Best new Apple Arcade mobile games – November 2019 round-up
Subscription service Apple Arcade continues to be one of the best value deals in gaming, as GameCentral looks at the latest downloads.
Apple Arcade, the newly minted, £4.99 per month, mobile game subscription service promised that over 100 games would be rolled out this autumn. They were already off to a good start after an impressive launch and at a recent event in London they showcased some of their other new releases. They’re reviewed below, along with some other choice selections from the current Arcade line-up.
Pac-Man Party Royale
While online multiplayer proliferates, games you can play with friends and family on the same sofa have become something of a rarity. Kudos, then, to Pac-Man Party Royale, a game that brings its pellet-eating action to parties in the same room, as well as ones formed online.
Using an iPhone, iPad, or a controller connected to Apple TV – which also giving you a handy central screen to play on – you’re Pac-Man, only this time when you swallow one of the game’s roving power pills you’ll be able to eat fellow Pac-Men as well as ghosts.
Get eaten and you become a ghost, changing back if you devour another Pac-Man, four of whom compete at a time, with any shortfall in human opponents back-filled by bots. Elegantly balanced so that using a controller is no advantage over touchscreen, its developers promise regular updates of new mazes, game modes, and challenges.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Bossa’s latest is an asymmetric multiplayer game dreamt up at a recent game jam, in which one person plays a farmhand facing off against three messy pig. As the pigs your job is to roll in mud and spread it all over the farmer’s most prized possessions.
As the farmhand you need to foil the piggies’ plan by hosing off mud before it fully plasters each of the farmer’s status symbols. You can also dive on the pigs and hogtie them. That will only hold them for a short time, but if you can truss up all three it’s an instant win.
It’s a joyous affair, even if aiming can prove a bit frustrating, especially as the farmhand, with his limited water reservoir and three naughty porkers to keep track of.
Publisher: Bossa Studios
Redout: Space Assault
Based on popular WipEout-style anti-gravity racer Redout, this extends its remit way beyond the confines of hover racing into the world of Panzer Dragoon-style on-rails shooters. It’s also got a chunkier production budget, with fully-voiced character interactions, and an interface that actually works better using touchscreen than a controller.
Flying through each level you use guns and lock-on missiles to take on your foes, while going after three optional objectives, each of which grants you upgrade points to spend on improving your ship. There are also some sections where you get full 3D flight control, which is very ambitious given the circumstances.
Unfortunately, its reach sometimes exceeds its grasp, and even on the latest iPhone it suffers from frame rate stutters when the action gets busy. Its unremittingly generic sci-fi characters and setting also conspire against it.
Publisher: 34 Big Things
Dear Reader takes passages from literary classics whose copyrights have conveniently expired and mixes up key phrases, leaving you to unscramble them into sense-making paragraphs.
You can do that in your own time or against the clock, your rewards ticking down as you think, and mistakes carving more from your bonus pot. Your winnings are then spent extending your library with new titles.
It’s weirdly hard to concentrate on what the text is actually saying, rather than simply spotting which sentence fragments go where, so it’s not much of a reading experience, although it is a gentle and long term challenge that turns out to be pleasantly relaxing without a timer.
Publisher: Local No. 12
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Getting over a broken heart takes Sayonara Wild Hearts’ heroine on a psychedelic trip through what feels like an interactive music video. Rolling along an endless neon road, swiping left and right to change lanes, you drive through coins and hearts, leaping through the air and sweeping through huge corners and swirling vortices of road, accompanied by a new musical track for each level.
Even on a small screen, wearing headphones creates moments that feel almost like the synaesthetic euphoria of Rez as you, the music, and the road briefly become one. It’s an absolutely wild ride and manages continual moments of unmitigated surprise and delight.
Developed by Simogo, whose spine-tingling Year Walk, and expectation subverting Device 6 have rightly become landmarks in mobile gaming, this is another one. It’s a shame it will be denied to Android users, but for Arcade subscribers it’s possibly the first unequivocally essential download.
Publisher: Annapurna interactive
2D auto-runner (remember those?) EarthNight, breathes new life in a genre you would be forgiven for thinking of as utterly moribund. In it you’re a dragon hunter, free-falling through the planet’s atmosphere to land on the undulating back of a snake-like dragon.
Once you’re sprinting along its spine you’ll need to hop on the heads of colour-coded enemies using the game’s high jump, long jump, and quick drop buttons, the last one plunging you to the deck, which turns out to be vital in timing your collisions with constellations of enemies. Reach the dragon’s head and you’ll have a few seconds to stab it to death, learning to time your sword strikes for maximum damage.
Once you’ve slayed your dragon you can collect their eggs and body parts to unlock weapons, many of which introduce game-changing new strategies, in a title that only slowly reveals its depths.
A distinctly architectural puzzle game reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s drawings or, for mobile gamers, Monument Valley, this also echoes some of Portal’s fiendishly clever puzzle design.
In each room of its vertiginous line-drawn buildings, one of the walls or the ceiling has a cube on it that you need to pick up and carry to a corresponding square on another wall. You do that by switching gravity to make walls into floors, so that you can position the block and open a door to the next set of rooms.
It’s a pleasure to wander around, the input of American artist William Chyr evident in the expansive and mildly trippy building designs that trail off into infinity. And it’s no shrinking violet on the challenge, which rapidly becomes deliciously tricky.
Publisher: William Chyr Studio
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