Apple Arcade launched on September 19, 2020 to little fanfare with The Pathless headlining its debut games for the service. It wasn’t until Final Fantasy legend Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker studio announced their latest project Fantasian coming to the service just this April. Since then, the service released a total of 30 new games this month alone in a move to promote subscribers going into the service.
While there are games that crossover to consoles and the PC, Apple Arcade is a service that promotes indie mobile developers wanting to make quality mobile games without having to rely on the microtransaction business model seen in garbage games like Clash of Clans and countless licensed RPGs that rely on loot boxes and in-game purchases.
For $4.99 a month and a free 30-day trial, one can experience everything on the service given that you could play said service on an Apple device, from the iPhone to the Apple TV. If mobile games aren’t your cup of tea, I did mention that there were some titles that came to consoles and some of them are being touted as indie darlings from prominent publishers such as Annapurna Interactive.
The biggest reason to consider this service. For a select few, you may remember Mistwalker’s last project The Last Story on the Wii at the tail end of last decade, but for many of us the last game from Hironobu Sakaguchi’s independent studio was Lost Odyssey on the Xbox 360. Developing this diorama adventure RPG, settings were created from handcrafted diorama boards and music has been composed by another Final Fantasy alumni Nobuo Uematsu.
With Final Fantasy IV being the biggest inspiration for the title, the entire game has been designed with the iPhone in mind. The entire game could be played in its entirety on a touchscreen or with a mouse if you’re more comfortable playing the game on your Macbook. Clocking about five hours on this game, it’s interesting to see the Final Fantasy model finally adapted onto the mobile gaming without the predatory microtransaction system that gouges fans for pieces of nostalgia (looking at you Record Keeper and Brave Exvius).
World of Demons
Platinum Games (Nier Automata, Bayonetta) is also getting into the Apple Arcade bandwagon with this quirky samurai game that feels close to Okami‘s aesthetic. It adapts Platinum Games’ trademark fast-paced action on a more mobile scale with simple attacks, dodges, and summons using befriended Yokai as you travel feudal Japan to defeat the Oni King and seal him forever. There’s a heavy card-based implementation system where you could power up your Yokai collection from grinding gems and soul orbs.
Annapurna’s The Pathless has been making the rounds releasing on both Apple Arcade and the Playstation 5 on their successive launches. It was even branded as the face of Apple Arcade at one point being its most high profile game on the service. I for one agree that it is the most recognizable IP on this list aside from Fantasian and NBA2K21 Arcade. With the game being rarely going on sale on PSN and clocking at $39.99USD, Apple Arcade may be an affordable option to experience this game.
Beyond A Steel Sky
From the creators of the Broken Sword series, Beyond a Steel Sky is a riveting point and click adventure game that follows the same narrative and gameplay format as the Broken Sword series. Second in the series preceded by Beneath a Steel Sky, the story follows Robert Foster, a drifter who’s been exiled by a tribe that once took him in.
World’s End Club
This one’s an interesting premise by renowned visual novel writers Kotaro Uchikoshi and Kazutaka Kodaka of Virtue’s Last Reward and Danganronpa fame. It’s amazingly stylized and gives it this quirky premise centered on a high school club trapped in an amusement park playing quirky death games. The rest of the world has gone missing though and we gotta play the rest to uncover the mystery.
An Animal Crossing inspired life simulator but with ghosts instead of anthropomorphic animals and Instagram Influencers, Cozy Grove came out on the Apple Arcade before the Switch and the PS4 on April 8. Gameplay involves farming and building a settlement on a lonely haunted island and making friends with your supernatural neighbors.
A combination of Minecraft and Zelda geared towards kids, this series progressed from an 8-bit RPG to now a more Breath of the Wild inspired aesthetic where you battle monsters, get powerful, and explore the lush land around you.
NBA 2K21 Arcade
Sports fans rejoice! You can finally take your basketball on the go on your iPhone without being subject to loot boxes and building your roster from microtransactions. It brings us back to the great time when NBA Jam and NBA Live in the 90s where we just had a straightforward basketball game where we pick our teams and have loads of fun shooting hoops. There were also basketball cards, but let’s not get into that.
What the Golf?
Released on the Switch last year, What The Golf is a golf game made for people who hate golf. This novelty sports title allows you to play golf in the most unconventional ways where the in-game physics are as wacky as they could get. It still works like golf, where you have to shoot your ball into the hole, but it’s really up to you and your imagination how you could do that. You just have to play it to find out.
Star Trek: Legends
A gacha game featuring popular characters from an existing property without microtransactions?! What sorcery is this!? What will they think of next? Genshin Impact Lite? Zynga’s Star Wars Hunters to be microtransaction free? Marvel’s Avengers to come out on PS Now? Wait, they already did that…
The gameplay loop of this title features the similar way how popular mobile games of this type will run, however it’ll be interesting to see how the character progress comes along without any microtransactions. Would the meta of the game not be as exciting? How much of a grind would it be to acquire sought after fan favorite character cards such as Jean Luc Picard, Seven of Nine, and Khan Noonien Singh? Only one way to find out.
The Apple Arcade is a $4.99USD monthly game delivery service exclusively for the iPhone, iPad, Macbook, and Apple TV.