Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Before I write anything else, I want to commend the developer of Lith [Free] on their courage. Making an entire game around a gameplay concept that is likely most famously remembered as "the puzzley bits that everyone hates in middling JRPGs" takes some guts. Lith is a puzzle game made up entirely of those puzzles where you have to slide across icy surfaces to reach an exit. Once you've stepped onto the ice, you can't stop or change direction until you reach a tile with some sort of traction or bump into a wall...

TGS 2014: Indie Game Wrap-Up

I looked at and played a number of great games in the Indie Games area of the show floor. It was probably the most interesting part of the show as far as mobile games go. Square Enix put a good effort forward, but other big companies either weren't showing their mobile line-up or just showing off their latest attempt to catch onto the tail feathers of Puzzle & Dragons [Free]. I've written separate articles for some of the games I played in the Indie area, but the rest of the stuff I played was too early on, unlikely to leave Japan, or just not a great experience to be had on a noisy show floor. Here are some of the interesting ones...

TGS 2014: Hands-On With 'Ghost Blade'

I played quite a few games at the Tokyo Game Show, and as you would expect, there was a pretty wide range in terms of how finished games were and how enjoyable they were to play. While I was excited to play Chaos Rings 3 for obvious reasons, the surprise of the show for me ended up being Ghost Blade, an upcoming stylish action game from Shanghai-based developer Yushi Digital Entertainment. It's currently in soft launch in China, and should be coming to the rest of the world within the next month or two...

TGS 2014: Hands-On With 'Dungeons And Darkness'

I think when a lot of gamers think of RPGs from Japan, the first image that pops up is something along the lines of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Namco's Tales series. I've seen people say things like Demon's Souls and Dark Souls don't count as Japanese RPGs simply because they don't fit into that box we have in our minds. The truth is, Japan has had a long and consistent history with first-person RPGs, and they're generally done up in a dark fantasy style. It's just that, perhaps ironically, these more traditionally Western-looking games didn't have much of a market outside Japan until the last several years or so, when console players in North America finally got the tip that these kinds of games are pretty cool...

Band Saga is such a weird game, and I mean that in the most beautiful possible way. Part rogue-like, part twin-stick shooter, all mixed in with a stylish, unique musical theme, I can't say I've played anything quite like it before. In this game, you have to put together your band by rescuing members. They're found in the game's various stages set in different cities across the world, which you'll have to clear out room by room until you find them. The game has a really cool classic sci-fi theme to it, rendered in pixel art that looks like it fell out of a 16-bit console game...

TGS 2014: Hands-On With 'Million Onion Hotel'

Every once in a while, a game comes out of the Japanese development scene that makes you question your sanity. I feel like I'm pretty numb to this stuff in general by now, but Million Onion Hotel from Onion Games is... something else. Headed up by industry veteran Yoshiro Kimura, who previously worked on No More Heroes, Little King's Story, and Chulip, the game is basically a variation on Whack-A-Mole. Yet, reducing it to that feels a bit like calling Katamari Damacy a game about rolling a ball around...

Square Enix had a lot of mobile games showing at its booth, but many of them weren't playable. Interestingly, though they've been out for some time, Dragon Quest IV and Dragon Quest VIII had stations set up, and of course, Chaos Rings 3 and the Dive In service were playable as well. The rest of Square Enix's mobile lineup was presented in video only, though I did manage to pick up a few details about some of the games...

Given that it's going to be launching relatively soon in Japan, it wasn't that odd that Square Enix would be showing off their new streaming service, Dive In, at the Tokyo Game Show. Nevertheless, I was still a bit surprised to have a chance to play a couple of the games from its launch lineup at Square Enix's booth. Both Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 13 were available to try out, and since I was very curious as to how well they would work, I gave them both a play...

TGS 2014: Hands-On With 'Snow World'

If there's one thing that Japanese game developers have mastered in a way that few others can match, it's making games that are both completely adorable and still pretty hardcore. Snow World, from developer Link Kit, is yet another one of those deceptively cute games that turns out to have a harder edge to its gameplay than you would initially suspect. It's an all-out snowball war between penguins, snowmen, seals, and ice princesses. The developer calls it a "defense action" game, and that seems like a pretty good fit...

TGS 2014: Hands-On With 'Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots'

Last year, an awesome action game called Ninjin [Free] came in under the radar. It's an auto-scrolling action game with a great, traditional feel to it. It's also a very difficult game, throwing enemies at you in mixed waves to trip you up, and capping off each stage with a fight against a vicious boss. There were a bunch of unlockables that you could earn and use as your playstyle demanded, and the presentation had charm to spare. I had quite a blast with it while I was playing it for my review, and to top it off, the developer was very friendly and open to feedback in the thread in our forums. Well, Ninjin is back, and this time, he's brought along a couple of his friends in Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots, a reboot/sequel to the original. It's launching first on PSN and PC, but I've been told that, although it's not 100% certain, there's a very high chance it will be coming to mobile down the road...

TGS 2014: Hands-On With 'Chaos Rings 3'

The kids are back in school and the temperatures are cooling down, and in Japan that means it's the time of the year for the annual Tokyo Game Show. I got hands-on time with a bunch of cool upcoming games, but I figured you guys might be interested in hearing about this one first. Square Enix had a huge booth at the show this year, and while a lot of that was for their console and handheld games, mobile had a major presence as well. There were a handful of playable titles, but I went right for Chaos Rings 3. It's one of my most anticipated games, so I was eager to see if it lived up to my hopes...

Yes, I went for the low-hanging fruit with the review title. Let's just try to move past that and get to the game I want to tell you about today, Kapsula [$1.99]. This is a pretty unusual game. If it wasn't so utterly out there with its theme, I'd almost think it was the product of some bizarre marketing meeting. This is basically a lane-based endless runner mixed with a match-3 puzzle game, and I'll let you try to hash out how that might work for a second before I spoil it all for you...

It's something that mobile gamers probably overlook more often than we should, but audio can add tremendously to the experience you get from a game. From the throaty growling threats of Sinistar to the playful jingle that plays when you die in Super Mario Bros. to the unsettling atmosphere of Bioshock, video games have always used sound to subtly manipulate the emotional state of the player. Unfortunately, the very nature of how and where most handheld games are played means a lot of us rarely hear the games that engage us so well. You're going to have to trust me on one thing, though, and that's that if you play Shoot The Moon [Free], you're going to want to do it with the sound on...

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome back to the RPG Reload, the weekly journey to seek the long-buried legends of iOS RPGs, revisit them, and escape within 2,000 words. I haven't succeeded in that yet, and I'm pretty sure today isn't going to buck that trend. As this week's installment hopefully demonstrates, we are welcome to all kinds of RPGs here in the Reload, and while I will do my best to share the love around, there is someone who can keep an eye on me to make sure I'm not sticking too closely to my comfort zone. That someone is you. Yes, as regular readers know, once a month, I'm playing and writing about an RPG selected by the readers. The next reader's choice is coming up pretty fast in RPG Reload 008, so get your votes in now by leaving a comment below or posting in the Official RPG Reload Club in our forums. This is your last week to cast a vote, because even Batman needs prep time. In addition to voting, I'd also love to hear your thoughts on this week's game or any other games I've covered. I'm also not going to say no to any fresh humor, just throwing that out there...

Occasionally, a video game has a brilliant new idea that it builds itself around. Sometimes it gets it right the first time, sometimes it's left to another game to capitalize on it. Most games, however, have to be content with coming at an existing idea, hoping to provide a new angle, presentation, or mix of other ideas to set itself apart. Such is the case with Partyrs [$1.99], a charming puzzle game with a premise that should ring pretty familiar to avid mobile puzzle game fans. It's a game about arranging guests in a room according to their desires in order to ensure maximum party satisfaction. In practice, it's very similar to the popular games Girls Like Robots [$2.99] and Joining Hands [Free], a puzzle type that stretches at least as far back as those old logic puzzles about ferrying sheep and wolves across the river with one boat...