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

Apple Arcade characters stand on a chess board.
Apple
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.
Mistwalker

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.

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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.
Sunblink

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…
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