Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


Bioware's Epic Action RPG 'Jade Empire' Hits iOS [Update: Soon, Not Today]

[Editor's Note: Please see the update at the end of this article.] Not even Master Li could see this one coming. Aspyr Media, the team behind the iOS ports of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic [$9.99] and Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy [$9.99], are adding another classic adventure to their iOS portfolio later today. Many of us had anticipated that their next release might be an iOS version of Obsidian's Knights of the old Republic 2, but it turns out they had their eyes on another RPG from the Xbox era first. Jade Empire, Bioware's epic martial arts fantasy, will be available for your favorite iOS device later today...

When it comes to interactive fiction, certain elements have to carry a disproportionate amount of weight on their shoulders. A good premise helps. Interesting choices are a must. While the story doesn't necessarily have to be spectacular, it should at least be well-written. There's more to it than that, especially if said game starts dipping its wick into the RPG genre, but at a minimum, quality interactive fiction should present the player with a good story in which they have some agency, or at least the illusion of it. Deadman Diaries [$0.99] is the latest release from Cubus Games, best known for their hardcore space action gamebook Heavy Metal Thunder [$3.99]. It carries a lower price tag than the rest of Cubus's line-up, and while I don't think you can always judge a game by its price, it's a useful indicator in this case...




'The Quest HD' Review - That Old Magic is Still Alive

Redshift's The Quest [$4.99] was originally released for Pocket PCs and Palm devices, but it found new life when the game was ported to iPhones in March of 2009. Its massive size and depth, combined with a seemingly endless parade of new content through regular expansion pack releases, made it one of the best RPGs on the platform, and for many people, the only one they ever needed. Surprisingly, the years have been generally kind to it in most regards, so it still plays as well as it ever did. Only a few respects betrayed the game's age. One of the most obvious points is that it offered no iPad-native version, forcing tablet owners to play it with a less-than-flattering zoom applied to the visuals. As detailed as the graphics in the original port are, they're clearly coming from the pre-retina days of mobile gaming, and while that's not something I mind terribly, it made the game look too old-fashioned for some...

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 big names and little names alike in this week's round-up, with a bit of fun for everyone. Hopefully, anyway. 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!..

Strategy games and the iPad go together like curry and rice, so it's no surprise that there have been a ton of great strategy games, both original and classic, released on the device. A couple of years ago, we were treated to one of the all-time classics of PC strategy when Heroes of Might & Magic 3 [$9.99 (HD)] came to iPad. Well, you can grab your marker and get ready to cross another one off of the old checklist, because Rome: Total War is coming to iPad this fall from SEGA and Feral Interactive...

RPG Reload File 089 - 'Infinity Blade 2'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we know how to retcon and aren't afraid to do it. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it shapes up by today's standards. It's a chance to check in on old favorites, consider their place in the overall landscape, or simply to zoom and enhance on games in a way our reviews typically don't allow for. As the God King of this feature, I try to choose a balanced mix of games from week to week in order to represent the variety in the genre. If you feel like I'm missing something 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. Since the schedule is planned pretty far in advance, I can't promise you'll see your suggestion soon, but it will be added to the master list...

While many mobile gamers pine for the days when Gamevil was putting together paid action-RPGs like the older Zenonia games, you have to admit that they've approached the free-to-play social RPG genre with some gusto. Their efforts in the genre cover a wide variety of playstyles, and the production values are often on par with even Square Enix's releases. Well, you can add another one to their line-up with the release of Masquerade: The Faceless [Free]. This one is a side-scrolling 3D beat-em-up with RPG elements, and it's surprisingly fun...

Gameloft's behind-the-back runner/crawler/swinger featuring everyone's favorite webhead has been going strong for a few years now, tossing a veritable cornucopia of Spider-Mans and their Amazing Friends into the game on a regular basis. That said, it's been a while since the development team has added any content to the game's story mode, which ended on a cliffhanger with hints that someone else was behind Mysterio's cross-dimensional power play. Another bummer is that the cool 2099 environment from the Spider-Verse event has been MIA since that story came to a close. Well, face front, True Believers, because the latest update of Spider-Man Unlimited [Free] sees both of those long-gone elements make a comeback...

Hello, gentle listeners, and welcome to another slightly overdue episode of the RPG Reload Podcast. This month, Eric, Andy, and I are joined by our old friend Zack Kline, who you might remember from the King of Dragon Pass episode last year. Together, we're discussing the curious and crafty A Dark Room. We had a number of technical problems with the recording this time, leading to the death of an Eric, and severe choppiness on my end in the second half. I tried to splice around it, but all I can do is apologize if things come off disjointed at times. Nevertheless, we had a good long talk about a variety of games. Want to hear our thoughts on Pokemon Go? Guild of Dungeoneering? Cosmos Rings? The Facts of Life? Then you've just got to listen to this action-packed episode!..

Update Mondays: 'Suicide Squad: Special Ops', 'Pixel Boat Rush', 'Farm Heroes Saga', 'Politaire', 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. Lots of interesting stuff this week, though I think that a certain sporting event's overly litigious nature has kept many apps from jumping on the bandwagon of current events. 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 Twelve

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload. This week, we're concluding 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 took a look at the PlayStation Vita, a troubled system that has quite a respectable library of games. There are a lot of reasons it wasn't able to take off in terms of sales, but the biggest one is probably that smartphones have swept the feet right out from under the dedicated handheld gaming market. One of the strongest regions for dedicated handhelds, particularly with regards to the adult demographic, is Japan, but that's also one of the regions that has most quickly and thoroughly adopted smartphones as its gaming device of choice. That didn't happen because of Final Fantasy ports and Kemco RPGs, though. Rather, it was through the smashing popularity of a new kind of RPG: the social RPG. In our final chapter, we're taking a look at the free-to-play era of smartphone RPGs...

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

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August 4th, 2016 4:21 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4.5 stars, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy
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So, here's a juicy secret for all of you: To the best of my knowledge, I'm the TouchArcade staff member who has played Clash of Clans [Free] the least. It probably seems odd that a writer for a major mobile site hasn't played much of one of the most popular games on the platform, and you know, I can't argue with that. I'd like to say it's just because I'm busy covering other stuff, but the truth is, I don't really like games that emphasize competitive multiplayer. While the game has some single-player content, it felt like a complete afterthought and wasn't much fun to play. You might think my lack of Clash of Clans experience would make me a poor candidate to review the Clash of Clans-inspired Battle Champs [Free], but I think it allows me to offer a different perspective on the game. You see, I don't think I'm alone in finding the idea of playing Clash of Clans unappealing in spite of its obvious quality. If you're like me, you might want to give Battle Champs a try. It does an excellent job of extending an olive branch to those who might otherwise shy away from the genre...

I'll come to the point immediately today: Legends of Heropolis [Free]is a terrible game. If you had access to a state-of-the-art 1966 Batcomputer and asked it to show you the worst possible outcome of a merger between a Kairosoft sim and a Japanese free-to-play social RPG, Legends of Heropolis is what it would belch out on those little printed strips of paper before self-destructing. It's overly-busy, the UI is disastrous, there are elements included that make no sense whatsoever for the theme, and the battle system is monotonous button mashing. While there isn't much in the way of a hard paywall, you are required to be online, you have a stamina system to deal with, and there's a gatcha-type random draw for gear to entice you to spend real money. Not content to merely borrow from Japanese free-to-play hits, there are also timers on buildings that you can rush if you're willing to pay. It's a veritable Megazord of mean-spirited ideas...

Once rare treats in an overall line-up that included a few other developers, EXE-Create's games for Kemco have recently had to shoulder most of the load for the near-monthly release schedule of the publisher. Of this year's seven iOS releases so far from Kemco, five have come from EXE-Create. Now, this developer knows how to put together solid RPGs in a short span of time, but that kind of breakneck schedule isn't going to make anyone look good. Taking things one step further, this month's selection, Asdivine Cross [Free / $4.99], is a remake of one of the developer's old feature phone releases. Many of the gameplay systems have been changed, which would be good if the "new" systems weren't simply copy and pasted from their last few original games. In a vacuum, Asdivine Cross is a decent enough JRPG, even quite good in places. Unfortunately, we're not in a vacuum. We're in the world where this is the second Asdivine game I've reviewed in the last six months...

Update Mondays: 'Pokemon Go', 'Minecraft: Pocket Edition', 'SimCity BuildIt', 'Dungeons of Chaos Unity Edition', 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. At long last, we've got a relatively healthy-sized Update Mondays again. I'm all finished moving, the updates are flowing, and all seems to be well for our little corner of the TouchArcadiverse. 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!..

TouchArcade forum favorite developer Quantum Sheep has been hard at work on a few projects over the last year and a half. We've already heard about Angel Wing, which is still in development, but along the way, inspiration struck for another smaller-scale game. Titled Gerty - Robots in Love, it's a narrative-based adventure game set in the Air Supply universe. Playing as Gerty the robot, you need to roam the universe and find love, lest you face the wrath of your impatient parents. Oh, and along the way, you'll need to save your home planet from the Gatekeepers, who are determined to erase you and your home from existence...

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where everything opens up once you have the compass. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the past of the App Store to see how it's doing in the here and now. It's a little bit of revisiting, a little bit of reflecting, and a chance to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. I try to present a balanced plate of games from week to week, but if you feel like I'm missing anything important, please let me know. You can do that by commenting below, posing in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. The schedule is already set for the next several months, so you might not see your suggestion soon, but it will be added to the master list...

While they've had their share of misses, it's hard to name any Japanese game publisher who has had more recent cross-media successes than Level-5, the minds behind Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Yo-Kai Watch, and many other franchises. The company has largely made hay on Nintendo platforms in recent years, but with the rise of the mobile gaming market in Japan, Level-5 has tried to dip their toe in the smartphone waters a few times already. For those outside of Japan, however, the only titles to manifest from these attempts include 3DS port Liberation Maiden [$2.99], Ace Attorney-esque Professor Layton spin-off Layton Brothers Mystery Room [Free], and Disney Tsum-Tsum [Free]knock-off Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble [Free]. Not bad games, but probably not what Level-5 fans were hoping for...

Who Owns Pokemon, Anyway? It's Complicated.

So, I'm not sure if you all have noticed or not, but we've been writing a lot about Pokemon recently. In the articles and comments of some of these stories, an old bugbear has come up several times. Who exactly owns Pokemon? How much of a benefit to Nintendo is the success of Pokemon Go [Free]? It's a more complicated situation than it initially appears, and I'll tell you up-front, there aren't any publicly-available concrete answers. Still, I think I can offer some clarification for curious readers and confused Nintendo shareholders out there, so let's go on a journey together. A Pokemon journey! Without any Pokemon. Sorry, they're not in the budget...

We live in some truly weird times these days, but to chop up an old saying for my own nefarious purposes: when the going gets odd, the strange get stranger. Sorry, that seemed funnier in my head. The important thing here is that you can pick up both of the Oddworld games for $0.99 each for the next few days. Yes, two bucks will get you two very well-done ports of full-blown console games, now easy to enjoy anywhere. It's an absurd price for such content-stuffed games, so you'd best take advantage of it...