Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


RPG Reload File 101 - 'Dream Quest'

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the not-so-weekly feature where we may not look pretty, but have it where it counts. Every so often, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it's holding up in the horrific present of today. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their place in iOS history, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. While this isn't a regular part of the RPG Reload feature anymore, I'll still occasionally be doing these Files when the mood strikes me. If you have a game you really want to see covered, let me know in the comments below, by tweeting me at @RPGReload, or by posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums...

When it comes to action-RPGs, the Ys series from Nihon Falcom is one of the most reliable thrill-rides around. Focusing on fast-paced action and challenging boss fights, the Ys games have a feel quite unlike most other games in the genre. As you would expect with a series this long in the tooth, the worldwide releases have been handled by a number of companies. For mobile gamers, Dotemu has been the main face for the franchise. They've ported the PC versions of Ys Chronicles 1 [$2.99] and Ys Chronicles 2 [$2.99] over to smartphones over the last couple of years, and just today, they released a port of the awesome Ys Origin on Sony's PlayStation 4...




If You Enjoyed 'Fire Emblem Heroes', Here are Some Other Games to Check Out

A lot of players are discovering (or re-discovering) the joys of Fire Emblem through the recent release of Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes [Free]. Enough people gave the game a try that I've been seeing some natural questions popping up in various places, including the TouchArcade Forums and the TouchArcade Discord server. Some people liked the game and are looking for more like it. Others like certain parts of the game, but would rather have a premium experience and are wondering if such a thing exists on iOS. Well, let it never be said that TouchArcade likes to leave a cry for recommendations hanging. For your consideration, I've put together a list of games for those whose SRPG passions have been stimulated by Fire Emblem Heroes and are hungry for more...

I'm still not fully sure what to make of Strange Telephone [$3.99], a surreal adventure game from Japanese indie developer Yuta Yamamoto. I had a chance to speak to the developer several months ago, and he told me that he was inspired by the now-classic Japanese indie game Yume Nikki. Even if he hadn't directly said so, though, the connections are obvious. This is an odd adventure game about a young girl exploring what appears to be a bizarre dimension where nothing really makes much sense. Boiled down to its essence, this is a point and click adventure that throws in both a random component and a limited amount of moves to solve everything. The presentation makes it more than that, but only just...

A couple of years ago, publisher 5pb released an English version of the cult Japanese indie horror game Corpse Party [$6.99] on the App Store. While it was plagued with some nasty bugs at launch, it was eventually updated to fix those major problems. The original version of the game, released on the Japanese PC-9801 platform in 1996, used RPG Maker to make a decidedly low-fi survival horror game. When the game's remake, BloodCovered, hit Windows and PSP more than 10 years later, the series finally went international. Its solid success overseas fueled a string of sequels for a variety of platforms, with the latest release being the PlayStation Vita game Corpse Party: Blood Drive [$12.99]. In an odd move, 5pb has opted to skip over all of the games following Corpse Party: BloodCovered to release an English version of Blood Drive on mobile...

Update Mondays: 'Pokemon Go', 'Galaga Wars', 'Marvel Future Fight', 'Ninja Fishing', 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'm feeling like Mr. Crabby Tree today, and that's partly because there aren't very many updates for me to show you. I think I've got some good ones, but I'll leave that for you to decide. 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!..

RPG Reload Developer Spotlight 005 - Jonathan Schneider from Aggro Magnet Games

Hello, gentle readers! It's time for the next installment in our monthly series of articles looking at the developers and publishers behind some of our favorite games. The aim here is for you readers to get a sense of the person, so the tone is more conversational than we usually use in interviews here at TouchArcade. it's also not necessarily about the games themselves, either. Basically, we'll kick off and see where the conversation takes us. This month, we're speaking to Jonathan Schneider of Aggro Magnet Games, the developer behind Vigil RPG [$0.99], an excellent game from 2014 that flew under the radar of many players...

It took a while, but it feels like the changes in the iOS market over the last few years are finally catching up to Kemco. Releases are more sporadic and increasingly reliant on one obviously overworked developer. Their games are now released in free and premium versions, both of which are typically packed with extra monetization techniques. If that's not bad enough, it feels like monetization techniques are almost the only aspects that these games are changing or improving. I wish I could say Fairy Elements [Free / $4.99] bucks that trend, but that would be fibbing. At its best, this is no better than the average EXE-Create game published by Kemco. At its worst, it feels cheap and hungry. The most notable thing about it is its soundtrack, where Kemco has made the bold move of pulling in someone with some name value...

Fire Emblem Heroes [Free] has already proven to be a smash hit for Nintendo, at one point topping even Clash of Clans and Game of War in the App Store's Top Grossing charts. That said, the combination of a well-known brand and Nintendo's name almost ensures that any release from the company will make a mark in the charts. What Nintendo has yet to pull off is keeping an app there. Though Fire Emblem has slid a little bit, it's still doing quite well. In hopes of keeping that fire burning, Nintendo has sent out a notice detailing a few changes coming to the game in the next few weeks...

'RPS Saga' Review - Rock, Paper, Snoozer

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February 14th, 2017 10:30 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $0.99, 2.5 stars, Arcade, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
99¢ Buy Now

Rock, Paper, Scissors is probably as simple as a game can get while still having some sort of strategy to it. Indeed, its core mechanic works so well that we can see it incorporated into countless other games in the form of elemental strengths and weaknesses, weapon triangles, and so on. It's a simple and useful means of balancing weapons, skills, and magic. You need to use what is most effective against your current enemy while ensuring that you're well-guarded against whatever the enemy throws back at you. The strategy comes from making sure you have your bases covered, enough resources to make use of them, and figuring out how each enemy works. That's great, but it's also not really what Rock, Paper, Scissors is about as a game...

Update Mondays: 'Candy Crush Soda Saga', 'SpellTower', 'Gangstar Vegas', 'Subway Surfers', 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. Phew, now this is a slow week. Well, nothing to be done about it, I suppose. There were at least a few really cool updates at least, so I tried my best. 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!..

Classic Reload: 'World of Goo HD'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the Classic Reload, the monthly feature where we goo what we want. Each month, we take a look at a classic game from the annals of iOS history to see how it holds up in the here and now. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their place in the overall library, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. As the King Slime, I try to choose a balanced plate of games from month to month, but if there's something you really want to see, let me know by posting in the comments below. You might not see your suggestion soon, but I will add it to the master list for future consideration...

Fire Emblem Heroes [Free] is a lot of fun, but there are definitely a couple of things about it that can be a bummer. One of the biggest things is how maddeningly hard it is to rank up a star ranking on a hero. Moving a hero up from the four-star "almost useful" rank to the five-star "I'll keep them" rank requires grinding of two different items, and neither is particularly easy to come by. From now until the end of the month, however, Nintendo is making it a little bit easier to stock up on one of them...

'Dandy Dungeon' Review - Fine and Dandy

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February 8th, 2017 11:00 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 5 stars, Adventure, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
Free Buy Now

At this point in iOS's life, it's getting hard to find a new spin on the whole roguelite genre. Most of the people reading this probably own at least twice as many as they've had time to play. I suppose my job here is to try to convince you that you ought to add Dandy Dungeon [Free] to that pile, because you really should. It's bizarre in all the most likable possible ways, and while its basic mechanics are familiar, the way it presents them is definitely unique. If the general theme of, say, Katamari Damacy appealed to you, this is a game you'll want to check out...

'Splitter Critters' Review - Splitting the Difference

'Splitter Critters' Review - Splitting the Difference

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February 7th, 2017 10:00 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
$2.99 Buy Now

Splitter Critters [$2.99] is a cute Lemmings-style puzzle game with a clever gimmick and a gentle difficulty curve. From the developers behind the intriguing Dark Echo [$1.99], this game sees you trying to help adorable little aliens reach their UFO and escape each stage. They'll move around on their own, with each type exhibiting slightly different behaviors, so you'll have to herd them to where they need to go. Your only means of doing that particular task is by tearing the screen in half with a swipe and moving the pieces to create a path to the goal. As you progress into the later stages, you'll often need to slice the world into pieces a few times to get things where you want them. Since you're limited to three cuts at any given time, the stages aren't meant to get too complicated, making this a pretty enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels...

The free-to-play Fire Emblem Heroes [Free] is finally upon us, and it's not as bad as some feared it would be. While the game certainly takes cues from other social RPGs like Puzzle & Dragons and Monster Strike, it's not nearly as hard on players as some examples of the genre. Still, if you're new to Fire Emblem, strategy games, or social RPG mechanics, there is a lot to take in here, and the game isn't always that good about explaining things. With that in mind, I've put together some tips and advice that should help you find your feet. Unlike the characters in Fire Emblem Awakening, right? Ha ha, we have a lot of fun around here. Don't worry, my advice is better than my jokes...

Update Mondays: 'Bullet Hell Monday', 'Exiled Kingdoms', 'Super Mario Run', 'Fallout Shelter', 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. Some big names in this week's list of updates, with most of the regulars apparently taking a week off. 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!..

Opinion: Nintendo Might Have Finally Hit the Mobile Jackpot with 'Fire Emblem Heroes'

Just under two years ago, Nintendo announced a partnership with DeNA to bring their games to mobile devices. It was a huge deal for two reasons. First, Nintendo would be developing games for non-Nintendo hardware for the first time since the 1980s. Second, they would be entering a sector of the games industry that they had very little experience in, one that presents a very different challenge from what they might be used to. Depending on who you asked in the wake of that announcement, Nintendo was either going to completely change the mobile market, or totally sell out their cherished brands to the free-to-play mobile devil...

'Fire Emblem Heroes' First Impressions - Went Free to Play and Lived to Tell the Story

I'm a pretty big Fire Emblem fan. That used to be a small group, but it's gotten to be quite large of late based on the success of the recent Nintendo 3DS releases. I know some fans aren't happy with the changes in the series that brought about that success, but I'm thrilled because I don't have to worry that Nintendo is going to smuggle it away to whatever closet or crawlspace they've locked Advance Wars up in. Fire Emblem Awakening was basically the last chance for the series, and was designed to be an epic last hurrah if things came to that. As I sit here today several years later, Fire Emblem is bigger than ever. So big, in fact, that Nintendo selected it to be one of their first mobile ventures. You really never know...

The RPG Reload Play-Along: 'Aralon: Sword and Shadow'

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 Touch Arcade 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! As a little incentive, at the end of each month, I will randomly pick one of the participants and send them something small and silly from here in Japan. All you have to do to be eligible is, well, play along with the Play-Along!..