Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we strip everyone we beat and call it looting. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it holds up in the here and now. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on important milestones, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews usually allow for. As the conductor of this mad orchestra, I try to bring a variety of RPGs into this feature from week to week, but I'm always open to reader suggestions. If you have a game you would like to see here, simply comment below, post in the Official RPG Reload Club thread, or tweet me at @RPGReload with your choice. The second-last regular reader's choice article is coming up in a couple of weeks, so now is the time to get your selection in. This is your chance!..

Hands-On Preview And Trailer For 'Alchemic Dungeons'

My trusty spear has been serving me well up until now. It can reach two spaces away, so I've been using it to take an extra poke at monsters before they can close the distance to attack. It's even better when I can line the bad guys up just so and skewer two of them at once. There's just one problem, though. The deeper I go into the dungeon, the more frequently enemies have been able to surround me. I need something with a bit of a wider arc to it. I open up my crafting menu and get to work. Two pieces of iron ore will make an iron bar. Now, if I take that iron bar and combine it with another piece of iron ore, I've got an iron blade. Attach that to a stick I found, and suddenly I've got a sweet iron broadsword that can sweep the three spaces in front of me. Just what the doctor ordered! Seeing that my hunger gauge is starting to get low, I combine some oil with a mushroom to make a tasty roasted mushroom snack. Living off the land isn't so bad, friends...

When I got my very first iOS device, there were a few genres in particular I had hoped and imagined would be well-represented on the App Store. I've talked before about my early search for a good Picross-style game, but the other kind of game I was looking for was a first-person, turn-based dungeon crawler, along the lines of Wizardry, The Bard's Tale [$2.99], or Etrian Odyssey. I felt that would be a pretty good kind of game to play on a smartphone, and surmised that there ought to have been plenty by the time I made my late entry. The problem is, even with the recent renewed interest in the sub-genre, it's actually pretty niche, and even the genre descriptor causes confusion thanks to the conflation with Diablo-style dungeon crawlers. I asked many people at the time, but nobody seemed to be able to point me towards anything that satisfied what I was looking for...

I know what you're thinking. All this E3 stuff is well and good, but I'm tired of watching cool games, I want to play some cool games. Well, it's your lucky day, because a massive list of great games just went on sale. Some of these games rarely go on sale, a couple are dropping to their lowest prices yet, and at least one is on sale for the first time ever. Here's the full list so far:..

E3 2015: DotEmu Announces 'Ys Chronicles 2' For iOS

Okay, yes, it was all rather exciting when we found out that Square Enix would be bringing Final Fantasy 7 to iOS sometime this summer, and yesterday's announcement from DotEmu about Titan Quest coming to mobile was pretty peachy as well. But friends, the RPG train isn't ready to stop just yet. In addition to making Titan Quest official, DotEmu announced that they would be following up on their recent release of Ys Chronicles 1 [$4.99] with its direct sequel, Ys Chronicles 2...

E3 2015: 'Final Fantasy Portal' Is Coming In English

Last year, Square Enix released Final Fantasy Portal on the Japanese App Store. Similar to their previously released Dragon Quest Portal app, it serves as both an information hub for all things Final Fantasy and a launcher for the various games in the series. The app launched with a free copy of Final Fantasy 1 in Japan for the first million downloads, and eventually added a free-to-play update of the card game Triple Triad from Final Fantasy 8. Unlike its sister app, however, Final Fantasy Portal will be releasing outside of Japan...

Square Enix and Media.Vision's latest RPG Chaos Rings 3 [$19.99] is a real doozy. It's jam-packed with stuff to do, it looks and sounds gorgeous, and it's a rare modern example of an original mobile RPG without any IAP. Once you start playing it, it's hard to put it down without hours passing. There was really just one problem with the original version of the game that released a few weeks ago. Certain hardware and OS combinations were resulting in a crash error fairly early into the game, just before the Mocktopus boss fight. Some players were able to fudge past it by changing language settings or closing and opening the game, but judging by the game's App Store reviews, most just threw their hands in the air and walked away...

One of the more commonly repeated myths of the modern game industry is that the Japanese market has died. While it's obvious to anyone in Japan with eyes and an open mind that it's not the case, it never hurts to have a little data to back up the anecdotes. That's just what major Japanese game magazine publisher Famitsu has provided in the form of their Famitsu Game White Paper 2015 report, an annual summary of the industry on the whole. Dr. Serkan Toto, a mobile games analyst and consultant for the Japanese market, has provided an excellent English summary of the report on his blog, and you should check it out if you want a few extra details...

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 lots of interesting ones this time around, with many of the usual suspects sitting things out for the week. 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 File 042 - 'Kingturn RPG'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where a single captured outpost can turn the tide of the battle. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it's doing in the here and now. It's a chance to revisit some old favorites, reflect on the classics, or just to take a deeper dive on a game than our reviews typically allow for. I try to present a balanced plate of RPGs from week to week, but I'm always open to your suggestions if you think I'm missing anything. Simply comment below, post in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or tweet me at @RPGReload with your recommendations or feedback. There are some changes coming up regarding the reader's choice articles, so if there's something you really want to see, you might want to get it in during the next month or so. You have been warned!..

This year has certainly been a roller-coaster ride for iPad-owning fans of indie RPG developer Spiderweb Software and their Avernum series of games. First, excitement when the release of Avernum 2: Crystal Souls was announced for release in April. The game released, but it was soon discovered that it had some issues with the just-released iOS 8.3 update. After investigating the issue, Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software put up a post on his site stating that due to the severity of the problem, the iPad release of Crystal Souls had been pulled and canceled. He went on to state that he was finished with iOS development for the foreseeable future, and would remove his previous games from the App Store if and when they should stop working. Truly, it was the darkest of timelines...

The sixth and final issue of Gameloft's superhero auto-runner Spider-Man Unlimited [Free] has arrived, and it might just be the biggest and wackiest update yet. The most obvious new addition is the arrival of a new set of missions based around the arrival of the final member of the Sinister Six, Mysterio. Yes, apparently ol' Fishbowl-Head is the leader of the Six in this storyline, and serves as a sort of final (for now) boss for the game. Look, I can suspend my disbelief about a lot of things, but there's no way Doc Ock is taking orders from Mysterio. The guy's super abilities include the proportionate strength, speed, and agility of a Hollywood special effects designer, and wearing a stupid glass bowl on his head that Spidey smashes every time. The video games love him, though, so what can we do?..

It took a little while, but English iOS gamers around the world finally caught up to all of the Japanese Dragon Quest releases when Dragon Quest 5 [$14.99] dropped back in late January. Unfortunately, that meant we were suddenly in the same position as Japan, having to wait patiently for the next game to arrive. Well, the first step towards that was carried out today, as Dragon Quest 6: Realms Of Revelation hit the Japanese App Store, selling for the usual price of 1800 yen, or about $15. I'll be bringing you more detailed impressions early next week after I've had a chance to put it through its paces, but here's a little introduction to get things rolling...

When Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition [$9.99] went universal and was finally playable on the iPhone, a lot of people cheered. Sure, it was a bit on the small side, but you could change the font size, zoom in, and still get a really great RPG experience. Those cheers lasted about 20 or so minutes until someone realized that if you minimized either of the sidebars, the icon to retrieve them was almost completely off-screen. The only way to get them back was to mess around with your device's accessibility settings and zoom in on the pixels like you were Horatio Caine investigating security camera footage. Only then could you pull the bars back out of hiding and keep on playing. Until the next time you accidentally minimized them, anyway...

King's got their formula down pat by now. First, take a puzzle concept that has shown some success in the past, be it Bejeweled, Peggle [$0.99], Puzzle Bobble, or anything else. If it's not already stage-based, change it so that it is. Then dial up the difficulty gradually, spiking it now and then to tempt players towards buying power-ups. Introduce new levels regularly, new gimmicks almost as often, do the whole thing up in a sharp package, and wait for the money to come in. No one can deny the success they've had at it, to be sure. But apart from Candy Crush Saga [Free]'s follow-up Candy Crush Soda Saga [Free], King's had trouble making their games stick of late. Their major successes, the two Candy Crush games, Farm Heroes Saga [Free], and Pet Rescue Saga [Free], continue to hang on the higher positions of the top grossing charts, but other efforts like Diamond Digger Saga [Free] and Paper Pear Saga [Free] have gone nowhere. My gut tells me there's a pattern here, and that same instinct tells me that King's latest, AlphaBetty Saga [Free], might suffer the same fate...

'Nubs' Adventure' Review - A Tale Of Home Ownership In The 21st Century

Poor old Nubs. He had defied the odds of the modern economy and purchased a nice house with a great view and plenty of land to build on. Sure, the land taxes were a bit tough to manage each year when tax season came around, but he had things sorted out nicely for the most part. Then one day, a couple of guys swing around, kick him out of his house and off the nearby cliff, then burn the whole thing down. I mean, are debt collectors getting rough these days or what? Luckily, a fairy offers to help you rebuild a home in a new, even better location. You're just going to have to grease the wheels a bit with some fairy dust, which can be extracted from crystals that are just laying around the world, protected by deadly monsters, cunning traps, and treacherous terrain. All things considered, it's probably still safer than a bank loan...

Update Mondays: 'Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff', 'Minecraft: Pocket Edition', 'Trulon', 'Snake Rewind', 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 big bunch this week, with some of the hugest names in the App Store representing. 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!..

When I reviewed developer Kidalang's Sage Fusion 2 [$2.99] a couple of years ago, I found a very satisfying story that was regrettably attached to a pretty terrible RPG. The story was strong enough to make it worth suffering through the questionable gameplay for, but wouldn't it be better if we didn't have to suffer at all? I'm not sure if it's from feedback or simply recognizing their strengths, but Kidalang has gone a different way for their latest game, An Octave Higher [$6.99]. Rather than create another odd hybrid, the developer has opted to go with a fairly straight-up visual novel design. I think it was a very good choice, to be honest. While An Octave Higher isn't an extraordinary example of the genre, it feels less like a broken experiment and more like a proper experience...

It's an oft-heard complaint that simulation game developer Kairosoft spins their wheels a little too much. I've made that complaint myself a few times while reviewing their games. They have a few templates they like to work with. Typically, they select one of those templates, apply a new theme to it, and maybe add one or two small refinements. The result is usually pretty fun, don't get me wrong, but does tend to feel like you're playing the same game again, except this time with a fake mustache. That said, they've been slowing down their releases on iOS a bit of late, putting out more unusual or at least less well-worn fare like Kairobotica [$4.99] and Magazine Mogul [$4.99]. I find myself actually looking forward to their releases again, something that hasn't happened for a while. Their latest release, Biz Builder Delux [$4.99], is in many ways their best one yet...

RPG Reload File 041 - 'Guardian Saga'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where the best way to make friends is to beat the stuffing out of them first. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the mists of time forgotten to see how it holds up in our shocking world of the future. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their place in the platform's history, or just to take a deeper dive than our usual reviews allow for. As the ringleader of this little circus, I try to present a show with a variety of delights for fans young and old. To make sure we're entertaining everyone in the crowd, though, I turn to you to help me out with the selection process once a month. All you have to do is comment below, post in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or tweet me at @RPGReload with your suggestion. A little birdie tells me there might be a shake-up coming soon for the reader's choice, so if you really want to see me play something, you should probably get it in somewhere in the next two months...