Author Archives: Shaun Musgrave


It's been almost four years since the original They Need To Be Fed [$0.99] made its way from PCs to iOS. We at TouchArcade liked it a lot when we reviewed it then, and when its follow-up appeared on the App Store last year, we liked that one a lot, too. Well, just last week, Bit Ate Bit released They Need To Be Fed 3 [$1.99], and it's no surprise that I like it a lot. I'm sure nobody was expecting them to punt on this when they've got the formula down, though, so the bigger question is whether, with a shorter span of time between sequels, Bit Ate Bit was able to up the ante the way they did with the second game...

Ask M. Night Shyamalan: When you strike it big by giving people an amazing swerve, it's incredibly hard to follow it up in a way that will please that audience. You either give the people the twist they're expecting from you, totally losing the purpose of a twist, or you play it straight and leave out the reason why people are probably into you in the first place. That's the unfortunate position developer Amirali Rajan finds himself in with The Ensign [$0.99], an attempt to build on to the story found in the underdog hit, A Dark Room [$0.99]. If you didn't play that game but plan to, you should stop reading this review right about here unless you want to be totally spoiled, and you really shouldn't want that...

'Catchup - Abstract Strategy' Review - Strategy So Good, You Don't Need Condiments

I think the key to a really great strategy game lies in finding the correct balance between accessibility and depth. Not that success can't be found on either side, as the longevity of Checkers and Go prove, but at least for me, I like my strategy games to be fairly easy to pick up but with a nice, long tail of mastery. Fortunately, there are a lot of very clever strategy game designers out there, so I never feel like I go too long without something to satisfy my urges. The latest one to catch me is appropriately named Catchup [$2.99], an iOS version of a board game released a few years back. It's hard to imagine a strategy game with simpler rules than this, but the game still provides a satisfyingly complex punch...

'Rules!' Review - Have Fun Finding The Limits Of Your Memory

Like your body, your brain needs exercise to stay in shape, and the older you get, the more you're fighting nature to achieve that goal. While gamers have no shortage of ways to give their grey matter a good old kicking, we rarely have to push against the limits of our short-term memory. Back in the day, we'd have to remember all kinds of stupid cheat code commands, passwords, and directions to play, but passwords and directions gave way to saves and maps, and cheat codes turned into IAP, removing quite a bit of the strain placed on that part of the brain. I mean, unless you're a hardcore fighting game player. Those guys are pros at remembering phone numbers, I tell you. The developers of the iOS adaptation of Carcassonne [$9.99] have got a new game that will give your flabby memory a workout, though, and it's actually quite a bit of fun...

RPG Reload File 002 - 'Chrono Trigger'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome back to RPG Reload, the regular weekly feature where we jump into the time machines in our minds and take another look at an iOS RPG from days past. All types of RPGs are welcome here, and just to make sure things don't get tilted entirely towards my tastes, each month I'll be playing and writing about a game chosen by you. Right now, it's looking very much like The Quest Gold [$7.99] will be the topic of RPG Reload 004, but if you have a different idea, please make your voice heard in the comments below. I also encourage you to share your thoughts on the topic game in the comments, and if you have some spare gaming time, fire it up and play along in the RPG Reload Club thread in our forums...

'Corpse Party' Review - This Buggy Port Is A Real Party Pooper

I find the idea of horror games to be quite fascinating. For the most part, the video game medium is about making the player feel powerful. It's about making you feel like you can do things like take on an entire army by yourself, kill a giant, fire-breathing dragon, win an F1 race, or karate a guy in the face so hard that he vomits. Even death is no object, since the ultimate power almost every game allows you is that of the second chance. That's all awesome, and game experiences like those can certainly be tense, but they're rarely legitimately scary. Horror games, on the other hand, tend to strip you of your feeling of power, putting you up against something you are very unlikely to survive, and giving you very few tools to do so. You can't just scare a player by threatening them with death, though, because dying is trivial in the video game world. Instead, you have to find a way to get under the skin of the player in a more subtle way. Or just have a zombie dog jump through a window unexpectedly, I guess...

There sure are a lot of puzzle platformers around these days, aren't there? This was a huge genre back in the 8-bit days, and it's had a huge resurgence of late, spearheaded by games like Braid and its ilk. There's certainly a lot of them on iOS, which is sort of an interesting outcome when you think of the precise controls they frequently demand. Not that touch controls aren't up to the job, mind you, but it seems like when someone whiffs on implementing them correctly, they whiff hard. Great games can be reduced to mediocrity just by having, for example, a virtual directional pad that lacks responsiveness. Stop The Bots [Free] is not a great game, but it is a good one. Unfortunately, a combination of occasionally-spotty controls and a bit too much familiarity bring the game down some...

There really aren't enough decent 3D platformers on the App Store. There are quite a few good side-scrolling platformers, but even the companies with IP and money behind them seem reluctant to fill the 3D gap. Maybe it's the cost, perhaps it's a perceived issue with controls, or it might even just be down to the waning popularity of the genre in the hobby on the whole. Whatever the reason is, it leaves an opening for a game like Angel In Danger 3D [$0.99] to make its mark. It's not a particularly great game, and I'm not sure if it actually has even one idea to call its own, but it's challenging, competently-made, and by default is one of the better games on iOS to ape Mario's 3D style...

There's a pretty decent assortment of Adventure Time games available on the App Store now, and while they're not exactly blazing trails for the hobby, just about all of them are quite a bit better than a lot of licensed titles end up being. Adventure Time has already tackled the side-scrolling runner, sort of, in Ski Safari: Adventure Time [$0.99], and now it's taking a swing at the behind the back runner with Time Tangle: Adventure Time [$2.99]. This game is coming at us from the developers of Indiana Stone [$2.99], TwinSky, and like that game, it's got a very different idea of how to approach a well-mined concept...

Following up on their incredible port of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite [$14.99], Capcom is back with another outstanding port of one of their handheld titles. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies [Free], or Ace Attorney 5 for the sake of brevity, continues the crazy adventures of lawyer Phoenix Wright. He's no stranger to iOS gamers, with his first three adventures collected last year in HD form in Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD [Free]. Fans were a little mixed about that release, with just about everyone agreeing it was a great value, but some taking issue with the look of the HD sprites, the lack of support for 4-inch displays, and missing animations. Overall, it was a really great package of ports, but not perfect. Well, I don't think there's going to be too many similar complaints about the job Capcom has done with Ace Attorney 5...

RPG Reload File 001 - 'Chaos Rings'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the very first edition of RPG Reload. In what I hope will be an ongoing regular feature, each week I'll be shining some light on a different iOS RPG. These are not reviews. Many of the games I'll be talking about already have reviews on the site, some even written by me. Instead, think of this column as a chance to revisit an old friend, catch up on how it's doing, and reflect a bit on it. I hope to cover all kinds of RPGs here, whether they are ports or originals, JRPGs or WRPGs, action RPGs or strategy RPGs, famous or unknown, new or old, or anything in between. I absolutely encourage you to fire up the game, give it a play, and share your thoughts in the comments below. It's fun to play along! Just to underline how much I want this to be a community thing, once a month I will be playing an RPG selected by you. Simply head down to the comments and nominate the RPG you'd like me to feature. I'll tally the votes over the next few weeks and the winner will be the subject of RPG Reload File 004. Captain Planet was right, the power is yours!..

At times, it's hard not to anthropomorphize Kemco as that student who is always in such a rush to turn in their assignment that they cut every possible corner. This behavior is particularly evident in the works of developer Hit-Point, who have so much potential that seems to get thrown under the bus in favor of churning out a half-dozen RPGs per year. Rusted Emeth [$7.99] is, sadly, a near-perfect example of both what Hit-Point does well and what they do poorly, another strike against my hopes of seeing this developer actually have some time and money for their projects. They're trying so hard to do something new, but on the way, they're making more sloppy mistakes than ever before...

Even if you've never heard of the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks written by Joe Dever (with their sporadic publishing history I wouldn't blame you), Joe Dever's Lone Wolf [$0.99], a new adventure made specifically for mobile platforms, has got a lot of initial punch. While everything seems to start like any other gamebook you've played on iOS, as soon as you reach the first battle of the game, it's clear that this game has got some strong ideas about where to take gamebooks in the future. The 'Wow' factor of turning the page to an illustration that comes to life in full 3D can't be underestimated, but in its quest to escape the shackles of its old format, Lone Wolf trips over some very familiar problems inherent to its new one. In the style of our reviews of The Walking Dead [Free] and The Wolf Among Us [$4.99], this review will be appended to as each new act releases...

Boshi [$0.99] is one of those games that focuses on delivering a simple but unique core gameplay concept, with little room for frills or extras. It's the kind of game that wouldn't have been out of place in the earlier eras of gaming. It's actually kind of similar to Pac-Man [$6.99] in a lot of ways. You play as a lumberjack, and your goal in each stage is to cut down all of the large trees. Each tree will come down with five good swings of your axe. Wherever it's possible, you'll want to do this without attracting any nearby wolves, who are alerted by your proximity and the sound of your chopping, and will chase you down and kill you if they catch you. Each stage has a set layout, so the trees, rivers, bridges, and so on will be the same each time you tackle a level. The wolves wander around in set patterns, though obviously if you get in a chase with them, they'll end up in different places before wandering back to their original area...

Publisher Bulkypix isn't making a lot of noise about it, but Dream Revenant [$1.99] is actually the sequel to 2011's dream:scape [$0.99], albeit more mechanically than in terms of story. The set-up is quite similar, with you taking the role of a man on the verge of death, exploring his own dreams to sort through memories of his past to uncover certain truths. As with the first game, you'll do this by wandering around a decent-sized 3D landscape, stumbling on revelations, picking up items, and using them to navigate extremely simple obstacles. To the developer's credit, they've picked up on a lot of the major criticisms of the first game, but three years is a very long time in the world of gaming, and particularly so in the context of the relatively young iOS market. The result is like something you might see in the games, a response to a ghostly voice of the past...