Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


RPG Reload Presents - The History of Handheld RPGs, Part Twelve

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload. This week, we're concluding our little monthly project looking at the history of handheld RPGs. That means that we will not be taking a look at a specific RPG from the App Store's past this time around. Last month, we took a look at the PlayStation Vita, a troubled system that has quite a respectable library of games. There are a lot of reasons it wasn't able to take off in terms of sales, but the biggest one is probably that smartphones have swept the feet right out from under the dedicated handheld gaming market. One of the strongest regions for dedicated handhelds, particularly with regards to the adult demographic, is Japan, but that's also one of the regions that has most quickly and thoroughly adopted smartphones as its gaming device of choice. That didn't happen because of Final Fantasy ports and Kemco RPGs, though. Rather, it was through the smashing popularity of a new kind of RPG: the social RPG. In our final chapter, we're taking a look at the free-to-play era of smartphone RPGs...

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

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August 4th, 2016 4:21 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4.5 stars, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy
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So, here's a juicy secret for all of you: To the best of my knowledge, I'm the TouchArcade staff member who has played Clash of Clans [Free] the least. It probably seems odd that a writer for a major mobile site hasn't played much of one of the most popular games on the platform, and you know, I can't argue with that. I'd like to say it's just because I'm busy covering other stuff, but the truth is, I don't really like games that emphasize competitive multiplayer. While the game has some single-player content, it felt like a complete afterthought and wasn't much fun to play. You might think my lack of Clash of Clans experience would make me a poor candidate to review the Clash of Clans-inspired Battle Champs [Free], but I think it allows me to offer a different perspective on the game. You see, I don't think I'm alone in finding the idea of playing Clash of Clans unappealing in spite of its obvious quality. If you're like me, you might want to give Battle Champs a try. It does an excellent job of extending an olive branch to those who might otherwise shy away from the genre...




I'll come to the point immediately today: Legends of Heropolis [Free]is a terrible game. If you had access to a state-of-the-art 1966 Batcomputer and asked it to show you the worst possible outcome of a merger between a Kairosoft sim and a Japanese free-to-play social RPG, Legends of Heropolis is what it would belch out on those little printed strips of paper before self-destructing. It's overly-busy, the UI is disastrous, there are elements included that make no sense whatsoever for the theme, and the battle system is monotonous button mashing. While there isn't much in the way of a hard paywall, you are required to be online, you have a stamina system to deal with, and there's a gatcha-type random draw for gear to entice you to spend real money. Not content to merely borrow from Japanese free-to-play hits, there are also timers on buildings that you can rush if you're willing to pay. It's a veritable Megazord of mean-spirited ideas...

Once rare treats in an overall line-up that included a few other developers, EXE-Create's games for Kemco have recently had to shoulder most of the load for the near-monthly release schedule of the publisher. Of this year's seven iOS releases so far from Kemco, five have come from EXE-Create. Now, this developer knows how to put together solid RPGs in a short span of time, but that kind of breakneck schedule isn't going to make anyone look good. Taking things one step further, this month's selection, Asdivine Cross [Free / $4.99], is a remake of one of the developer's old feature phone releases. Many of the gameplay systems have been changed, which would be good if the "new" systems weren't simply copy and pasted from their last few original games. In a vacuum, Asdivine Cross is a decent enough JRPG, even quite good in places. Unfortunately, we're not in a vacuum. We're in the world where this is the second Asdivine game I've reviewed in the last six months...

Update Mondays: 'Pokemon Go', 'Minecraft: Pocket Edition', 'SimCity BuildIt', 'Dungeons of Chaos Unity Edition', 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. At long last, we've got a relatively healthy-sized Update Mondays again. I'm all finished moving, the updates are flowing, and all seems to be well for our little corner of the TouchArcadiverse. 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!..

TouchArcade forum favorite developer Quantum Sheep has been hard at work on a few projects over the last year and a half. We've already heard about Angel Wing, which is still in development, but along the way, inspiration struck for another smaller-scale game. Titled Gerty - Robots in Love, it's a narrative-based adventure game set in the Air Supply universe. Playing as Gerty the robot, you need to roam the universe and find love, lest you face the wrath of your impatient parents. Oh, and along the way, you'll need to save your home planet from the Gatekeepers, who are determined to erase you and your home from existence...

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where everything opens up once you have the compass. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the past of the App Store to see how it's doing in the here and now. It's a little bit of revisiting, a little bit of reflecting, and a chance to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. I try to present a balanced plate of games from week to week, but if you feel like I'm missing anything important, please let me know. You can do that by commenting below, posing in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. The schedule is already set for the next several months, so you might not see your suggestion soon, but it will be added to the master list...

While they've had their share of misses, it's hard to name any Japanese game publisher who has had more recent cross-media successes than Level-5, the minds behind Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Yo-Kai Watch, and many other franchises. The company has largely made hay on Nintendo platforms in recent years, but with the rise of the mobile gaming market in Japan, Level-5 has tried to dip their toe in the smartphone waters a few times already. For those outside of Japan, however, the only titles to manifest from these attempts include 3DS port Liberation Maiden [$2.99], Ace Attorney-esque Professor Layton spin-off Layton Brothers Mystery Room [Free], and Disney Tsum-Tsum [Free]knock-off Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble [Free]. Not bad games, but probably not what Level-5 fans were hoping for...

Who Owns Pokemon, Anyway? It's Complicated.

So, I'm not sure if you all have noticed or not, but we've been writing a lot about Pokemon recently. In the articles and comments of some of these stories, an old bugbear has come up several times. Who exactly owns Pokemon? How much of a benefit to Nintendo is the success of Pokemon Go [Free]? It's a more complicated situation than it initially appears, and I'll tell you up-front, there aren't any publicly-available concrete answers. Still, I think I can offer some clarification for curious readers and confused Nintendo shareholders out there, so let's go on a journey together. A Pokemon journey! Without any Pokemon. Sorry, they're not in the budget...

We live in some truly weird times these days, but to chop up an old saying for my own nefarious purposes: when the going gets odd, the strange get stranger. Sorry, that seemed funnier in my head. The important thing here is that you can pick up both of the Oddworld games for $0.99 each for the next few days. Yes, two bucks will get you two very well-done ports of full-blown console games, now easy to enjoy anywhere. It's an absurd price for such content-stuffed games, so you'd best take advantage of it...

Fans of the classic Milton Bradley/Games Workshop role-playing board game HeroQuest who are looking for a similar experience on mobile have a few decent choices available to them. There are games that use the basic concept as a springboard for a larger, deeper adventure such as Heroes of Steel [$3.99] from the Trese Brothers. Rodeo Games has their version of the official Games Workshop follow-up Warhammer Quest [$2.99]. If you happen to be searching for a more straightforward interpretation of the board game, however, the Arcane Quest series from Nex Games Studios is the way to go. The first game in the series, which released on Android and Windows Phones, was a pretty direct translation. Arcane Quest 2 [Free], the first in the series on iOS, built sensibly on that foundation, while Arcane Quest Adventures [Free] used many of the same gameplay mechanics but applied them to a different style of game...

Update Mondays: 'Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff', 'Paint it Back', 'Angry Birds', 'Fruit Ninja', 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. Yikes, it's another really light week of updates. That summer heat must be getting to everyone. Er, except the people in the Southern Hemisphere, I suppose. Anyway, whatever the reason, there's not much to speak of this week, but I've gathered it up nonetheless. 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 087 - 'Chaos Rings 2'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where heroes might be gone, but are never forgotten. 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 their position in the overall tapestry, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. I try to choose a balanced plate of RPGs from week to week in order to represent the diverse nature of the genre, but if you feel like I'm missing anything important, please let me know. You can do that by commenting below the article, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. Your suggestion might not appear soon, but it will be added to the master list...

Like it or lump it, there are some publishers out there who march to the beat of their own drum. Square Enix is definitely one of them, as today's news demonstrates quite nicely. Fresh from removing most of the Chaos Rings series of RPGs from the App Store storefront, Square Enix has announced a spin-off title in the series called Cosmos Rings. As one might expect, it's an RPG, and it's supposedly going to be releasing quite soon worldwide. Oh, and it's for the Apple Watch...

Recently, I was invited to come and visit the headquarters of BlazeGames, the developer behind the new game Battle Champs [Free]. Along with a few other members of the media, I was given a brief tour of their offices located in Shibuya, Tokyo, and got to see a short presentation about Battle Champs. The highlight of the trip was a chance to ask some questions about the game to a few of the team members. Producer Yuji Okada, art director Akihiko Yoshida, and assistant art director Satoshi Matsura all took some time out of their busy schedules to tell me about the new game. As the interview ended up being quite lengthy, I've broken it up into two different parts. Make sure you read the first part of the interview before going ahead...

Few genres have made the jump to free-to-play monetization models quite as smoothly and successfully as puzzle games have. That's why I was a little surprised when Mobcast and Q Entertainment announced Lumines was returning to iOS in both paid and free-to-play versions. The market is so different now compared to the period the last Lumines iOS game released, and to be honest, that version of the game didn't go over great to begin with. Lumines VS, the free-to-play game, is still a ways out from release, but Lumines Puzzle & Music, the paid game, has launched in a few countries ahead of its wide release this September. Since one of those countries is Japan and I love Lumines enough to keep buying it wherever it appears, I figured I'd give the game a go and let you all know how it turned out...

An Interview With Akihiko Yoshida, Yuji Okada, and Satoshi Matsura from the 'Battle Champs' Team

Recently, I was invited to come and visit the headquarters of BlazeGames, the developer behind the new game Battle Champs [Free]. Along with a few other members of the media, I was given a brief tour of their offices located in Shibuya, Tokyo, and got to see a short presentation about Battle Champs. The highlight of the trip was a chance to ask some questions about the game to a few of the team members. Producer Yuji Okada, art director Akihiko Yoshida, and assistant art director Satoshi Matsura all took some time out of their busy schedules to tell me about the new game. As the interview ended up being quite lengthy, I'm breaking it up into two different articles. Check in tomorrow for the second part...

Hello, gentle listeners, and welcome to a much-belated episode of the RPG Reload Podcast. We're a couple of weeks late this month, and that's partly from tech problems and partly from my strict schedule the last few weeks. It's here now, though, and the good news is that the next episode is just that much sooner. So join me, Eric, and Andy in a very special recording from the halcyon pre-Pokemon Go days as we discuss the latest in three-week-old news and our featured game, Stoic Studios' Banner Saga. We've got a good mix as Eric was playing it for the first time, while Andy had been through the game before when he wrote the TouchArcade review...

Update Mondays: 'Sky Force Reloaded', 'Marvel Future Fight', 'War Tortoise', 'The Sandbox Evolution', 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. So I was already to go for a full-sized article this week, only to find that this was a pretty quiet week. Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes. 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!..

Tests can be stressful. I mean, that makes sense when you're not confident about the material on the test, but sometimes tests that cover things you know very well can be even more nerve-wracking. You shouldn't fail something if you know what you're doing, right? Now imagine the test you have to pass is checking your humanity. You can pass that test, surely. Most of our readers have been human for a while, after all. That's the premise behind Able Black [$1.99], an interactive fiction game where you play a freshly-booted android who has to pass his citizenship test before he can join society...