Skip to main content

Nintendo’s stellar Direct proved that you can’t ignore Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade characters stand on a chess board.
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

There’s a lot to unpack after today’s loaded Nintendo Direct. The 40-minute showcase gave us a surprisingly loaded look at what’s coming to Switch before Nintendo moves on to its next console. I could go on all day about Metroid Prime 4: Beyond theories or pick out hidden gems like Mio: Memories in Orbit, but there are two exciting announcements that stick out to me — and they’re both sleeper hits I’ve already played.

That’s thanks to Apple Arcade, which I’ve been subscribed to ever since it first launched. That long commitment has paid off for me in a number of ways over the years, but now it’s allowing me to smugly say this: If you’ve been ignoring Apple’s gaming subscription service, you’re about to find out what you’ve been missing.

The first key moment came early in the Direct when Nintendo revealed Fantasian Neo Dimension. The upcoming game is a long-awaited port of Apple Arcade’s crown jewel, an ambitious RPG that features hand-crafted environments. The game launched in 2021 as an Apple Arcade exclusive, taking full advantage of mobile touch controls with its tactile battle system. It quickly became Apple’s best-kept secret; those who have played it will likely talk your ear off about how it’s one of the best RPGs of the 2020s to date. Console and PC players will finally get to experience it for themselves … three years later.

A diorama from Fantasian on iOS.

That isn’t the only hit Apple Arcade game making its way off the service years later. Hello Kitty: Island Adventure will hit consoles and PC in 2025, two years after its surprise success made it Arcade’s most popular game (according to Apple Arcade Senior Director Alex Rofman). Those two games will join a flood of recent Arcade hits that have come to other platforms later, including Stitch, What the Car?, Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On!, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate.

Prime Day Focus
These Razer Blade Prime Day deals really pack a punch [in gaming power]
Secretlab Prime Day deals: Build your ideal work-from-home or gaming station
Amazfit Amazon Prime Day deals dropped: Save up to 40% off smartwatches today
Send it! This HoverAir X1 Drone can capture your adventures and it's $120 off

Both Island Adventure and Fantastian especially stand to be a breakout hits when they become widely available. That might surprise some who haven’t been paying attention to Arcade, but it won’t be a shock to the dedicated community of mobile players that’s found the value in the service amid the cynicism surrounding it.

Ever since Apple Arcade launched in 2019, it’s been a butt of a joke for some players. Anytime Apple announces a game for it, you’re bound to see a chorus of critics complaining about how “no one will play it.” Part of that criticism is fair. The service boxes out anyone who doesn’t own an iOS device. That’s wildly frustrating for Android users, though its not terribly different from the dynamic between Xbox and PlayStation. Those who are wary of subscription services have a right to be skeptical too, as it’s easy to find yourself paying a small fee every month for a service you barely use that can randomly lose games without warning.

Hello Kitty stands outside a house in Hello Kitty: Island Adventure.

But today’s Nintendo Direct should send something of a message for those who have written off the service before actually trying it. Apple Arcade has been one of gaming’s better values since its launch, and games like Fantasian show why. You could have played it three years ago, subscribing to the service for a handful of months for less than $30. You would have gotten access to plenty of other games during that time, including a wealth of indie and mobile classics. You’ll likely pay much more than that just to buy Fantasian digitally on another platform.

I don’t bring this all up just to brag about “liking these games before they were cool” (though I’ll admit that I’m a proud snob). More so, it’s a good moment to remind players what they’re missing out on by writing off what’s been a fairly consistent service. Exclusives like Sonic Dream Team and Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop are worth subscribing for, while monthly oddities like Rabbids: Legends of the Multiverse keep the service interesting. You could always wait for the best games to inevitably come to other platforms years later and buy them carte blanche, but the relatively small monthly fee feels like a better bargain considering how many solid games are getting ported every year.

So why keep turning your nose up at Apple Arcade for a meme? You could be playing your next favorite game right now if you swallow your pride.

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
6 free indie game demos you should play during the Steam Next Fest
Key art for Bo: Path of the Teal Lotus.

In the wake of several awesome video game showcases, the latest Steam Next Fest has arrived. Running from June 10 until June 17, this event on PC gaming storefront and launcher Steam gives indie developers and publishers a chance to share limited-time demos of their upcoming games so players can discover all the neat titles on the way in the indie space. It’s a reminder of the creativity of this industry in a year where companies are prioritizing profits over passion.

There are hundreds of demos in this year’s Steam Next Fest, so it can be a bit hard to sift through everything and discover the most entertaining titles. I had the opportunity to try many of them out ahead of Steam Next Fest over the past couple of weeks. From idle sandbox games to pretty Metroidvanias, these are the indie games from June 2024’s Steam Next Fest that stuck out to me the most and are worth trying for free sometime this week.
Claws & Chaos

Read more
Day of the Devs shows Grindstone follow-up, new Blumhouse Games, and more
A screenshot of While Waiting

Day of the Devs, a nonprofit games showcase that highlights hidden gem indie games, returned as usual this year with a slew of games. This year’s show included new looks at games from indie developers you might already be familiar with, including Grindstone’s Capybara Games, Furi’s The Game Bakers, Spelunky’s Mossmouth, and Road 96’s DigixArt.

Capybara Games’ latest title, Battle Vision Network, was the first world premiere of the show. It looks like a competitive sci-fi spiritual successor to Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, and it will emphasize multiplayer and a live service component that will evolve the game’s story seasonally. It launches on PC, Netflix, and game consoles in October. Netflix will also launch a Cozy Grove sequel called Camp Spirit.

Read more
This retro platformer is like Super Meat Boy or Celeste if you couldn’t jump
Wall jumping in Splodey.

What if jumping in a challenging platformer like Celeste or Super Meat Boy was impossible? That's the idea at the core of Splodey, a new game from Send It Studios and influencer-owned game publisher Mad Mushroom.

A surprise release at June 4's OTK Games Expo showcase, Splodey is a platformer where players must throw potion bombs to propel themselves forward rather than jump. Clearly inspired by speedrunning-friendly platformers like Super Meat Boy and Celeste, Splodey changes how just one core mechanic works to craft a unique identity of its own. This next week or so is going to be full of surprise launches and exciting game announcements, but if you can take some time away from those to try a new game, pick up Splodey.
A platformer where players can't jump
Splodey has the pixel art aesthetic and simple story of a retro game. It's about the titular character, who struggles to make potions that don't explode at the Academy of Potion Making, so he decides to take down the entire establishment. From there, players are let free to complete four worlds worth of platforming challenges. Splodey can't jump, though, so it must use those explosive potions to propel itself forward to the portal at the end of each level.

Read more