Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Hearthstone', 'Marvel Future Fight', 'Dungeons of Chaos', 'Panmorphia', 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. The biggest pop from last week's updates is undoubtedly that one card game from our orc-loving friends, but there were lots of other cool ones too. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper or by participating in the TouchArcade forums. This weekly summary is just here to fill you in on the things you might have missed. Let's dig in!..

RPG Reload Glossary - Giving the Devil His Due, or Action-RPGs in the Late 90s

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where the real monster was us all along. This week, we're heading into the next chapter of our RPG Reload Glossary covering the history of action-RPGs. The genre remains somewhat difficult to nail down to this day, but the 1990s would prove to whittle down the general perception of the genre to two or three basic forms. Like with any other genre, this more solid form came about due to some very popular tentpole releases that set a template for others to follow. In the last installment, we saw how the more Japan-focused console side of the industry settled in on two basic templates for the genre. This time around, we're covering the second half of the 1990s, where the Western-focused PC market finally found its genre-maker...




'Fighting Fantasy Legends' Review - Nomad Successfully Passes their Skill Test

Given their importance both in RPG history and in the memories of many players, it's not surprising that Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have been adapted into many different kinds of video games over the years. Some of them simply did the obvious, turning the books into text adventures. More often than not, however, the developers would get creative, turning out everything from first-person action/adventure games to Tomb Raider knock-offs. As a fan of the books, I ended up trying out most of these games as they released, and I can say that the main thing they had in common was that they weren't very good at all. Then smartphones and tablets came along, and all of a sudden, Fighting Fantasy games found their feet. Fighting Fantasy Legends [$4.99] continues that bout of good fortune, offering an awesome new take on the classic gamebooks...

SEGA Forever, SEGA's new retro gaming initiative, has had a pretty rocky start since its launch a couple of months ago. Between severe emulation problems, bugs with purchase histories and saved games on certain games, and the somewhat underwhelming selection of launch titles, a lot of hopeful SEGA fans were let down. For their part, SEGA has been working pretty hard to address those problems. They've already updated the initial spate of titles to make some improvements to the emulator, the aforementioned save/purchase history bugs were squashed quickly, and the post-launch additions to the line-up have been better. This week sees the former industry titan doing even more to try to win back the trust of players...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Fire Emblem Heroes', 'Slayaway Camp', 'Pokemon TCG Online', 'Mucho Party', 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. No sense candy-coating things: this week was a little thin on exciting new stuff. My theory is that developers are so busy making sure their games are ready for iOS 11 that they don't have much time to add anything else. Hopefully business will pick up again in a month or so. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper 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!..

As a premise for a ChoiceScript game, the one Demon Mark [$5.99] uses is a promising one. Set in a world of Slavic mythology, the story sees your young sibling kidnapped by a dangerous demon. Named the Uhin, she brands your characters with a curse called the Demon Mark and challenges you to come and rescue your family member. With a sword at your side and provisions in your bag, you set out on a road trip-style adventure through a veritable who's who of Slavic folk tales. Although we've started to see more games taking advantage of this rich source of lore, it remains a relatively untapped setting that offers high potential. Demon Mark is at its best when it drops you in the thick of these fables, and the author's passion and knowledge certainly shines through. Unfortunately, it ends up dropping the ball on some of the more fundamental elements of a choice-based game...

The original Knights of Pen & Paper [$4.99] was a goofy, grind-heavy RPG with a novel set-up that allowed it to poke fun at the many tropes of the genre. It painted over its repetitive mechanics with a sweet candy coating of enthusiastic charm and only slightly overstayed its welcome. In spite of its flaws, it was a great starting point both for the Pen & Paper concept and its developers Behold Studios. Oddly, the two went their separate ways when Behold opted to work on Chroma Squad [$4.99] instead of putting together a direct sequel to their popular game. The task of crafting Knights of Pen & Paper 2 [Free] fell to Kyy Games, and it's safe to say they didn't quite meet the expectations of many of the fans of the first game. Now, Behold is back to try their own follow-up to Pen & Paper. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with a similar setting, however, they've decided to take things to space with Galaxy of Pen & Paper [$4.99]...

Classic Reload - '10000000'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the Classic Reload, the regular feature where we won't stop playing until we reach an arbitrary goal. In each edition of this feature, we take a look at a game from the App Store's past to see how it holds up in the harsh light of the present day. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their position in the overall iOS library, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. As the person in the metaphorical hat, I try to choose a balanced selection of games to cover, but if you have something you'd like to see, don't be shy. You can make suggestions by commenting below the article. Since the schedule is planned pretty far in advance, you may not see your suggestion soon, but rest assured that it will be added to the  master list for future consideration...

Something about the writing style in Avatar of the Wolf [$3.99] almost immediately put me off. Most of the well-written gamebooks from Choice of Games have an almost velvety tone to their prose, gently massaging your brain and doing their best to make it comfortable. Avatar of the Wolf, by comparison, is thorny. The words feel shorter, less comfortable to read, and above all, aggressive. It's even disorienting at times. The way this story is written does as much to set the tone as the meaning of the words the writer chooses. It was jarring to try to slide into the main character. Yet it turns out to be precisely the atmosphere this story needs. Avatar of the Wolf isn't a fluffy tale of adventure that will appeal broadly, but give it time to spin its yarn and you might find yourself unable to put it down...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Elder Scrolls Legends', 'Phoenix 2', 'Nimian Legends', 'Injustice', 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. I think someone must have stuck a broomstick in the update machine last week, because we got quite a few more interesting ones than we've been getting lately. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper 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!..

'Layton's Mystery Journey' Review - Better Layton Than Never

Of all the possible games, series, and franchises that could have been ported to mobile over the years, one of the ones that made the most sense has been a no-show until now. Level 5's Professor Layton series of puzzle adventures, which debuted on the Nintendo DS in 2007, seemed like a great match for mobile both in terms of its game design and demographic appeal. For whatever reason, however, the platform seemed to get passed over for a mainline Layton game even as the occasional spin-off popped up. Well, no matter what the reason was, Level 5 seems to be ready to take a chance with the latest game in the series, Layton's Mystery Journey [$15.99]. This is a full Layton game in the traditional style, packed full of puzzles, a wild and woolly story, and plenty of tapping on everything for hint coins you'll never use...

RPG Reload Play-Along: 'Chrono Trigger'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload Play-Along. Each month, we'll be playing an iOS RPG together, sharing laughs and tears in equal measures. The post on the front page (like this one!) is basically here to announce the game in question and give a few tips on getting started. The real action will be happening in the TouchArcade forums, where you'll find a thread dedicated to each month's featured game. Sign up if you haven't already, post your screenshots, ask for advice, or just chat about your misadventures with others. We've got a great community of RPG fans here at TouchArcade, so let's make the most of it!..

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Pac-Man', 'Connectrode', 'Bubble Witch 2 Saga', 'Lonewolf', 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, we've got some updates, alright. Not a lot of them, and not exactly a lot of TouchArcade favorites, but they are what they are. It is pretty cool to see so many long-dead apps resurrected of late, if nothing else. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper 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 Glossary - Smells Like Ys Spirit, or Action-RPGs in the Early 90s

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where we're either playing gods or slaying gods. This week, we're filling in the next chapter in our RPG Reload Glossary look at the history of action-RPGs. One of the messier and less-satisfying genre labels around, the action-RPG had already taken many forms by the end of the 1980s. In the next decade, some of the most successful examples of the genre would arrive on the scene. While you would think that might simplify matters, the 1990s closed with the genre being harder to nail down than ever. While I had intended to cover the entire decade in this installment, it became apparent halfway through that it was beyond the scope of a single article. So instead, we're going to look at the first half of this formative decade and pick out some of the genre highlights along the way...

Hello everyone, and welcome to Musgravian Musings, a little space of my own where I can do some non-review reflections on whatever games strike my fancy. Usually, I use this feature to talk about recent game releases that I didn't review for whatever reason, but I'm doing something a little different this time. I tend to review the bulk of the many gamebooks, visual novels, interactive fiction, and other similar narrative-based games here at TouchArcade. Many readers have asked me about where they should start with the genre, or what my favorites are, so I thought that I might as well oblige. I don't want to bury you with choices, so I'm just going to keep this list to five (plus two) games...

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? Two and a half years have passed since I was delightfully surprised by Lowlander [$1.99], the cool Ultima 2 homage from developer Flat Black Films. The game did a great job of capturing many of the things that made the early Ultima games fun while simultaneously sanding off a few rough edges in consideration of the platform and the passage of time. While players might have expected a sequel to the game to look to Ultima 3 for inspiration, the game's developer instead opted to deliver a slightly more refined, much larger adventure in a similar mold to the first game. That left me hemming and hawing a bit about doing a review, as it feels a bit like reviewing a foot-long meatball sub after I already reviewed the six-inch. Did you like the six-inch sub? Do you want a lot more of it? If so, here you go...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Altered Beast', '868-HACK', 'Candy Crush Soda Saga', 'Survivalcraft 2', 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 quiet this week. A little too quiet, if you ask me. I've found some interesting ones, but if you're counting on this article to get you through your morning, I'm afraid I've let you down this time. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper or by participating in the TouchArcade forums. This weekly summary is here to fill in the things you might have missed. Let's dig in!..

RPG Reload Glossary - The Origins of Action-RPGs

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the regular feature where we fight by slamming our bodies into things. To be specific, welcome to the RPG Reload Glossary, where we get all up in fussy semantics, history, and other things that polite society will shun us for. Having covered both social RPGs and tactical RPGs in previous installments, we now turn our attention to perhaps the most popular and hard-to-define sub-genre of RPGs: the action-RPG. You can expect this one to be another three- or four-parter, as trying to do it all at once would require some keen editing, and that is not a thing that I am good at. In today's installment, we'll be looking at the origins and early years of the genre, loosely covering the 1980s. Let's get ready to rumble!..

Michael Brough's 868-HACK [$4.99] is one of the very best roguelite games you can get on iOS. While the game's visuals tend to divide people, it's hard to argue against its creative, challenging, and endlessly-fun take on a genre that has no shortage of competition on the platform. Like many developers, Brough wanted to bring his games up to date with 64-bit compatibility so that they'll survive the upcoming shift to iOS 11. He did that for 868-HACK back in April, making a few balance tweaks while he was at it. Apparently he couldn't resist doing a bit more, and that's good news for all of us...

Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Marvel Future Fight', 'Fire Emblem Heroes', 'WWE Immortals', 'Onirim', 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. Some quality games come back from the grave this time around, along with the usual spate of regular updates. One by one, some great old classics are getting shined up and prepared for the 64-bit future, and some of them are bringing some nice improvements with them to boot. Of course, you can keep an eye out for updates yourself using AppShopper or by participating in the TouchArcade forums. This weekly summary is here to fill in the things you might have missed. Let's dig in!..