Apple Arcade Hands-On Impressions: It Reminds Us of Xbox Live Arcade – IGN Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a major tech company launches a gaming service that hand-curates new, intriguing games on a regular, scheduled basis. The games aren’t AAA, big-budget blockbusters, but are instead charming original works from small teams of creatives.If you were thinking, “Xbox Live Arcade,” you’re absolutely right. During my time at the Apple Park campus to check out a handful of the 100+ games (see more in the trailer below) launching with the new Apple Arcade subscription service, which itself goes live this Thursday, September 19, I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in the good ol’ Xbox Live Arcade days. Except instead of games costing $5-$10 each, it’s $5 per month for unlimited access to everything on Apple Arcade.
And to its credit, Apple is setting Arcade up in a very consumer-friendly way. For instance, a single $5 month-to-month subscription covers up to five total people in your family. Second, the games chosen for the service won’t ever be of the gross microtransaction-heavy variety. These are premium games (more on those in a moment), not digital hamster wheels designed less to entertain you than to extract every last possible dollar from you. Whatever extra content is in the games, you’ll get it as part of your sub. Third, and similarly, every Apple Arcade game is ad-free. They’ve even got cross-save; you can leave off on any of your Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV) and resume on another.
Of course, it all comes down to the games, and from what I saw, it looks like Apple is coming out of the gate strong. Here’s a summary of the best stuff I played at the event:
Where Cards Fall
If you’ve played Hitman Go you’re likely to feel right at home here. It’s an isometric-view puzzle game in which you’re trying to get your protagonist – a little boy who’s running through memories in his imagination – to the exit door of the stage. To do so, you’ll grab and pinch decks of playing cards in order to instantly create pop-up houses of cards. You decide how big they’ll be, using the environmental cues to figure out how and where to place them in order to reach the exit. Environmental hazards, like wind that blows large stacks of cards away, come into play in later levels.
Overland is one of the most PC-level Apple Arcade games I played, and that may be because it is, in fact, releasing on PC as well. It plays great on Mac, which is where I gave it a try. It’s a turn-based, post-apocalyptic road trip roguelike. You’ll need to make your way across the country while scavenging for resources and avoiding monsters. It’s got a dash of XCOM in it, which is a very good thing.
Shinsekai: Into the Depths
Capcom’s Shinsekai: Into the Depths has perhaps the highest production value of the games I got to take a look at. It’s a gorgeous underwater exploration game, which I played with an Xbox controller thanks to iOS 13’s system-level support for Bluetooth gamepads. You’ll manage your oxygen and traverse the deep, battling giant underwater centipede monsters, among other hazards. Capcom says it’s around seven hours long, which would be mighty impressive indeed.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from Shinsekai, tonally, is Sneaky Sasquatch. It’s a goofy game by just about any definition (art, tone, gameplay, etc.) in which you, as the titular sneaky sasquatch, roam campgrounds and terrorize campers, steal their food, feast on their trash, make deals with foxes, and avoid the park ranger. It seems like cheeky fun; no more, no less.
With Skate seemingly never returning and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater apparently put out to pasture, skateboarding games are few and far between. Enter Skate City, which utilizes the familiar three-star-per-stage scoring system to grade you on how well you do in each challenge scenario. Kick to gain speed by tapping the right side of the screen, and use a multitude of swipe gestures with your left hand to execute ollies, kickflips, and other tricks. I enjoyed the Endless Skate mode, which lets you keep going and practicing until you decide to exit the area.
Super Impossible Road
For a dash of F-Zero, give Super Impossible Road a try. You control a metal sphere racing against other spheres, and you’ll need to zoom your way down each corkscrew-twisting track as quickly as possible. You build up a boost as you go, and the trick is that you’re more or less encouraged to try and shortcut your way to victory. You can fling yourself off of the track, and if you can fall and/or boost your way to a lower part of the track within five seconds (i.e. before you time out and reset to the previous checkpoint gate), you’ll cut in front of your opponents and be victorious. This worked better than expected with touch controls but felt absolutely fantastic with an Xbox controller.
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