Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Compared to other popular licensed characters, the Ninja Turtles have had it pretty good in the video game industry. Their first game from Konami is well-remembered if not necessarily loved, though at the very least it taught many an elementary school kid that turtles can't breathe underwater. After that slight misfire, it didn't take long for Konami to put the TMNT into a few of the most beloved belt-scrolling beat-em-ups of all-time, along with a couple of less-successful one-on-one fighters. After their initial popularity waned and the license left Konami, the Ninja Turtles have had a handful of decent, if not spectacular, outings based on their various revivals, most recently seen on iOS in TMNT: Rooftop Run [Free]. Sure, their star may have faded over the years, but they headlined two games that are still considered among the best in their genre, something you can't say for those smug Power Rangers...

Today, Square-Enix revealed their lineup for this year's Gamescom event held in Cologne from August 13th to the 17th.  They've got a bunch of stuff to show, but the biggest news for iOS gamers is that an English version of Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen will be there. While English releases seemed likely for the Dragon Quest iOS games after Dragon Quest VIII's [$19.99] sudden appearance, it's nice to have confirmation...

You really have to hand it to The King of Fighters series. Not only has it survived through 20 years and more than one company sale, it's actually seen fairly regular releases throughout that span, proving to be just as prolific, if not more so, than its more well-known competitors. It also has long roots on handhelds, with semi-regular handheld versions dating all the way back to the second installment, King of Fighters '95. I feel like the series has never quite gotten its due from the general public, but it enjoys a strong reputation among fighting game fans, and The King of Fighters '98 [$3.99] is arguably the best of the bunch...

As a medium moves forward, it's often the case that things that were important and indeed integral in its early days become obsolete or out of vogue. I've talked about this a bit before with regards to shoot-em-ups, adventure games, and belt-scrolling beat-em-ups, but one genre I haven't mentioned yet perhaps represents some of the earliest and most important roots of the hobby of electronic gaming. Chances are, if you're old enough, you've got memories connected with light gun shooters in some form or another. Both in the arcades and at home, light gun games enjoyed quite a long period of popularity, possibly because of how straightforward they are to understand. At their core, you just have to point and shoot, and although new elements were added over time like reloading, choosing different routes through stages, and using cover, they've always been something you can easily pick up and play...

'Traps N' Gemstones' Review - An Excellent Metroid-Style Indy Game

I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but Traps n' Gemstones [$2.99] isn't exactly the kind of game I've come to expect from prolific mobile developers Donut Games. Don't get me wrong, their games have a very consistent quality to them, and like their namesake, there isn't really a bad one in the bunch. Still, in the past, they've tended to put together highly-focused gameplay experiences, often building a game around mastery of a single concept, whether it be cutting grass, flinging monkeys, or batting a ball between cats. Short little score-attack affairs, for the most part, have been the bread and butter of Donut Games, and they've found a lot of success with that type of game...

World Of Tanks Blitz [Free] manages to pull off the difficult task of capturing the essence of its much-loved PC counterpart, allowing you to get into some pretty tense tank battles with players from around the world. While it lacks many of the vehicles and most of the modes of the PC version, it's still quite a deep game for a shooter, with a pace unlike most other games in its genre on iOS. The most important trait it adopted from the PC game is that you can enjoy a great gaming experience without spending a cent. I've been playing it a fair bit since its wide release a few weeks ago so, as usual, I've got some advice for players who are just starting out. Since this is a game which at its core is about teamwork, I've taken the unusual step of calling in a little field support from someone who has logged in countless hours on the PC version without dropping any cash: my son, Juon. We'll be breaking the guide into a few different sections covering various aspects of the game...

Adventure games are currently enjoying a renaissance after a long period of dormancy. Telltale's dialogue-heavy episodic games are enjoying excellent sales and general critical acclaim, Kickstarter's main legacy in gaming may well end up being dragging many veteran adventure game designers back out for another game, the PC market just might be the strongest it's ever been, and touch interfaces have proven to be a natural second home for point and click-style games. It's an interesting situation for this latest version of Secret Files: Tunguska [$4.99] to release into, a game which has a history of arriving in slightly drier climates. Originally released in 2006 for PC with ports a couple of years later on Nintendo's DS and Wii systems, Secret Files has been fairly successful at taking advantage of a lack of competition, something that obviously isn't the case on iOS...

You might recall that with The Walking Dead: Season One [Free], we did something of an unorthodox review due to the episodic nature of the game. There was a basic overview that was appended to with a review of each episode as they released, with the score adjusting appropriately. As it worked pretty well last time, we'll be doing the same thing here. I'll do my best to avoid any serious spoilers for the current season, but I'm going to talk frankly about the first season, so if you haven't finished it yet, consider yourself warned about possible spoilers...

In my review of the game based on Thor: The Dark World [Free], I remarked about how, as a child, I never would have expected Thor of all characters to become a major media star for Marvel. There are always bigger miracles, however. I remember flipping through the pages of a Marvel Handbook when I was in elementary school and coming across Rocket Raccoon. It was my first time seeing him, and to my eyes, he looked stupid. Not just The Shocker-stupid, but genuine, unadulterated Razorback-level stupid. He was the kind of character who you would only see in a Marvel Handbook, with a handful of appearances to his name, doomed to disappear entirely for 15 years of publications. Several years ago, he and many other somewhat forgotten members of Cosmic Marvel returned as a new Guardians of the Galaxy team, in an effort to revamp that part of the Marvel Universe. It was so successful, they've got a live action movie coming out next week, and with it, their very own game. Now, that's improbable...

Appeals to nostalgia have become something of a commodity these days in video games. With the generation of kids who grew up on 8- and 16-bit sprite-based games all grown up and making their own games, the relatively low cost of producing assets in the style compared to assets that push the bleeding edge of technology, and the generally favorable response from an audience pining for the carefree days of their youth, it's not really a surprise that what once was a rare treat has now become commonplace, particularly in indie and mobile circles. The most common way games tip their hats to the past is in the presentation, using graphics, sound, and music that reflect popular hardware of the past, such as the NES and the Spectrum...

When it comes to the games business, I'm not sure if there's any task that offers quite the same challenges as trying to convert a series from premium to free-to-play. Generally speaking, the upfront price tag ends up being the main advantage a free-to-play game can tout, with its paid predecessors usually offering a better longterm value for more frequent players. Some types of games have it easier than others, since certain genres almost demand improved visuals and major content updates as time goes by. In the case of a puzzle game, however, it's often hard to get people to buy into a sequel even without changing the deal much. Did anyone really go in for Tetris 2? People are often happy with good puzzle games as they are. Of course, one approach a publisher can take is to pull the previous games in the series, artificially shunting people to whichever version you want them to go to, but outside of that, it can be a minefield, as the creators of Dungelot [$0.99] found earlier this year with the initial blowback from Dungelot 2 [Free]...

Mini-game collections, or as they're sometimes known, party games, serve an important if somewhat niche role in gaming. It's safe to say that for most longtime gamers, party games aren't something we're going to be playing terribly often, yet on those rare occasions when you do need one, you really need one, so I suspect most of us keep at least one or two in the standing collection. Gather together four gamers for a party and the sky's the limit for mulitplayer, but if you've got someone in the room who isn't quite so familiar with games, the somewhat shallow and easy-to-learn nature of mini-games is probably the best route to avoid them giving up in frustration. So, like that dusty old Scrabble board you keep in the top shelf of your closet, it's useful to keep a good mini-game collection around for those special occasions...

Generally speaking, RPGs tend to stick to the same sorts of settings and broad plot strokes. Some big evil thing is threatening a typical fantasy world, and it's up to some plucky young guy and his ragtag group of accomplices to defeat the bad guy, save the world, and bring about a happy ending. Even the recent shift towards more dark fantasy settings still has us exploring a fantasy world of some kind, and still usually going after that big evil threat that will end the world. That plot outline loosely describes just about every game released by prolific mobile RPG publisher Kemco, and though I can usually find something interesting in the mechanics to catch my attention, it does get a bit tiresome at times watching the same story play out again and again. Of course, given the rapid pace of releases Kemco works with, a lot of the similarities are down to neccessity, but it's hard to deny that there's a certain stubborn streak running in the genre in spite of a few great counter-examples...

Lots of people in our forum are having fun with Gameloft's take on the social RPG genre, Dungeon Gems [Free]. As you can read in my review, it didn't exactly knock my socks off, but if nothing else, it's a fairly competent variation on Puzzle & Dragons [Free] with some spruced up visuals. Like I do for most games in this subgenre, I've spent a fair bit of time playing it during my downtime, and have put together a guide to help out beginners who are looking to dip their toe into the game. Some of this advice will be familiar to people who have played similar games, while other tips are unique to this game, but if you're getting started, you should find most of it helpful...

There have been a lot of grumblings about Square-Enix's lack of updates on some of their games, but the company has been slowly and quietly going through their back catalog in the last little while making little touches here and there. Final Fantasy 3 [$15.99 / $16.99 (HD)] and Final Fantasy 4 [$15.99] have both received updates for MFi controller support, Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] got a major overhaul, and now it seems like one of Square-Enix's first iOS ports, Secret of Mana [$8.99], has gotten its turn. ..