Apple Arcade is coming on September 19 in 150 countries for $4.99 a month [though it appears some people have access today, September 16 — Ed.]. The company promises more than 100 games for it, and I was able to get a glimpse at some of these.
Altogether, Apple has revealed about 20 games for Apple Arcade (you can see the descriptions below). I’ve started with my own descriptions and observations about the games that I saw. And below that, I have included descriptions of other games that I heard about but was not able to play.
Overall, these are solid and fun games, mostly done with cartoon-style art that is targeted at family players. Some are exclusive, and some are not. Sayonara Wild Hearts, for instance, debuts on Apple Arcade on the same day that it also debuts as a standalone title for the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4. The game is no different on Apple Arcade.
But plenty of original games are coming out that you’ll only be able to play on Apple Arcade. You can play these games on iPads, iPhones, or on the television on Apple TV. You can use the touchscreens for controls or play with a Bluetooth controller. Take a look.
Hands-on game demos
Overland is another postapocalyptic game, but you won’t find one that looks like this. It is a turn-based survival road trip that takes place in a car as you travel across the country.
You face off against creatures who move toward you across a strategic grid. You have to think about how to avoid the creatures and accomplish your goals in each level. You can rescue survivors and move across the country. You steal a car, get gas, and make friends. Then you dash across the U.S.
Sayonara Wild Hearts (Annapurna/Simogo)
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a super-fast action game, and it’s about the fusion of music and gameplay. Every level is a song, and every collectible is captured by being awesome at riding motorcycles, skateboarding, dance battling, shooting lasers, wielding swords, and other things at 200 miles-per-hour.
A bunch of hearts will speed at you and you have to run them over or switch lanes when an obstacle presents itself. It’s like you’re always riding through a tunnel toward the horizon. You’ll crash a lot, but the game gets you back on your bike really quickly. In that way, it is very accessible, fulfilling one of Apple Arcade’s goals.
Of course, since this one will be on other platforms, it’s not going to give Apple Arcade a huge advantage. But you’ll certainly find this game to be cheaper on Apple Arcade, considering the $4.99 a month all-you-can-eat price. I think this game is easiest played on an Apple TV with a game controller.
Shinsekai: Into the Depths (Capcom)
Shinsekai: Into the Depths is a graphically beautiful 2D sidescrolling game. You dive underwater and hear the immersive sounds, all recorded under the sea.
You explore the depths and deal with sea creatures (one looked like a giant centipede). I had a tough time figuring out how to attack and evade as the centipede kept smashing me with its body. I eventually figured out how to use my underwater ray gun against the beast and I finally got rid of it. I’m looking forward to this one.
Skate City (Snowman)
Skate City is the kind of game that could prove to be very popular on Apple Arcade. It’s a skateboarding game arriving at a time when not many such games are on the market. Between Shaun White and Tony Hawk, the population apparently got exhausted and never wanted to play another skateboarding game again.
But this one was fun. You could tap on the screen to do timed jumps and engage in tricks. I was naturally quite bad at the game, but it wasn’t really that hard to learn.
Where Cards Fall (Snowman/The Game Band)
I spent most of my time playing around with Where Cards Fall, which is a top-down isometric puzzle game. It tells a story about a boy who is looking back at some formative memories from his life.
Whenever you solve a puzzle, you get a glimpse of something significant that happened to the boy. The puzzles aren’t that easy. You see a lot of rectangular shapes and buildings in the landscape. You can pick up some cards and spread them out so they form a new building or a wall or a rooftop. Then the boy can walk over them to get to a new location.
The cards had a lot of clever mechanics. You can, for instance, move a set of cards out of the way, set up another deck to build a bridge, and then bring the other cards over to build another piece of the puzzle. I thought it was highly original.
Sneaky Sasquatch (RAC7)
Sneaky Sasquatch is a cute 2D game where you live the life of a Sasquatch. You have to sneak around a national park, evading rangers and stealing stuff from the campers.
You can disguise yourself in human clothing, but the rangers may recognize you and chase you out of the campsites. You can distract them and head straight for the food cooler. I did so and stole a few hot dogs and ketchup. Then I went to a picnic table and ate them.
This silly game had plenty of other things to do in it.
Spek made very interesting use of augmented reality.
It invites you to guide a dot along the edge of an unseen world and collect mysterious fragments of a broken dimension. When you view it using an iPad or iPhone camera, you can see animated shapes superimposed on the real world.
A little dot will move along the shapes. If you line the shapes up from the proper viewing angle, you can make the dot transfer to a different shape and advance the game to its next level. It’s one of those puzzle games that literally makes you look at things from another perspective.
Super Impossible Road (Rogue Games/Wonderful Lasers)
Super Impossible Road is one of those games where you play it because you want just one more chance to redeem yourself. Or so it was with me.
This spiritual sequel to Impossible Road is a race with eight players — one of them is you. You start out rolling a ball down a roller coaster-like race track. It’s easy to fly off the edge of the track, but you can recover if you land on the track below you. But if you fall for more than 5 seconds, you die and start again at the point where you flew off the track.
You can also bump others off the track. You can get an idea of the gameplay from the video above. A developer played it, as you can tell from the level of skill.
Frogger in Toy Town (Konami)
The classic frog-action game returns on Apple Arcade as Frogger in Toy Town. It looked like any Frogger game to me, except it had a 3D view of the action, rather than a 2D overhead view. I realized this when a baby started crawling directly at me, wiping out a bunch of the toys that were in my path.
I tried to crawl out of the way of obstacles, but your green amphibian can get flattened in a lot of ways.
Additional games we haven’t seen
Apple also disclosed these additional games that will be available on or near the launch date for Apple Arcade. I’ve listed them below.
Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree (Wildboy): Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree teams players up with Estra, the daughter of mankind’s last great leader, to help her protect the Sacred Elder Tree and return Midgard to its previous splendor as a prosperous land teeming with mythical beasts and beings.
Cardpocalypse (Versus Evil): Make friends, play cards, twist the rules, become a Mega Mutant Power Pets master, and try to save the world in Cardpocalypse, a single-player role-playing game about being a ’90s kid.
Chu Chu Rocket! Universe (Sega): Chu Chu Rocket! has been revived with over 100 mind-bending pathfinding puzzles for players to solve as they travel through a universe full of strange and wonderful planets while rescuing their mouse-napped friends from the claws of King Kapu and his wacky band of space cats.
Down in Bermuda (Yak & Co): Down in Bermuda is a quirky adventure filled with family-friendly puzzles to solve and uncover mysteries in order to escape each of the three unique islands (with more to come), each one leading to the next on a quest for a way back home.
Hot Lava (Klei): Hot Lava transports you back to your childhood imagination requiring you to use your skills to conquer treacherous obstacles in nostalgia-packed environments flooded with hot molten lava.
Lego Brawls (Lego): Build your way to the top in Lego Brawls, a lighthearted, team action brawler where anything can happen.
Oceanhorn 2 (Cornfox & Brothers): Oceanhorn 2 is a role-playing adventure game that has the look of classic video games.
Projection: First Light (Blowfish Studios): Projection: First Light is a shadow-puppet adventure about light manipulation, curiosity and lost art inviting players to embark on a journey of self-enlightenment with the assistance of legendary heroes from each culture the character explores.
Speed Demons (Radiangames): Speed Demons is a highway racing simulator, with breakneck speeds, physics-based crashes, inviting players to leisurely cruise down the highway, weave through traffic at high-speeds, take out rogue racers, escape from law enforcement, or just barrel through everything in sight.
The Enchanted World (Noodlecake Studios): The Enchanted World asks players to guide a young fairy through a series of tile-sliding puzzle adventures on her journey to piece back together a magical world torn asunder by dark forces.
Way of the Turtle (Illusions Lab): An adventure platform game, Way of the Turtle, invites players to join two turtles on their journey to reunite stranded on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere.
Are these games worth $4.99 a month? Of course they are. But it depends whether you are going to play a lot of them. If you like family games and you like what you see here, then the price is a bargain. If you don’t play many games, then you’ll have to think about it because you don’t have an a la carte option here.
We don’t know yet exactly how many games are going to debut on the first day, but it is encouraging that Apple has about 20 games that it is acknowledging. We’ll find our for sure in a few days. Apple’s offering is quite enticing, and the trick will be if it can roll out additional games that justify the monthly subscription.