Apple Arcade surprises subscribers with actual new games

POLAND - 2019/09/24: In this photo illustration an Apple Arcade logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
POLAND - 2019/09/24: In this photo illustration an Apple Arcade logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

If you’re an Android and/or PC user you might not be to familiar with Apple Arcade but you definitely know the concept. Everything now has a special pass that gives you access to free games. PlayStation has the upper tier Playstation Plus memberships, Xbox has Game Pass, and even Android has Google Play.

These usually take the form of monthly subscriptions that give you access to an ever-growing library of games. Apple Arcade has been doing half of that by taking a monthly payment… the games part has been a work in progress.

Currently, if you were to subscribe to Apple Arcade you’d find a solid selection of games that are genuinely enjoyable. Games like the gorgeous platformer GRIS+. Or casual sports games like “Easy Come, Easy Golf” from the makers of the famous Everybody’s Golf line. There are massive RPGs like Square’s gorgeous Fantasian that take place in a world that is literally handcrafted, meaning they sculpted models and put them into the game to use as a world. And even bizarre but super fun titles like my personal favorite, Pocket Card Jockey.

You’d be understood if, as a new subscriber you got really excited seeing a bunch of these gems mixed in with the Arcade’s overwhelming amount of shovelware — basic phone titles like Match 3s, Cut the Rope, and Angry Birds. Especially if you signed up with the promise that there will be more games coming.

But if you’re a long-time subscriber like me, you know the truth. You MIGHT get a game every month but it’s likely not going to be anything great.

This year is a perfect example. While we got Pocket Card Jockey in January, it came alongside some totally dated games that are essentially jigsaws. February gave us a Farmville knockoff and an Angry Birds knockoff. March gave us one game, Kimono Cats, which looks really cut but is basically a short collection of minigames that feel like student coding projects and gets boring after about 10 minutes. April was a really rough month with a ridiculously basic dungeon crawler and a Doctor Who game so impossible and terrible it made me question being a lifelong Whovian. But May… May was a surprise.

On May 4th, out of nowhere, Apple dropped seven new games on Apple Arcade and there are some delightful surprises in this mix. The list looks like this:

  • Cityscapes: Sim Builder
  • Disney Spellstruck
  • Iron Marines
  • LIMBO+
  • Temple Run+
  • TMNT: Splintered Fate

Now, there are a couple on there that are mid at best. Temple Run doesn’t need to exist; it’s literally a recreation of the original and both looks AND plays badly. Cityscapes: Sim Builder is an anxiety nightmare given form. And, oh my damn, you must have played LIMBO by now as it’s on everything, usually for two bucks.

But some of the other ones are actually pretty great.

Disney Spellstruck is a weird one. Our entire household tends to steer clear of the Mouse House but trying it for this article, I have to admit it gives Words with Friends vibes. The better your vocabulary, the more fun you’re going to have with this, but it’s a fun puzzle game.

Iron Marines was the one I didn’t expect to like but it plays so much like the original Warcraft games. Sure, it has some problems but it’s good for how much you didn’t pay for it.

TMNT: Splintered Fate is a really cool Hades clone which I didn’t expect to see from this franchise. Every time you play you get randomly generated rooms, and if you die you lose most of your powers. You can also slowly gain some permanent buffs. Also, a ton of dash dodging just like Hades.

And WHAT THE CAR was the biggest surprise, especially as someone who loved WHAT THE GOLF. It’s basically driving your car from point A to point B but every stage works in some bizarre twist like your car has legs, or is a thief, or has to chase down a moving goal. It’s just a fun time killer that gives you no idea what to expect.

Next. Ten games from Google Play Pass that turn your Android into a Nintendo Switch. dark

I hope this is a sign of things changing for the Apple Arcade because this is the first time in a long time the service felt worth it but we don’t know until we see what happens over the next two months.