Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


RPG Reload File 084 - 'Shadowrun Returns'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we'll deck the world for a few credsticks. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it holds up in the present day. It's a chance for reflecting on important releases, revisiting old favorites, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. As the present King of Canada, I try to choose a balanced plate of games from week to week to reflect the wide diversity in the genre. If you feel like I'm missing something important, though, make sure to let me know. You can do that by posting in the comments below, stopping by the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. You might not see your suggestion right away, but it will be added to the master list...

Word games and mobile go together like peanut butter and jam, and like that classic combo, you don't have to look very far to find an example. You get to a point where you have to wonder what more can be done with the genre beyond dressing it up in different themes. AlphaPit [Free], the latest game from Word Forward [Free] developer Shane McCafferty, has a few new ideas. For the most part, it builds on the frame work laid down in Word Forward, but there are some unusual design choices that make AlphaPit feel different, if not necessarily better. While I think the developer succeeded in making something that sets itself apart from the very large crowd, the game never truly finds an enjoyable structure to call its own...




Well, I can't blame Kemco for trying. While the publisher has used IAP in its games for a few years now, even releasing free versions of some of them, it has largely stuck to what it's become known for on mobile: traditional single-player JRPGs. The quality of the games varies according to which developer it sub-contracts out to, and those games are rarely ambitious in any meaningful way, but for hungry JRPG fans, they at least fill the belly. Given the way the App Store market has shifted, particularly in Japan, and the sheer number of releases Kemco has published, these games can't be turning in particularly large numbers anymore. With social RPGs proving far more lucrative these days, it was only a matter of time before Kemco took a swing at something resembling one...

Developer XperimentalZ Games has a vibe to its games that I can really appreciate. These games feel like they fell out of some parallel timeline where arcades stayed healthy and full of a variety of game types. A place, time, and dimension where games made about as much sense as a 1980s action movie, and took deep pride in that fact. I'm a big fan of XperimentalZ's previous release, Pixel Boat Rush [Free], a wild side-scrolling action boat racer, and when I heard the developer was tackling a pinball hybrid next, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, as the release date of Pinball Breaker Forever [Free] approached, so too did a ton of RPGs, which meant I couldn't get to the game I had been looking forward to. Worse, everyone else at TouchArcade got busy at around the same time, leaving Pinball Breaker Forever to slide by without a review. No, we can't have that...

'Rush Rally 2' Review - The Best Rally Racer on iOS

The first rally racing game I played was SEGA's SEGA Rally Championship on the SEGA Saturn. To tell the truth, before that game, I wasn't a huge racing game fan. I'd play the odd game at the arcades, and I'd certainly join in on a race or two with my friends on their games, but it wasn't a genre I was terribly interested in. In fact, SEGA Rally wasn't even my first choice for a game the day I bought it. I had wanted Virtua Fighter 2, but the shop was sold out, so instead I brought home a racing game. I fell in love with that game, and it served as a gateway to the whole sub-genre of rally racing for me. Games like V-Rally, Colin McRae, Rallisport Challenge, and WRC became regular purchases for me, even as I continued to almost entirely ignore every other kind of racer. There's just something about this type of racing that speaks to me...

Update Mondays: 'Minecraft: Pocket Edition', 'Marvel Contest of Champions', 'The Greedy Cave', 'Leap Day', And More

Hello everyone, and welcome to the week! It's time once again for our look back at the noteworthy updates of the last seven days. With both of the big events last week, you might expect that there wouldn't be quite as many updates as usual. You would be correct in that assumption, oh wise seer. That doesn't mean there aren't some cool updates to look at, though. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper Social [Free], the watchlist in the TouchArcade App [Free], or by participating in the TouchArcade forums, but this weekly summary is here to fill in the things you might have missed. Let's dig in!..

Hello, friends. I hope you all had a great weekend, possibly honoring your father, being honored by your kids, or none of the above. My son and I celebrated the occasion by scouring used game shops for SEGA Saturn games, and let me tell you, we hit a jackpot. Everyone has their own way of marking occasions like these, however, and prolific publisher Crescent Moon Games has chosen to do so with a sale on a number of their games. Some of these games rarely go on sale, so now is your chance to scoop up anything you might have your eye on...

As awesome as the App Store can be for gamers, it can be a very cruel place for those making the games. There are so many new releases every week and such a massive stockpile of evergreen titles that a lot of truly excellent titles get lost in the shuffle. Yet, in many of those cases, the developer keeps on updating and adding to those games, improving the experience even if it's just for a small group of users. I have to respect that kind of passion and care, and it's one of my favorite things about this little hobby we all share. Combat Monsters [Free], from Great Little War Game [$4.99] developer Rubicon, is one of those cases. It's a great game that for whatever reason didn't quite catch on the way it deserved to, but the developer keeps improving it anyway...

For how much sway it has in overall global mobile market, the Japanese App Store remains a relatively inscrutable sector for Western publishers. Just as games like Monster Strike [Free], Colopl Rune Story [Free], and Million Arthur have failed to make much of an impact outside of Asia, so too have many of the usual Western suspects struggled in Japan. There are lots of reasons for that, but the market is so valuable that in spite of numerous misses, no one seems ready to give up trying just yet...

RPG Reload File 083 - 'Rimelands: Hammer Of Thor'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we regularly engage in medieval dumpster diving. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the murky mists of the App Store's past to see how it stands in the judgmental light of the modern day. It's equal parts reflection, reminiscing, and diving deeper than our reviews usually allow for. As the wielder of the sacred nail clippers, I try to choose a balanced plate of games from week to week, but if you feel like I'm missing something essential, please let me know. You can comment below, post in the Official RPG Reload Club thread, or tweet me at @RPGReload. You might not see it soon, but I'll add your suggestion to the master list, a prestigious prize if there ever was one...

It's been an odd year for ChoiceScript interactive fiction games. In the first half of this year, I've reviewed two games related to mermaids, and one game related to pirates. Well, we must be at the end of this particular phase, because Choice Of The Pirate [$3.99] has both mermaids and pirates. Truly, we've nowhere left to go. Similar to previous pirate gamebook Scarlet Sails [Free], you play as a plucky member of a pirate crew who finally gets their chance to achieve glory. The tone is a little different here, however, with more of a fantasy Pirates of the Caribbean feel to the adventure. It's also a good bit longer than Scarlet Sails, making for a better pace and overall more enjoyable game. To be sure, it's popcorn, but there's nothing wrong with that now and then...

Hello everyone, and welcome to the week! It's time once again for our look back at the noteworthy updates of the last seven days. It's an odd assortment of games this week, mostly free-to-play. Nevertheless, there are plenty of goodies to be found in the bunch, and I've gathered up what I think are the best of the bunch. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper Social [Free], the watchlist in the TouchArcade App [Free], or by participating in the TouchArcade forums, but this weekly summary is here to fill in the things you might have missed. Let's dig in!..

It feels strange to type this, but Square Enix has removed almost the entire Chaos Rings series from the App Store, apparently never to return. From the entire series, only Chaos Rings 3 remains available for purchase. Those aren't the only games they've removed, either. Long-broken releases like Song Summoner, Drakerider, and others have also been taken down from the storefront, though they're all still accessible through your purchase history if you've already bought them. The removal of those games stings a little less since they've been non-functional for years now, but the Chaos Rings games only recently started having issues as of iOS 9. They're still fairly popular games, so it's surprising to see Square Enix throw in the towel on them...

Never Alone: Ki Edition [$4.99] is a game that seems to set out to do at least two things. First and foremost, it's trying to deliver an atmospheric puzzle-platformer game. It mostly succeeds at that, though it certainly makes a few mistakes that we see fairly often in this sub-genre. Never Alone also seeks to educate the player, at least a little bit, on the folklore and culture of the Inupiat people, and in this aim, it's a considerable success. The game doesn't force any of this on you, but rather focuses on the core gameplay and stunning visuals. It's an enjoyable game on those terms, but if you choose to delve into the extra content, you'll be able to appreciate Never Alone in a new light...

Kairosoft, the extremely prolific developer of simulation games like Game Dev Story [$0.99], is almost as unpredictable with its release schedules as it is predictable with its game designs. One of its recent trends is releasing the Japanese versions of its games at the same time worldwide, something that obviously doesn't help much if you can't read the language. While they used to just update the Japanese app with added languages, the developer has recently taken to releasing separate international versions after a period of time has passed. The latest game to get that treatment is Station Manager [$5.99], a train station simulator...

While Level-5 isn't exactly a household name themselves yet, they've been involved in the development of many well-known titles. From homegrown franchises like Professor Layton, Yo-Kai Watch, and Inazuma Eleven, to collaborations like Dragon Quest 8 [$19.99] and Dragon Quest 9, they've gained quite a successful reputation over the years. They're no stranger to mobile gaming, either, though most of their smartphone games have only seen releases in the Japanese market. So far, we've only seen Layton Brothers Mystery Room [Free], Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble [Free], and Liberation Maiden [$2.99] internationally. Hopefully, that will change, because it looks like Level-5 has some big plans for mobile...

RPG Reload File 082 - The Banner Saga

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we add a piece to our banner with each game played. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it holds up in the harsh light of today. It's a chance to play some old favorites one more time, to see how a game settled into the iOS landscape over time, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. As the Mr. Miyagi of this particular dojo, I decide which titles we wax on about from week to week. I try to keep things fairly balanced, but if you feel like there's a great game I'm missing out on, please let me know. You can do that by posting in the comments below, stopping by the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload...

Paradox Interactive is mostly known for its complex strategy games covering wars and situations both real and imagined. Its most famous series in that vein is probably Europa Universalis, but Paradox shepherds several successful strategy brands, including both internally developed titles and games where they act only as a publisher. Their latest iOS release brings one of their more popular strategy brands to the platform, but in a very different form. Hearts of Iron: War Stories [Free] is a spin-off of the World War 2 strategy series Hearts of Iron, which originated on Windows PCs in 2002 and just saw its most recent release a few days ago. Instead of the familiar tactical gameplay fans know and love, War Stories is a gamebook. You're no grand commander, but rather a young recruit to the British RAF. If nothing else, it's a change of pace for Paradox, and it shows...

Vblank Entertainment's Retro City Rampage DX [$2.99] is a charming ode to 1980s pop culture. What started as an 8-bit demake of Grand Theft Auto eventually mutated into a tribute to NES games, movies, TV shows, and more. While its reach occasionally extends beyond its grasp in some of its parodies, it certainly does an excellent job at its original purpose, which was to create a retro-flavored take on Rockstar's seminal action series. While the controls take a little adjusting to, the mobile version of the game that arrived in March is a fine port that includes all of the things that made the game a hit elsewhere. It received our Game of the Week award and managed to coax four whole stars out of the villainous Carter Dotson in his review. That's a half-star more than he gave your favorite game...

Hello, gentle listeners! This month we've got an exciting episode of the RPG Reload Podcast for you, as it happened to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the featured game, Dragon Quest [$2.99]. Eric Ford and Andy Fretz spent the last month playing through one of the most important JRPGs in history for the very first time, while I replayed it for... well, let's not count, okay? By now, regular readers and listeners probably know that I still think highly of the game, but how did it turn out for my co-hosts, who don't have the benefit of nostalgia? You'll just have to listen and see...