Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Classic Reload - 'Papa Sangre'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the Classic Reload, the monthly feature where we spend a lot of time running into walls. Each month, we take a look at a game from the App Store's past to see how it holds up today. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their place in the overall library, or just to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. As the leader of the underworld, I'll try to choose a nice variety of titles for this feature, but if there's something you really want to see, don't hesitate to make a suggestion in the comments below. You might not see your suggested game soon, since I plan my schedules fairly far in advance, but I will consider it for a future highlight...

'Dan the Man' Review - A Blast While it Lasts

'Dan the Man' Review - A Blast While it Lasts

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October 20th, 2016 12:30 PM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $2.99, 4.5 stars, Action, Arcade, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Platform, Reviews
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One of the more reliable means of drawing attention in marketing is to use the biggest numbers you can find for your product or service's features. It's historically been very useful in selling video games, with RPGs claiming dozens of hours of gameplay, open world games boasting about the sizes of their maps, and platformer games talking up the number of levels they have. Thing have become ludicrous in mobile gaming, with Candy Crush offering a couple thousand levels and many platformers eventually expanding out to over a hundred stages. Never mind that the levels might be short, or easily constructed. The players will find that out later, and when they do, they may well not even care...




Let's address it immediately: Treasure Buster [$0.99] is obviously inspired by Mixi's Monster Strike [Free]. Much like this developer's previous game, Slayin [$0.99], this game initially comes off uncomfortably similar to the object of its homage. Luckily, also like Slayin, Treasure Buster ultimately differentiates itself well enough to transcend the copycat label and settle in as an interesting variation on a tried and tested mechanic. In fact, I would say that this game ditches a lot of what makes Monster Strike so much fun, choosing to create its own brand of enjoyment by adding a number of gameplay elements that Monster Strike doesn't have. As usual for a game published by FDG, Treasure Buster also looks and sounds great, fusing a bang-on retro presentation to a very modern gameplay structure...

However you rank Final Fantasy 4 [$14.99] among the many installments of the popular RPG series, it's clear that it's special to many people. Not the least of them being the people at Square Enix, who have seen fit to remake and re-release the game more than any other installment in the series. It's the only Super NES Final Fantasy to get a direct sequel game, which itself has been remade a few times in spite of being a pretty weak effort. Just as last weekend got underway, Final Fantasy 4 got another feather in its cap, as it's the subject of the latest event in the well-received Final Fantasy Brave Exvius [Free]. To celebrate that, Square Enix has temporarily reduced the price of the iOS version of Final Fantasy 4 to less than half of its usual cost...

Update Mondays: 'Mortal Kombat X', 'Pokemon Go', 'Rush Rally 2', 'Asphalt 8', 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. Hey, did you know? Halloween is coming! Even if you don't keep a calendar or pay attention to shop decorations, you'd be able to tell just by looking at recent app updates. 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!..

For English console gamers, ASCII's RPG Maker for the original PlayStation was likely their first chance to make their own game without actually learning how to program. It was a very limited version of the software, but you could make a basic JRPG with it if you were dedicated enough. I imagine most players bounced off of it, though, since it took a lot of time to make anything really worthwhile. Those who stuck with it likely found their way to the more robust PC versions of RPG Maker, which started getting official English releases from 2005 onward. Since 2010, the English versions of the PC RPG Maker have been handled by Degica. That same publisher has now released an iOS RPG creation tool called RPG Creator [Free]. It's not from the same people as RPG Maker, but it certainly does a good job of approximating its earlier incarnations...

RPG Reload File 095 - 'Overlive'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where cats calm the raging insanity inside us all. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it holds up today. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their position in the overall market, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. Supported by my assistant who appears in the form of a hologram that only I can see or hear, I try to choose a balanced plate of games that represents this big, wide genre. If you feel I'm missing something important, though, make sure to let me know. You can do that by posting in the comments below, dropping by the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. Since the schedule is planned far in advance, I might not get to your suggestion soon, but it will be added to the master list...

'Pumped BMX 3' Review - A Successful 360 Spin

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October 13th, 2016 11:05 AM EST by Shaun Musgrave in $3.99, 4 stars, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Sports
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The original Pumped BMX [$1.99] was a fun, surprisingly deep side-scrolling stunt game that combined elements of Tiny Wings [$0.99] and Trials to great success. The sequel, Pumped BMX 2 [$2.99], completely blew the first game out of the water. The highlights included a dramatically-improved presentation, a deeper trick system, and a better set of controls that made pulling off intricate maneuvers much easier. It was such a big step up from the first game that it was hard to see where the series could go in a sequel without completely tearing up the carpet. That seems to have proven true, as Pumped BMX 3 [$3.99] isn't nearly the upgrade that the second game was over the first. There are some significant additions, but nothing that really changes the game in any major way. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on how well you've enjoyed this series until now...

Hello, gentle listeners. It's time once again for an episode of the RPG Reload Podcast, arguably the finest retro mobile RPG podcast on the Internet! This month, we're revisiting a real oldie, the 2010 turn-based strategy RPG The War of Eustrath [$2.99 / $4.99 (HD)]. This one didn't go over so well with Eric and Andy, so the discussion is perhaps a little more negative than usual. But hey, there's plenty of other stuff to enjoy this month. We've all been playing a number of iOS RPGs, and the reader mailbag was full to the brim this month with excellent questions. Get a comfy chair and a cup of cocoa, friends, because this one ran to just the other side of two hours. Whoops!..

Capcom's Ace Attorney series has seen many twists and turns since its debut on Game Boy Advance in 2001. Initially only available in Japan, the series was brought to the world via Nintendo DS remakes. For the most part, those remakes were pretty close to the original games, but the remake of the first game included a new case designed to set up the then-upcoming fourth Ace Attorney game. Much to everyone's surprise, however, when Ace Attorney 4 was announced, it didn't star the previous protagonist of the series. Instead, the baton was passed to Apollo Justice, albeit with an awfully familiar mentor...

Being an avid fan of oddball games, I've seen some pretty strange things in my time. I thought I had seen the strangest horse-related game to come out of Japan this year with Uma Musume, the upcoming idol-raising, horse-girl racing game from Granblue Fantasy publisher Cygames. I mean, surely that's the ceiling, right? Combining Japan's love of horse-racing, idol groups stacked with cute girls, and social RPGs is certainly one way to bring together seemingly disparate interests in a game. Then, someone showed me Usaya's Uma no Prince-Sama [Free], and suddenly, I need a whole new scale for measuring weirdness...

Update Mondays: 'Mobius Final Fantasy', 'Lowlander', 'Pathfinder Adventures', 'Temple Run 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. Since today is a holiday, this week's list is a little lighter than usual. Hey, we all need a break sometimes, right? That said, I think what's here is certainly worth checking out. 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!..

It's always interesting to see what kind of games follow when a novel idea hits big. The first wave is usually composed of shameless clones, but after everyone gets those out of their systems, you start to see some interesting, enjoyable twists. Earlier this year, we took a look at Dungeon Tiles [Free], a game that fused some light RPG mechanics into the core mechanics of Threes! [$2.99], adding an extra layer of tension to the swipe 'n' merge gameplay. Stencilsmith [$0.99] takes a broadly similar approach to that game, but also introduces crafting aspects to give you even more to do. The game has been out for a few months already, but it just recently got a great update that made me take a closer look at it. While it's not much to look at and comes off a little rough in places, the added ideas it brings to the table makes for an entertaining twist on a favorite...

RPG Reload Developer Spotlight 001 - Josh Presseisen from Crescent Moon Games

As mentioned in last month's RPG Reload roadmap, we're going to be taking one column out of every month to interview some of the developers and publishers behind some of our favorite games. The aim here is for you readers to get a sense of the person, so the tone is more conversational than we usually use in interviews here at TouchArcade. It's also not necessarily about the games themselves, either. Basically, we'll kick off and see where the conversation takes us. To start this series, Josh Presseisen from Crescent Moon Games has graciously agreed to be the guinea pig. Crescent Moon is perhaps most famous for the Ravensword [$6.99] series of RPGs, but they publish all kinds of games, including the recent Legend of the Skyfish [$3.99] and Atomic Super Lander [$2.99]...

'Jade Empire: Special Edition' Review - Everybody Was Kung Fu Grinding

As one of the most well-known RPG developers in recent times, Bioware is primarily known for two things: Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy, and space operas. Back in 2005, as the original Xbox was fading out and the Xbox 360 was on the horizon, Bioware was able to slide a little something different down the line. Jade Empire [$9.99] was a martial arts fantasy action RPG inspired by wuxia films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers. It was the developer's first real foray into incorporating real-time action into the RPG framework that had become known for, a blend that woulds  be revisited with greater success in the Mass Effect series. While it was well-received critically, the game failed to sell anywhere near as well as Bioware's other titles, so the developer went back to the more reliable fantasy/sci-fi salt mines. That's a shame, because Jade Empire is an excellent game with some flaws that could have been buffed out to marvelous effect in a sequel...

Back when I reviewed developer AJTilley's first visual novel release on iOS, Sword of Asumi [$1.99], I found myself underwhelmed by the weak follow-through on what I felt was a fairly good premise, but had some hope for future releases from the team. Well, we now have a another game from AJTilley, and I have to say that I'm a lot less optimistic about their future work. Divine Slice of Life [$3.99], like the developer's previous effort, has a good enough premise. You play as the reincarnation of Zeus who had been living a normal student life until two demigoddesses came crashing in, demanding you marry one of them and ascend to the Pantheon. Silly? Sure, but romantic comedies often are. Unfortunately, just as in Sword of Asumi, a decent premise ends up being entirely squandered. Somehow, it's even worse this time around...

Bioware's Classic 'Jade Empire' Hits iOS Tomorrow, For Real This Time

Hello, friends. Remember August? I sure do. Lots of great games came out that month, but the biggest story may well have been the game that didn't come out. Namely, Aspyr Media's port of Bioware's martial arts fantasy action-RPG Jade Empire, which was originally scheduled for release on August 18th. The game ran into a last-minute snag, however, and the release was pushed back. As the weeks passed by, everyone waited for the game to make an appearance on the weekly list of new releases, only to be let down. Well, it's been a little longer than I think anyone anticipated, but it looks like the iOS version of Jade Empire will be available really soon. As in, later tonight/tomorrow, barring any other unforeseen circumstances...

'Bullet Hell Monday' Review - Another Manic Monday

Last year, we were treated to a pair of excellent shooters by Japanese indie developer Masayuki Ito. Titled .Decluster [$2.99] and .Decluster Zero [$4.99], these shoot-em-ups combined a unique visual style with tense bullet-hell action. The scoring mechanisms largely surrounded the ability to cancel enemy bullets. The more bullets you canceled, the more points you would earn. This encouraged you to use risky strategies, making for some seriously thrilling close calls. The stage designs and enemy placements in the games were top-notch, too. The .Decluster games were sold as paid games with no IAPs, and that's probably one of the biggest points where Ito's latest shooter, Bullet Hell Monday [Free], diverges from his previous titles...

Update Mondays: 'Disney Crossy Road', 'Siralim 2', 'Leap Day', 'Pocket Mine 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 another healthy crop of updates this week, with plenty of big names and cult favorites alike. 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!..

'Antiquia Lost' Review - Goo Girl Gone

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You don't even have to squint for Antiquia Lost [Free / $4.99] to resemble the recent Asdivine games released by Kemco. In terms of its visuals, mechanics, and systems, it's barely changed from EXE-Create's last few games for the prolific RPG publisher. There are a few small twists, most notably that one of the main characters has an unusual method of leveling up, but for the most part, if you've played any of the EXE-Create RPGs that use weapon customization as a core mechanic, you'll know what to expect here. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, but it's also not a very exciting thing. The most noteworthy part of Antiquia Lost is in how it advances Kemco's IAP monetization techniques, and that's not really the kind of dinner bell most of us want to hear...