Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


It's a strange world, friends. iPads are getting smaller, iPhones are getting bigger, and suddenly this whole idea of having apps work on one but not the other is looking increasingly strange. It's a particular bummer for RPG-loving iPhone owners, because a lot of fantastic RPGs only release on iPad. In the last year or so, developers have been coming around to the idea that iPhone gamers will buy these games even if the UI ends up being teeny-tiny, so we're seeing more games that were only on iPad start to go universal. The latest to join the ranks is Almost Human's excellent dungeon crawler, Legend Of Grimrock [$4.99]...

RPG Reload File 046 - 'Final Fantasy 5'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we appreciate the subtle pun of the root of all evil being a tree. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their place in the overall scheme of things, or just to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. I try to present a balanced schedule of RPGs from week to week, but if you have any suggestions, I'm certainly open to hearing them. Simply comment below, post in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or tweet me at @RPGReload and let me know what you'd like to see featured. We've got one last normal reader's choice article coming up in August, so get those suggestions in! Although I'll be sad to see it go, I'm pretty excited to tell you about its replacement for the following month. I'll be giving you all more details on that pretty soon...

I think it's fair to say that Gameloft has been one of the most important publishers in mobile gaming's brief history. They were going big into making mobile phone games before most, and although a lot of their earlier efforts were pretty blatant riffs on popular console and PC games, you still have to give them credit for the amount of effort they put into those games. But the times have changed, and the App Store even more so. The type of games Gameloft made best don't sell the way they used to, and I think it's fair to say the company has, like many, struggled to keep up with the movement of the market. There's only so long that can go on before something terrible happens, and I suppose yesterday was that day for Gameloft's New York City offices...

I don't know about everyone else, but for my money, the best part of using a tomb-raiding setting for a story is when the main character has to escape from a collapsing death-trap. I'm not sure why ancient civilizations would rig things to collapse in such a precise and deadly manner, or how annoying it must have been when they were setting it up and Bob accidentally tripped the whole thing just before the last piece was set, but watching someone try to outrace a series of perfectly-timed traps lest they be buried in the very location they sought to loot never gets old. With the rise of Indiana Jones happening almost in step with the booming popularity of early home gaming, it's not surprising we've seen many interactive takes on the concept. When it's done well, it's just as exhilarating to play as it is to watch. Trappy Tomb [Free] is a relatively simple game that focuses exactly on that kind of escape sequence, and while it has some issues, a few clever ideas help smooth things over...

Is a high level of difficulty a necessary part of a roguelike? It's something I've been thinking about a bit as I've played Alchemic Dungeons [$2.99], the latest from Rogue Ninja [$2.99] developer Q-Cumber Factory. Most genres don't factor challenge into their definitions, but I suppose the roguelike genre isn't like most others. For decades, roguelikes acted something like the horror B-movie of the games industry. There was always a very strong cult following, but outside of certain limited successes in Japan, those outside the circle rarely gave the games much attention. In recent years, things have changed, however, and that has forced a somewhat insular community to reassess exactly what it is that they get out of games using the roguelike descriptor. Alchemic Dungeons checks off all the boxes as a Japanese-style roguelike, but its main gameplay hook gives it a certain fairness that isn't typically present in this genre...

Freebie Alert: 'Card Wars - Adventure Time' Goes Free For The First Time

There sure are a ton of Adventure Time games on the App Store these days. I'm not sure which is the best one, but I've certainly noticed which seems to be the most popular one: Card Wars [$3.99]. Its combination of being a paid app while making use of a stamina meter with timers didn't win it a lot of friends around here, to be sure, but it certainly did well for itself in the App Store. It stuck around in the top ten paid app charts for quite a while and received a bunch of good updates, with the most recent one adding an expansion called Doing It The Card Way, featuring Fiona and Cake, for the price of $2.99. Well, if the price tag on the app was your issue, I've got some good news for you today. For the first time ever, Card Wars - Adventure Time has dropped to the affordable price of $0.00...

Last week, I featured inkle's wonderful gamebook adaptation Sorcery! [$4.99] in the RPG Reload weekly column. As I usually do, I summarized the game's update history, and remarked that I was pretty confident inkle would keep these games updated for the foreseeable future. Little did I know that the next update was just around the corner. As a bonus, Sorcery! 2 [$4.99] has received the same treatment. Although it's a little update, I think everyone will be pretty happy with what's been added: the Rewind feature from Sorcery! 3 [$4.99]...

Hi, everyone! It's the beginning of a new month, and that means it's time for Eric Ford and me to talk your ears off about RPGs in the RPG Reload Podcast. For the second month in a row, we're joined by our fellow TA freelancer Andrew Fretz, who joins us from B25 of TouchArcade Towers to talk about Square Enix's Chaos Rings Omega. For Eric and Andy, it was their first time playing any Chaos Rings game, so they definitely had a different experience from me. As usual, we go wildly off-course all throughout, so you can look forward to outdated pop culture references, lame jokes, and all the other things you've probably come to expect from this podcast. We also answer some listener questions, and I even remembered to crush the stereo channels so that it doesn't sound like you're sitting in the middle of the table. Bonus!..

As iOS ports go, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions [$4.99] is something of a marvel. The developers did a great job of recreating the game on mobile, and as for the game itself, it's so great it even brought a smile to the villainous Carter Dotson's face in his five-star review of it. One of the few criticisms a person could level at the game was the lack of content from the Evolved update that other versions had received. We all had a feeling it was coming at some point, however, and that point is here and now...

'Avernum 2: Crystal Souls' Is Back On The App Store

Friends, 2015 has been an emotional roller-coaster for mobile RPG fans. There's been the business with The World Ends With You [$17.99 / $19.99 (HD)] and its update, the teasing of a new Baldur's Gate game, and the long-awaited announcement of Final Fantasy 7. Then there was Avernum 2: Crystal Souls [$9.99 (HD)], a release that seemed as open-and-shut as anything you could imagine. That is, until it wasn't...

Has iOS been around long enough now to start talking about some of its earlier releases as classics? If so, Redshift's early 2009 port of their Pocket PC RPG The Quest [$4.99] surely must qualify. The initial release alone offered dozens of hours of exploration, solving quests, navigating treacherous dungeons, and battling deadly creatures. If that wasn't enough to slake your thirst for adventure, the game also received 16 expansions, each one giving you another 30+ hours of fun. The Quest in its entirety is likely one of the biggest RPGs on the App Store, and it's just as much fun today as it was several years ago. In short, this is the kind of game that is worth preserving and curating as our young branch of the hobby continues to grow. With that in mind, it's scary how close we came to losing it recently...

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. The story this week seems to be complete and utter game-changer updates. There are several games that got so much new, free content that they might as well be new apps. Lots of other smaller, but still good, updates as well. 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!..

Start singing "nahnah-nahnah-nahnah", and people will immediately think, if not yell out, "Batman!" Utter the words "and here... we... go", and the image of Heath Ledger's excellent portrayal of the Joker clearly comes to mind. Similarly, if I tell you there's a new LEGO Batman game, your imagination can likely fill in most of the blanks. The only surprises here are narrative ones, and they're not really that surprising if you understand the usual LEGO game wavelength. LEGO Batman: Beyond Gotham [$4.99] is a fun game in the way most of the LEGO games on iOS are, but the series has pretty much exhausted all of its tricks by this point. If you're okay with that, you'll certainly get your money's worth out of the new levels, characters, suits, and jokes...

RPG Reload File 045 - 'Sorcery!'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we never seem to have enough rations to get by. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how well it's holding up in the present day. It's a bit of revisiting, a bit of reflecting, and a chance to take a deeper dive than our usual reviews allow for. I'll try to present a balanced plate of RPGs from week to week, hopefully representing what is an incredibly wide genre, but I'm always open to suggestions. If you know a game that you'd like to see featured, simply leave a comment below, post in the Official RPG Reload Club thread, or tweet me at @RPGReload. There's just one more regular reader's choice article after this one, with September bringing a few changes to the schedule. If there's something you really want to see me play and write about soon, it's time to get those recommendations in!..

Given the economics of the mobile market, it's hardly surprising that we're seeing developers try to figure out how to make a workable free-to-play model out of every traditional genre. Some have taken to it well. Puzzle games, racing games, and building/simulation games in particular have made fairly smooth transitions. RPGs, on the other hand, have seen a lot of experimentation. After some misguided steps like Tales Of Phantasia and Final Fantasy: All The Bravest [Free], it seems like the model set forth by Puzzle & Dragons [Free] has settled in as the default template. That might be good for developers, but as a player, it's kind of bittersweet. I've enjoyed a lot of games built in that vein, but few of them hit what I really enjoy about RPGs. Unfortunately, the discovery of a successful model means most have given up experimenting with anything else. We still see the odd attempt at something different, though, and Beast Bound [Free] is one such example...

Rayark's stylish action game Implosion - Never Lose Hope [$9.99] is in my top three of 2015 so far. It's a stunning game that plays as well as it looks, with intuitive controls and a surprising amount of depth to its combat. As original iOS action games go, it's easily among the cream of the crop, and its quality has paid off for Rayark. The game has sold 3 million copies to date at its regular price of $9.99, which is no small feat for a fairly small publisher. To celebrate that milestone, the game is on sale for $4.99, half of its regular price. Why yes, you should be buying this already...

Poor old Sonic The Hedgehog. He's been celebrating his 24th birthday recently, and to commemorate the occasion, SEGA has baked him a moist, delicious cake and topped it with inedible sludge. Sonic Runners [Free] has finally come out of its soft launch, and it's unfortunately still plagued with all of the problems it suffered from right from the very moment it set foot on the Japanese App Store. That this particular mixed bag comes from Sonic Team themselves is hardly surprising when you break down exactly what's wrong and right with it. Is it salvageable? Absolutely. Will it be? I wish I could say...

SEGA's latest game featuring their iconic blue mascot, Sonic Runners [Free], finally came out of soft launch late last week, and if the successes of previous Sonic games on iOS are anything to go by, they've probably got a hit on their hands. Opinions have been mixed to say the least, and our upcoming review will likely reflect that, but if nothing else it's pretty interesting to see a mobile-only game coming from the development team that built the series. In the lead up to the worldwide launch, SEGA kindly gave us the opportunity to ask the head of Sonic Team, Takashi Iizuka, a few questions about the game...

Update Mondays: 'The Simpsons: Tapped Out', 'Boom Beach', 'Crossy Road', 'The World Ends With You', 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. This was a big week for updates, with some very popular games getting new versions, a cherished game many had given up on coming back to life, and some business about a flag or something. 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!..

I hold two very strong opinions about the Dragon Quest series, one of which is agreed upon by many, and the other of which is slightly more controversial. First, Dragon Quest is like pie in that there is no bad one. My least favorite is either Dragon Quest 2 [$4.99] or Dragon Quest 8 [$19.99], but I'd still hand over a weekend to replaying both, no questions asked. With that being said, the other thing that I believe is that the series hit its creative peak with Dragon Quest 5 [$14.99]. That's not to say subsequent games didn't sometimes hit some very high notes, as my pie opinion shows. But if there is such thing as a work that a creative mind invests in so completely that they leave a big piece of themselves with said work forever, Dragon Quest 5 would be a huge example. That's an ominous way to begin a review of Dragon Quest 6 [$14.99], I'll admit, but I felt it was important to be upfront about that...