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A deep dive into the Apple Arcade—Part Four

Today wraps up my deep dive into the Apple Arcade. When I planned this, one Part Four post was going to cover everything left…but it was way too long. So I'm still publishing it all today, but I've split the last part into three separate posts. So here's the full series:

  • Part One: This covers what I look for in games, some general observations on the games in the Arcade, and the lengthy list of games that didn't make my first cut.
  • Part Two: A slightly deeper look at the first half of the games I felt merited additional time for playing and testing.
  • Part Three: A slightly deeper look at the second half of the games I felt merited additional time for playing and testing.
  • Part Four: The part you're reading now; the first half of my set of definite keeper games.
  • Part Five: The second half of my set of definite keeper games, including my two favorites.
  • Part Six: Wrapping it all up.

Before I get to the keepers, though, there were two more games released while I was working on these posts, so I'll take a quick look at those.

All of You In this unique puzzler, your character is a chicken that needs to collect a number of lost baby chicks. Your chicken walks from left to right across the circles as seen at right. One circle can be animating at a time while the others are still. On some levels, you can rearrange and/or flip the circles, too. (In the level at right, you animate the dynamite circle first, so it explodes before you walk across.)

Higher levels have more circles, so there's not so much empty space…and some of the puzzles get a bit tricky. It's fun, but I'm not sure it's a keeper just yet.

Reigns: Beyond In this game, the primary interface is a card that you slide left or right to answer an asked question. Once answered, certain things happen. The overall objective is to travel the galaxy and build a rock band. I didn't play very long, as this is not my type of game—definitely not one of my keepers.
The Keepers

A Monster's Expedition

This puzzler is a variation of the old "sliding tiles" game, except your character is a bear, your tiles are trees, and the constraints are rocks, other trees, and the edges of islands…

On each island, the objective is to knock over one or more trees and maneuver them to make a floating bridge to the next island. Things start quite simple, but as more trees and obstacles are added, you have to consider not just which trees to use, but the order in which to use them. It's simple but addictive, though it's a slow mover, so it's not something to pick up if you're after an adrenaline rush.

Ballistic Baseball

I really shouldn't like this game at all. It's a pure arcade baseball game, with so little realism that I once hit a triple with a ball that landed about 10 feet from the center fielder. But for whatever reason, I actually like it. There are multiple game modes, including a home run derby mode if you just want to crush the ball. In career mode, you earn points you can use to upgrade your players. It's just a lot of cartoony fun…

Controlling the pitch type and location is done through a well-thought-out interface, and batting is similarly easy. As pitchers tire out, the moving bar at the top of the screen moves faster, making it harder to stop in the perfect zone. This is not usually my type of game, but I find this one quite fun.

Down in Bermuda

Bermuda is a top-down perspective puzzler set amongst some islands in the ocean. You need to solve puzzles to help you find and collect a number of stars. A star map helps you spot them, once you find the map. The puzzles—at least those I've seen so far—mostly involve pulling levers and pushing buttons in a proper sequence to cause another action. Here's a little bit of the star collecting portion of a level:

The graphics are done in a simple but pleasing style, and I find the gameplay relaxing—it offers a nice mix of not-too-hard puzzles and nice sounds.

Hexaflip: The Action Puzzler

Hexaflip is a simple looking game that involves flipping a tile from one game spot to another—tap left, the tile moves hexagonally up and left; tap right for the opposite movement. Move off the edge of the board, and you start the level again. Each board has obstacles to overcome, such as spikes that appear at intervals on some of your landing spots.

The interface outside the levels themselves is a bit over the top for my liking, and there's a focus on collecting coins and daily bonuses, but I just ignore all that and play the levels, which can be quite challenging—but they're all short (so far?), so starting over isn't a huge time drain. There are some reflex-based timing puzzles, too, but so far, they haven't bothered me too much.

Lifeslide

Lifeslide is a conceptually simple game where you control a paper airplane—viewed from behind—as it glides through its environment. But as you glide, yo have to collect yellow stars (for added time), blue stars (for plane upgrades), hit green bonus spots (for speed boosts), and collect hears (to repair damage). And you have to do all that without hitting the ground or flying too high.

There are a lot of levels to progress through, and they're long, so the game should be playable for quite a while. There's also a zen mode, which takes away all the tasks and just lets you guide the plane—and it is quite relaxing to play.

On to the final five in part (b)…

Note: All logos and game images used here are copyright by the original copyright holders; they are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

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