Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


There are certain games that remind me of those little activity books you used to be able to find in gas stations before every child in North America owned a handheld gaming system of some sort. The ones that had a "magic" marker that would reveal invisible ink as you ran it over the pages. When I was a little fellow, I loved those books a lot. As far as I was concerned, those were magic. There was just one problem with them. Once you went through the whole book and marked up all the pages, they were finished. There was no reason to keep them, and you certainly couldn't redo them. You couldn't even admire them the way you could with a particularly well-done coloring book since most of the fun came from the discovery...

'Mortal Kombat X' Review - Vengeance Feels A Lot Like Justice

Let's get the obvious out of the way before we start. Mortal Kombat X [Free], the mobile take on the latest in the long-running Mortal Kombat series, is not a port of the game that is about to hit consoles. It uses some scaled-down assets and draws its roster from that game, but you should not expect this game to play like a traditional Mortal Kombat game. Instead, Mortal Kombat X should be seen as sort of a follow-up to the popular mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us [Free], with simple tap-based combat and a focus on collecting and building your stable of characters. Like it or lump it, the masses have spoken on what they want to see in a mobile fighting game, and fumbling around with virtual buttons and combos never meant for touch controls didn't make the list. Likewise, the heavy story elements found in the console versions of the game are nowhere to be found here...

It's that time again, my friends. The most excellent Eric Ford and I got together to produce another episode of the RPG Reload Podcast. There are lots of exciting revelations this episode, the first being that we have our own theme song! It turns out at least one of our fine listeners is also a fine musician, and they have graciously provided us with an awesome arrangement of one of their songs. It sounds a bit like retro RPG battle music, and both Eric and I agree that it's perfect for the type of show we're doing. A big, big thank you goes out to Sweet Diss of Sweet Diss And The Comebacks for helping us out with a special TouchArcade Remix of their song Color Of Love from the album Emerald City Love Song. That album is available on iTunes if you want to show some appreciation...

Ah, spring. That magical time when a gamer's fancy turns to thoughts of RPGs. I think that's how that one goes, anyway. It's a good time to stock up on adventures for the rainy season ahead, and many different RPG developers have been accommodating that by running sales. The latest one to step up is Overhaul Games, the developer that brought Baldur's Gate [$9.99], its sequel, and Icewind Dale [$9.99] to iOS in their Enhanced Edition forms. While Baldur's Gate 2: EE [$9.99] has been on sale before, this is the first time since it was updated for iPhone compatibility. As an added bonus, this also happens to be its lowest price yet, offering you over 100 hours of classic RPG goodness for a mere $4.99. That price is so crazy it makes Minsc look sane!..

This year we haven't seen quite the bonanza of sales we sometimes see around Easter, but there's still been plenty of great stuff getting discounts. Joining the list is Capcom's stunning Monster Hunter Freedom Unite [$14.99], down $5.00 from its regular price of $14.99. This is the first time the game has gone on sale since its English launch last summer, and as Capcom sales are relatively few and far between, there's no telling when it might get discounted again. The sale runs through April 11th, so you've got the rest of the week to scour the sofa cushions for the necessary funds...

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 few massive weeks, it feels like things are a bit cooler on the update front this week. Still some big ones, along with the usual suspects. 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!..

'DuckTales Remastered' Review -  Solve A Mystery, Or Rewrite History

Nostalgia is definitely big business, as the movie industry has known for decades and the game industry only just started catching on to. It's a tricky thing, nostalgia. Some people like to hand wave it away, as though the positive feelings from a familiar situation are any less valid than the positive feelings from seeing a bit of visual spectacle. I strongly disagree with that notion. I think nostalgia is a wonderful thing, and if a game can use it effectively the result is almost always a better all-around experience. That's a big qualifier, though. A game that relies solely on nostalgia is as empty as one that relies solely on graphical flair. Nostalgia only works for the audience that was there at the time. For everyone else, you'd better make sure the rest of the game can support its own weight...

I've been kicking this review down the road for a while now. I don't typically wait for games to get patches before reviewing them, because once the game is on the store, it's fair game for any customer to buy. I had to make an exception in the case of Echo Dawn: Shattered Visions [$3.99], which worked on my device when I first grabbed it, then broke with the next update, then broke some more before finally getting fixed with its last update. That's not a promising start to a review, I know, but I think it's important to be clear about one side of Echo Dawn. It lacks polish in more ways than one, and there's really no ignoring that aspect of it. There's another side to Echo Dawn, however, and it's a far more pleasant one. It's an enthusiastic indie take on a typical JRPG, more complete than many that attempt to deliver a full package, and it has some genuinely interesting gameplay systems, even if they don't quite come together as cleanly as one might hope...

Friends, I don't claim to be a fortune teller, but I think I'm sensing a pattern with these sales. Awesome indie RPG developer Spiderweb Software has a new game coming out on April 15th, and to celebrate, it seems like each of their iPad titles is taking a turn going on sale for half off the regular price. Two weeks ago, it was Avadon: The Black Fortress [$9.99 (HD)]. Last week, it was Avadon 2: The Corruption [$9.99 (HD)]. This week, we finally get around to the Avernum series of games with Avernum 6 [$6.99 (HD)] on for the ridiculously low price of $2.99...

'Shadowrun: Dragonfall' Review - The Matrix, Reloaded

I'm of two minds about Shadowrun Returns [$2.99 (HD)], the 2013 Kickstarter-fueled return to the cult cyberpunk setting. On the one hand, it's a really strong RPG that pays respect to the beloved 16-bit games. The pacing is snappy, the systems are enjoyable to play around with, and while the setting isn't quite as unique as it was twenty-five years ago, it's still unusual enough to help invigorate the experience. I mean, this vision of a dystopian cyberpunk future is almost adorably retro at this point, like looking back at the 1960s idea of where the space race would lead us. The writing quality is strong enough that those feelings of quaintness are quickly shaken as you get into the plot. On the other hand, the iOS release was extremely buggy at launch, the developer was slow to fix anything, and it's still missing content from the PC version, a situation that will likely never be resolved. The game has a tendency to grab you by the wrist and drag you along, with little in the way of role-playing options or any real agency on your part. That's a valid choice and I enjoy many games that use that kind of design, but at least where I'm concerned, I tend to feel that Shadowrun RPGs are best when they're a bit more open-ended...

RPG Reload File 032 - 'Undercroft'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where rat is on the menu at an alarmingly frequent rate. Each week, we take a look at an iOS RPG from years gone by. Some of them are originals, others are ports, some from this side of the world, others from that side. It doesn't matter what kind of RPG it is, we still take a nice deep dive and check out how the game fares these days. I try to keep the offerings balanced between the many kinds of RPGs out there, and to aid me in that, I turn to you, the readers once per month. Simply make your suggestion known by commenting below, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload, and your choice might be featured next month. This week's game is one such selection. The next reader's choice will be featured in the first week of May, so you've got plenty of time to make your voice heard...

Like the eternal battle between nachos and quesadillas, the Final Fantasy series and the Dragon Quest series constantly struggle for the hearts and minds of RPG fans. My answer to that is the same as my answer to the former dilemma: why not both? Square Enix is making it really easy for you to fill out your Dragon Quest collection on iOS by putting a few of their recent releases on sale. Square Enix sales don't come terribly often, and the Dragon Quest games are only sometimes a part of them, so you might want to stockpile these for a rainy day even if you're working on other things. So far, the sale consists of three of the six games available on iOS. We'll let you know if any of the others join...

'DuckTales: Remastered' Hits the App Store

After teasing us on Twitter with a screenshot hinting at this, Disney has indeed released DuckTales: Remastered [$9.99] on iOS. The original DuckTales was an incredibly awesome platformer released for the NES in 1989, and it was based on the cartoon of the same name. A whopping 24 years later, WayForward was tapped to create a remastered version of the original for modern consoles, dubbed DuckTales: Remastered. It kept basically everything the same gameplay-wise, but the visuals were entirely redone to look just like the classic animated show. They even got the original voice actors to add even more personality to the game. Now DuckTales: Remastered is available in your pocket...

Generally speaking, I am very reluctant to get into the discussion of what is or isn't a game. Any such talk typically requires a great deal of presumption on the part of the person drawing invisible lines in the sand. Being a big fan of gamebooks, text adventures, experience games, and so on, it's a conversation that all too often ends with some titles I greatly enjoy being branded 'non-games'. Then people start getting cranky, someone asks what the definition of an RPG is anyway, another person throws off their gloves and helmet, and the whole party is ruined. No, I'm not going to do that...

A while back, we brought word of an update to the wizened iOS version of the first Final Fantasy. It wasn't much of an update, mind you. It just added borders for wider screens, universal support, and a few changes to the game's UI. The reason why that update was done was likely due to its inclusion in the recently-released Final Fantasy Portal app, a Japan-only application that covers all things Final Fantasy. Until now, the first Final Fantasy has been all by its lonesome within that app, but today brought an update that at last added another game...

Update Mondays: 'Despicable Me: Minion Rush', 'WWE Immortals', 'Candy Crush Soda Saga', 'Sky Force 2014', 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, this week wasn't quite as significant as the last one, but there are so many more Spider-Mans this time around I can't help but give it the nod. Lots of other great stuff, 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!..

After a full trilogy of games in the span of just seven months, the Five Nights At Freddy's [$2.99] series could be forgiven for taking some time off after this one. Whether or not Five Nights At Freddy's 3 [$2.99] is where it ends, you have to give this series and its developer a lot of credit. In a short span of time, it became a minor cultural phenomenon, recorded huge sales on every platform it released on, and earned success and recognition for an independent developer who has taken plenty of swings at the whole "making a game" thing before finally knocking one out of the park. Fans all around the world compare notes about the story, trying to piece together mysteries that may not have ever been intended to be solved. The titular Freddy Fazbear himself is likely more recognizable than the character he parodies among most people under a certain age. In a lot of ways, we've come a long way from the humble point and click simplicity of the first game...

Spiderweb Software makes some mighty fine RPGs that you can enjoy on your iPad. The developer's latest game, Avernum 2: Crystal Souls, is due to hit the App Store in a couple of weeks on April 15th. Presumably in celebration of that pending release, Spiderweb has been running some sales on their previous titles. Last weekend, the first Avadon [$9.99 (HD)] game was on sale for half-price. This weekend, it's the 2014 sequel to that game, Avadon 2: The Corruption [$9.99 (HD)]. Regularly $9.99, you can pick up this gem for just $4.99 for the next couple of days...

Proto Raider [$2.99] makes a great first impression. Its graphics are entirely composed of ASCII symbols, giving it a striking appearance, particularly when things start to move on the screen. By this point in gaming, it's somewhat difficult to make a platform game that can immediately catch the eye, and the idea of going back to the very roots of video games for inspiration is a clever one. Behind the intriguing presentation sits a somewhat ordinary platformer with excellent level design. It reminds me of the wildly experimental days before the success of the Super Mario Bros. series dictated what platformers ought to be like. It's almost as though a lost Commodore 64 game spilled out of the time tunnel and into the App Store...

A while back, I reviewed the original Five Nights At Freddy's [$2.99], and while I could appreciate what it was doing from a clinical point of view, I didn't really get the game properly. When Five Nights At Freddy's 2 [$2.99] came out, I thought I'd step aside and let someone else take a crack at it, but with how busy the holiday season was, the game ended up falling into the dreaded TouchArcade sofa cushions instead. Before anyone could catch their breath, Five Nights At Freddy's 3 [$2.99]'s release was imminent. I'll own up to a couple of little quirks that I have. First of all, it really bugs me when I don't get why something is popular. I don't have to like everything, but I do like to understand points of view other than my own, and exploring them often leads to me finding new things to enjoy. I see it as a failing on my part when I'm not able to do this. Another odd habit of mine is that I don't like gaps, so if I'm to come back to the series to review the third game, I really needed to do this one first. Hopefully, that explains why we're running this review at an admittedly late stage of the game. You can expect a review of Five Nights At Freddy's 3 pretty shortly after this one...