Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


RPG Reload Special Edition - 'The RPG Reload 3rd Anniversary Special'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where we sometimes take a moment to check our status screens and admire our stats. While I had originally planned for this week's installment to continue our dive into the history of action-RPGs, it was brought to my attention that we passed another milestone this week. Our humble little corner of TouchArcade is now officially three years old, so I'd like to dedicate this week's column to a little navel-gazing in honor of that accomplishment. Put on your mystic caps of self-indulgence, friends, because we're going on a magic carpet ride of RPG Reload history! If you're here for the action-RPG series, we'll be returning to that next week...

Egglia: Legend of the Redcap [$9.99] is an example of a game that betrays expectations to its own detriment. Because the development team consists of some key people who worked on Square's Mana series, the game's look and marketing might give you the impression it's a similar game. It's not. The game carries a relatively high price tag and no IAP, factors which usually point to a more traditional gaming experience, but Egglia also requires you to maintain an online connection and deal with a lot of timers and social RPG elements. On a fundamental level, you might look at the game's previews and screenshots and think you're getting something along the lines of a standard JRPG. But it's not that, either. Sadly, I think if you come into the game holding too strongly to any of these reasonable expectations, you're a lot less likely to enjoy the game for what it is. I suppose that's at least one major thing Egglia has in common with the average Mana game...




Friends, Telltale's games are a bit like Pringles potato chips: once you consume one, you immediately hunger for more, devouring another and another until you ralph all over Jared's brand new loafers. Or something. Look, we're not here to talk about the TouchArcade Staff Beach Party. No, we're here for something everyone can enjoy, without that nasty sand-in-your-suit after-party. It's time to talk sales. Discounts. Price plunges. Budget relief. Take your pick of terms, but be careful. Clementine will remember that. Anyway, those fearless purveyors of story-based games Telltale are running a pretty sweet sale on just about every game they offer. It's a good time to load up on the ones you're missing...

Taito is one of the most historically significant companies in gaming history, and that is almost entirely due to Space Invaders. The 1978 pioneer of shoot-em-ups kicked off a genuine worldwide craze, and Taito watched their coffers fill with cash hand over fist. Plenty of great games followed, but none would have the impact or financial success of Space Invaders. Taito helped create the arcade scene with that game's focus on achieving high scores. Sadly, the company never quite got the swing of making home games, and their relevance diminished right alongside the arcades they helped to build in the first place. They weren't even able to hold onto their crown in the shoot-em-up genre for very long, but to their credit, they kept right on swinging anyway...

Guild of Dungeoneering [$2.99] is one of those games whose appeal is hard to explain in words. It's kind of a card game, a little bit of a roguelite, and a healthy dose of dungeon building. Although it wasn't born on mobile, it's a natural fit for the platform. It's also been well-supported by its developer, receiving two large expansions in the one year and change since it released on mobile. During that time, its price didn't just stay at the same level it launched at, it actually increased with each update. Well, I don't know what the occasion is, but you can get the game right now at a discount for the first time ever...

Before we get going with this review, let's address the elephant in the corner of the room: SEGA Forever. SEGA's latest attempt to bring its classics to iOS has had a bit of a rocky start thanks to a frankly lackluster Genesis emulator. SEGA got a lot of feedback from those initial releases and, to their credit, have been working hard trying to address the problems. Their latest release is Ristar [Free], and it comes with a new emulator build that shows significant improvement over previous ones. It's not perfect, mind you. While it greatly improves on the framerate and sound issues many have had with earlier releases, this version sometimes has some screen tearing. Nevertheless, it's a solid enough release that we feel it's worth reviewing this game largely on its own merits...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Hearthstone', 'Marvel Future Fight', 'Dungeons of Chaos', 'Panmorphia', 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. The biggest pop from last week's updates is undoubtedly that one card game from our orc-loving friends, but there were lots of other cool ones too. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper or by participating in the TouchArcade forums. This weekly summary is just here to fill you in on the things you might have missed. Let's dig in!..

RPG Reload Glossary - Giving the Devil His Due, or Action-RPGs in the Late 90s

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where the real monster was us all along. This week, we're heading into the next chapter of our RPG Reload Glossary covering the history of action-RPGs. The genre remains somewhat difficult to nail down to this day, but the 1990s would prove to whittle down the general perception of the genre to two or three basic forms. Like with any other genre, this more solid form came about due to some very popular tentpole releases that set a template for others to follow. In the last installment, we saw how the more Japan-focused console side of the industry settled in on two basic templates for the genre. This time around, we're covering the second half of the 1990s, where the Western-focused PC market finally found its genre-maker...

'Fighting Fantasy Legends' Review - Nomad Successfully Passes their Skill Test

Given their importance both in RPG history and in the memories of many players, it's not surprising that Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have been adapted into many different kinds of video games over the years. Some of them simply did the obvious, turning the books into text adventures. More often than not, however, the developers would get creative, turning out everything from first-person action/adventure games to Tomb Raider knock-offs. As a fan of the books, I ended up trying out most of these games as they released, and I can say that the main thing they had in common was that they weren't very good at all. Then smartphones and tablets came along, and all of a sudden, Fighting Fantasy games found their feet. Fighting Fantasy Legends [$4.99] continues that bout of good fortune, offering an awesome new take on the classic gamebooks...

SEGA Forever, SEGA's new retro gaming initiative, has had a pretty rocky start since its launch a couple of months ago. Between severe emulation problems, bugs with purchase histories and saved games on certain games, and the somewhat underwhelming selection of launch titles, a lot of hopeful SEGA fans were let down. For their part, SEGA has been working pretty hard to address those problems. They've already updated the initial spate of titles to make some improvements to the emulator, the aforementioned save/purchase history bugs were squashed quickly, and the post-launch additions to the line-up have been better. This week sees the former industry titan doing even more to try to win back the trust of players...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Fire Emblem Heroes', 'Slayaway Camp', 'Pokemon TCG Online', 'Mucho Party', 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. No sense candy-coating things: this week was a little thin on exciting new stuff. My theory is that developers are so busy making sure their games are ready for iOS 11 that they don't have much time to add anything else. Hopefully business will pick up again in a month or so. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper 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!..

As a premise for a ChoiceScript game, the one Demon Mark [$5.99] uses is a promising one. Set in a world of Slavic mythology, the story sees your young sibling kidnapped by a dangerous demon. Named the Uhin, she brands your characters with a curse called the Demon Mark and challenges you to come and rescue your family member. With a sword at your side and provisions in your bag, you set out on a road trip-style adventure through a veritable who's who of Slavic folk tales. Although we've started to see more games taking advantage of this rich source of lore, it remains a relatively untapped setting that offers high potential. Demon Mark is at its best when it drops you in the thick of these fables, and the author's passion and knowledge certainly shines through. Unfortunately, it ends up dropping the ball on some of the more fundamental elements of a choice-based game...

The original Knights of Pen & Paper [$4.99] was a goofy, grind-heavy RPG with a novel set-up that allowed it to poke fun at the many tropes of the genre. It painted over its repetitive mechanics with a sweet candy coating of enthusiastic charm and only slightly overstayed its welcome. In spite of its flaws, it was a great starting point both for the Pen & Paper concept and its developers Behold Studios. Oddly, the two went their separate ways when Behold opted to work on Chroma Squad [$4.99] instead of putting together a direct sequel to their popular game. The task of crafting Knights of Pen & Paper 2 [Free] fell to Kyy Games, and it's safe to say they didn't quite meet the expectations of many of the fans of the first game. Now, Behold is back to try their own follow-up to Pen & Paper. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with a similar setting, however, they've decided to take things to space with Galaxy of Pen & Paper [$4.99]...

Classic Reload - '10000000'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the Classic Reload, the regular feature where we won't stop playing until we reach an arbitrary goal. In each edition of this feature, we take a look at a game from the App Store's past to see how it holds up in the harsh light of the present day. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their position in the overall iOS library, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. As the person in the metaphorical hat, I try to choose a balanced selection of games to cover, but if you have something you'd like to see, don't be shy. You can make suggestions by commenting below the article. Since the schedule is planned pretty far in advance, you may not see your suggestion soon, but rest assured that it will be added to the  master list for future consideration...

Something about the writing style in Avatar of the Wolf [$3.99] almost immediately put me off. Most of the well-written gamebooks from Choice of Games have an almost velvety tone to their prose, gently massaging your brain and doing their best to make it comfortable. Avatar of the Wolf, by comparison, is thorny. The words feel shorter, less comfortable to read, and above all, aggressive. It's even disorienting at times. The way this story is written does as much to set the tone as the meaning of the words the writer chooses. It was jarring to try to slide into the main character. Yet it turns out to be precisely the atmosphere this story needs. Avatar of the Wolf isn't a fluffy tale of adventure that will appeal broadly, but give it time to spin its yarn and you might find yourself unable to put it down...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Elder Scrolls Legends', 'Phoenix 2', 'Nimian Legends', 'Injustice', 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. I think someone must have stuck a broomstick in the update machine last week, because we got quite a few more interesting ones than we've been getting lately. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper 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!..

'Layton's Mystery Journey' Review - Better Layton Than Never

Of all the possible games, series, and franchises that could have been ported to mobile over the years, one of the ones that made the most sense has been a no-show until now. Level 5's Professor Layton series of puzzle adventures, which debuted on the Nintendo DS in 2007, seemed like a great match for mobile both in terms of its game design and demographic appeal. For whatever reason, however, the platform seemed to get passed over for a mainline Layton game even as the occasional spin-off popped up. Well, no matter what the reason was, Level 5 seems to be ready to take a chance with the latest game in the series, Layton's Mystery Journey [$15.99]. This is a full Layton game in the traditional style, packed full of puzzles, a wild and woolly story, and plenty of tapping on everything for hint coins you'll never use...

RPG Reload Play-Along: 'Chrono Trigger'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload Play-Along. Each month, we'll be playing an iOS RPG together, sharing laughs and tears in equal measures. The post on the front page (like this one!) is basically here to announce the game in question and give a few tips on getting started. The real action will be happening in the TouchArcade forums, where you'll find a thread dedicated to each month's featured game. Sign up if you haven't already, post your screenshots, ask for advice, or just chat about your misadventures with others. We've got a great community of RPG fans here at TouchArcade, so let's make the most of it!..

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Pac-Man', 'Connectrode', 'Bubble Witch 2 Saga', 'Lonewolf', 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. Well, we've got some updates, alright. Not a lot of them, and not exactly a lot of TouchArcade favorites, but they are what they are. It is pretty cool to see so many long-dead apps resurrected of late, if nothing else. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper 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!..

RPG Reload Glossary - Smells Like Ys Spirit, or Action-RPGs in the Early 90s

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where we're either playing gods or slaying gods. This week, we're filling in the next chapter in our RPG Reload Glossary look at the history of action-RPGs. One of the messier and less-satisfying genre labels around, the action-RPG had already taken many forms by the end of the 1980s. In the next decade, some of the most successful examples of the genre would arrive on the scene. While you would think that might simplify matters, the 1990s closed with the genre being harder to nail down than ever. While I had intended to cover the entire decade in this installment, it became apparent halfway through that it was beyond the scope of a single article. So instead, we're going to look at the first half of this formative decade and pick out some of the genre highlights along the way...