It's our Wednesday Release post, and all the good stuff came early

By Tof Eklund 16 Mar 2016 2

In the Mines of The Mines of Norhin! Too deep we delved there, and breached the strata of '90s pixel art.

Time Twister! We've got some great releases, especially if you like RPGs, but none of them came out today. Maybe it's because everyone who is anyone is at GDC and wanted to get their game out the door before the conference started, maybe it's part of a nefarious plot involving time travel and frogs.

Open-world pixelated quests, the way of the spell, unstable elements, and tin-pot despots all await after the cut.

We missed 9th Dawn II when it released, perhaps because it debuted on the App Store Saturday. App Store releases on a Saturday? What is the world coming to? This is one of those rare instances where Android users get to gloat, because they've been playing this follow-up to Valorware's 2013 tribute to top-down RPGs circa Ultima 6 & 7 since February.

9th Dawn II promises more retro-styled open-world gaming than it's predecessor, including huge maps, complex systems and scads of equipment. I wouldn't expect too much from the plot, which involves overcoming a Hydra Dragon (not sure whether that means a dragon with multiple heads or one who answers to the Red Skull) and determining the future of all humankind (yawn). Still, in these epic games, the worldbuilding and NPCs can more than make up for the predictable kill-the-foogle plot.

9th Dawn is still piping hot on iOS Universal, and the Android release at least has a whiff of new car smell. Either way, it's $8, which is about 89c per Dawn.

On Monday, Dave reported the release of 7 Mages. It's basically Legend of Grimrock meets Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, if you don't have time to follow the link. I like the idea, though I wonder if defending a village from human brigands is going to start seeming anticlimactic inbetween fighting magical monsters.

It's a pity Mifune ToshirĊ isn't around to voice the salty, comical mage who isn't really a mage but nonetheless proves his worth with his passion and his understanding of the plight of the common people, but 7 Mages is a good counterpoint to 9th Dawn II, being smaller in scope, but more modern in style and unique in story. It's free to download on iOS Universal and Android and, at $7 to unlock the whole game, is a Wendy's junior frosty cheaper than 9th Dawn II.

There really is an RPG for everyone this week, as in addition to the Might and Magic vibe of 7 Mages and the Ultima-after-Morrowind of 9th Dawn II, we also have a JRPG-style game with potential appeal to the children of the new millennium.

I wrote about ChemCaper - Act I: Petticles in Peril just yesterday, so, I'll be brief. ChemCaper combines a strange periodic-table inspired world with the cutest anime characters I've seen since Final Fantasy IX, Active Time Battles, a pet-crafting system, and more-or-less realistic use of chem lab equipment.

ChemCaper was successfully Kickstarted in February (perhaps to fund the as-yet-unannounced Act II), and clearly (clearly!) has 7 Mages in it's precocious test-tube cross-hairs with its $7 pricetag on iOS Universal and Android. A PC version and PC price are forthcoming.

If RPGs, fantasy, and/or do-gooding aren't really your thing, there's also Dictator 2: Evolution, which Dave wrote up yesterday. It's a light strategy/sim game wherein you set to grind the world under the heel of your boot through a mix of gamebook decisions and CCG-style combat.

More bite-size and phone-friendly than the epic dungeoncrawling offered by this week's other releases, Dictator 2 is glossy and self-parodic, which probably takes the edge off of having your rivals assassinated and dissidents imprisoned without trial.

The counter-revolution is $2 on iOS Universal, but we're getting some feedback about there being more IAPs in the game than it's App Store page would lead one to believe.

If it turns out that anything else out this week is worth your time, we'll let you know.

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