Highlights From The Apple Arcade
2019 is set to be an especially big year for Apple. With the recent debut of the iPhone 11, the next-generation iPad, and the company’s ambitious plans to produce more original programming for Apple TV, there’s a lot to look forward to for Apple users and potential newcomers alike. But another avenue that Apple is looking to make more headway into is the gaming market, and the upcoming launch of Apple Arcade aims to do just that. As the tech company’s next big step into gaming, it’s essentially a service in the vein of the Xbox One’s Game Pass, allowing Apple product users to play well over 100 games on their device of choice for a monthly subscription of $5.
Launching on September 19, Apple invited us to get an early look at various Arcade games making their debut on iPhones and iPads. In addition to seeing some known standouts like Sayonara Wild Hearts and Overland, we also got first hands-on with new reveals like Chu Chu Rocket Universe and Frogger in Toy Town. This hands-on event also allowed us to experience gaming on the iPhone 11 and 7th gen iPad–both of which feature more sophisticated motion-controls and augmented reality capabilities. So with that, here’s a quick rundown of some of the coolest games we played that will be available at launch for Apple Arcade.
For more on our coverage from the recent Apple Keynote, including the specs on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, the 7th gen iPad, and a full rundown of every Apple Arcade game we saw, be sure to check out our full roundup of news.
Sayonara Wild Hearts | Simogo
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a wildly stylish rhythm action game starring a young woman who has to piece together her broken heart. It sounds like a run of the mill concept, but as you’ll come to find out when playing, the fate of the universe, unfortunately, hangs in the balance. To accomplish this task, she’ll don a mask and ride through a city on her motorcycle, collecting heart fragments and reconnecting with the confident and chic person within. During the game’s standout combat scenes, you need to time dodges and attacks with the beat of the song and the flow of the stage, which gives each mission a particular vibe and feel that sets it apart from the others. Coming from developer and publisher Annapurna Interactive–which recently put out Telling Lies and Outer Wilds–Sayonara Wild Hearts has a lot of charm and style to back its trek through the city and beyond. It’s got a particular cadence to it that got me tapping my feet while timing my attacks, which has me excited to see what’s in store for the later parts of the game.
Sneaky Sasquatch | RAC7 Games
In Sneaky Sasquatch, you’ll play Big Foot, who’s on the lookout for a tasty meal and peaceful living within the forest. Though unlike the creature of legend that we know, this version of the Sasquatch is quite mellow and only has a taste for human food. To satisfy his craving, he’ll need to sneak past the ever-watchful Park Ranger and stuff his backpack full of food swiped from distracted visitors. It has some clever uses of the touch controls, where you’ll dump the contents of your bag and drag the food into the Sasquatch’s mouth. It starts out simple enough, like sneaking up to a park table when visitors aren’t looking, but things escalate to the point where the Sasquatch will drive a car to reach other areas of the park. Soon enough, he’ll even want to engage in other human activities like golf. It’s essentially the antics of a Yogi Bear cartoon within the framework of a stealth-action game, which made for a surprisingly delightful time.
Spek | RAC7 Games
The best way to describe Spek is that it’s a minimalist puzzle game by way of M.C. Esher. In a similar vein to 2008’s PS3 puzzle game Echocrome, it’s all about your perspective and how you manipulate the level’s camera to reveal each stage’s solution. The goal is to connect a circle moving along an outline with different squares situated on different shapes and objects. To do that, you’ll need to shift the angle of your point of view. At one particular angle, you’ll see three separate blocks, but at another, those three objects become one with a connected outline. It starts relatively simple, but as you progress, the challenge significantly ramps up. Spek also includes a set of ten augmented reality levels, which overlays the different stages onto video pulled from your iPad or iPhone camera. These AR levels mostly the same as the standard stages, but the new perspective ends up adding another layer of challenge to an already tricky game. I was impressed with the functionality of Spek, and the growing tech powering AR is certainly something I’m keen to see more of in the future.
Chu-Chu Rocket Universe! | Sega
This year, the original Chu Chu Rocket celebrates its twentieth anniversary. First released on the Sega Dreamcast, it was an odd puzzle party game where you had to guide a cluster of ChuChus to a goal on an elaborately designed map. The game garnered a cult following since its debut, and it’s now gotten a true sequel in the form of Chu Chu Rocket Universe! In the new game, the ChuChus explore space in their rocketship, taking them to different worlds that feature unique stages. Just like the original, you’ll guide a set of ChuChus to the goal on the map. However, Universe presents a new challenge in the form of 3D stages. While the original always took place on flat 2D maps, the stages in Universe are on planets that have curvature. In some cases, you’ll guide ChuChus on a path that wraps around a moon. This new style ended up requiring me to be more careful with charting the ChuChu’s path, as the different perspective can create some unexpected roadblocks. The same focus on planning and charting the course your ChuChus take are still present, but the added challenge in the upcoming game turned out to be a fun twist on the gameplay from the original.
Shinsekai: Into The Depths | Capcom
In one of the more surprising announcements from the Apple Keynote, Capcom has a new IP in store for the iPhone and iPad with Shinsekai: Into The Depths. According to Capcom producer Peter Fabiano, the game was created by a reasonably small team who wanted to experiment on a different kind of game for mobile. As an action game set in the deep ocean, you’ll use your speargun and high-powered diving suit to explore the depths. During this expedition, you’ll face off against some massive undersea creatures. It plays similarly to a twin-stick shooter, allowing you to aim and move simultaneously freely. It was quite intuitive to pick up for the first time, which isn’t that surprising given Capcom’s pedigree for action games. I even had a fun time facing off against one of the game’s early boss battles, a giant eel that burrows its way into the walls of the undersea caverns, which required me with using the diver’s suit thruster to evade it attacks to get a clear shot at it. Featuring a larger world to explore with some hints of a familiar Metroidvania design, Shinsekai is shaping up to be one of the more action-driven games for the Apple Arcade lineup.
Frogger In Toy Town | Konami
Along with Chu Chu Rocket Universe, Frogger in Toy Town is another relaunch of a well-loved game that’s coming to the Apple Arcade. Just like in the classic coin-op game, you’ll guide a resourceful frog through heaps of heavy traffic and other pitfalls on his way to safety. However, in the new game, it takes a far more exaggerated approach. Instead of the frog contending with the outside world, you’ll guide them through a children’s playset that’s littered with wind-up cars, towering toy blocks, and a baby that plays rough with its toys. I was immediately able to jump right in as gameplay in Toy Town sticks very closely to the original. I even took well to the touch controls. With that said, it still presents some unexpected twists to the classic hop-forward gameplay. Along with rescuing stranded frogs across the long stretch to the exit, you’ll also be able to use special power-ups that can blow open the pathways forward or defeat certain enemies roaming about. It was enjoyable getting to dive into a new Frogger game, which seems a lot more lenient now that Frogger can take multiple hits. The twist with Toy Town does add an added charm, and I can see myself diving into various levels, trying to rescue every lost frog on the various toy-sets.
Source: Game Spot Mashup