Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


If you loved Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] but thought it would be better if all of the characters were anime girls, then Japanese indie SRPG Rime Berta [$4.99] may have caught your eye. It's a clear tip of the hat to games like the aforementioned, and in a lot of ways does a very competent job of aping its overall presentation and many of its systems. It's a bit lean on content, which is perhaps understandable given the size of the developer, but its biggest failings are in the fundamentals. It's a serious problem when there are quite a few excellent strategy RPGs on the App Store that, even if nothing else, manage to nail those aspects. In the end, Rime Berta is all dressed up with no place to go...

'Super Glyph Quest' Review - Bigger And Better Than Before

Earlier this year, a cute little puzzle RPG named Glyph Quest [Free] was released. It was one of those games that was pretty hard to put down until it was finished, but it was unfortunately also one of those games that finished a bit too quickly. The game used the shareware-style model of being free to download and play up until a certain level, at which point you could pay to unlock the rest of the game. That's a great way to do things, but it hid one of the game's most interesting gameplay features behind that paywall, so I think a lot of people ended up sleeping on it. Well, the developer's back to take another kick at the can with Super Glyph Quest [$2.99], a sort of-sequel that keeps the same great core of the original while simultaneously attempting to address most of its faults. Depending on what your particular issues were with the first game, there's a good chance you'll find this version of the game to be good enough to kick the original off of your device for good...

'Final Fantasy VII G-Bike' Hits The Japanese App Store October 30th

With Square Enix's planned streaming games service, Dive In, put on hold, what's a mobile gamer to do to get their Final Fantasy 7 fix? Well, it's not much of a consolation prize, but it looks like Final Fantasy 7 G-Bike is finally ready for release and will be hitting the Japanese App Store this Thursday, October 30th. The game is an expanded version of the motorcycle mini-game that you first play when escaping from Midgar and later can enjoy at your leisure at the Golden Saucer amusement park. Naturally, it's been changed to an endless driving format, with Cloud now able to slide or jump his motorbike to avoid obstacles...

'Ghost Blade' Review - Something Wicked This Way Comes

If you asked me a couple of months ago to make a list of game types that were highly unlikely to ever be realized in a satisfying way on a touchscreen, I can guarantee that stylish action games would be on the short list. The sub-genre launched when wunderkind director Hideki Kamiya sat down to make another Resident Evil game, decided that it would be more fun if every attack felt as good as doing a headshot with a shotgun, and ended up creating Devil May Cry. One game does not a sub-genre make, but once Tomonobu Itagaki created his masterpiece re-imagining of Ninja Gaiden, we were off to the races. It's not the most prolific genre, probably because it's so hard to do right, but it's seen its share of hits including the mainstream-friendly God of War series, the campy and cool Bayonetta, and the amazing parry-focused Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. These games are usually characterized by their highly-technical, deep combat, where players are graded according to how well they can dance to the game's beat. This usually involves a lot of different buttons, and we all know how well that usually works out on a touchscreen...

It's really great when a well-made game seemingly comes out of nowhere, and that's just what seems to have happened with the stealthy release of Princess And Knight [$2.99], a new strategy RPG that is so under the radar, I can't find much proof of its existence beyond the App Store itself and a fairly new blog for the developer, Team SoftIceCream. Sometimes when that happens, it's because the game isn't quite ready for prime time, but apart from a really rough English translation, this is a remarkably solid effort from what appears to be an indie developer. The game design is unabashedly vintage, calling to mind SRPGs from the 16-bit console era and earlier, but there's a certain appeal to a game that drops out of the complexity arms race that the strategy RPG genre tends to get swept up in at times...

Fans of Kemco's RPGs are in luck this month. We only just saw the release of Soul Of Deva [$3.99] a couple of weeks ago, and here we are with another release already. Granted, this is Kemco trying to catch iOS up with previously released Android games, but let's not look a potential gift horse in the mouth. Amazingly, Crystareino [$3.99] is done by the same team that did Deva, Hit-Point, who at this point are probably in dire need of a vacation. If you read my review of Deva, you know that I ended up liking it quite a bit thanks to its sharp 2D visuals and strategic, unique battle system. Well, I also like Crystareino quite a bit, but for almost entirely different reasons. This game plays things very safely, eschewing innovation in exchange for delivering a solid, content-rich adventure. If you're tired of the tropes of the genre, it might not be the best choice, but if you thrive on them, you'll find this to be a decent meal...

RPG Reload File 011 - 'Solomon's Keep'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we go digging in the boneyard looking for something to keep. Each week, we dust off an RPG from the App Store's past, offer it a nice cup of tea, and ask it how the family's doing. It's a bit of revisiting, a bit of reflecting, and sometimes just an excuse to dive into a great game deeper than our reviews usually allow. We love all kinds of RPGs here, and I'll always do my best to cover a wide variety of games, but I need your help, my friends. That's why once a month I'll be playing and writing about an RPG chosen by your majority vote. Wait, not so fast with that pen and paper! You can cast your vote through the power of modern technology simply by commenting down below or dropping in on the Official RPG Reload Club in the forums. The next reader's choice feature will take place in RPG Reload 013, which means this is your last week to get your vote in. At the moment, Baldur's Gate [$9.99] has a fairly commanding lead, but anything can happen in the world of imagination if you believe in yourself...

'Pixel Boat Rush' Review - Everybody Do The Wave

I've often felt that the genre that perhaps benefited the most from the jump from 2D to 3D was racing. Really thinking about it, racing is one of the genres that begged the most for polygons, having already spent years working in pseudo-3D with scaling sprites and optical tricks. Hardware that couldn't manage said tricks tended to have racers that skewed the perspective to at least offer some sort of visual depth. Racers that opted for a strict, flat side-view to the action were historically pretty rare outside of obstacle course time-attacks like Motocross Maniacs. There are lots of reasons as to why that was likely the case, but it mostly comes down to the simple idea that it's hard to express the excitement of racing from that point of view. If there is no depth, there's no passing, no hairpin turns, no drafting, and collisions become hard to sort out. You have to find other ways to bring the beautiful tension that makes racing so compelling, and that's just what Pixel Boat Rush [$1.99] sets out to do...

Look upon me, peasants and nobles alike. For it is I who have slain the mighty yeti, traversed the caverns of the Snow Witch and put her to her final rest, and helped fend off the orc hordes from the dwarven stronghold of Stonebridge. It is I who, after enduring countless deadly battles and outsmarting fatal traps, began to ascend the mountain where I would at last find my goal. It is I, the mighty hero, felled by the bite of a simple rattlesnake because my luck points ran out. So it goes in Fighting Fantasy: Caverns Of The Snow Witch [$5.99], the latest gamebook conversion from the prolific folks at Tin Man Games. It's a fairly straight conversion using their trusty gamebook engine, so if you have fond memories of the original book and you're wondering whether or not the iOS version does it justice, you can rest easily...

Say whatever else you will about Angry Birds [$0.99] creators Rovio, they know how to make fun, accessible games that have a lot of personality. There's no question that they've done just that, once again, in Angry Birds Transformers [Free]. It's not terribly deep, but it's enjoyable to play and its sense of humor is in exactly the right place, paying respect to the Transformers license while still gently poking fun at it. I walked away from Optimus and company a while back because sometimes it's not a good idea to revisit your childhood favorites, but playing this game brought back a lot of good memories for me. So, congratulations to Rovio, it's a nice game that uses its admittedly strangely-matched license well, and does so without retreading the default Angry Birds template, as tempting as that likely was...

When I'm reviewing games, the hardest to evaluate tend to be the ones that hit their core gameplay well but provide a small amount of content. Usually, they promise more to come in updates, and Tail Drift [$1.99] is no different in that regard, but most people who have been gaming on mobiles for a while know that promise isn't always one a developer can keep, so you can't count on that. At the moment, Tail Drift is a sweet piece of cotton candy. You pop it in your mouth, get a momentary hit of pleasure, and before you know it, it has dissolved. I think at the price it goes for, that's not really a raw deal, but there are so many games on the App Store that will offer you bigger bang for your buck, especially in the highly-competitive racing genre...

'Chaos Rings 3' Preview - Import Impressions

I've sunk over a dozen hours into Chaos Rings 3 these last few days since it released, and I'm going to be putting in plenty more in the future. I find myself constantly going back to it, even when I have other things I need to do. That should clarify perhaps the biggest concern about the game, I'd hope. This is a very good game, and a very good RPG. At the same time, I'm a bit torn about a few things, and I have worries about a few others. Let me start by saying that a fair length of time has passed since Chaos Rings 2 [$15.99 / $16.99 (HD)] was released, with the market changing rapidly in that period, not just in mobile but in gaming in general. Chaos Rings 3 is very much a reflection of those changes, and as a result, I'm not sure how satisfied fans of Chaos Rings in particular are going to be with this sequel...

Do you love Sony's Fat Princess, the downloadable title on PlayStation 3? If so, you are not the target of Sony's latest mobile release, Fat Princess: Piece of Cake [Free]. Rather, this game, like many of Sony's mobile efforts thus far, seems to be more of a promotional tool to pull in people unfamiliar with the franchise. Not only does the gameplay have very little in common with the unique gameplay of the main title, but one of the interesting hooks of this app is the ability to win a code for a free copy of the original Fat Princess for PS3. It's sort of fascinating watching Sony figuring out how they want to incorporate mobile into their overall gaming strategy. I can't say it's yielding the fruits some would hope for, but I at least applaud them for giving it a try, and at the very least, you can't say that they aren't paying attention to what sells in the mobile market...

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we open random doors hoping we aren't scared to death by what we find inside. Each week, we take a look at a game from the App Store's past and poke it with a stick to see what happens. It's a bit of reflection, a bit of revisiting, and perhaps a bit of an excuse to have fun with an old friend. As this week obviously demonstrates, all kinds of RPGs are welcome here, and I'll do my best to make sure we get a good variety chosen from the selection. Once per month, you guys get to choose what I play and write about, which should help that balance stay intact. The next reader's choice is in RPG Reload 013, so get your vote in as soon as possible by leaving a comment below or dropping into the Official RPG Reload Club thread on the forums. You can also feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and suggestions in either place, since playing games is more fun when you can talk about it with your friends...

'Crimsonland HD' Review - Can't Beat The Real Thing

It's fun to think back to the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005, when out of all the possible choices for a breakout early hit, the one that most gamers flocked to was the humble Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. Starting as an in-house test demo, it's still amazing to me that this little game not only carried a console through the dry launch period all hardware suffers from, but also dragged a sub-genre back into viability, where it still sits to this day. Suddenly, twin-stick shooters were popular and prolific in a way they perhaps never were before. Mobiles have particularly enjoyed the fruits of that success, with a load of great twin-stick shooters already and more releasing all the time. But although the genre was fairly quiet in the years prior to Geometry Wars, like any dormant genre, it wasn't completely dead. One particular standout was 2003's Crimsonland [Free], an early effort from a name many iOS gamers know quite well, 10tons Entertainment...