Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Ackeron [$2.99] is remarkable for a few reasons. First, it's a remake of a 15+ year old Palm Pilot game, which I can assure you is not something you see every day. Second, it's a large, complex, single-player RPG from an indie developer, something that is becoming rare these days on iOS. Perhaps the most amazing thing about it is just how much effort seems to have been put into this remake. Ackeron could easily pass for a new game on iOS, though its mechanics might quickly disabuse you of that notion. When a developer puts that kind of work into a remake, it's easy to see the passion behind the game. Indeed, Ackeron feels like a massive passion project, but it's also a surprisingly enjoyable RPG if you can stick with it through some of its bumpier parts...

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where pouring milk on an inn allows it to charge a higher rate. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it's holding up in the modern day. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their position in the overall library, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. As mayor of this city, I try to choose a balanced plate of games from week to week, but if you feel like I'm missing anything important, you can let me know by leaving a comment below, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. The schedule is already done up quite far in advance, so you might not see your suggestion soon, but it will be added to the master list...




It's interesting watching the flow of game design over time. While it's sometimes painful to watch established game designs hop from a paid model to a free-to-play set-up, those very same free-to-play hits have now been around long enough to start inspiring developers to travel that road in the opposite direction. The basic structure and look of Dungeon x Balls [Free] seem heavily informed by social RPG sensations like Puzzle and Dragons [Free], but rather than send the player down an endless rabbit hole of collection, evolution, and battling, it opts for a more traditional style. You'll find new characters with their own special abilities, battle boss creatures, and work your way through the story, and while there are IAP, they're solely of the cosmetic variety. Best of all, its core gameplay mechanic feels intuitive and fresh, a difficult thing to accomplish in the wildly crowded mobile market...

We've seen a lot of licensed LEGO games in the 11 years since the series of action games from Traveler's Tales first kicked off. Batman, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Avengers, Indiana Jones, Jurassic World, and Pirates of the Caribbean have all had at least one game made chronicling their stories and characters. I'm not even going to touch what's going on in LEGO Dimensions, but I'm pretty sure we're only a few announcements away from a Taxi playset complete with Judd Hirsch and Andy Kaufman mini-figures. While it's undeniable that these games pay loving homage to their respective licenses (I can't doubt the purity of any developer who includes Howard the Duck in their Marvel game), it's equally undeniable that despite the wide differences between those licenses, the games are very similar in terms of gameplay. It makes sense. They found a winning formula, so why not just kludge whatever's popular into that framework? Players seem happy enough, bills are paid, it's smiles all around...

Although the game is starting to face some competition at the top spot, there's no denying that Clash of Clans [Free] has been a force to be reckoned with on the mobile charts. One region where it hasn't been quite so dominant, however, is Japan, where social RPGs like Puzzle & Dragons [Free] rule the roost. Because life is funny that way, those games seem to have had difficulties repeating their successes outside of the Asian markets. Is there no way to reconcile these differences? Well, BlazeGames, a relative newcomer to the mobile scene, has an idea. It's called Battle Champs [Free], and it just launched across the globe in most major markets...

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 another mini-edition this week, I'm afraid. The internet was set up at my new location, but it came too late in the day to be as thorough as I usually prefer. We will definitely be back to the normal schedule from next week. 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 Presents - The History of Handheld RPGs, Part Eleven

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload. This week, we're continuing our little monthly project looking at the history of handheld RPGs. That means that we will not be taking a look at a specific RPG from the App Store's past this time around. Last month, we looked at the Nintendo 3DS, a machine that had some trouble finding its footing initially. In the long run, it has proven to be quite the little RPG machine, however. If you thought that tale was harrowing, however, you haven't seen anything yet. This month, we're looking at the other side of the current generation of dedicated handheld gaming hardware, the PlayStation Vita...

The practice of cloning is troublesome for many reasons. There are the obvious problems, but beyond those, the fear of a game being perceived as a clone stifles the natural process of building on a great idea. We've seen some pretty shameful clones in the App Store's history, but perhaps none of them have been as harmful to the original game as 2048 was to Threes! [$2.99]. A marketplace battle took place, and I think it's safe to say a lot of people felt the wrong game won there. I'm not sure if the cloud hanging over that has kept more developers from taking a crack at ideas inspired by Threes!, but if it has, more's the shame. Still, we see the odd swing at doing something interesting with the compelling swiping and combining mechanism that Threes! introduced so well. The latest is Dungeon Tiles [Free], from developer Takashi Iyoda...

By now, the social RPG genre has found a pretty comfortable groove. Take some kind of battle mechanic, staple the now-standard collect, fuse, evolve leveling system onto it, and make sure you have an ever-expanding line-up of desirable goodies for players to chase after. The recipe is simple enough, though finding success with it is another matter. There's a lot of competition, and players have got to be getting a little tired of the same old. That's likely as good an explanation as any for why the social RPG genre has started to stretch its legs out a little. If there's one company that has been trying seemingly every permutation of features to try to score a hit, it's Square Enix. Very few of their efforts have ever left the shores of Japan, but that might be starting to change. Not long ago, we saw a wide release for Kingdom Hearts Unchained Chi [Free], and now we've got one for Final Fantasy Brave Exvius [Free], Square's collaboration with Brave Frontier [Free] developers Alim...

'Monster Hunter Freedom Unite' Review - Good-bye Free Time, Hello Wildlife Slaughter

Editor's Note: This game was recently updated to be playable again after being broken for ages. It's an incredible port from an amazing game franchise, so we're bumping the review up to the top of TA in case anyone missed it the first time around! Anyway, here's Shaun's original review which we published almost exactly two years ago, on July 3rd 2014:


Capcom's iOS games present a truly insane roll of the dice. You've got terribly reimagined ports of classics like Mega Man X [$4.99], wonderful ports of underappreciated games like Ghost Trick [Free], ports that are maybe a bit too perfect like Street Fighter II Collection [$3.99] or the dearly departed Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and games that take familiar names and series and go in strange directions like Ghosts 'n Goblins Gold Knights [$0.99]. This time, however, they've really gone and done it. Just when you think they can't make you doubt them any further, they go and totally redeem themselves with an absolutely fantastic iOS version of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite [$14.99].

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It's been a long road, but Monster Hunter Freedom Unite [$14.99] has been updated to work with the latest version of iOS and is back on the App Store. The iOS port of the classic PSP title had been broken since the arrival of iOS 9 back in September of 2015, barely a year after the game had launched worldwide. At the time, Capcom seemed to have no plans to fix the game and pulled it from the App Store, disappointing many fans who had come to love the game on their mobile devices...

Update Mondays: 'Temple Run 2', 'Disney Crossy Road', 'Wrestling Revolution 3D', 'Star Traders 4X Empires', 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. Regrettably, I'm in the middle of a move right now and don't have as much time for writing as I usually do, so this week's article is going to be more of a "best-of" than usual. I apologize, but we should be back to the normal size next week. 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!..

From the moment the first details on Tap My Katamari [Free]were released, the overwhelming sentiment seemed to be that this game shouldn't be. The original Katamari Damacy was a small, creative, sincere game that somehow managed to become a big hit even though such qualities don't generally lead to success in the console space. Seeing the brand used for a fairly blatant attempt at getting a little cash from one of the mobile flavors of the moment just doesn't seem right to some people, and I can certainly understand that point of view. From where I'm sitting, the Katamari brand started being used against its original intentions almost immediately, with sequel after sequel only serving to diminish the power of the original. So, personally, I'm not disappointed because I think Tap My Katamari shouldn't be. I'm disappointed because Tap My Katamari shouldn't be this mediocre of a tapper...

RPG Reload File 085 - 'Alphadia'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we all know at least one mysterious girl. 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 old favorites, reflect on their place in the overall iOS landscape, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. I try to select a balanced plate of RPGs from week to week in order to reflect the diversity of the genre, but if you feel like I'm missing something important, 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. You might not see your suggestion soon, but it will be added to the master list...

We knew it was coming soon, and here it is. So, let's be honest: Square Enix has been throwing a lot of mud at the social RPG wall hoping something will stick. They've done some relatively small-scale original productions, brought in major staff members from the core Final Fantasy series to work on big-budget games, attached pretty much every major brand they've got, and have even partnered up with other companies, all in hopes of scoring a hit. So far, their successes have been temporary at best, particularly in regions outside of Asia where social RPGs are a less popular genre. Surprisingly, the biggest social RPG success with Square Enix's name attached was published and almost entirely developed by an outside company...

A few months ago, Kairosoft released a pair of interesting new titles worldwide, one based on managing a train station, and the other putting you in charge of your own arcade. They were both cool simulation games in their own ways, but there was a catch to those versions: they only supported Japanese language. Not long ago, the first of the two got an English release as Station Manager [$5.99]. Understandably, many of our readers were more interested in the arcade-themed game. Well, that game is also available in English now under the title Pocket Arcade Story [$4.99]...

'Teeny Titans' Review - A Little Teeny, but You'll Want To Lick the Plate Clean-y

For all the years that mobile gaming has been around, there are still a lot of publishers and developers who still don't quite get the platform. I don't mean to complain about that. After all, even games ported directly from consoles or PCs essentially untouched can add to the diversity of the overall software catalogue. But it sure is great when a developer makes something that feels perfectly tailored to mobile, and that's just what Grumpyface Studios has been doing for the last several years. Their recent efforts with various Cartoon Network properties have been especially wonderful, and are some of the best licensed games on any platform lately. What's even more remarkable is the spread of genres they've been trying out and succeeding with: inventive action games like Adventure Time Game Wizard [$4.99], light RPGs like Attack the Light - Steven Universe [$2.99], and hectic puzzle games like Powerpuff Girls - Flipped Out [$2.99]...

Update Mondays: 'Zenonia S', 'Sky Force Reloaded', 'Marvel Avengers Academy', 'Tiny Tower', 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. We've got a nice mix of the new and the old appearing this week, but as usual, it's mostly tilted towards free-to-play games. 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 084 - 'Shadowrun Returns'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we'll deck the world for a few credsticks. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it holds up in the present day. It's a chance for reflecting on important releases, revisiting old favorites, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. As the present King of Canada, I try to choose a balanced plate of games from week to week to reflect the wide diversity in the genre. If you feel like I'm missing something important, though, make sure to let me know. You can do that by posting in the comments below, stopping by the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. You might not see your suggestion right away, but it will be added to the master list...

Word games and mobile go together like peanut butter and jam, and like that classic combo, you don't have to look very far to find an example. You get to a point where you have to wonder what more can be done with the genre beyond dressing it up in different themes. AlphaPit [Free], the latest game from Word Forward [Free] developer Shane McCafferty, has a few new ideas. For the most part, it builds on the frame work laid down in Word Forward, but there are some unusual design choices that make AlphaPit feel different, if not necessarily better. While I think the developer succeeded in making something that sets itself apart from the very large crowd, the game never truly finds an enjoyable structure to call its own...