As someone who’s career it is to cover mobile games, it’s admittedly hard to not fall into the occasional rut. While a veritable force of nature on its own, the demands of the mobile game industry can often make it hard to make genuinely enjoyable games.
You get this particularly in the monetization department- devs gotta eat, after all, but after a while you may suddenly feel every mobile game is just funnelling you to its Top-Up page or trying to squeeze ad revenue out of you.
If you’re the type to genuinely enjoy games, sometimes you just wanna, well, enjoy them. Being upsold constantly isn’t fun, and it’d be better for the mobile ecosystem’s growth if there was a space to explore what game design could be if it didn’t need to add gacha mechanics to everything.
Apple Arcade- Letting Mobile Games Be More Than Moneyfarms
Imagine my surprise when I find Apple Arcade- Apple’s subscription based games platform. The rules are simple- in exchange for your monthly sub, games on Apple Arcade are both ad and microtransaction-free.
As someone who’s been subbed to Apple Arcade for just over a year now, I couldn’t be happier- Apple Arcade’s selection includes everything from casual party games like SongPop Party, which are sure to be a hit if you’re finally having friends over for Hari Raya after two years of Raya-by-FaceTime, to games that feel like they could be console releases, like Gear Club Stradale and Fantasian.
GamerBraves readers would know I have no scarcity of nice things to say about Fantasian- the game would draw high praise on any console it was on and does just as much to introduce new ideas for JRPGs some console releases like Yakuza 7.
It sounds like a canned response but it legitimately blows me away that titles like Fantasian even exist on mobile- the rules of being on Apple Arcade really shine through here because there’s literally nary a window for a microtransaction in sight. It’s just a solid PS2-era JRPG that you happen to be able to play on your phone or tablet.
Admittedly, I could see some apprehension to picking up more involved titles when you can’t feel the tactile sensation of a good button press. I get it, I’m a controller boy myself, and doing any kind of gaming without the tactile sensation of buttons or a nice big screen can be a bit of a dealbreaker.
Thankfully you don’t have to worry about that with Apple Arcade- iOS devices support bluetooth controllers like the Dualshock 4, meaning you can totally play your games like they were gaming on the latest console, rather than on a phone that might also have text messages from your friends showing you a meme they never realized you’d sent them already.
Of course, at the end of the day you are still gaming on a phone or tablet. I’d felt that limitation too- unless you’ve invested in some kind of a fancy mount for your device, you’re unlikely to get that proper console feeling if you just want to kick back on the couch.
Enter, the Apple TV 4K. The rules are simple- just plug it into your HDMI monitor or TV and bam! You’ve basically got an Apple console. Setting it up is really easy, and by syncing it to your Apple account you can literally just carry your progress across your devices. Need to get on the bus to work but just finishing up a dungeon in Fantasian? It’ll carry over to your phone.
I’m a really big fan of just how versatile the Apple TV is- aside from being an Apple console it’s also a great device for streaming tv shows on Apple TV+
Life Beyond Games
Anyone who plays games know that there’s more to gaming than just actually playing games. At least, that’s certainly the way I see it. While Apple Music might have a good selection of mainstream stuff, don’t quite sleep on its game music collection either, a lot of which is presented in Apple’s Lossless music format for maximum quality.
My personal recommendation? The Guilty Gear Strive Original Soundtrack Volume 1, which has all manner of rock n roll to remind you of your dad. The songs sound great especially paired with good headphones like the 3rd Generation airpods, whose compatibility with Apple’s Spatial Music tech means you have genuinely great earphones in a tiny package.
You can even combine it with the new head tracking to take your music listening to a whole new level- even if a song isn’t natively mixed for Spatial, you can evoke a feeling of being at a live concert as the intensity of the song changes depending on your head position. You haven’t heard the Holy Orders (Be Just Or Be Dead) riff until you’ve heard it with a pair of airpods.
If you want something a little less fighting games, there’s also The Primals arrangements of the Final Fantasy XIV soundtrack. I particularly recommend Sunrise, the theme for the boss Suzaku.
The gen 3 airpods are as comfy as they are compact- and the perfect tool for fantasizing about being in a raid boss in public
The layered instruments sound great especially with head tracking on, and it’s a great way to turn something as mundane as walking to the store to pick up a new tooth brush into a real life raid boss. It’s a lot of fun rotating your head around to find ways to get the best focus on other instruments, and best an experience a bassline that can be scientifically classed as “tasty”.
Even if you know better than to base your whole identity around videogames, there’s loads to love with Apple Music- curated playlists are great for setting the mood, including a new Raya-themed playlist if you wanna celebrate Hari Raya with some classical jams. There’s a veritable treasure trove of content on Apple Music- all you need to do is jump in and check it out.
All In One
With Apple One, you get Arcade, Music as well as Apple TV+ (so you can watch amazing dinosaur documentaries) from RM33.90, as well as other features like iCloud storage and the ability to share with up to 5 different accounts. It’s insanely good value for money, and it’s been my go to since I’ve been a Music subscriber longer than I’ve been an Arcade.
Of course, if you’re strictly only into only one of these services, you can also get them individually for RM14.90, and even upgrade at a later date if you change your mind.