A month ahead of WWDC and the long-rumored mixed reality headset that’s reportedly capable of playing games, Apple is adding 20 new titles to its Apple Arcade game subscription service at no extra cost for existing subscribers.
Well, technically, it’s four brand new games and 16 games brought in from the App Store that have been updated with an ad-free experience. The four new games include the quirky “racing” game, What The Car?, from Triband, the developers behind indie hit What The Golf?; Paramount’s co-op roguelike top-down beat ’em up, TMNT Splintered Fate; Magic Fuel Games’ city-building simulation, Cityscapes: Sim Builder; and Artist Arcade’s Disney-fied Words with Friends-like Disney SpellStruck.
The rest of the “new” Apple Arcade additions include updates to classic iOS games such as Temple Run+, Octodad: Dadliest Catch+, and PPKP+ (to name a few).
What The Car? Is a Must-Play
At a showcase event yesterday, I had playtime with the four new titles, and of the bunch What The Car? stood out as the must-play game and potential reason to give Apple Arcade another shot if the service’s 200+ library of mobile games never felt substantial.
Developed by Triband, the same folks who created What The Golf? and the VR game What The Bat?, What The Car? throws almost every concept of atypical racing game out the window and reimagines it from top to bottom.
For starters, you drive a car — with legs. Yes, two legs bolted to the bottom of a vehicle that also has eyes and a mouth, and that you steer through an obstacle-filled course to get to the finish line. Sometimes the car has many legs and rolls around like a cartwheel; other times it hops with a jetpack. Sometimes the car is a limousine with a giraffe that pops out of its sunroof; other times the limousine is long on the width side like a rolling pin instead of lengthwise. Sometimes the car has a cold or doors that flap like wings. It’s all so whimsical in every sense.
There are bears in the game! Why? Because why not? What The Car? also has a clever level creator that feels more like you’re playing a game than designing one. In it you cruise around a level from a top-down view to add and subtract to the landscape. It’s very easy for beginners to get the hang of and deep enough for hardcore fanatics to create a complex level.
When I jokingly asked Triband creative director Tim Garbos how high they were to dream up such a wacky game, he told me with a laugh that he was “not going to answer that” before giving me a more serious answer.
“We try to find everyday objects that everyone has some sort of experience with,” said Garbos. “Everyone knows what a car is and how it’s sort of supposed to work so it’s very easy to subvert expectations and do something completely different than that. It’s just like trying to look at a car and forgetting how it works and just seeing it as a weird box, and then imagining all sorts of things.
The game certainly caught my attention just as What The Golf? did. What The Car? is only on Apple Arcade at the moment. Garbos wouldn’t reveal whether the game will be available on other platforms like What The Golf?
More Mobile Games
I also had a few minutes to play TMNT Splintered Fate, Cityscapes: Sim Builder, and Disney SpellStruck. These games are fine, particularly Splintered Fate and Cityscapes: Sim Builder. Both showcase a little more graphical fidelity than What The Car? and Disney SpellStruck, but they’re mostly new takes on old games (think SimCity and Words with Friends) as opposed to fresh games that could be serious contenders for any GOTY awards.
When Apple Arcade launched in 2019, many people had high hopes that the game subscription service could eventually offer console-quality titles that match the types of AAA games found on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate or PlayStation Plus. That caliber of games has not materialized; the majority of the Apple Arcade library consists of old iOS games that have been stripped of their ads or mostly casual games.
Almost four years on, perhaps Apple isn’t interested in competing with Microsoft or Sony’s game services, and expecting a $4.99/month service to be the home for the next Halo or Grand Theft Auto is unrealistic. After all, console-quality games with photorealistic visuals are very expensive to create and can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Indie and casual games are less risky, cost less, and more scalable across Apple’s iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV devices.
Maybe this all changes at WWDC. A gamer can hope, right?
Below is a list of the other 16 “new” games added to Apple Arcade today:
- Chess Universe+
- Disney Coloring World+
- Disney Getaway Blast+
- Farming Simulator+
- Getting Over It+
- Hill Climb Racing+
- Iron Marines+
- Kingdom Two Crowns+
- My Town Home – Family Games+
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch+
- Temple Run+
- Time Locker+
- Very Little Nightmares+