Spending hours compiling the list of 32-bit games that are set to die with iOS 11 was an immensely difficult task, not simply because of the sheer number of games, but also because of the fond memories I have of so many of the titles that are sadly facing the chop next month. While there are a number of games that I could single out, and many that I intend to put a spotlight on in the coming weeks, Dungeon Raid [$0.99] remains the most prominent example of a pivotal and influential App Store release that will be disappearing when the 32-bit Appocalypse comes around. Beloved by the iOS gaming community, critics and casual iPhone users alike, Fireflame Games' App Store debut was a slick, detailed and impossibly irresistible puzzle RPG amalgam. Even though it originally released in 2011, Dungeon Raid remains as fun and as playable today. However, despite over six years since its emergence on the App Store, very few mobile puzzle games have managed to replicate the compelling formula that Dungeon Raid perfected, and it'll be incredibly sad to see it fade into obscurity.

dungeon raid 1 dungeon raid 2

On the surface, Dungeon Raid may appear be somewhat derivative of both the many puzzle RPG titles that came before it, and the ones that have emerged in vast numbers since its heyday in 2011. There are only four key tiles to be matched in Dungeon Raid, with swords, which must be linked together to eradicate skull icons, alongside defence-building shields and HP restoring potions. However, it’s this simplicity and accessibility that makes Dungeon Raid so appealing, and the way Fireflame Games manages to add numerous layers of depth without deviating from this core formula enables some incredibly guilt-inducing multiple-hour playthroughs in attempting to beat your last high score. Attempting to manage the board to prepare for imminent boss fights that can appear at any moment and quickly result in your protagonist’s demise, all the while trying to link together as many shields and coins to bolster your equipment and level up your weaponry, is a precarious balance to strike, and
remains a perpetual task as the randomly generated tiles constantly emerge in unpredictable patterns. Managing to slay a particularly nefarious beast while the pounding of your knight's heart-beat emphasises how close you are to death is an exhilarating feeling, and turns a relatively basic puzzle game into a truly epic adventure.

Beyond the core matching mechanics, the developers also added in a number of features that result in every run being a wildly different experience. At each new level, upgrades and special powers can be chosen, resulting in things such as collecting all health potions as experience, turning one random column into swords, or doubling all coins collected the next turn. With rather lengthy cooldowns, these powers aren’t able to be abused, but in a pinch can be the difference between life and death. By limiting the amount of powers to a maximum of four, you are forced to choose whether to accept or ignore a certain ability at each level up, perhaps in the hope that a better alternative will appear at the next time of asking. Not choosing to load up on abilities can be a huge gamble, and it’s this element of risk that makes Dungeon Raid unputdownable, as you excitedly wait to see what the next level or the next boss may bring.

Dungeon Raid also had a class system that was implemented in an update shortly after its release, with roles such as Ranger, Mage, Assassin and more available to be unlocked through multiple plays. These all have perks, flaws, and special qualities based on their race and exclusive skills that give a unique spin on the core gameplay in Dungeon Raid. However, it’s the unlock and levelling system for these additional classes that strangely appealed to me most back in 2011. To unlock new races, you must play as the default Adventurer class, who has no special abilities of note. By playing on a difficulty above Easy, every boss slain as the Adventurer has a chance of rewarding a trophy, and from this a brand new class. Likewise, play as one of the unlocked races and each trophy will level up that specific load-out. It’s a pretty eccentric and confusing way of unlocking new abilities, especially in a game that champions its accessibility above all else, but such a system results in each boss fight being incredibly exciting in the hope of a new trophy drop. There’s even a special ability that spawns bosses on the board, which can be used to attempt to farm these new class trophies, which adds a whole new level of risk that I found unfathomably absorbing when the game first launched.

All these different features result in what is one of my favourite App Store puzzle games I’ve experienced in the almost ten years of the platform’s existence, and revisiting the title for this feature has brought back a ton of extremely fond memories of playing Dungeon Raid when I was younger. One particularly fond anecdote that came to mind recently was shortly after the game released, I was going to London with my family to see Arsenal play a football match (or a soccer match for those across the pond). While I can’t remember anything about the result of the game, I can recall playing Dungeon Raid in the car, on the train, while waiting for the game to start, and even while waiting for my dad to go to the bathroom. Fast forward six years to last weekend - I'm now technically an ‘adult’, and on a three hour train ride to see my friends in the north of England. Before I know it, I’ve arrived in Leicester, my phone battery is precariously low, and I’ve spent the entirety of the journey completely hooked on Dungeon Raid again. It’s stories such as these that emphasise how Dungeon Raid is perhaps one of the most tragic examples of a game that will disappear from the App Store during the 32-bit Appocalypse. Not only does it run perfectly, but - outside of the lack of optimisation for newer iOS devices - it hasn’t aged a day.

Other games have tried to emulate the success of Dungeon Raid, with spiritual successors and borderline clones like Darkin (which has coincidentally also departed the App Store) and Dungeon Tiles [Free] offering up enjoyable experiences, but failing to capture the magic that Fireflame Games conjured up back in 2011. It may be an entirely different genre, but the closest I’ve seen to a 64-bit equivalent to Dungeon Raid is probably Solitairica [$3.99], as its accessible combat mechanics, multiple different classes and close brushes with death create the same feelings of constant excitement amidst deceptive levels of depth that endeared me to Dungeon Raid so much back in the day. It will be sad to see the game disappear from the App Store, but with no sign from the developer of a future iOS 11 compatibility update, it appears Dungeon Raid is about to lose the last of its nine lives when the 32-bit Appocalypse comes around. While you still have the chance, I’d highly recommend revisiting Dungeon Raid, or even checking it out for a measly dollar if you’d like to experience a key release of the formative years of the App Store.

  • Deckard74

    Great game still available on Android if you have such a device of course.

  • https://www.behance.net/rgdesignhouse Ron

    There was the Wargames style clone too

    • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

      Was just thinking, at least WarGames: WOPR scratches a similar itch! But it too is 32-bit still.

      Good thing I keep an old iOS 9 iPad around.

  • ste86uk

    Best match 3 on iOS

  • vectorarchitekt

    Has anyone tried reaching out to the developer?
    He did just put a new game out and he has an active YouTube account.
    I wonder if he is working on this? I know it's been said to be more complicated than originally suggested but I hope he doesn't want the game to die completely on iOS.

  • johnkittz

    I'm sure if somebody contacted the dev about the game he would update it. At least I would like to hope he would.

  • Professionalbum

    Yes this is one(besides Fluxx and ridiculous fishing) that I'm going to miss the most; I'd even pay again if he remastered the game to 64-bit compatible.

    • triwolf

      I'd pay even more than the original price if it was remade in a 64 bit version, happily.

      • gmattergames

        I guarantee, post-apocalypse, we will see a number of hold-outs republish 64-bit versions as entirely new titles, counting on consumer sentiment to justify paying for the same game twice. It's like paying for DVD versions of movies owned on VHS, then again on blue-ray, then again on iTunes.

    • vectorarchitekt

      Ridiculous Fishing and SCB are being updated

  • DemoEvolved

    Hail DungeonRaid, destroyer of batteries and perhaps the most perfect example of a super casual mechanic crossed with the super hardcore depth ever made. Truly, the perfect game for iOS.

  • Milotorou

    My favorite game that will die is Record of Agarest War... while I know not everyone is a fan of it I absolutely adore it 😔

  • Mario Wynands

    This is my go to game for playing on long haul plane flights. RIP.

  • Harpua

    Man, this game right here... I sank a stupid amount of time into Dungeon Raid! It came along during that golden App Store era, before timers & FTP currency. This is a great game! Revive this for current gen and I'll happily throw money at it.

  • Stan de Boer

    Man, this game right here... I sank a stupid amount of time into Dungeon Raid! It came along during that golden App Store era, before timers & FTP currency. This is a great game! Revive this for current gen and I'll happily throw money at it.

  • nonen

    I will hesitate to update iOS solely because of this game.

    End of an era. Wish the dev would consider updating, or releasing his own 64-bit clone as a separate app and new purchase.

  • esty8nine

    Just to be clear, once this big update happens, you can still play the games you just can't download it ever again correct?

    • imdakine1

      My understanding is once a person games that are not updated to 64 bit won't be playable in the new iOS 11.

    • DemoEvolved

      No. Once 64 hits your old apps won't launch or will just crash out

  • RunningWild

    It is criminal the dev won't support the game.
    I just don't get it? Does it bring up painful memories of a cat dying or a break up?

    I'm tempted to get an iPod Touch just to keep all these gem locked in time forever.

    • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

      Time vs money. Pretty simple.

    • Mrnintendo Mrnintendo

      I will do the same, good idea, thanks

  • FuZion

    Nice highlight Rob.

    Did you also spot that Tales of the Adventure Company was updated by Eric Farraro as a direct result of our work on the 32-bit games which would be lost to iOS 11.

    I think that's worth a highlight too as a thanks to him.

  • FuZion

    Hey don't blame Apple. Computing always moves on at some point. There's a reason we have to emulate old computers & consoles It we don't have one lying around still. This is just another moment in time like that.

    Slight difference being that the devs can actually do something about it, if they're still in the game.

  • Gary

    My understanding is once a person games that are not updated to 64 bit won't be playable in the new iOS 11.

    • Mrnintendo Mrnintendo

      Your understand is correct

  • retr0spective

    Dungeon Raid is irreplaceable. Only Darkin' came close to emulating it but even it didn't last long. What a sad day!

  • Snooptalian

    Just don't update until you have to. I haven't updated since 9.xx. Didn't want to lose the GC app. No plan to update to 11 u tail it's absolutely necessary...

  • Sexy Pirate

    There will be no apocalypse for me as I have no intention of updating to iOS 11 until I get a phone upgrade so I will keep my 6+ and iPad mini retina on iOS 10 until they die. To many good games to lose that I actually play like battle academy, space hulk, door kickers, breach and clear, to name a few.

  • Mrnintendo Mrnintendo

    I do not understand why the developers did't issue an update for this game in order to make it compatible with 64 bits !!

  • ikir

    Blame devs not apple. Apple is doing the right thing

  • Mrnintendo Mrnintendo

    I would like to know if some one has already contacted the dev team in order to push them to update their great game ?