Everything You Need To Know About Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade has gotten its biggest update yet, with the streaming service adding in a bunch of new games as well as Arcade segments for ‘Timeless Classics’ and ‘App Store Greats’. In addition to these features, there are 11 new Arcade Originals now available including the mobile version of NBA 2K21, Monument Valley, Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Fantasian and an updated version of The Oregon Trail.

If you’ve yet to dive into the service, now’s the time to check it out.

What is Apple Arcade?

Apple Arcade is a game streaming service available on all iOS devices. Currently, it contains more than 180 games (including 32 recently added titles) and all of them are free from ads and microtransactions. It’s just simple mobile gaming, the way it’s intended to be.

You can subscribe to Apple Arcade for $7.99/month in Australia, and for that price you’ll get access to every game on the platform including great new releases like Fantasian and Star Trek Legends. You’ll also get gems like Sayonara Wild Hearts, What the Golf, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Cozy Grove and Grindstone.

There’s a bunch of great indie and AAA hits to choose from, and plenty to discover (like Reigns, the incredible narrative adventure series I recently discovered in the Arcade).

Okay, so what new games are on the menu?

Image: Star Trek Legends

Apple Arcade recently got its biggest update yet, with more than 11 new Arcade Originals added alongside a bunch of other iconic games like Fruit Ninja Classic and the award-winning Monument Valley.

Here are the major new games you’ll want to know about:

Star Trek Legends — Star Trek Legends is a turn-based adventure RPG starring the classic cast of Star Trek. As you travel through extra-dimensional worlds, you’ll unlock more characters, battle iconic villains and put together an all-star space team. While the game does contain a gacha system, there are no microtransactions here. Instead, players will rely on adventuring and exploring to unlock every Trekkie from across the ages.

NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition — It’s NBA 2K21, but for mobile. There’s no in-game currency here and no annoying cosmetics. There is a MyCareer mode, though. And quick matches, street matches and multiplayer gameplay. Basically, if you’re looking for a bit of B-ball on the go, 2K has you covered via Apple Arcade.

The Oregon Trail — There’s a new Oregon Trail in town, and this go around it’s aiming to be a bit less racist. The Oregon Trail is a spiritual successor to the original title and includes updated visuals, new plot lines and new sensitivity around the depiction of Native Americans and race. The original game is an absolute classic, and this new version updates it for a more modern era.

World of DemonsWorld of Demons is a gorgeous-looking yokai hack-and-slash adventure that strongly resembles Okami. It’s by the talented team at PlatinumGames, famed for their work on Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, so you can expect the same level of quality and intrigue here. Basically, if you’re looking for a beautiful fantasy adventure, you’ll find it here.

Fantasian — Fantasian is a brand new IP from Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy franchise. It uses gorgeous hand-crafted dioramas to tell a dense fantasy tale and looks unlike anything you’ve seen in games before.

They’re joined by other new titles like Simon’s Cat: Story Time, Cut the Rope Remastered, SongPop Party, Taiko no Tatsujin: Pop Tap Beat, Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker and Clap Hanz Golf. 

In total, there are 32 new games spread across the Arcade Originals, Timeless Classics and App Store Greats categories.

What is Timeless Classics?

Image: Really Bad Chess / Apple Arcade

Timeless Classics is a new segment on Apple Arcade collecting “universally loved and globally familiar” games. In pleb terms, that means any ‘traditional’ game like chess, solitaire, mahjong and sudoku. And while many of the games on Apple Arcade stay true to the classic and well-loved formulas of these games, there’s also a few that buck the trend.

Amongst all the classics, you’ll also find newer titles like the very intriguing Really Bad Chess. In this competitive version of chess, you start each game with a random assortment of pieces. You could end up with a whole fleet of knights, or multiple (vulnerable) kings. Basically, if you have any understanding of how to play chess, throw it out the window when you play this game.

“The idea of fairness is just not that interesting,” developer Zach Gage said during a recent Apple Arcade showcase. “Do we want all sports teams to be perfectly balanced by the skill of their players? No, we love that when some teams are better than others, unfairness gives us people to root for, and to root against.”

Really Bad Chess is here to mess you up. You’ll find it alongside all the other Timeless Classics on Apple Arcade.

What are App Store Greats?

Image: Monument Valley

App Store Greats are award-warning titles that have “stood out” for their exceptional gameplay. This category relates to critically-acclaimed games like Monument Valley and Mini Metro as well as more iconic App Store games like Fruit Ninja Classic. 

Basically, it’s all the games you hear about when someone tells you to subscribe to Apple Arcade.

If you’re looking for the “best of” Apple Arcade, you’ll find it in the new App Store Greats category.

Why subscribe to Apple Arcade?

Mobile is a great platform for gaming, but it’s so often bogged down by poor quality, microtransaction-filled games. Apple Arcade is a neat solution to this problem, and goes a long way towards repairing the tarnished image of mobile gaming.

While some may begrudge the subscription-based nature of the service, Apple Arcade really is great value for money. Sure, it’s another $7.99 recurring monthly subscription, but if you’re somebody who spends a great deal of time on an iPad or an iPhone, you’ll likely get a considerable amount of use from the service.

There are now more than 180 games available via Apple Arcade, with new titles added on a regular basis. And the games on Apple Arcade aren’t just “any” games, they’re a great assortment of well-crafted indie adventures, classics, RPGs and puzzlers. No matter your taste, it’s likely you’ll discover something new on the service.

For gaming on the go, it’s hard to do much better. Apple Arcade is quickly transforming into a must-have gaming service and with each passing month the service gets a little bit sweeter.

If you’ve never dipped your toes in, now’s the time to give it a go. With its latest update Apple Arcade is better than ever.

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