TouchMyApps » RPG http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.3 Oceanhorn in Review – If We Can’t Have Zelda, I’ll Take This http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/31/oceanhorn-in-review-if-we-cant-have-zelda-ill-take-this/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/31/oceanhorn-in-review-if-we-cant-have-zelda-ill-take-this/#comments Tue, 31 Dec 2013 19:44:39 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73485 Games like Diablo certainly popularized the concept, but in my opinion one of the earliest examples of a good action / RPG was The Legend Of Zelda.  There have been many installments in the franchise, but more importantly there have been a ton of wannabes made in an attempt to provide the same type of … Read more]]>

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Games like Diablo certainly popularized the concept, but in my opinion one of the earliest examples of a good action / RPG was The Legend Of Zelda.  There have been many installments in the franchise, but more importantly there have been a ton of wannabes made in an attempt to provide the same type of game to non-Nintendo platforms.  Some of them have succeeded to a limited degree, but Oceanhorn is one of the few to do so in both mechanics and spirit, and probably the only one for the iOS platform so far.  Apparently you don’t need a tri-force for this type of game to be fun.

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In this game you wake up a boy and set off to become a legend as you track down the mysterious creature Oceanhorn that is somehow tied to both you and your father.  To start your journey you must recover a mysterious necklace, and during that brief quest you’ll also find your first weapon.  Much like Zelda, you tend to find the useful stuff underground in the caves and tunnels you’ll explore.  Why do they always hide everything underground?  Anyway, you also have your trusty shield and fairly early on you’ll acquire the ability to collect and use bombs, so I’m expecting to find a bow and arrow or at least a boomerang at some point.  You soon get directed to visit a new island, and as you find documentation or talk to people that reveal the history of the land new locations will be unlocked for your explorative pleasure.

Naturally this won’t be a straightforward expedition, so you’ll spend some time traveling back and forth between islands to accomplish all of your goals.  In a nod to Wind Waker you actually pilot your boat during these treks, and once you get the bombs you actually have to shoot at things as well.  On the islands you’ll battle a variety of creatures, solve basic environmental puzzles that so far tend to revolve around moving blocks around and flipping switches, and some occupants on the islands will give you quests to complete.

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Along the way you might find items that you can equip or that relate to quests, and in a nice twist when you find non-essential items you’ll automatically sell them for gold.  No seeking out shops to clear your inventory in this game!  Each island also comes with three overriding missions to complete, though some or so broad you can actually finish them on any island.  Completing missions and killing monsters earns you XP, and once you’ve gathered enough you’ll go up a level which enhance or unlock some new trait for you.  There seems to be plenty to do, and the multiple levels make for some expansive islands, but even with the mini-map it can be easy to get lost and turned around at times, especially when you’re trying to get to that treasure chest that you can see on the map but just can’t quite find on the actual game screen.

To move your character along you use an invisible virtual joystick on the lower left side which works reasonably well most of the time.  Its impreciseness can be felt at times when you are trying to cross narrow bridges and such, however.  Most actions are performed with the versatile action button in the lower right corner of the screen, and special items are activated via the graphical item button above the action button.  Don’t confuse this with the button that actually says “item” which brings up the menu of special items you can pick from.  You can throw certain items by picking them up and holding them with the action button, aiming by dragging the virtual control stick, then releasing the action button to toss.  This does take some getting used to, especially since there is no nifty guide ala Angry Birds to show you where you’re actually tossing the item.  There is also a menu accessible by touching the mini-map that shows things like your current missions, items you’ve collected and a log of everything you’ve read and everyone you’ve talked to.

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Graphically I’d say the game comes in at about the level of the Zelda series when it was on the Nintendo 64.  The backgrounds are pretty stunning at times, and there’s plenty of detail strewn throughout the levels.  Some of the monster designs are rather interesting, and there’s an obvious influence from Zelda in cases like the monster that rises from the ground and spits rocks at you (sort of a combination of two classic Zelda critters).  The sound effects are pretty good and they did a good job finding people to voice the characters, though there are times that the voices don’t necessarily match what you’d expect by looking at an individual.  The music takes me back to the days of Castlevania IV on the SNES.  That was some of the best music of the 16 bit era, and the style still holds up incredibly well as evidenced by the soundtrack in Oceanhorn.

This game does offer a few frustrations, especially when it comes to the preciseness of the controls.  However, all the good in the game far outweighs any minor inconveniences these things might provide.  I’ve always been a big fan of the Zelda series, and since Nintendo doesn’t share the closest we were ever going to get on another platform was an incredible clone.  There’s no question in my mind that Oceanhorn is that clone.  If Zelda doesn’t mean anything to you then you’re still in luck because Oceanhorn is a pretty remarkable action / adventure RPG in its own right.

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App Summary
Title: Oceanhorn ™ Developer: FDG Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.3 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $8.99 App Size: 170 MB
  • Closest thing to Zelda on iOS
  • Lots of world to explore
  • Challenging and rewarding game play
  • Excellent visuals
  • Great soundtrack
  • Virtual joystick not as precise as it could be
  • Often hard to judge where you’re throwing something
  • Easy to get lost on some levels

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Dungeon Story in Review – Have I Heard This Tale Before? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/11/14/dungeon-story-in-review-have-i-heard-this-tale-before/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/11/14/dungeon-story-in-review-have-i-heard-this-tale-before/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2012 16:51:47 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=70761 The concept of combining the RPG with match 3 mechanics seems to be pretty popular, though few entries come close to either Puzzle Quest for a more hardcore experience or Dungeon Raid for the casual folks.  Still, many of the options at least offer a few things that make them worth giving a chace, and … Read more]]>

The concept of combining the RPG with match 3 mechanics seems to be pretty popular, though few entries come close to either Puzzle Quest for a more hardcore experience or Dungeon Raid for the casual folks.  Still, many of the options at least offer a few things that make them worth giving a chace, and Dungeon Story is no exception.  While there are no quests to speak of, it’s more persistent than Dungeon Raid in that you can build up your character between plays.  It still provides a more casual experience than Puzzle Quest, however, because even if you get “stuck” in a dungeon all you have to remember between sessions is that when you come back there is another monster to fight.

I suppose there are quests in the sense that you must recover an artifact from each dungeon in order to progress to the next one. Other than that, the game is basically a matter of defeating monster after monster until one gets the better of you.  Then you take your winnings, upgrade some skills and equipment, and then go at it again.  It almost seems too simple and grind-ish to be fun, yet I find it hard to tear myself away each time I load the game up and start to play.  I think it’s the simplicity that draws me in. For the most part the interface feels like the myriad of generic MMOs that grace the App Store.  Everything is pretty much fancy text with a few buttons here and there to trigger some actions.  Once you get to the battle screen it’s more graphical because it would be a bit difficult to represent a match 3 battle with text.  The match 3 mechanic used works like Dungeon Raid where you select 3 or more of the same type of icon to get what you need.  The one exception is magic – you can mix both fire and ice to produce combo spells.  There are also swords for physical combat, coins for money and hearts for health.  Simple progress bars represent things like the amount of health you and your opponent have left and how much experience you’ve accumulated towards your next level up.

One thing I really appreciate about this game is that every update brings new features that while seemingly subtle can add a great impact to the game.  One update added a feature that shows you how much the combined total of your selection yields.  For example, if you have four swords selected it shows the amount of damage you’ll do to your opponent.  Another recently added feature is a merchant that pops up every few rounds to let you upgrade a skill instead of having to wait until your current run is over.  Of course I’m still on my first game since that update, so it will be interesting to see if the upgrades are permanent.  A display that shows your current amount of cash in the merchant stages would be nice, but that’s just a minor niggle. I’ve pretty much laid out for you what the visuals look like.  I will admit that I’d love to see portraits of the characters instead of simple progress bars, but I’ve actually pretty much gotten used to that by now.  The sound effects are actually pretty decent, with each type of item making a different noise when you select it.  While the monsters aren’t nearly as diverse with their growling and howling, there are still a few different noises to mix things up a bit.  The main thing missing is any sort of background music, which does get pretty noticeable from time to time.

There aren’t a whole lot of surprises in Dungeon Story, and if you’ve played a few games of this style before then you might have a sense of “been there, done that”.  In the end, though, I still find this an entertaining variant on the theme that has kept me engaged every time I’ve played it.  Sure a graphical face lift would be nice, and I definitely wouldn’t mind some music, but change it too much and the game will probably start to feel exactly like everything else out there! Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Dungeon Story Developer: Pantazis Deligiannis
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Quite entertaining despite “been there, done that” feel
  • New features are constantly added
  • Randomized dungeons means there’s always something to do
  • Lots of grinding
  • Presentation is lackluster
  • Doesn’t particularly stand out among peers

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Ultima V for iPad – hook, line, sinker http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/09/06/ultima-v-for-ipad-hook-line-sinker/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/09/06/ultima-v-for-ipad-hook-line-sinker/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 11:45:39 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=69712 Imagine how disappointed this Ultima idiot was to discover that Ultima V for iPad is nothing but a fan page – sort of. Its author links to various Ultima sundries: Ultima news, fonts, upcoming games, maps, and does it in the classic Ultima style, that promises something dark – something role playing – under the … Read more]]>

Imagine how disappointed this Ultima idiot was to discover that Ultima V for iPad is nothing but a fan page – sort of. Its author links to various Ultima sundries: Ultima news, fonts, upcoming games, maps, and does it in the classic Ultima style, that promises something dark – something role playing – under the surface. Real Ultima fans still append Dragon to their name. The bloke who made Ultima V for iPad, for example, is Edric Dragon; I’m shigzeo Dragon. I’ve had that nickname for years. I’m sure it’s the same for Edric. What other game series can boast such nerdy fans? And honestly, my lead in is rubbish: I love Edric Dragon’s site. Bookmarked it.

Edric Dragon pointed out something I somehow missed: Exult for iOS. (Exult is a reverse-engineered Ultima 7 engine for modern operating systems. I’ve blogged about it before.) If there is ANYTHING I’m waiting for (apart from soul-pleasing employment), it’s Ultima 7 for iPad. Edric, as much as he is a fisherman, has rekindled hope.

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Final Fantasy III in Review – Finally the fantasy epic strikes iOS http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/05/02/final-fantasy-iii-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/05/02/final-fantasy-iii-in-review/#comments Mon, 02 May 2011 16:04:43 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=51267 Whenever you hear the words Japanese and RPG in the same sentence, one franchise that immediately springs to mind is Final Fantasy. Probably the most well-known example of the console RPG genre, it has celebrated reincarnations on almost all platforms imaginable. On the iPhone however the release of the first 2 parts of the series … Read more]]>

Whenever you hear the words Japanese and RPG in the same sentence, one franchise that immediately springs to mind is Final Fantasy. Probably the most well-known example of the console RPG genre, it has celebrated reincarnations on almost all platforms imaginable. On the iPhone however the release of the first 2 parts of the series was met with mixed feelings. While being a classic the original games are over 2 decades old in game design and don’t really pose special interest for the modern gamers, other than the most die-hard FF fans. And the not too well adapted controls didn’t help much either. But there still is hope with the recent launch of Final Fantasy III – a true remake of the game fully adapted to touch controls.

Final Fantasy III is the classic console RPG (aka Japanese RPG or jRPG), originally released in the early nineties. It features the traditional epic storyline for the franchise. While exploring a nearby cave our hero falls down a hole and finds himself in an unfamiliar tunnel surrounded by monsters. Having slain them all, he reaches a mysterious chamber at the end where a crystal bestows a mission upon him to save the world. Now our hero has little choice but to embark on this journey, joined along the way by a trio of strangers forming the Warriors of Light. Epic, epic, epic and worth over 60 hours of gameplay.

Despite the modern look FFIII features the classic gameplay of the series, not really stepping far from the first two episodes. The game can roughly be split into 2 elements – exploring locations and moving across the world map. As with all other titles in the franchise you can be ambushed by enemies at any point, with the monsters not displayed on the map outside of combat. Speaking of which, the combat is round-based, with you queuing the actions for your team and watch them play out along those of the enemies.

Probably the most significant change and a glimpse of what’s in store in future Final Fantasy games on the iOS is the introduction of jobs. Not far into the game, you will have the ability to assign them to your party members and completely modify their abilities. Thankfully, you may switch the job of any member at any point in the game without any ill effects, save for a penalty that will fade after a few battles. And you will certainly do just that to take advantage of new jobs that are unlocked as you progress through the game. Add to this the huge amount of equipment, both class specific and not and see if you are able to not get lost in the variety. But it is both a blessing and a curse, since the game is missing a lot in terms of hints and descriptions of both skills, jobs and equipment. Just as an example – there is no way to know what bonus the bard’s harp has until you actually try it out in battle. And for that to happen, you have to buy it first.

Technically FFIII is almost perfectly adapted to the touch-screen, though it shouldn’t be much of a surprise because it is after all the port of the remake, originally released for the Nintendo DS. Unfortunately that handheld was never known for being particularly powerful, hence the graphics, while rather nice, don’t match up to the recent iOS offerings. Still, Final Fantasy III has full support for the Retina display and you won’t really find yourself dwelling too much on this issue. Probably the most frustrating limitation is the save system, which is inherited from the consoles and it only allows you to save on the world map – with no autosaves whatsoever. Yep, you can loose hours of gameplay if you’re not careful.

Final Fantasy III takes excellent controls, nice visuals and deep gameplay with expansive customization options for your party and wraps them in an epic storyline that will keep you busy for weeks. It’s not without issues though; comprehensive item, skill and job descriptions are lacking and require you to go online in search of FAQs to truly enjoy the game. Regardless, when speaking of console RPGs there really isn’t much to choose from on the iOS and Final Fantasy III is certainly one of best, if not the best jRPG on the App Store at the moment.

With this I declare Final Fantasy III officially touched!

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Final Fantasy III Developer: SQUARE ENIX Co., LTD.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $15.99 App Size: 207.76MB
  • Epic storyline worth over 60 hours
  • Excellent intuitive interface
  • Nice 3D graphics
  • Vast opportunities for party customization
  • Very poor descriptions of items, skills and jobs
  • No character development
  • Graphics could still use a touch-up
  • No auto-save when changing areas

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Puzzle Quest 2 in Review – Match 3 RPG Bliss http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/29/puzzle-quest-2-in-review-match-3-rpg-bliss-2/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/29/puzzle-quest-2-in-review-match-3-rpg-bliss-2/#comments Wed, 29 Dec 2010 21:30:22 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=45769 I didn’t think the match 3 mash-up could get any better than the original Puzzle Quest.  It figures that it would take the sequel of the game that pioneered the concept to prove me wrong.  Puzzle Quest 2 raises the bar that its predecessor set with a new isometric perspective that actually lets you wander … Read more]]>

I didn’t think the match 3 mash-up could get any better than the original Puzzle Quest.  It figures that it would take the sequel of the game that pioneered the concept to prove me wrong.  Puzzle Quest 2 raises the bar that its predecessor set with a new isometric perspective that actually lets you wander around town, side quests complete with mini-games, and a tournament mode that allows you to fight with the monsters!  I’m not sure what Puzzle Quest 3 will bring (or if there will even be one), but if it’s even half the upgrade this one has been we’ll be in for another treat.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, a match 3 mash-up is when the developers combine match 3 mechanics with some other kind of game play.  In this case the games are RPGs that use match 3 boards in place of traditional combat.  You select one of four classes and pick whether you want to be male or female, and then it’s off to explore and fight.  The game is filled with main quests and side quests, the latter of which aren’t necessary for completing the game.  If you like to do everything, however, you can hardly even leave the first town without fighting more than a dozen battles.

In addition to fighting battles, many actions will require you to play mini-games where you have to match a certain number of tiles in a given time.  This will allow you to do things like put out fires, loot chests or disarm traps.  It’s actually a rather clever way to introduce non-combat activities into the game.  As for combat, once you’ve bested a creature you’ll at least earn experience, and often get things like money, equipment and materials.  Experience allows you to build up your character, equipment helps you fight monsters and defend yourself in battle, and materials can be used to upgrade your equipment.

If you get bored with the main game – though I can’t personally imagine this – you can select Quick Battle, which allows you to fight one creature.  You even get to keep whatever you earn for the main game.  There’s also Endurance Mode, where you fight a series of creatures one at a time until you’ve beaten them all or they clobber you.  Since you don’t heal in between battles, there’s a good chance you won’t complete Endurance Mode early on in the game.  And, if all that isn’t enough, you can play Tournament Mode, where you pick four monsters and pit them against four computer controlled opponents.  It’s pretty cool actually getting the chance to play a goblin or gelatinous slime.

Unfortunately, the game’s user interface leaves a bit of luster on an otherwise perfectly shiny gem.  The game is basically menu / button driven aside from sliding pieces around on the match 3 screens.  The problem lies in the fact that a good portion of the UI elements are really tiny.  Even those that aren’t often require two or three presses in order for the game to recognize that you’ve actually done anything.  The interface might work great on the iPad, but it’s not real conducive to my small iPod Touch screen.  One other minor niggle is that there’s a lot of loading going on in this game – basically every screen takes a couple of seconds to load.  It just feels so “90’s console” to me.

The visuals in Puzzle Quest 2 are very nice.  While I haven’t run into anything really out of the ordinary yet, the creatures look like they were ripped from a première fantasy illustration book, and the backgrounds are intricately detailed.  Animation seems to be minimal other than the indicators of where you need to go, but everything still looks sharp.  I really like the closeups of creatures and your character when you go into battle and execute specials.  There are also some nifty particle effects when you cast spells during combat.

The sound effects are pretty standard RPG fare.  I do like the noises the different creatures make when you attack; and while it’s nice that the villagers talk to you, I do find it amusing that the comments the villagers actually voice have nothing to do with the written comments they have to share.  The music is very well orchestrated and sets an ominous mood for the game.  I especially like the creepy tunes that play during combat.  They provide a nice “edge of your seat” atmosphere while you’re trying desperately to defeat some of these foes.

I haven’t had the opportunity to play some of the “big name” RPGs that came out towards the end of this year.  That being said, I’m pretty sure Puzzle Quest 2 could hold its own among them.  The match 3 combat provides a unique style that offers a nice change of pace from the norm, and there’s enough to do to keep you busy for quite some time.  In a lesser game I’d probably be a lot more bothered by the loading delays and UI issues, but the net gratification Puzzle Quest 2 brings far outweighs those shortcomings.  If you’re an RPG fan, a match 3 nut or both, I definitely recommend you check out this game.

App Summary
Title: Puzzle Quest 2 Developer: Namco Networks America Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $9.99 App Size: 574 MB
  • Unique integration of match 3 and RPG
  • Lots to do
  • Great visuals
  • Excellent music
  • Universal app
  • Tiny UI on iPhone/iPod Touchcan be difficult
  • Slight loading times on most screens
  • Occasional lockups require replay of last battle

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Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD in Review – One step closer to Oblivion http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/16/aralon-sword-and-shadow-hd-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/16/aralon-sword-and-shadow-hd-in-review/#comments Fri, 17 Dec 2010 01:48:14 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=45019 I remember all the hype a little over a year ago when Ravensword: The Fallen King (TMA Review) was released. Praised by many for its “superb open world”, in reality the game was quite shallow and more of a 3rd person action that the “Oblivion for the iPhone” as it claimed to be. Regardless, it … Read more]]>

I remember all the hype a little over a year ago when Ravensword: The Fallen King (TMA Review) was released. Praised by many for its “superb open world”, in reality the game was quite shallow and more of a 3rd person action that the “Oblivion for the iPhone” as it claimed to be. Regardless, it was successful enough that they were able to leave behind Chillingo’s mentorship and become a publisher themselves. Then several months ago, they aided Dicework Games in the release of Rimelands: Hammer of Thor (TMA Review), an excellent original western RPG. And just yesterday Crescent Moon Games published Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD – the game that Ravensword was meant to be.

Aralon is a classic open-world RPG game in the traditions of the Elder Scrolls series for the PC. After a brutal attack you awaken in a distant village. An unusual stranger introduces himself as a friend of your long lost father and tells you of the strange events, surrounding the court of the current ruler of Aralon. Determined to find out the truth about your father’s demise, you start out for the distant city of Callaheim to investigate just what the hell is really going on!

Aralon offers 4 distinct classes and 3 races for your enjoyment, which is already a nice start for any iDevice RPG. You can either be a Human, Elf or a Troll and choose to specialize as a Warrior, Rogue, Ranger or Mage (though the Troll race is limited to the first two only). Each class has its own skill tree and quite a lot of equipment has one restriction or another, i.e. mages can’t use bows or rangers can’t use heavy swords, etc. And even with there being only 5 basic attributes, it’s easy enough to see that the customization opportunities are well above and beyond 99% of App Store RPGs. Oh yeah, let’s not forget that there are also 10 equipment slots, a simple crafting system and even item enchantments.

The gameplay of Aralon is even more expansive than its character customization; you’ll have a huge open world to deal with. There are no limitations on your movements, so it’s quite easy to wander into an area with baddies significantly stronger than you are. At the same time, it’s possible to miss whole areas and advance and then find yourself having to go back and slaughter the now insignificant foes. Thankfully you won’t have to struggle on all the way on foot as you’ll be able to acquire rides, from common horses to dragons. Along with the main quest to set the kingdom right, you’ll encounter dozens of side-quests, some easy, some not so much, but be prepared to spend tens of hours on this game.

The graphics in Aralon, while in no way as spectacular as the recent Infinity Blade, are quite nice. The models could have been a bit more detailed, but the visual effects are excellent – flowing water, believable fire and full day/night cycles with gorgeous sunsets will please almost anyone. And as an added bonus, Aralon is a universal app with full Retina support as well. The interface is ok, though it does have some kinks. Most frustrating is probably the necessity to face your opponent to be able to cast a spell. The character doesn’t do this automatically and since the enemies usually rush you, it often becomes a problem. Another thing – there are only 10 quickslots, switchable in batches of 5, which quite quickly becomes far from enough.

Aralon offers a huge world for you to explore and lots of ways to do it. Whether you’re inclined to be a Elf Mage or a Troll Warrior, it will give you more than enough opportunities to satisfy almost any character customization desires. There are some minor flaws, like the sometimes frustrating interface or the non-imaginative spell names (Fire Blast 1, 2, 3, 4 anyone?). But the expansive world, deep character customization and an involving story will grip you and keep you coming back to Aralon time and time again.

With this I declare Aralon officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD Developer: Crescent Moon Games
Reviewed Ver: 2.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $6.99 App Size: 264.94MB
  • Huge world open for free exploration
  • Multiple classes and races
  • A solid main quest and lots of side-quests
  • Good character customization options
  • A universal app
  • Skill trees a bit shallow and unimaginative
  • Some slight control frustrations
  • No savegame syncing options

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Dungeon Raid in Review – Match 3, Line Drawing RPG, Oh My! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/09/dungeon-raid-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/09/dungeon-raid-in-review/#comments Thu, 09 Dec 2010 18:59:13 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=44497 It seems like so many people are hung up on labeling games – every game has to be “just like that other game I played”.  If I was forced to compare this to something I’d have to give it the title “Puzzle Quest Lite”, though that’s neither fair to the impact that Puzzle Quest had … Read more]]>

It seems like so many people are hung up on labeling games – every game has to be “just like that other game I played”.  If I was forced to compare this to something I’d have to give it the title “Puzzle Quest Lite”, though that’s neither fair to the impact that Puzzle Quest had on the match 3 genre or the brilliance of Dungeon Raid.  Instead, let’s just say that Dungeon Raid is a match 3 game with some simple RPG elements thrown in that can take you a few minutes or somewhat longer to play depending on your skill level and the difficulty setting you choose.  All I know is that despite the game’s basic nature I tend to find myself getting lost in it quite easily.

In Dungeon Raid it’s pretty easy to hit the ground running.  You choose a difficulty level – easy, normal or hard – and enter your name (the game will randomly generate it if you’d like).  Then you’re treated to a one page back story, which is nice because so far they’ve all been different and some are quite humorous.  Once the game starts, the majority of it takes place on the main playing field, the match 3 board.

The pieces are comprised of skulls, swords, shields, potions and coins.  Unlike the majority of match 3 games, there is no swapping or row moving to be had here.  Instead, you draw a line across all the items you wish to match.  As long as the line is unbroken you can go left, right, up, down or diagonal!  Once you release your finger, if you have at least 3 items of the same type highlighted they disappear.  The exception to the rule is skulls, where you have to have at least one sword in the mix, and they might not necessarily disappear.

The control is pretty simple, though I have noticed that sometimes if you move too fast it might not select every item you passed over.  Also, if you decide you want to undo something, you have to retrace your steps until you don’t have enough items connected to make a match.

Collecting potions restores your health.  If you collect enough coins you can buy a better piece of equipment to replace one you already have.  You have an armor rating which decreases when you get hit – collecting shields replenishes this rating.  Shields collected when the rating is maxed build up an upgrade meter, and when that’s full you can buy something to help enhance your armor.  Note that if you buy new armor your enhancements go away.

To slay skulls you need to match them with enough swords, and you’ll know they can be killed when a red X appears over them.  When you kill skulls your experience goes up, and with each level you can buy two skill enhancements.  Your purchase options are limited, which correlates nicely to the quick play philosophy, but they are required, which might not always be desirable for hardware.

Dungeon Raid looks nice and polished, but it’s not going to wow you like Bejeweled 2 or Azkend (TMA Review) might.  I do like some of the nice touches like red Xs when a skull can be killed and the white dashed line around a spell slot when the spell can be used, but those visuals are more for convenience than to dazzle anyone.  The sound effects are actually more interesting, whether it be the pumping of your heart when you’re almost dead or the skulls’ moans as you’re selecting them to be slaughtered.  Sadly there is no music, which surprisingly didn’t bother me for the most part.  One or two tracks to switch between would be nice, though.

This game caught me off guard, completely in a good way.  It sounded kind of interesting in iTunes, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be as addicting as it has been.  Keep in mind that this isn’t for hard core RPG players, unless you’re also into match 3 games.  This is definitely a match 3 affair first, but the RPG elements give it enough of a twist to make it stand out from the crowd.  If you’re looking for a different type of match 3 game or you’re an RPG nut that wants to get a quick fix every now and again, Dungeon Raid is just the game for you.

App Summary
Title: Dungeon Raid Developer: Fireflame Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req:
Price: $2.99 App Size: 6.00MB
  • Addictive
  • Simple RPG elements don’t bog down game play
  • Line drawing mechanic is cool
  • Sometimes tiles get skipped when drawing the line
  • Not much razzle-dazzle
  • No music

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iOS port Hope: Ultima 7 – the greatest RPG ever http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/09/06/ios-port-hope-ultima-7/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/09/06/ios-port-hope-ultima-7/#comments Mon, 06 Sep 2010 14:33:01 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=38977 Back in the early 90′s, I was in love two things: a cute girl named Christina, and a fathomless role playing game called Ultima 7. But because of my awkward appearance on the one hand, and our horrid computer on the other, I had no luck with either. I got dumped by one, and until … Read more]]>

a grisly day in the stables...

Back in the early 90′s, I was in love two things: a cute girl named Christina, and a fathomless role playing game called Ultima 7. But because of my awkward appearance on the one hand, and our horrid computer on the other, I had no luck with either. I got dumped by one, and until I was able to shell out for four more megabytes of RAM, I’d have to play Ultima 7 on a borrowed computer. That was the way of it for a long time ago, but in the intervening years, the ONLY games I’ve come back to are Heroes of Might and Magic (see Palm Heroes) and Ultima 7. Ultima 7 was the pinnacle of computer engineering at the time and even today remains unrivalled for a complete role playing experience. Many today consider it the best computerised RPG ever. Unfortunately, it isn’t truly playable on iOS devices for many reasons. The first is that EA hold the rights to it, and the second is that in order to run playably (in a virtual environment) on iOS devices, it needs a complete overhaul.

The Ultima serieshas been known for taking what was a flaky gaming genre and tossing in acutely tailored role playing elements. Highlights include the virtue system, a realistic kharma engine, and capped character stats among many others. Technically, Ultima was always on the cutting edge, but Ultima 7 in particular, sporting paper doll animation, real day/night NPC scheduling, fathomless object interaction, ultra-detailed graphics, was and according to certain benchmarks, still is the most advanced RPG game to date. Today, RPGs still clamour to implement the same elements and most fail brutally.

But as advanced as Ultima 7 is, it lacks modern ports. You can get it to run as it did originally using DosBox, but it is best played in Exult, a full environmental runtime engine that can be ported to any system with enough power. There are many problems, however, with both systems, at least for the iDevice.

iPhone gamers are an elite lot: we are pampered by very good ports and/or excellent original programming. Running DosBox to play Ultima 7 might work (though it would be woefully slow), but Exult (which has been ported to the PSP) would be better. Here’s the catch though: both Exult and DosBox rely on original files. Currently, EA hold the rights to those files. Both systems fall under the category of emulator, a category that Apple are wont to reject at the App Store.

Even if Apple gave the ‘go ahead’, EA could pull the plug on the project. Obtaining original disks is very hard and even though several CD versions eventually were published, they have been gobbled up by fans and are almost impossible to find unless you live trust eBay, or live in parts of the USA with collector game vendors. EA have been on a talented streak recently, re-creating classics such as SimCity/SimCity Deluxe and a slew of mostly excellent board games. But, they’ve a gold mine on their hands in the form of the Ultima series, specifically Ultima 7. Fans have been playing the game for 20 years and will continue to play it for 20 more. There isn’t a game like it and there won’t be one like it again. EA, if you are listening, either release Ultima 7 to adoring fans, enjoying your do-good wuffie; or monetise the franchise by investing in runtimes engines like Exult and build us a good iOS port with the technology. I can promise that the money would flow. App Store buyers are a loose bunch – they’d spend 5$ on such a game before they knew it and you’d make mega bucks.

There's even romance!

Without EA’s release, RPG fans will be left with a bunch of Final Fantasy wannabes and a very few good role playing games. With good programming, the iDevice could be the perfect Ultima 7 platform. But I have the feeling that the only modern console to play a sanctioned version will be the unergonomic PSP version.

EA: as an Ultima fan and an iDevice gamer, I can promise that a good port of Ultima 7 with the modern improvements seen in Exult would net you big bucks. Helping sponsor fan projects, of course, would assure you a strong, devoted fan base and a dramatic turnaround to this pivotal game in the franchise. ***For those in the don’t-know, Ultima 7 was published in the height of a big fat fight between Richard Garriot (Ultima’s creator) and Electronic Arts.

EA: when/if you do it publish Ultima 7 for iOS, consider the following:

1. Mouse-driven interfaces don’t always translate that well to the touch screen.
2. Worlds like the uber-detailed Britannia of Ultima 7 require RAM. In order for Ultima 7 to work properly on the majority of iDevices, you will need to build the engine from the ground up for older iPhones and iPod touch models. Alternatively, you will need to tweak Exult extensively.
3. Since the games were created for much lower resolution displays, a good graphics scaler must be implemented. If not, plot elements can be spoiled by the high resolutions of the iPhone 4 and iPad.
4. Copyright holders have to relinquish hold, or support fan projects, allowing them to publish to mobile devices.

If those four items can be met, Ultima 7 will prove a big hit both in mind share and in wallet share.

These screenshots were taken from Moby Games’ Ultima 7 Screenshot page:

Take the red gate! You can pick up nearly every object in the game a grisly day in the stables... iOS-port-wish-Ultima7-04 when all opened, Ultima 7's paper doll engine is spooky iOS-port-wish-Ultima7-06Read more]]>
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Rimelands: Hammer of Thor is hammering at App Store’s doorstep http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/09/04/rimelands-hammer-of-thor-is-hammering-at-app-stores-doorstep/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/09/04/rimelands-hammer-of-thor-is-hammering-at-app-stores-doorstep/#comments Sat, 04 Sep 2010 18:41:30 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=38927 Guess what – people at Apple in charge of reviewing apps seem to have stepped up on their game. Rimelands: Hammer of Thor, the recently previewed contender to one of the top spots in the App Store’s RPG games has been released for everyone to enjoy. I myself have already spent a fair amount of … Read more]]>

Guess what – people at Apple in charge of reviewing apps seem to have stepped up on their game. Rimelands: Hammer of Thor, the recently previewed contender to one of the top spots in the App Store’s RPG games has been released for everyone to enjoy. I myself have already spent a fair amount of time on it thanks to a hands-on with an earlier build and am sure it will bring hours of fun to any RPG fan. Here’s my sum-up of it in case you’re too lazy to read the full text:

But I can tell you what we have shaping up here will definitely give even the titles from the big developers a run for their money. Rimelands throws in the pot an excellent storyline and setting, great graphics, a deep and varied RPG system and superb replayability to serve the iDevice gamers one of the best RPG games on the platform.

If you’re still in doubt – look out for a full review at TMA soon, or just go ahead and pick it up right away.

Rimelands: Hammer of Thor Crescent Moon Games, Rimelands: Hammer of Thor - $4.99

iPhone Screenshot 1

App Description

Enter the frostbitten realm of Rimelands, where mankind with fantastic technology powered by
an enigmatic substance called Steam is forever at odds with the magical creatures of legend called the Fair Folk.

Rimelands: Hammer of Thor is an epic adventure full of mystery, intrigue and high adventure. Join Rose Cristo, a young and beautiful treasure hunter on her journey to unveil the plot that could tear the world apart. With both magic and Steam-techonology at her disposal, she’ll have to overcome threats both human and supernatural.

Rimelands has the best parts of roleplaying games combined with intriguing story and puzzles to create a varied experience free of endless grinding.

  • Full-fledged RPG designed specifically for iPhone and iPod
  • Simple but powerful game mechanics are easy to learn but hard to master
  • Design for easy pick up and play with automatic saving
  • A story of high adventure that’s a world apart from traditional fantasy cliché
  • Three paths and talent trees provide countless customization options and depth for several play-throughs
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CHAOS RINGS in Review – It’s final; there’s no fantasy! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/27/chaos-rings-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/27/chaos-rings-in-review/#comments Fri, 27 Aug 2010 13:19:33 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=38361 When Square Enix announced they were developing an iDevice RPG, I was thrilled. What else could I expect from the company behind the famous Final Fantasy series? Parts 8 and 9 of the franchise were some of the best games I’ve ever played and the platform is perfect for the genre, right? And when Chaos … Read more]]>

When Square Enix announced they were developing an iDevice RPG, I was thrilled. What else could I expect from the company behind the famous Final Fantasy series? Parts 8 and 9 of the franchise were some of the best games I’ve ever played and the platform is perfect for the genre, right? And when Chaos Rings finally came out at the whopping price of $12.99 (the most expensive RPG at the App Store to date), you can imagine my interest. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

Chaos Rings is a member of the rare iDevice genere of console jRPG. 10 strangers, bundled in pairs wake up in a huge unfamiliar hall and are greeted by the mystical Agent, who decrees that they have been selected to fight in the Ark Arena to win the grand prize of eternal youth. You can choose one of 2 pairs to control, then lead them throughout 4 levels and about a dozen boss fights. Yes, those of you familiar with the genre are sure already have their brows raised.

In essence, Chaos Rings is the combat part of any Square Enix jRPG distilled. You lead your characters through 4 labyrinths in a quest to complete the tasks set by the Agent. If you’re hoping for something special, dream on – the task is always to reach the end of the labyrinth and defeat the boss who guards the quest items. Between the levels you find yourself in the lobby where your health and mana are automatically replenished and you can visit the nearby shop to upgrade your equipment.

Travelling through the labyrinths you’ll randomly get attacked by creatures. And don’t expect to be able to avoid them, as they are not visible on the main map. You can turn off the encounters all together, but that rather defeats the point of the whole game, doesn’t it? In combat you’ll find the classic mechanic, known to every console jRPG fan. You select actions for each of your heroes and then the game acts them out in turn with some internal speed calculations used to decide the order. The actions can be simple attacks, the use of a skill, or the use of an item. One original twist is that at the beginning of your turn you can choose to act as a pair instead of as individuals. This increases the power of the action but also allows the enemies to attack both of your characters at once.

Another hallmark of the Final Fantasy series has always been the original way of handling skills. And here Chaos Rings follows the traditions of its older brethren. Your characters have 3 spots to assign genes you acquire by defeating monsters. Each gene can grant up to 6 skills, both active and passive ones to your characters. The skills are learned by chance upon the defeat of an enemy, so if you’re very unlucky you may find yourself stuck with but the most basic of abilities. Though it’s not like there’s that many of them anyway. Apart from that, character customisation involves very little since your heroes are leveled up automatically and there’s always an obvious top weapon for your level which is available for sale at the shop.

The only tribute to the full-featured console jRPGs are the rare puzzle-type mini-games, which appalingly don’t offer much of a challenge and don’t give any significant rewards. Thankfully some of them are required to proceed through the levels, which gives at least some incentive to spend time on them.

The one part where it’s almost impossible to say anything bad about Chaos Rings is its graphics. The graphics are superb, with the mix of beautiful prerendered backgrounds and high-quality 3d characters. The only thing I found missing is support for the iPhone 4’s Retina display, which could obviously handle even higher quality. The controls are intuitive and work well, it’s immediately obvious the game was designed for the iDevice from the ground up.

Chaos Rings is the game you would get if you ripped out a full featured combat system from a recent Square Enix RPG and bundled it with a few levels for test purposes. The limited character customisation system is trite and artificial caps on progress makes Chaos Rings seem more of a proof-of-concept title than a full-blown RPG. And considering its monstrous price, it is a surprising title, especially from the legendary Square Enix. The only parts of the game attributable to the greatness of Square Enix are the excellent graphics and polished interface, which are far from enough to make the game worthwhile. If you are still wondering – NO, Chaos Rings will not find a hallowed spot among the App Store’s Best RPG’s.

With this I declare Chaos Rings officially touched

App Summary
Title: CHAOS RINGS Developer: SQUARE ENIX Co., LTD.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $12.99 App Size: 253.25MB
  • Classic combat mechanics with some nice features
  • Excellent graphics
  • Polished interface
  • Poor story
  • Short gameplay
  • Extremely limited character customization
  • Small world
  • Too expensive for what it is

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Preview of Rimelands: Hammer of Thor – Rogue is going steampunk! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/06/preview-rimelands-hammer-of-thor/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/06/preview-rimelands-hammer-of-thor/#comments Fri, 06 Aug 2010 13:02:10 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=37209 I got interested in Rimelands back in early 2010 when I came across the first batch of screenshots and some basic information on the game. It got me so interested that I contacted Arto and Peter from Dicework Games for an exclusive interview about their project. And now, barely half-a-year later, Rimelands is in its … Read more]]>

I got interested in Rimelands back in early 2010 when I came across the first batch of screenshots and some basic information on the game. It got me so interested that I contacted Arto and Peter from Dicework Games for an exclusive interview about their project. And now, barely half-a-year later, Rimelands is in its final stages of beta-testing and scheduled to be submitted to Apple for review in a couple of weeks. What’s even better – I can give you a sneak peek of what’s in store!

Even though the game is still in beta the background story is already almost completely in place. The general population of Earth screwed up and ushered in a new ice-age. People were forced to retreat into deep vaults to survive. But then steam was discovered – and I’m not talking about the one from boiling water. This steam emanated from the bowels of the planet itself and had unique properties, allowing mankind to reach out and start reclaiming the ice-covered surface. But they were greeted with the new masters of the planet – the Fae-folk, magical creatures that have amazing powers. After a long and bloody war a peace treaty was signed, albeit a very unstable one. A new force has found its way into the world and now the survival of both races depends on the actions of a young treasure hunter.

Rimelands is an RPG in the traditions of Rogue. The game is completely turn-based, though out of combat you’ll rarely notice it. Each turn every unit can make one action, be it a use of a skill, attack or move a square. An interesting feature is the combat system itself. When an attack is made or an offensive skill is used both parties roll dice according to their stats. The die result may be a hit, a double-hit, a block or a miss. Then the rolls are tallied and compared and depending on the amount of hits of the attacker and the block dice of the defender it is decided whether a hit is scored.

But what is an RPG without character customization. And here Rimelands has enough to sacrifice even the most die-hard gamer. On a level-up you can choose what path you want to upgrade. There are 3 possible ones – barbarian, assassin and shaman – specializing in melee, ranged or magic attacks respectively. On an upgrade you may receive a skill point, an additional die or a boost to one of the characteristics. The skill trees provide ample opportunity for various styles of play with a mix of active and passive skills for all professions, as well as more offensive or defensive talents.

Another pillar of RPGness is, of course, the inventory. Chests are scattered all over the dungeons with loot to make any munchkin’s mouth water. The items themselves aren’t random, but the assortment covers both pure and hybrid builds with artifacts from the common white stuff to the extremely rare and powerful purple equipment. These items come in four categories with only one of each possible to have equipped at every single moment – melee weapon (also covers magic staffs), ranged, armour and accessory.

On the visual side Rimelands is simply gorgeous. Despite being built on the infamous Unity engine the graphics quality rivals that of Dungeon Hunter. The performance is a bit flaky on the iPhone 3G on some levels, but you can always turn off the high-end weather and lighting effects to provide for comfortable play. Lastly – Rimelands is one of the rare games, targeted for high replayability with about two thirds of the dungeons being randomly generated on each play and varied skills that easily make it worth going through at least 3 times to try out the different builds and aspects.

There are still a few weeks left for the developers to put in some additional polish on the already amazing title. But I can tell you what we have shaping up here will definitely give even the titles from the big developers a run for their money. Rimelands throws in the pot an excellent storyline and setting, great graphics, a deep and varied RPG system and superb replayability to serve the iDevice gamers one of the best RPG games on the platform.

With this I declare Rimelands: Hammer of Thor officially pretouched!

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Sword & Poker 2 in Review – A sequel sticking to a winning formula http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/06/14/sword-poker-2-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/06/14/sword-poker-2-in-review/#comments Mon, 14 Jun 2010 16:33:27 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=34526 Sword & Poker 2 is a fun and engaging sequel that stays true to its roots. Quite simply, grab it if you liked the first (our review). …The above should really be all there is to this review. Sword & Poker 2 is indeed worth your time and money…but only barely. Why? You see, S&P2 … Read more]]>

Sword & Poker 2 is a fun and engaging sequel that stays true to its roots. Quite simply, grab it if you liked the first (our review).

…The above should really be all there is to this review. Sword & Poker 2 is indeed worth your time and money…but only barely.

Why?

You see, S&P2 is the latest in a long and distinguished line of sequels that refuse to innovate. Little else can be said of a game where the most exciting new feature is the ability to play songs from your library. While a lack of innovation is not in itself enough to condemn a game, it certainly doesn’t make a compelling argument for purchase. Sometimes, the formula works well enough on its own to justify sequels (think Super Mario Bros., Pokemon, Mega Man, most shmups, every fighting game ever made, etc.)…at other times, there’s little to no point in acquisition (Tetris DX, anyone?).

So does S&P2 make the cut? Barely. It was NOT the game engine that made Sword & Poker popular (and even if it was, you can technically play the first game and multiplayer infinitely). It was the STUFF. The gameplay was merely the vehicle by which you reached the cool stuff. This is why Mega Man has a zillion sequels – the “STUFF,” in that case, is the bosses and weapons. In Pokemon, the “stuff” is the Pokemon and their abilities, not the game engine (which remains unchanged throughout how many best-selling sequels?). In fighting games, it’s the selectable characters, with special attacks perhaps factoring in.

As an enormous fan of the original Sword & Poker, the sheer lack of “stuff” in this game was quite disappointing. The original was fun precisely because of the unique take on the genre, combined with a gradual layering of diverse elements with a pacing that never became either too overwhelming or too stingy.

Sword & Poker 2, meanwhile, is only barely more than a straight-up clone. There is no point in rating the music, controls, or graphics, seeing as they almost perfectly mirror the original. There are “rare” creatures which force you to incorporate a “rush down” play style, but they are few and far between. The addition of two additional debuffs – poison and an “amnesia” move that disables your opponent’s debuffs – has little effect, seeing as the poison is useless until the end of the round (making it an inferior choice to either the thievery, life-stealing or paralyzing options) and negating your opponents special attacks is only worthwhile if you are taking special attacks constantly…or, in other words, getting stomped. A clutch paralyze could turn that around…denying them from gaining 12 health doesn’t.

It seems that they shut off the creative tap for this game, adding new portraits and two new abilities, but nothing truly unique or surprising.

That said, no one can argue that it’s not a winning formula. Gaia studios certainly won’t be making the mistake of new coke. For better or worse, the S&P2 motto is “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

Verdict: Flaws aside, Sword & Poker 2′s still a great game. Grab it. Just don’t expect a long honeymoon.

grab

App Summary
Title: Sword & Poker 2(WW) Developer: GAIA CO.,LTD.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
3.0
Price: $3.99 App Size: 37.5 MB
  • Very similar to the first game
  • Can now play music from iPod library
  • New abilities
  • New enemies and weapons
  • VERY similar to the first game (yes, it’s a con, too!)
  • Too few new abilities to justify sequel
  • Recolors of a recolor the first game recolored.

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More Card games coverage right here at TMA:

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