BTW #8 - Really Hopeful That Apple Arcade Isn’t Handing Out Bad Deals Because It is Delivering Good Friggin’ Games
I have been swallowed whole by the Apple Arcade discourse. Tweets of the implications of subscription based gaming on developers and the possibility of “play time” being a contributing factor for the payout to these creators are all around. I’m so used to video content being so readily available…and I still don’t think I quite grasp how games differ from these other mediums. Or rather…they do and I simply haven’t internalized the restrictions that the likes of Spotify have put on the growth of musicians. Admittedly, I try to support the creators I care about when I can, where I can so while it isn’t a perfect way to alleviate the stress of being a “bad consumer”, it is what I do to help stay sane.
Not to belittle that line of thought, Apple Arcade whips in the game department. The point has been regurgitated to the point of offering little value, but dang it does feel nice to not be worried about micro-transactions AND know that there is another game around the corner to scratch the itch. I was starting to get into a routine of buying a game every couple months for like $3 and usually I felt like I was getting my money’s worth…but I always was shying away from certain experiences specifically because they wouldn’t last me as long. The driving force behind my purchases was that I had a good amount of downtime during the day and I had a few bucks to spare per month. I know plenty of strong narrative iOS games released, but I couldn’t justify it. For mobile games, I don’t want them to value my time completely. I’m gonna be on this toilet for at least another 5, let’s milk this together. With Apple Arcade, you got the time sinks but also the “Wow what an EXPERIENCE” type games and that’s what is making me pumped about it.
Let me first start with the game all the kids are talking about, Grindstone. And yeah, it is GOOOOOOD. You got your loveable murderous miner who is jacked to the gills and ready to tear through monsters who’s crimes typically include simply being in your way. Won’t let that get in the way of a good puzzler. Go read Patrick’s piece on the game as it mostly sums up my thoughts on it being a game that outside of Apple Arcade would be a much different game. A game I would probably get to level 10 where they would clearly start introducing the energy meter then anyone knows that once you hit level 20 things get a little bit THICK, so would expect the numbers to be a little higher and a little more painful…unless you had the potion you could buy for $1.99 that would drop all chests and enemies by 2 points. The game we get though is balanced, cute, and is incredibly satisfying once you start racking up the chains. Figuring out how to get essentially “free pieces” makes you feel like a genious. The gem is the neat mechanic that allows you to change the color of your chain, but the free loot is what let’s you take that 8 to a 10 which leads to a gem that allows you to take a 6 to a 13. Dang, love it when the numbers go up.
Then you have Saranya Wild Hearts which gives you a nice little art game for the sub. Honestly, iPhone probably isn’t the best place to play it but I also enjoyed the sick beats and visuals more than I enjoyed PLAYING the game. So it honestly probably wouldn’t have been something I invested in (okay, I might invest in that Vinyl) if it weren’t for Apple Arcade. Throw in the earbuds and GO!
WHAT THE GOLF? is the gem of Apple Arcade. On the podcast I kept hearing how there were “good gags”, and yes plenty of good gags but there is also a lot of times where the game made me go "Oh wow, I can’t believe they made THAT work in the confines of ‘kinda golf’.” The game feels like a collection of themed mini-games that are meant to tickle you rather than a game built around PROGRESS, where everything builds. It builds in the areas, and sometimes not even, and then tosses it away to show you the next rad thing they figured out how to make work. There are homages to other indie and flash games each surprising and delighting.
There are three phases of each hole. First is, complete the level based on this areas basic rules. Then, it is typically (but not always) get the whole in par. It is the THIRD round, the “crown”, round, that’s where the most bits come into play but also when the game feels most exuberant. It is when it decides that the rules that by most metrics are creative and fun, look commonplace compared to the crowns. I understand how WTG would translate to other platforms but can’t help but feel that mobile is the ideal way. The game is easy to break into chunks, whip out your phone and in some spare moments you probably can crush a level or two. The game isn’t demanding so using your finger is more than fine and on certain levels where you need to be a relatively accurate and relatively quick, a finger feels better than trying to zip a mouse across a screen or fling your analog stick at the right moment. There is also the fact that you can gain perspective of some maps by moving to your device. On most maps, not particularly helpful but for maps with odd perspectives or windy turns, being able to have slightly more visuals on the landscape helps. There are a couple of other THINGS this game does that make me question how it would come across outside of mobile but I don’t want to divulge because like the rest of the game, half the fun is seeing how they do the things they do.
Apple Arcade may end being Actually Bad but until that reveals itself, I’m going to enjoy the games it gives as the work that Capy, Simogo, and Triband are too good to ignore.