In iMore’s recently posted transcript of Apple’s Q3 2017 earnings call, there is only one mention of Apple TV, and it comes in the form of a question rather than an answer.
When quizzed for news on the device – following a financial summary that was devoid of any – Apple CEO Tim Cook responded with a vague outline of original television content being created. “We recently hired two great folks with lots of experience in creating content (like “Breaking Bad” and “The Crown” and some really top-notch content),” reads iMore’s transcript. “And so we’ll see how this area goes, but it is still an area of great interest.”
And that was it for news on Apple TV. It follows a similar strange silence on the topic during Cook’s WWDC keynote this year, with the CEO merely stating, “You’ll be hearing a lot more about tvOS later this year.”
It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that the current fourth generation Apple TV will one day be superceded by a fifth generation Apple TV. The only mystery is when and how.
Another interesting iMore piece reports on developer Guilherme Rambo’s discovery of “4K” and “HDR” within Apple’s HomePod firmware, fuelling rumours that the fifth-generation Apple TV will be capable of the new consumer-carrot resolution.
A 4K-capable Apple TV could of course mean bigger and better games for Apple’s digital-only console, providing the company throws some much needed support behind the device’s gaming potential. If Apple continues to treat its box as a mere hobby, there will be little to encourage developers to take the financial risk of developing for the relatively new gaming platform that tvOS provides.
The very slow burn that is the current state of Apple TV gaming, could become a healthy fire if these planets do align.
But that’s enough about that. Prognosticating on the future is fun, but playing games right now is even more so.
What’s ATVG Playing?
Quite a lot actually. The following four games come easily recommended, providing quality experiences across a range of genres, and we’ll no doubt give some of them the full review treatment at some point in the future. For now though, we’ve boiled down their essences into some neat little nutshells for your reading pleasure. And embedded trailers in case the words amount to complete gibberish.
Kingdom: New Lands
Gameplay mechanics are pared down to the binary options of giving and receiving in this gorgeous pixel art collaboration between studios Licorice and Noio.
Players will either collect coins or spend them. Every action – beyond riding your horse left and right – requires coins to be spent, whether it be building, recruiting peasants to your cause, or a myriad of other activities best left for players to discover. The joy of discovery is key in Kingdom: New Lands. With almost no tutorial, learning comes through action, and it’s all the better for it.
With patience, players will slowly uncover a game that is part adventure, part tower defence, and in its own way, partly a throwback to classic 2D Sierra point-and-clicks such as King’s Quest.
There are so many 2D platform games releasing on every gaming platform nowadays, that it really comes down to interesting mechanics and stylish visuals to set one apart from the rest. Yuri’s mechanics may lean heavily on classics of the past, but its hand drawn dreamscape depictions and quiet, unobtrusive soundscape make for a charming and pleasant escape.
We’ve only scratched the surface of Fingerlab’s title, but what we’ve seen so far has definitely been worth our time.
Controlling Yuri left and right is made a lot easier with a controller than the Siri Remote, and scooting along on the little guy’s bed – after seemingly being awoken from slumber (or is he dreaming?) – can get quite fast and frantic despite the game’s peaceful setting.
Simple, yet charming.
Sky Force Reloaded
Fans of vertical shooters will want to jump on this one. Infinite Dreams have knocked it out of the park, and delivered an example of just how to serve up a port from iOS to Apple TV.
All too often Apple TV games will suffer from a poor translation of the interface from iOS touch screens to a traditional console and controller. Despite being arguably the best and most full-featured racing game on the platform, the Apple TV version of Real Racing 3 still suffers from a less than ideal user experience within its menus.
Sky Force Reloaded however, feels built from the ground up for console, and everything just works.
Beyond that, this is a content rich shooter with ship upgrades, a nice progression system, and stacks of levels. The shooting mechanics are spot on, and the visuals blown up on your big flatscreen are a treat.
There is a lot to love about Sky Force Reloaded, and it’s become a go-to staple in the Bunker for impulse gaming sessions.
Attack the Light – Steven Universe
The practice of transitioning much loved IPs from one format to another – games and books to film, and back the other way – has had its share of hits and misses, even when overseen by the original creator.
Thankfully, Steven Universe – the Cartoon Network series from creator Rebecca Sugar – has fared well.
There is clearly a genuine love of video games woven into the DNA of Attack the Light. The classic tropes of the turn-based RPG genre are drawn on, but with all the fat trimmed away from the genre’s 100-hour epics, resulting in a fitting, and extremely accessible showcase for the Crystal Gems.
With that said, Grumpyface Studios have also managed to weave some solid strategy into the party-based structure of Attack the Light, and we’re looking forward to sinking our teeth properly into this RPG – a genre sorely under-represented on Apple TV.
Right then, speaking of Steven Universe, although this one is spelt with a “ph” instead of a “v” – Doctor Strange is about to get an airing in the Bunker. Good things have been heard, but it’s time to judge for ourselves.