Category Archives: Retro

The genre label 'Metroidvania' is a combination of Metroid and Castlevania, referring to just about any Metroid game and the post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania games largely overseen by Koji Igarashi. The genre itself, though, stretches back pretty far, and there's at least one series concurrent to Metroid and well before Symphony that hasn't really gotten its due in the grand history of things. I'm referring to Westone's Monster World series, which spun of out the action-oriented Wonder Boy, got a lot of confusing localizations and revisions, and sadly bowed out after the 16-bit console generation. It's a great series that had a lot of clear influence on later titles such as Shantae [$2.99], but seems to get little credit for its contributions to the genre. With that in mind, I am not going to call Ninja Smasher [$1.99] a Metroidvania. It's a non-linear action game with a big, interconnected map where you find new abilities to open up new routes, but at least in my estimation, this game is taking notes less from Metroid or Igarashi's Castlevania and more from Westone's colorful, cartoonish adventures...

In a burst of stunning pixel art and a flourish of chip tunes, Sunny Side Games has landed on the app store with The Firm [$0.99]. This developer has strong momentum with follow up game Towaga already in the works. From a glance at their site, you can see their commitment to visual presentation, the only question is do their games live up to the fanfare that is on display...

If the recent exhumation of the Sierra name (as a publishing imprint of Activision) incites a nostalgic impulse toward adventure in you, Bik - A Space Adventure [$1.99] should satiate. Even if relics like Space Quest are outside your experience, Bik offers an efficient, humorous jaunt punctuated by light puzzles that anyone can enjoy. Its ambitions are modest, but all the key elements work well enough, and they fit together to make a coherent, entertaining whole...

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...

'Dragon Quest IV' Review - But Thou Must Play This!

Dragon Quest IV [$14.99] is one of my favorite games in the entire Dragon Quest series. That also makes it one of my favorite RPGs, and by extension, one of my favorite games. Every time I run through this game, I find myself impressed that a game of this vintage hasn't lost even a bit of its shine. Dragon Quest IV does many interesting things, some of which are rare even today. As a result, while a lot of elements of this game are going to feel familiar to RPG fans, there's still nothing else quite like it, even with nearly 25 years of road behind it. So, you know clearly now where I stand concerning this game, but that's not much use to you without telling you why I think so highly of this game...

I don't think I'm alone in feeling a bit disappointed by the way Kairosoft's been spinning their wheels with most of their releases. It's not that the games aren't fun individually, it's just that they provide such similar experiences that it's hard to get all that interested in another one if you've already played more than a few. So it was with a slightly weary sigh that I downloaded their latest game, Kairobotica [$4.99], expecting another Pocket Harvest [$4.99] -level rehash and little more. Much to my surprise, this is Kairosoft's most innovative new game in quite some time. That might sound like faint praise, but with the change-up in mechanics, the developer's strengths shine through brighter than they have in a while. The result is a game that may not please everyone, but should at least be a welcome sight to exhausted fans of any of the developer's prior games...

You really have to hand it to The King of Fighters series. Not only has it survived through 20 years and more than one company sale, it's actually seen fairly regular releases throughout that span, proving to be just as prolific, if not more so, than its more well-known competitors. It also has long roots on handhelds, with semi-regular handheld versions dating all the way back to the second installment, King of Fighters '95. I feel like the series has never quite gotten its due from the general public, but it enjoys a strong reputation among fighting game fans, and The King of Fighters '98 [$0.99] is arguably the best of the bunch...

Appeals to nostalgia have become something of a commodity these days in video games. With the generation of kids who grew up on 8- and 16-bit sprite-based games all grown up and making their own games, the relatively low cost of producing assets in the style compared to assets that push the bleeding edge of technology, and the generally favorable response from an audience pining for the carefree days of their youth, it's not really a surprise that what once was a rare treat has now become commonplace, particularly in indie and mobile circles. The most common way games tip their hats to the past is in the presentation, using graphics, sound, and music that reflect popular hardware of the past, such as the NES and the Spectrum...

There have been a lot of grumblings about Square-Enix's lack of updates on some of their games, but the company has been slowly and quietly going through their back catalog in the last little while making little touches here and there. Final Fantasy 3 [$15.99 / $16.99 (HD)] and Final Fantasy 4 [$15.99] have both received updates for MFi controller support, Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99 / $15.99 (HD)] got a major overhaul, and now it seems like one of Square-Enix's first iOS ports, Secret of Mana [$8.99], has gotten its turn. ..

Siralim [Free], the rookie effort from Thylacine Studios, is hard to fit into a box. Well, it's easy to fit it into a big box. It's definitely an RPG of sorts, but from there, it doesn't fit neatly into any of the sub-genres that we perhaps too gleefully like to use to organize these things. It's an odd fusion of elements, a stew made of up various pieces of different types of RPGs. Games that try this kind of thing run a high risk of ending up with something almost entirely inedible, but on very rare occasions, everything comes together nicely, creating a dish that is both familiar and fresh. You know, I'm kind of hungry. I'm going to get a sandwich and then come back and tell you why Siralim is an awesome game without using food metaphors...

Many people who go to conference like GDC and WWDC know that TouchArcade is inexplicably tied to Denny's fine dining establishments. It has become tradition since the inception of TouchArcade in 2008 that the staff visit Denny's anywhere between two and seven times during a conference. Running around a city like San Francisco, meeting with developers, going to events and parties… it wears you down, and Denny's is always there waiting with open arms and Moons Over My Hammy 24 hours a day 7 days a week...

On the list of things I would never have guessed I'd be playing on my iPhone in 2014, a rhythm game from SNK based on the King of Fighters franchise has to rank pretty highly. I'm not going to question what led SNK to make their first new music game in over 13 years, but given how fondly I remember their last one, I'm glad to see them return to the genre, even if it's in quite a different form. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that most people haven't played SNK's Cool Cool Toon for the SEGA Dreamcast, given it was a fairly late Japan-only release, but if you have, The Rhythm of Fighters [$0.99] borrows heavily from it, along with a little inspiration from Theatrhythm Final Fantasy [Free]...

I was a bit surprised by this latest release from Kairosoft, makers of the hit simulation Game Dev Story [$4.99]. Not by the game itself, mind you, since this is right off the assembly line in every way, shape, and form. No, I was surprised by Pocket Harvest [$4.99] because I really thought Kairosoft had done a farming game before. I guess it's because farming and rustic settings have been regular elements of many of their games. This is their first pure farming game, but it has been shoehorned into Kairosoft's most familiar template, creating a game that is one of their least appealing to date. The most common criticism of this developer's games is how much they tend to recycle, but at least with titles like World Cruise Story [$4.99] or Sushi Spinnery [$3.99], the settings are unique even if the mechanics are very familiar. Pocket Harvest doesn't even have that going for it, unfortunately...

'Doug Dug.' Review - Grab Your Shovel And Dig In!

For the life of me, I really don't understand why I find digging so much fun. Whether it's digging at the beach, at the park, in the shoe section of Walmart, or in a video game, I really seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of displacing soil. If you think I'm weird, think of all the awesome video games about digging: Dig Dug, Mr. Driller [$4.99], Super Mario Bros. 2, Minecraft [$6.99], and Steamworld Dig, just to name a few highlights. Now, I'll grant you that in some of those games, digging is just a portion of the game, but there are quite a few games that center around the idea. Doug Dug [$1.99], the new game from pixa [$2.99] developers The Electric Toy Company, is all about digging for treasure and the risk versus reward that presents itself from the concept...

You might remember the developer of this game, Game Stew, from the cool Tower of Fortune [$0.99] games. Even if you forgot their name, you would know the minute you laid eyes upon Devil Shard [Free] that it's from the same people, since it shares a visual theme. Play into the game a little bit and you'll have it entirely confirmed. That series, most recently represented by Tower of Fortune 2 [$0.99], presented a unique combination of RPG, roguelike, and slot mechanics which, with its unique art style, created something that really stood out among the numerous pocket RPGs available on the App Store. Devil Shard is another RPG twist, but this time it's a considerably more pedestrian one. It doesn't stop it from being fun, but it's a lot harder to make the case for adding this to your library as a result...

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