One of my first ever reviews for TMA was of Palm Heroes Classic, an adaptation of the legendary classic Heroes of Might and Magic 3, for the iPhone. Of course, having been originally developed for Windows Mobile, it had its flaws – mostly on the interface side. Still even in those early App Store day, it offered a unique experience on par with the classic desktop Strategy/RPG. But time doesn’t stand still and now almost 2 years later, the developers have released the sequel Palm Heroes 2 Deluxe for iPhone, this time built from the ground up for the iOS.
Considering the main audience of Apple’s iOS devices, it’s no wonder there is a noticeable lack of hardcore old-school RPGs. Some of the few titles coming to mind are, of course, the now Free Undercroft (TMA Review) and the never-ending The Quest with over a dozen expansions out already. But for some reason the iPad has stayed devoid of an optimized hardcore RPG experience ever since its release in Spring 2010. Until recently that is, when Spiderweb Software finally released Avadon: The Black Fortress HD on the iPad, which was previously available only for the Mac..
Back in my university days, I used to be a huge fan of Magic The Gathering, probably the most well-known and successful Collectable Card Game ever. It always provided an excellent way to pass the time during those boring lectures and it was something to do in-between them as well. I have abandoned it since, unfortunately, mainly because of lack of time. But it seems the iOS is likely to change that, with some superb CCG type games appearing on the platform the last few months. The most recent of which is actually a sequel to a rather successful iOS release from a couple of years ago — Orions: Legend Of Wizards (TMA Review) — and is rather unimaginably titled Orions 2.
Devoid of a console for most of my life, one of the franchises I never had the chance to truly dive into was the (pardon the pun) legendary Legend of Zelda. As one of the grandfathers of the Action RPG genre, it has always been renowned for the perfect blending of Action, Adventure, light puzzle-solving and even lighter RPG elements. Considering this classic series has still not graced the App Store, it’s not much of a surprise that Gameloft has attempted to fill the void by releasing Sacred Odyssey – Rise of Ayden, a title almost bursting with a certain Z-quality.
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.
The world is sometimes a very strange place. Not long ago, I remarked in my review of Hunters: Episode One (TMA Review) that the App Store was suspiciously devoid of Tactical Strategy Games. And in the space of a few weeks I’m writing another review of such a game: Tactical Soldier – Undead Rising. Born out of a strange marriage of classic top-down party RPGs and Strategy Games, this unique genre for the true masters of tactical planning has long been a favourite of PC gamers around the world. Being excellently suited for iDevice portable gaming, I’m glad that it is gaining traction on the platform.
The Witcher is a very well-known (at least here in Russia) series of fantasy books that have only recently begun to enjoy world-wide fame thanks to the top notch Action RPG released on the PC a few years back. The iDevice version, however, is not quite connected to the superb PC release. In fact, it’s not connected to it at all. What is it then you ask? Well, it turns out The Witcher: Versus is a port of a browser-based dueling game.
For the longest time, I’ve waited for a good squad-based tactical game on the iDevice. We’ve seen an assortment of tactical strategy titles but all are centered more on strategy than true squad-based tactical gameplay. Until now that is. Out of the blue, Rode Games has released a freemium spin on the genre – Hunters: Episode One – probably the first game that truly takes all of us X-Com and Jagged Alliance fans for a spin.
At a time when home computers had less memory than the average modern video card, “sprawling” CRPGs consisted of randomly generated dungeons rendered with standard characters from your typical keyboard. The challenge came from a combination of a myriad of commands to learn and the fact that once you died your save game was deleted – there were no second chances here. The leader of the pack at one time was Rogue, hence the modern label “rogue like game”. While I still enjoy some of the concepts behind the generic dungeon crawling, I never was good at remembering all the keystrokes. That’s where modern interpretations like Sword of Fargoal come in.
Action RPGs are a tricky lot to get right. You have to have the perfect balance between RPG and action in order to appease both types of players. On top of that you have to be careful to avoid a common feature that plagues both style of game: repetitiveness. Forcing the genre into a side scrolling perspective adds additional burden, because you all but lose one facet of the RPG side, which is puzzle solving. Unfortunately, ILLUSIA tends to weigh more heavily on the action side of things, and quite frankly that action is starting to get rather boring. I’ve put at least 3-4 hours into the game, it feels like I’ve been playing for days, and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much.