based game to anything close to that for years (Fallout Tactics was merely OK). I'll be looking for this one when it hit the store.

    • Icepulse

      As I understand it, missions (5 daily) come through as daily "opportunities", lending it a mercenary "simulation", real-time quality. I think that's interesting.

    • Doctorossi

      Count me, as well, on the 'everything sounds great except that the limited-availability material may be a deal-breaker' list. I'll watch this one carefully, but it sounds like it would otherwise have been an insta-buy.

    • Anonymous

      Space Hulk returns! almost

    • Gabor

      Reminds me a bit to the board game Earth Reborn - which is imho an amazing tactical skirmish boardgame, and it's so fun to play such a game with miniatures againts real opponents :)

    • Gareth

      I've been lucky enough to beta test this and it's pretty sweet. The game generates missions daily, where a mission is a combination of a particular environment, objectives, level layout etc. So you don't "lose" anything at the end of the day, because everything about the missions you had on one day will be back soon enough, just subtly different. And of course by the time they do come around again your team will be stronger and your experience totally different.

      I gather that the mission generation is the same across devices, so that your daily missions will be the same as everyone else's

    • Tacitus

      Wondering if it'll have an overwatch mode- where you can save point to counterattack

      I have always missed something in the lines of these old-time classic strategy turn-based great classics in the app store. i hope it Rodeo Games , or other devs picks ideas from them

      - Ufo/Xcom
      - Silent Storm
      - Jagged Alliance
      - Space Hulk
      - Fallout tactics
      - Combat mission

      • Stelph

        Yeah, I agree this very much reminds me of Space Hulk so I am hoping the developers are fans of that and take some of the ideas into this game to enhance the strategy side of the game, like overwatch or loadouts for mounted weapons (in Space huld you could pick a marine that only had a weak pistol so you were at a disadvantage, but if you found the mounted weapon he would be kick ass) :-)

    • Icepulse

      LOS / Overwatch is in.
      Grenades / Landmines coming in update.
      Fallen enemies drop random item / credits.
      Approx. 150 weapons.

      I'd love to see future incorporation of gadgets, a la "Shadow Watch", like a handheld scanner that shows enemies behind walls, etc. And scopes, etc.

      This reminds me of "X-Com PBEM". Remember it?

    • Jeffreydalon

      One of the best gaming nights of my life took place back in the 1996 when I played XCOM until dawn and that "just one more turn" mode had me hooked. I remember XCOM well and am looking forward to a great turn-based strategy game again. I hope this one meets my high expectations!