Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Kemco is a company that has had a lot of strange ups and downs since they entered the game industry during the 8-bit Nintendo boom in the 1980s. In their early days, they were most famous for their ports of Western computer games like Shadowgate and Deja Vu to the NES. In the 16-bit era, they were probably best known for publishing the Top Gear racing series from Gremlin Graphics. The next two generations were perhaps the company's darkest days, resulting in such legendarily awful games as Batman Beyond, Batman: Dark Tomorrow, and the Nintendo 64 version of Daikatana. About 10 years ago they started focusing on the blossoming mobile market, acting as the publisher of a multitude of low-budget, low-priced RPGs. A half-decade ago, they started bringing those games out worldwide, and my friends, they did not stop...

RPG Reload Glossary - Tactical RPG Video Games in the 1990s

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where we know iteration is the key to success. Last week, we took a look at the early history of the tactical RPG genre, covering the origins of many of its core concepts through to what is generally considered to be the game that established the genre, Nintendo's Fire Emblem. In that article, I also listed some features that I consider to define games in the TRPG genre, so I strongly encourage heading back and reading that piece before moving on with this one. In this week's article, we're picking up from where we left off last time and covering the genre's explosion in popularity in the 1990s. Both the East and the West (and by extension the console and PC sectors) would see little cottage industries spring up around their respective takes on the genre. Perhaps most remarkably of all, these two flavors of TRPG appear to have formed virtually independently of one another...




Hit Japanese Social RPG 'Fate/Grand Order' is Coming to the American App Store This Summer

It's pretty likely that many of our readers have never heard of Fate/Grand Order, or even the Fate series in general. What started with a risque PC visual novel quickly became a huge franchise spanning anime, manga, novels, and games. Some of those products have been released outside of Japan, but the franchise on the whole retains a somewhat low profile in the West. Very dedicated TouchArcade readers, however, might have seen this game's name in a recent story about top-earning mobile games for Q1 2017, where Fate/Grand Order was sitting in the number two position overall, just behind Monster Strike and ahead of games like Game of War, Clash Royale, and Pokemon GO. Amazingly, it's found that level of success without even releasing outside of the Japanese App Store. Well, this summer, Fate/Grand Order is looking to expand its reach with a release in the US...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Fire Emblem Heroes', 'Plague Inc.', 'Lara Croft GO', 'LVL', 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. Business appears to be picking up? Or maybe I'm just noticing more this week in my now-ritual sweeps of the UPDATOSPHERE. It is a dangerous road to walk, fraught with bug fixes and optimization tweaks, I tell you what. 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, gentle readers, and welcome to the first (only? WE'LL SEE) Musgravian Musings. I figured if Andy Fretz gets his own Zone, Tasos gets his own Principle, and Carter can Crater all day long, I could do a sort of editorial column of my own. But rather than share strong opinions on the issues, what I'd like to do is to use this space to do some short non-review reflections on recent game releases. In general, these will be games that have caught my interest in some way or another. They'll also tend to be games that I didn't review in the first place. I'm going to kick things off by taking a look at two of the biggest recent releases, Card Thief [$1.99] from TinyTouchTales and Death Road to Canada [$7.99] from Rocketcat Games...

For years, Kemco has been nothing if not consistent in their slate of published games. They've been a mobile gamer's one-stop shop for budget JRPGs, largely filtered through the lenses of four separate developers, each one doing as much as they can with as little time and as few fresh assets as possible. To be fair to the company, there's a demand for those kinds of games and not many are rushing to fill it on iOS anymore, with the way things have shifted in the market towards free-to-play social games. But even the most ravenous of niches can hit a saturation point if you push hard enough, and it almost feels like Kemco was intentionally looking for that line. Perhaps they finally found it, as 2017 has seen the publisher branching out in more new directions than they had in the previous four years combined. Yodanji [$2.99] is the latest fruit of those labors, and like its similarly-minded stablemate Djinn Caster [$4.99], it's quite good...

Well, that came a little quicker than expected, didn't it? In yesterday's story about the latest update to Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes [Free], we brought word that the game would soon be getting a cross-over event with the characters of the upcoming Nintendo 3DS game Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Surprise! It's here already. Now is your chance to recruit Alm and some of his most trusted warriors to your team...

RPG Reload Glossary - The Early History of Tactical RPG Video Games

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where RPGs are as easy as A-B-C. Last month, we tried out a new style of article called the RPG Reload Glossary. It was conceived as a way to talk about specifics of the genre, define certain things, and occasionally even answer questions, all without the need to focus on one particular game. For the debut, I opted to go for a direct definition. This month, I'm going with something a little more vague, but I hope you all find it interesting nonetheless. If you have any topics you'd like to see covered in the future, you can let me know by posting in the comments below, stopping by the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload...

You have to hand it to Nintendo, they haven't been resting on their laurels with Fire Emblem Heroes [Free]. The game hasn't been out much more than a couple of months, and they've already made quite a few improvements to the game. This month, as promised, they've begun to add a bunch of player-requested features to the game, such as an increased stamina gauge, the ability to arrange your units before battle, and better match-making. We didn't get all of that in today's version 1.20 update, but we did get a few things we weren't expecting...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Pocket Mortys', 'Crossy Road', 'Hearthstone', '868-HACK', 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. Confession time: I wrote this yesterday due to some pressing business, so it might be missing anything exciting that hit in the last 24 hours. Hopefully that doesn't include anything too big! 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!..

Why, hello there, friends. I was just waiting here in this comfy chair posing for no reason at all when you decided to join me by clicking that link. Since you're here, allow me to ask you a few questions. Do you like adventure? If so, do you define 'adventure' as playing a really sweet first person role-playing game? And provided you're still with me, do you prefer that brand of adventure to be in HIGH DEFINITION? If you are nodding your head vigorously right now, I have a couple of things to tell you. First, don't nod at words on a screen. I can't see you right now. But the people around you can, and they probably think you're a little off. Sorry if that was a little harsh, but the second thing I have to say might make it up to you. Both The Quest HD [$7.99] and its expansion Islands of Ice and Fire HD [$3.99]are on sale right now for their lowest prices ever...

Classic Reload - 'The Room'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the Classic Reload, the regular feature where we just want to know what's in the box. In this column, we take a look at classic games from the App Store's past to see how they hold up in the light of the modern day. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, to reflect on their position in the overall iOS library, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. I try to pick a balanced plate of games from month to month, but if there's something you'd really like to see, don't be shy! Simply comment below and I'll add your suggestion to the master list for future consideration...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'The Simpsons: Tapped Out', 'Junk Jack', 'Phoenix 2', 'Temple Run 2', 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. There are some really, really good games in this batch. But don't worry, if you're here to read me go off the rails as my sanity slowly crumbles over the course of writing the article, we've got that, too. Naturally, 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!..

'Kami 2' Review - 2 Kami 2 Furious

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March 31st, 2017 10:00 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews
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Say what you will about other aspects of gaming, but one area where mobile games can frequently go toe-to-toe with those on other platforms is in their style. Games like Monument Valley [$3.99], Sword and Sworcery [$3.99], and Prune [$3.99] are as much about taking the player on an audio-visual journey as they are about pushing their gameplay mechanics. 2013 puzzle game Kami [$2.99] might not be as famous as some of those games, but it's certainly done well enough for itself. It has made the jump to multiple platforms and now has a sequel to call its own. Unfortunately, Kami 2 [Free] runs into a lot of the same troubles that puzzle game sequels usually do, and with much of the novelty of its gimmick worn off, its fundamental issues shine through a little too brightly...

The RPG Reload Play-Along: 'QuestLord'

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! 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!..

For a series that regularly tackles some fairly serious situations, Fire Emblem also has a bizarre sense of humor running through it. So while you might expect an Easter-themed event for Fire Emblem Heroes [Free] to just add some of the were-rabbit Taguel heroes from Fire Emblem Awakening and call it a day, it's not all that surprising that the developers have opted to go in a different and entirely more silly direction. The Spring Festival event kicks off today, adding a new Paralogue chapter, some new quests, and some brand-new versions of characters to the game...

To tell the truth, I've put off playing Versus: The Elite Trials [$3.99] for a while. I didn't particularly enjoy The Hero Project: Redemption Season [$3.99], the last gamebook from author Zachary Sergi, and I was worried that I had completely forgotten where the story left off at the end of Versus: The Lost Ones [$3.99]. That gamebook, which you should definitely play before getting into this one, was something of an information dump. There were too many characters to keep track of, lots of world-building, and a plot that threatened to branch off in some truly confusing directions. With more than a year passing since playing the first chapter of Versus and now, I wasn't confident that I remembered anything from it anymore and wasn't looking forward to having to refresh myself. I kept shuffling The Elite Trials to the back of my to-do list, and now that I've finished it, I feel pretty silly about doing that...

Okay, look. Regular readers know that I am of the Canadian persuasion, and if you are a Canuck of a certain age, you probably have a moderately unhealthy appreciation for Sailor Moon, the highly influential series of anime and manga about a magical teenage girl from the moon, her talking moon cat, and a useless guy in a tuxedo who shows up when the heroine is in a pinch and offers only platitudes as support. I'm not going to apologize or make excuses. It's silly trash and I constantly skipped out early for lunch in high school so that I could go home and watch it on YTV. Taped the whole series onto VHS tapes and everything. Even made a custom box to keep them in. Printed a picture for it just to give it the authentic look...

Around one year ago in Japan, Square Enix released a spiffy new version of their classic, quirky SNES RPG Romancing SaGa 2 [$17.99] on mobile devices and PlayStation Vita. Part of a three-game series that released in the later years of Nintendo's 16-bit console's life, it developed a devoted following through its innovative mechanics and intriguing story. The mobile version apparently hit its mark, because Square Enix just announced through Twitter and Japanese magazine Famitsu that they would be giving the same treatment to the third game in the series, Romancing SaGa 3. It will be coming soon in Japan, but the real question is whether it will get a worldwide release given the somewhat muted reception to the localized version of the second game...

Update Mondays: 'Super Mario Run', 'Death Road to Canada', 'Rush Rally 2', 'High Risers', 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. It's a fine mix of new and old, big and small, and a few things in between this week. Once again, not a huge number, but I think I've picked out some good ones for your consideration. 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!..