Featuring a battle system that feels like the perfect blend of fighting and role-playing encounters, Super Nintendo classic Tales of Phantasia was kept out of Western gamers' hands until it was ported to the Game Boy Advance nearly a decade later. Now almost 20 years after its original release, this classic Japanese RPG makes its way to the App Store in a universal iOS release. Unfortunately for those expecting a seamless port, its new free-to-play format and associated changes make it a less-than-enjoyable trip back in time.
Romancing socially awkward elves might be on the outs in this free-to-play spinoff, but Heroes of Dragon Age for iOS nevertheless manages to capture the spirit of BioWare's beloved dark fantasy series from consoles and PC. However, the familiar music and faces merely amount to a pretty show. Strip away the ambiance, the lore, and the heroes, and this could be any one of the better collectible card games crowding the App Store these days.
There’s a strong sense of déjà vu that comes from playing Oceanhorn. This mobile adventure stars a brave boy that sails to different islands, overcomes puzzling dungeons, and gains the tools necessary to combat evil and essentially save his kingdom. Despite not featuring princesses or golden triangles, there’s no denying that the game draws heavily from Nintendo’s iconic The Legend of Zelda series, particularly Wind Waker. However, instead of merely giving us a facsimile and porting it to iOS, Oceanhorn handpicks what it borrows and creates an experience well worth playing.
Crafting homemade costumes and prepping for nocturnal adventures to forage for sweets is a favorite youthful tradition every fall, and Double Fine's charming Halloween-themed role-playing game is well timed to get us all in the spooky spirit. Costume Quest expertly captures the sense of imagination and wonder that made trick-or-treating with friends back in the day such a blast. But far more than a grand fetch quest full of tooth-rotting bliss and crazy getups, this cartoonish romp throws giant robots, goblin warriors, and supernatural shenanigans in to sweeten the pot.
So a dwarf, an elf, a wizard, and a berserker walk into a bar [cue cheesy sitcom laugh track]. Admittedly, there's nothing particularly revolutionary about the way Warhammer Quest's quartet of generic protagonists gallivant away on catacomb-clearing, monster-carving adventures across the brooding fantasy landscape. But this turn-based dungeon crawler based on the mid-'90s RPG tabletop board game doesn't disappoint with its flashy presentation, excellent storytelling, and satisfying creature-pummeling combat.
Ask any game critic to name the most important or influential games of the past decade, and odds are they’ll bring up Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. First released for Xbox and PC in 2003 (and again for Mac the following year), KOTOR instantly became one of the most revered games of its generation, delivering a sprawling, original role-playing epic set thousands of years before the events of the Star Wars films. It helped raise the bar for player choice in RPGs and bolstered fans’ flagging faith in Star Wars — and now, 10 years later, it’s fully playable on iPad.
When Craig Stern, the singular force behind Chicago video game developer Sinister Design, unsuccessfully tried to fund his Mac game Telepath Tactics at the tail end of 2012, he saw the result not as a closed door, but as an opportunity — a chance to refocus both the campaign and the game itself to better execute his battle plan. And now that the second Kickstarter has doubled its original goal and generated much more backer enthusiasm with a few days still left to go, he spoke with Mac|Life to discuss how initial crowdfunding failure doesn't have to be ultimately fruitless.
Combining a match-three puzzler with a role-playing game isn't an entirely new idea. After all, the popular Puzzle Quest series managed to accomplish as much over five years ago. But Dungeon Hearts adds a character party dynamic, tasking you with aligning jewels on a scrolling play field to launch attacks from four unique avatars. The concept itself is great, but the entire affair falls apart only minutes after the quest begins.
NimbleBit made its name on slower-paced simulations like Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, which charmed with their retro-leaning pixel aesthetics and impressed with surprisingly friendly free-to-play models. Nimble Quest, the studio's perfectly-titled latest release, maintains those latter qualities but embodies a different and very active kind of spirit. The result is a mash-up of Snake and retro role-playing games that's uniquely enjoyable and ideal for one-handed amusement.
Bit Dungeon brings together The Legend of Zelda’s top-down dungeon stomping, Diablo’s loot lust, and the unforgiving difficulty of roguelikes within a slick retro-style quest. Fresh from developer Kinto Games, this hack-and-slash action RPG distills the allure of classic gaming into an addicting mobile adventure. Between the simple mechanics and incredible challenge, you may find Bit Dungeon's stat-building pull difficult to resist, even if a couple of issues rear their head at times.