Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


RPG Reload File 092 - 'The War of Eustrath'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we may not have the fancy licenses, but know that a giant robot is a giant robot. 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 the classics, reflect on their place in the overall App Store library, or just to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. As the wielder of Falchion, I try to choose a balanced plate of RPGs from week to week in order to accurately reflect the diversity of the genre. If you think I'm missing something important, however, please let me know. You can do that by commenting below, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. The schedule is made quite far in advance, so you may not see your suggestion soon, but it will be added to the master list...

Hello, gentle listeners, and welcome to another episode of The RPG Reload Podcast. This month's episode sees us swing back around to Square Enix's bread and butter franchise with a look at Final Fantasy 6 [$15.99]. If you've read my recent write-up, you know how I feel about the game these days, but you might be surprised to hear Eric and Andy's takes on this old favorite. We do our usual talk beforehand about a variety of games we've been playing lately, with a lot of talk about World of Warcraft. Sorry it's not mobile, but what can I do when it's all these other guys have been playing for the month? Since we didn't get any mail this month, I presented a Final Fantasy 6-specific question, and the answers were quite interesting...




Update Mondays: 'Disney Crossy Road', 'Choices', 'Mobius: Final Fantasy', 'Bushido Bear', 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 pretty busy one this week, with plenty of high profile new games getting their first big updates. The usual suspects are here, too. 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!..

'Justice Monsters Five' Review - Justice Denied

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September 2nd, 2016 6:00 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 2 stars, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Pinball, Reviews, Social RPG
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You know, I actually had a small shred of hope for Justice Monsters Five [Free]. It looked like a take-off of the enjoyable Monster Strike [Free], had some nice-looking artwork, and its status as a Final Fantasy 15 spin-off, the first playable non-demo anything based on Final Fantasy 15, lulled me into thinking it was going to be of a certain level of quality. Plus, Square Enix has gotten better with their free-to-play efforts of late. They're all quite serviceable if not very exciting or innovative. Unfortunately, I was almost completely wrong about this game. The production values are good for what it is and it's not a broken game or anything like that, but those are both of the nice things I have to say about this shallow, dull affair...

Street Fighter Puzzle Spirits [Free] is actually a couple of years old now, and only just arriving in more countries worldwide. In some ways, it feels its age. It's less refined than the usual spins on Puzzle & Dragons [Free] we see these days, giving it the feeling of something that was slapped together to cash in on a craze before the tide went out again. It initially comes off as crudely simple, but if you give it a little time, that basic simplicity gives way to a very satisfying set of mechanics. Unfortunately, one other way shows the age of this game. While many social RPGs have loosened up a little on the monetization squeeze in recent times, Street Fighter Puzzle Spirits has its boots firmly planted in the past. On your throat. What remains is a fun game that can get frustrating in a hurry if you're not willing to pay up...

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we usually take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it holds up in the present day. We're not going to be doing that this week, however. We just closed the book on the second year of this feature, with a hefty article delivered each and every week since the Reload launched on August 15th, 2014. I've covered more than 90 RPGs and/or RPG-related games, put together two large Christmas specials, done two year-end award ceremonies, recorded nearly 20 podcast episodes, and created a book-sized 12-part feature on the history of handheld RPGs. Our readers (you all!) have shown tremendous support to this weird, niche idea, and I'm always thankful for that. The Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums just passed 1,000 posts, if you can believe that. It's as good a time as any to take a little pause and consider where we're going. Warning: this will be navel-gazey and bloggish. We'll be back to the games next week, I promise...

Ever since Tetris was used to deploy tens of millions of Game Boys into households across the world, puzzle games and handheld hardware have had a tight relationship. You'd be hard-pressed to find a handheld launch without a puzzle game of some sort on offer, but virtually none of them have been as important to their hardware's launch than Tetris was for the Game Boy. If you had to find a runner-up, however, the original Lumines on PlayStation Portable would surely be it. On hardware that offered some of the best 3D graphics that you could fit in your pocket, somehow the shining star of the system's early life was a falling-block puzzler. Granted, it was an incredibly stylish falling-block puzzler with an outstanding soundtrack. I don't know many PSP owners who don't have some kind of nostalgia for the game...

Gamebooks based on the works of William Shakespeare are so hot right now. Well, okay, there's really just Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99], Ryan North's Romeo And/Or Juliet, and now this one, but that's enough for me to call it a trend. A delightful, wonderful trend. But lest you think Choice of Games is merely riding the tailcoats of those previous books with A Midsummer Night's Choice [Free], let me assure you that this is an entirely different sort of animal. While North's gamebooks take the familiar situations and characters and give the reader the chance to move the story in wildly different direction, A Midsummer Night's Choice tells an almost entirely original tale, albeit with its fair share of nods to Shakespeare's famous play...

The main benefit of having a legendary artist like Akihiko Yoshida as an art director is, of course, having some excellent artwork in the game. A secondary benefit, however, is that legends often have pretty sweet connections that can sometimes result in cool cross-overs. Yoshida runs his own company called CyDesignation these days, but it wasn't too long ago that he was doing work for Square Enix for games such as Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Bravely Default. Yoshida's latest art designs can be found in the recently-launched Battle Champs [Free], and in what I can only describe as a Yoshidafest, some of his older creations are going to be coming to the game in a new event kicking off later this week...

Okay, this story is a little complicated, so bear with us here. Bulkypix, the prolific publisher who brought games such as Pix'n Love Rush, Joe Dever's Lone Wolf, Bardbarian, Penumbear, and countless other awesome games to iOS from a variety of indie developers, has officially entered liquidation proceedings. This follows up on the company declaring bankruptcy in March of this year and an unsuccessful push to find a buyer for the ailing French publisher. What this means is that the company will be dissolved and their assets will be sold off or reassigned. Bulkypix is essentially on borrowed time at the moment...

Update Mondays: 'Pokemon Go', 'Turbo Dismount', 'Phoenix 2', 'Talisman', 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. Phew, this week is pretty light, my friends. Some cool stuff for games we don't often see in these articles, but if you were looking for quantity, I don't think I can help you today. 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!..

The original Siralim [Free] is one of those great cases of a game that started off rough but interesting, only to be shined to a sparkle through a ton of updates. The developer had a lot of ideas worth exploring and committed to seeing a great deal of them through. After launching on mobile, Siralim made its way to other platforms like Steam and PlayStation, so I suppose it must have done well for the developer. We've known Siralim 2 [$4.99] was coming for a while now, and after it hit Steam, it was only a matter of time before it made its way back to where it all started...

It's that magical time of the year, friends, when Japanese game companies start pulling back the curtains a little in preparation for the annual Tokyo Game Show in September. As usual, Square Enix is getting an early jump on things, showing things like an arcade version of Theathrythm Final Fantasy, new content for the arcade version of Dissidia Final Fantasy, and a spin-off of Dissidia for mobile. Yes, it's a spin-off of a spin-off. Insert meme image here. Titled Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, it's due out for iOS and Android sometime this year...

We've been riding the renewed wave of roguelikes and roguelites for several years now. By the very nature of the genre, a good roguelike can last players for a really long time. What that means is that any new entry is going to have to have some kind of way of standing out if it hopes to get attention. Hero Generations [$4.99] has a strong, easily-understood gimmick: every move costs a year of your character's life, and when they run out of years, it's game over. Before that happens, you need to find a mate and have a kid, who will hopefully be able to carry on some of the previous character's traits and legacy. As you expand your abilities and fame from generation to generation, you'll eventually piece together an urgent goal, but you won't be able to do anything about it if your family line dies off early...

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we sound like lines from a self-help book. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it holds up on a second, third, or tenth view. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on the overall RPG landscape of iOS, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. As the main character of the first half of the game, I try to present a balanced plate of RPGs from week to week. If you feel like I'm missing something important, however, please let me know. You can do that by commenting below, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. As the schedule is planned well in advance, I can't promise you'll see your recommendation soon, but it will go on the master list...

There's nothing quite like finding a cool game we missed several months back. It's like getting a new cool game, except it's usually had a bunch of updates to make it even better! Such is the case with Celsius Heroes [Free], an interesting take on the Puzzle & Dragons [Free] formula of social RPGs. The game was pointed out to me a few weeks ago by a member of the TouchArcade forums, and I've been looking for an excuse to mention it since. As the game just got a big content update, this seems as opportune a time as any...

'Leap of Fate' Review - Jump In

Leap of Fate [$3.99] didn't make a great first impression on me. The opening cut-scene dialogue is ponderous. The aiming feels a little off. The tutorial has a lot of clumsy navigation elements, suggesting there will be some shoveled-in platforming to break up the action. The first time I loaded the game, I played through the tutorial, wondered why Jared was raving about it so much, then switched over to something else. Of course, since I was assigned to the review, I had to come back to Leap of Fate soon. Reviewing games is generally a great job, but one of the few downsides is that you can't always walk away from games you're not enjoying. Sometimes, however, that turns out to be a good thing, and Leap of Fate is one such case...

Update Mondays: 'The Simpsons: Tapped Out', 'Star Traders 4X Empires', 'A Noble Circle', 'Demon's Rise', 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. Now this is more like it. I haven't had to be picky to fill out this article for a long while now, but this week saw tons of worthy candidates. 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 090 - '868-HACK'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we sometimes accidentally call Jenny when we want to play a roguelite. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it's held up over time. It's a chance to revisit the classics, reflect on their place in the overall tapestry, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. As the captain on the bridge, I try to choose a balanced selection of games from week to week to reflect the diversity in the genre. If you feel like I'm missing anything, you can let me know by commenting below, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. The schedule is planned pretty far in advance, so you might not see your suggested title soon, but it will be added to the master list...

Out There Chronicles [$2.99] is a good idea. Take the mysterious, interesting universe of the survival/resource management game Out There [$4.99] and create a gamebook in the same setting that helps flesh the background out. A boots on the ground view, so to speak. It's even written by the same person that wrote the original game. The presentation is quite strong for a game of this genre, adopting much of the aesthetic of the core Out There experience, and it even attempts to incorporate a few of the mechanics, such as learning alien languages and trying to conserve resources. As a companion piece to Out There, it's pretty neat. But while it's good at evoking the feel of its parent, as a piece of interactive fiction, it leaves me a bit cold...