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A month ago, as I was scrolling through my Apple App Store, I came across a familiar-looking app—Cooking Mama. Hit with nostalgia from my Nintendo 3DS days, I clicked into the game, wanting to revisit a childhood favourite of mine.

Unthinkingly, I pressed the “Get” button, only to be met with a paywall. “Play Over 200 Ad-Free Games”, it read.

Apple Arcade is Apple’s video game subscription service that has been in Malaysia for over three years now. Since I don’t play that many mobile games, I’ve never felt inclined to check it out, despite Apple offering a month-long free trial for it.

Cooking Mama really got me

But with Cooking Mama staring at me with her bright smile and pink head band, I decided it was finally time to cash in on my free trial. Here’s how the month went.

A quality, curated catalogue

I’m not going to lie, the selection of games on Apple Arcade is actually incredible in both quality and quantity.

There’s quite a wide variety of games as well, including variations of classics such as Angry Birds Reloaded, Cut the Rope Remastered, and Fruit Ninja Classic+.

To be very clear, most games on Apple Arcade are uniquely kept to the service, and aren’t available outside the subscription otherwise. However, some games are denoted with the + symbol at the end, which seems to mean that they’re available in the app store as paid games too.

For example, The Gardens Between is RM23.90 as a one-off purchase, but The Gardens Between+ is available for Arcade subscribers. They both seem to feature the same in-game content, though.

In any case, most—if not all—of the games on Apple Arcade seem to be very well-made and feature gorgeous graphics and animations.  

My initial picks included The Oregon Trail, a successor of the eponymous iconic game from 1971, and Mini Motorways, a port of a popular puzzle strategy video game.

Of course, I also downloaded Cooking Mama. Sadly, it didn’t hit as hard as it did when I was 10, but it still made for a fun afternoon.

The Game Centre achievements are a nice touch

The ad-free experience

One of my biggest peeves when it comes to mobile games is that so many of them are just stuffed with ads. Sure, you can usually press skip after a couple of seconds, but it’s so frustratingly pervasive, especially when some of these ads are… questionable.  

I understand that games have to make money somehow, but the current state of such ads feels way too predatory, especially considering the young demographic many of these mobile games seem to be targeting.

With Apple Arcade, though, you can now pay to play games that are completely ad-free.

The Oregon Trail is a charming adventure game

However, there isn’t a clear answer online about how Apple is actually paying developers on Arcade. But considering the catalogue of titles available on its platform, it seems to be enough to allow those developers to properly focus on making genuinely good games.

Of course, there are still some great mobile games on the App Store that are free of ads and free to download too. My favourite one is Mario Kart Tour, the only game that has kept my interest for over two years.  

No internet, no problem?

During our recent company cruise trip, I decided not to purchase an internet package. Although I spent most of my time doing fun activities with my colleagues, I also had a couple of hours of chill downtime where I found myself having nothing to do.

Thankfully, though, I had downloaded a couple of Arcade games before disembarking the port, and I was delighted to find that the apps did not require an internet connection to work.

I spent a good hour or so drawing roads on Mini Motorway while chilling on the balcony of our room, and boy was that therapeutic.  

However, the issue came after I got back on land and connected to the internet. Turns out, my progress on Mini Motorway was not saved. I’m not very sure why, but I think it might have something to do with my Apple Game Centre resetting the game progress.

My high score on Mini Motorway did not save

Other than that, though, I really love how I was able to play games without Wi-Fi. Aside from a cruise trip, I can see it being great entertainment for flights and commutes too.  

Sharing is caring

Arguably, one of the best features about the Arcade subscription is the Family Sharing option.

With this, you can get access to Apple Arcade for up to six members. This means that if you fully utilise it, it would be around RM3.30 per person, per month. That’s a pretty good deal in my opinion.

Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat is such a fun game and a throwback to actual IRL arcades

Overall, I believe the price is only worth it for those who actually play a lot of mobile games. Towards the end of my subscription, the only game I was still playing regularly was ‎Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat. As much as I love that game, it really doesn’t justify a monthly price tag of RM19.90.

I recommend giving the free trial a go and downloading everything that stands out to you so you can get a feel for what games you’d play on the regular. This way, you can determine whether the subscription is actually worth it.

I cancelled on the very last day

Cancelling it is easy too. You just have to go to your settings in the App Store and click into the subscriptions tab. Make sure you set a reminder for it before you get charged for the next month though.

  • Learn more about Apple Arcade here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about gaming here.

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)