Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Hi there, friends. It's been a while, but the RPG Reload Podcast is back. We had a few technical issues with the original 11th episode, and with the holidays upon us, we felt it was best to just save it all up for a special comeback in the new year. And here we are! As usual, I'm joined by Eric Ford, and as semi-usual, Andy Fretz joins us from B25 of TouchArcade Towers. Since we were supposed to talk about 9th Dawn [$2.99] last time, we do that here, but we also make room to talk about the original January selection, King Cashing [$0.99]. Wow, it's a double-header! To tell the truth, we don't spend as much time discussing either game as we would have preferred, but I hope you still enjoy the discussions. Before we get to the main games for the episode, we spend a long time talking about what we've been playing and our thoughts on 2015. Plus, no less than three shocking confessions from yours truly! Who says this isn't the RPG Reload Age of podcasting entertainment?..

Update Mondays: 'Wayward Souls', 'Pet Rescue Saga', 'Need For Speed: No Limits', 'World Of Tanks: Blitz', 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. Well, it looks like we're finally back up to speed, and that means the battle for the weekly award is an intense struggle once more. I'm dead certain I've missed things this week, but I've done my best to find a good grab bag for you, friends. 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!..




'Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead' Review - A Learning Curve Like A Sheer Cliff, But Great Rewards Await

There are a lot of roguelike games on iOS, but that's going with the more modern definition of the genre. In the years between the earliest days when roguelikes were pretty easy to get into and their recent explosion in popularity correlated with more approachable or hybridized designs, the roguelike was something a lot more complex. It was like a secret club for the most obsessed type of gamer, offering virtually limitless possibilities and options for those who were willing to do a lot more learning than the average game demanded. That particular brand of roguelike is far more rare on iOS, and it's not hard to see why. A touch interface is a poor substitute for a full keyboard, and games of that sort of complexity are probably not what the majority of mobile gamers are looking for. At the very least, compromises have to be made on the granular nature of the player's actions, because the alternatives are having a keyboard's worth of buttons on the screen or using the software keyboard, and what kind of loon would do either of those?..

RPG Reload File 066 - 'Nameless: The Hackers RPG'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we never met a Gibson we couldn't hack. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it's hanging in the here and now. It's a chance to revisit some old favorites, reflect on their position in the iOS RPG tapestry, or just to take a deeper dive than reviews typically allow for. I try to present a balanced plate of RPGs from week to week, but that's a job that gets more difficult the further into this we go. So, if you've noticed that I've missed a game that you'd really like to see, please let me know by commenting below, tweeting to @RPGReload, or by dropping in on the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the TouchArcade forums. I schedule pretty far in advance, so I can't promise your suggestion will appear soon, but it will go on the list...

Once upon a time, in the long-ago days before mankind knew how to wield fire, you could count the number of Kemco RPGs on the App Store on one hand. Among those early releases, one of the best games was Fantasy Chronicle [$4.99], among the first iOS releases from developer Hit-Point. Unlike their Kemco stablemate EXE-Create, Hit-Point isn't too big on making sequels to their games, preferring to come up with something a little different each time. It's a little surprising, then, to see Fantasy Chronicle get a sequel after several years. If Justice Chronicles [$4.99] is any indication, I think I'd like to see Hit-Point make sequels more often...

Update Mondays: 'Sky Burger', 'A Noble Circle', 'Pixel Dungeon', 'Trouble With Robots', 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. After a couple of quiet weeks, things are slowly starting to get back to normal for Update Mondays. This week's article is still a little skimpy compared to usual, but things are picking up. 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 RPG Reload. This week, we're continuing 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 looked at the various competitors to the Game Boy, including the Game Gear, Wonderswan, and more. This time around, we're pushing the timeline forward again with a look at the long-awaited follow-up to the Game Boy, Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. In total, this feature will span twelve columns, each one taking a look at a specific era in handheld RPGs. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I've enjoyed researching and writing them! Please let me know what you think by commenting below, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload...

'Pick-Xell' Review - It's A Dirty Job

StarStarStarStarNone
January 7th, 2016 12:03 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in 3.5 stars, Action, Arcade, Free, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews
Free Buy Now

You don't have to look far to find an iOS game about digging. It's an oddly specific activity to have so many games to its name, but whatever the reasons, people seem to enjoy it. Most games of this type encourage the player to take their time and be cautious, which makes sense given the inherent dangers involved. Games with more an arcade bent to them will counter this need for caution with some sort of immediate danger that keeps the player moving. The challenge then becomes moving fast enough to avoid danger while somehow trying not to make any fatal mistakes in spite of your pace. Pick-Xell [Free], the latest release from Japanese publisher Obokaidem, distills that idea down to its very essence...

I've learned a few things from MetaHuman Inc. [$3.99], the latest interactive fiction release from Choice Of Games. First, with a little creativity, the ChoiceScript engine that powers these games can be more mechanically versatile than I thought it was capable of being. Next, I'm a terrible CEO. Just plain awful. Finally, I don't especially like being a CEO, and that ended up being a problem for me because being a CEO is more or less what MetaHuman Inc. is all about. At the start of the game, you are appointed the job of running MetaHuman Inc., a shady company that produces human enhancements through a variety of means legal or otherwise. The job starts in January, and you'll see it through to the end of the calendar year, at which point you'll face a final evaluation by the majority shareholders. If you fail to impress them, your death is certain...

The thing about visual novels is that it's hard to know what to expect until you actually get into the game. You can look at screenshots, read the description, check the art, and so on, but visual novels live or die based on how well-written and engaging their stories and characters are, and that's something you generally only discover by playing. True Lover's Knot [$6.99] doesn't seem bad from the screenshots, and the description makes it sound a little more interesting than your average romance game, even. The story takes place on a cruise filed with romantic possibilities, and there's a match-3 game that you play here and there to break up the story a bit. The reality is that this game fails in almost every possible way a visual novel could. It's so bad, I ended up laughing my way through the back half of its hour or so running time. Normally, we wouldn't review something of this quality, but there's a small possibility some of our readers might get some pleasure from my suffering, so that's good enough for me...

Off-beat simulation game developer Kairosoft has slowed down their iOS releases considerably in the last couple of years. That was probably a wise move, given how many elements each of their games tends to share with the rest. With new games from the developer coming only a few times a year now, it's easier to appreciate each one of them on their own merits, and it hasn't hurt that their recent releases have demonstrated an effort to break out of the reskinning that categorizes most of their work. The Ramen Sensei [$4.99], their latest iOS release, isn't as innovative as it could be, but its tight focus on its unusual subject matter helps it stand out a little. That said, unless you're really into the subject of ramen, this game is still essentially preaching to the Kairosoft choir...

Update Mondays: 'Subway Surfers', 'Shooty Skies', 'Disco Ducks', 'hocus', And More

Hello everyone, and welcome to the year! It's time once again for our look back at the noteworthy updates of the last seven days. Well, with the App Store still slowly thawing out last week, it was another quiet one, which means we don't have a whole lot to talk about today. Still, there were a few updates that trickled out, so we'll be taking a look at them. Don't worry, next week will be big, I'm sure. 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 yet another special edition of the RPG Reload. In this weekly feature, we usually take a look at a game from the App Store's past, but due to the New Year's holiday, we're doing something a little different this week. That's right, it's time for the second annual listing of the RPG Reload's favorite RPGs of the year. I thought it might be cool to come up with a catchy name for these prizes, but since I couldn't come up with anything good, I've settled on calling them the Golden Pancho Awards, in honor of the frequently-seen Kemco monster. No actual trophies yet, unfortunately, but 'Golden Pancho' sounds a lot better than trying to spell out the whole article name, right?..

Another year in the books, friends, and another giant pile of great games that I can't seem to find enough time to play enough of. The year 2015 saw a lot of long-awaited returns for classic iOS franchises, but as usual, many of the biggest games of the year kind of came out of nowhere. Given my role at TouchArcade, I've probably played more RPGs and fewer non-RPGs than the rest of the crew, so I hope you'll forgive me if there are some cool things missing from my list. As an RPG fan, I can say that I was quite satisfied with what 2015 had to offer, and I'm already excited for next year thanks to a few games slipping past their intended 2015 release dates. In no particular order, here are my top ten iOS games of this year...

Based on a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 has quickly become the video gaming world's third-favorite post-nuclear-apocalypse setting, give or take a rank or two. Set in a world where a nuclear war forced Moscow's survivors to live in the underground subway stations that sprawl out under the city, it's a setting ripe with possibilities for games. Ukrainian developer 4A games apparently felt it would make a good first-person shooter, and they proved themselves right in 2010 with the release of Metro 2033 on Xbox 360 and Windows PCs. That game was followed by a sequel called Metro: Last Light, and I'm quite sure we'll be seeing more games coming in that particular series. Russian developer DaSuppa and publisher TapStar Interactive seem to have come away from the book with a different kind of game idea, perhaps figuring that the struggle for resources and sprawling map filled with nodes would make a good strategy game. They weren't wrong. Metro 2033: Wars [$5.99] is awfully rough around the edges, but it's at least worth checking out for patient strategy fans who are looking for a lighter bite...

Update Mondays: 'Spider-Man Unlimited', 'Dash Quest', 'True Skate', 'Agar.io', 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. With the Holiday Freeze in effect over most of last week, the pickings are pretty slim this week. Nevertheless, a few interesting updates managed to squeak in at the last minute, so we'll have a look at those. 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 Special Edition - 'A TouchArcade Christmas Carol'

With Sincere Apologies To Charles Dickens, And The Readers

First Stave - The Editor's Ghost

Let me tell you the story of Shaun Musgrave. Though they say he used to be different, it's hard to imagine it. There was never such a staunch defender of free-to-play social RPGs as he, with a stubborn streak in him about paying even a cent for an app. The cold within his heart froze his features, made him walk stiffly, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. Nobody ever sent him a tweet to ask how he was doing or when he would like to play Clash Of Clans together. No Facebook friends asked him for a life in Candy Crush, no children even asked him for a promo code. But Shaun didn't care, because he didn't care much for people. He wished only to be left alone to grind enough premium currency for his next Town Hall upgrade.

(more…)

..

It's often said that in game development, ideas are cheap. What that means is that everyone has ideas for games, but actually bringing an idea to the finish line and creating an honest-to-goodness final product requires a lot of hard work and dedication from people with particular skills. I think it's not so much meant to say that a good idea is worth nothing, just that it's easier to come up with a decent idea than it is to actually make it. Good ideas are still an important part of any great game, and every once in a while, someone has an idea so good that it can carry entire games or series. Such is the case with Scribblenauts, previously seen on iOS in the form of the best hits-style Scribblenauts Remix [$0.99]. The game has plenty of rough edges, but the idea behind it is 100% solid gold. More stunningly, developer 5th Cell was able to largely realize that golden idea, and were richly rewarded for their efforts...

I make a terrible Arthur. It's not something I've had to put much thought into in my life, so I wasn't actually aware of that particular gap in my skillset until I played Pendragon Rising [$3.99], the latest release from prolific interactive fiction publishers Choice Of Games. This adventure sees you guiding a young Arthur (or Arta, if you'd prefer to play a woman) as he returns to Briton from a seven-year stay in Rome. Your parent, the ruler of Gwynedd, is seriously injured in a battle with the leader of the invading Saxons, and the matter of their succession will determine the fate of Gwynedd and Briton itself. There's a rightful heir to the throne, and you technically aren't it, but as is often the case with stories based on the Arthurian legend, things get complicated fairly quickly...

Update Mondays: 'Boom Beach', 'Minion Rush', 'Junk Jack X', 'Storm The Train'

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Christmas week! It's time once again for our look back at the noteworthy updates of the last seven days. Like last week, this week's round-up is slightly less comprehensive than usual. The holidays are upon us, there are too many updates to list, and I'd like to get home to my family at some point today, so it is what it is, friends. 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!..