Prelude: Welcome to Part 3 of ATVG’s celebration of three years of Apple TV gaming.
Tonight we’ll look at Apple TV’s journey as a gaming platform through 2018, which will lead us up to this coming weekend, at which point I’ll bring us up to the present with 2019’s Best Apple TV Games of the Year.
What will be 2019’s Game of the Year? Will it be an Apple Arcade title? No spoilers.
First though, 2018.
Scrolling back through ATVG’s posts from last year, it feels like things slowed down a little after the excitement of 2016 and ’17. There were some big releases and plenty of news, but it really felt like support for the platform was lacking from Apple, and as a consequence, from developers.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
As I look back at some of these games now, such as Dandara landing in February, I find that I’m starting to think of them as Apple TV classics of a sort. I guess when you have a gaming console that lives in such a niche, the really notable titles stand head and shoulders above the other releases.
Other Apple TV classics, such as Trials: Frontier, Asphalt 8, and Real Racing 3 continued to get content updates throughout the year. Asphalt 8 teamed up in a weird marketing ploy with Fall Out Boy and did this, while Real Racing 3 turned five, and gave players a free 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS. Now we’re living.
Speaking of classics, March meant Evoland 2. And wow. Evoland 2 actually toys with the evolution of gaming itself, paying a beautifully realised homage to RPGs. The references are not cheap and nasty, but thoughtful and respectful, going so far as to depict graphical evolution as well as gameplay. Definitely a contender for Game of the Year.
Pixelbite confirmed in March that work had begun on Space Marshals 3, while admitting at the same time that release was a ways off in the future. Still no further word on that one, but I’d guess at 2020. And maybe a move to Apple Arcade? We’ll see.
In last night’s post looking back at 2017, I mentioned studio Vector Unit. Well the team actually celebrated 10 years of developing games in 2018, and ATVG posted a profile looking at the studio’s work. This was the next best thing to being able to attend the actual party, with ATVG having to turn down the invitation given that it was on the other side of the world. When you are based in Australia, everything is on the other side of the world.
April saw the release of what I would now call one of Apple TV’s flagship titles – Shadowgun Legends. Madfinger’s epic sci-fi FPS was awarded ATVG’s 2018 Best Apple TV Game of the Year, and although there were fears that it was fading, Madfinger recently updated the game yet again to bring the ATV version into line with its mobile counterpart, adding content with new PvE adventures.
Shadowgun Legends really shows what the Apple TV is capable of as far as high-end gaming goes, but it’s not the only one.
A couple of smaller arcade games joined the catalogue throughout the year – I have a fondness for Ammo Pigs and PAKO Forever to name a couple. Excellent little pick-up-and-play arcade joints that massage that retro muscle in a completely good way, showing that size doesn’t always matter.
As with 2017, 2018 also had its share of news items that contributed to the story of Apple TV’s evolution as a platform for gaming.
The most notable that springs to mind is the Steam Link app saga, with Valve at first announcing the app was coming, Apple rejecting it, and finally releasing it in May 2019, at which point it shot straight to number 1 in the free games charts. Unsurprisingly.
For those who didn’t follow the bouncing ball, the Steam Link app allows players to stream their Steam library straight to Apple TV from their PC or Mac connected to the same Wi-Fi network, taking Steam gaming into the lounge room, and opening up an endless world of gaming on your Apple TV.
Following a chat on Twitter that I had with Legendo’s studio head Björn Larsson, I posted this story, outlining why the Steam Link app might not be such a healthy prospect for the future of Apple TV gaming. It’s some interesting food for thought.
ATVG wrapped up 2018 with the original list you’ll see below, and some fine gaming was had. 12 months ago I had no idea what 2019 would bring, and wondered if I’d even continue this site. Obviously I did, and I’m glad.
So here’s to another 12 months in the can, and I look forward to joining you again on the weekend to look back at 2019 and post the LIST. And then stop. Maybe just for Christmas. Don’t worry, not for long.
But anyway, there’s work to do before all that.
Check out the original 2018 list below.
Original Story from 2018: If you own an Apple TV and a compatible controller, you’ll want to check out the 22 games listed over on the next page.
No one buys an Apple TV for the sole purpose of playing video games, but if you’ve bought one for media streaming, then why not make full use of its functionality? Add a controller and it’s now a very capable games console with a solid library of quality games.
Combine 2018’s harvest with the Best Games of Year One (2015-16), and the Best Games of 2017, and you’ll start to see the potential of this quiet, undiscovered country of gaming. You may even start to ask why it hasn’t caught on.
But that’s a discussion for another time.
Apart from the recognisable genres of 2D platform, aerial/space combat, RPG, and FPS, this year I’ve combined a whole bunch of games into an arcade/puzzle/adventure category. It covers a lot of games that blur the lines between genres; games for which an argument could be made for falling into multiple categories. So I’ve solved the problem by creating this overall arcade/puzzle/adventure bucket. Please forgive me.
Aside from the winners of each category, as with previous years I’ve included a selection of other games released in 2018 that players should definitely check out from the genre. Some of the “Also Get” games could easily have taken out the genre themselves; in fact it was hard not to pick ties with some of the categories.
Following this post, not long after will come ATVG’s pick for 2018 Game of the Year. For those who’d like a clue, it won’t be an auto-runner, or a small puzzle game. It’ll be something worthy of a console. Something you’ll require a controller for.
But that’s enough about that.
Read on to find out which games released in 2018 The Apple TV Gaming Blog thinks are worthy of your gaming time.
Best Arcade/Puzzle/Adventure Game of 2018
“Combining hack’n’slash, looting, twin-stick shooting, and a Matrix-like mystery to get to the bottom of, Gimblll’s Barbearian is a must-have title on the Apple TV platform.” – ATVG.
Peregrin (Digital Domino Limited)
“The placing of a tiny avatar in a large, detailed world, is always a nice trick to help players feel instantly daunted, and yet supremely powerful when that same tiny avatar prevails over enemies many times her size. Peregrin looks to employ this technique, while also weaving its main gameplay mechanic – that of creature possession – into the fabric of its puzzles.” – Read ATVG’s story.
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade (Pixel Toys)
“Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade was used live on stage by Apple back in 2015 to show off the iPhone 6’s new 3D Touch feature, exemplifying how it could be implemented to enhance gaming.
Freeblade recently found its way onto the Apple TV platform, and despite a couple of flaws, it’s an excellent on-rails shooter that digs deep into Apple’s Metal technology to get some nice graphical meat onto its bones.” – Read ATVG’s story.
Bring You Home (Alike Studio)
” “We try to make the most of animation in our projects,” say the Terris brothers (Marc and Xavi) on Alike’s official site. This core value is evident in the team’s previous games, having handled animation duties for Tiny Thief, before developing and releasing Love You To Bits as Alike Studio.
The studio’s latest release saddles players with overseeing the story of Polo, an alien on a mission to rescue his kidnapped pet. I say overseeing, because players won’t actually control Polo himself, but instead fulfil a more God-like role by controlling the environment, interacting with each level’s puzzles to ensure Polo’s safe passage.” – Read ATVG’s story.
Hyperforma (Nord Unit)
“You know that scene in Swordfish when Hugh Jackman’s character is breaking into a security network depicted by various cubes hovering in space? Looks like a video game right?
That’s what sprang to mind when ATVG spied the trailer for upcoming Hyperforma, due to release in just over a week on March 27th.” – Read ATVG’s story.
Suzy Cube (Northern Bytes Games)
“Inspired by Super Mario 3D Land, Suzy Cube is Northern Bytes Games’ answer to the question, “What makes a platformer great?” ” – Read ATVG’s story.
Nimian Legends (Protopop)
“The main focus of Nimian Legends seems to be relaxed exploration, a style that’s gained quite a bit of traction over the last half a dozen years, with some dubbing the genre walk-em-ups. It could be argued that walk-em-ups are an evolution of point-and-clicks, providing a relaxed gateway into rich, detailed environments, with narrative experiences that gently guide instead of push.” – Read ATVG’s story.
To The Moon (Freebird Games)
“Johnny lies on his deathbed, at the tail end of a life unfulfilled; a lifetime’s sum of memories add up to regrets and a question of what could’ve been.” – Read ATVG’s story.
Hovercraft: Battle Arena (High Score Hero)
“In the few hours I’ve spent in-game, matchmaking has been pleasingly fast, with time between matches minimal. This is a good thing, because this latest title in studio High Score Hero’s Hovercraft series of games is very more-ish, if you can give yourself over to the pure, simple fun the game offers.” – Read ATVG’s story.
PAKO Forever (Tree Man Game)
According to Wikipedia that’s how many police cars were smashed in the original Blues Brothers film. I remember watching it on VHS at a friend’s birthday back in the day, thinking how completely over-the-top insane that car chase sequence was. And brilliant.
Nearly 18 years later, a sequel was released – Blue Brothers 2000. Guess how many police cars were smashed in that one?
Last week, Finnish studio Tree Man Games released the latest title in its PAKO series of car chase games – PAKO Forever – and if you think you’re up for the challenge, you could go for the record.” – Read ATVG’s story.
Absolute Drift (Funkselektor Labs Inc.)
Best 2D Platform (Action and/or Puzzle) Game of 2018
Teslagrad – Rain Games
“Studio Rain Games and publisher Playdigious have provided Apple TV gamers a welcome console experience with Teslagrad, achieving a fine balance between mental puzzling and action-platforming that is a joy to play.” – ATVG.
Ammo Pigs (Cascadia Games)
“Ammo Pigs: Armed & Delicious from Cascadia Games is a tasty slice of retro-gaming pie that will remind gamers how the sausage used to get made.” – ATVG.
Dandara (Long Hat House)
“If you were relying on screenshots alone (such as the one above) to help market Dandara, it would be a tough sell indeed. It’s only when you see the title in motion that it dawns on you what an intriguing and unique platformer it’s aiming to be.” – Read ATVG’s Story.
Runventure (Digital Melody Games)
“There’s a nice degree of difficulty present in Runventure, without being needlessly punishing and brutal. The levels are of a length that fits the overall vibe of the game; long enough to enable a good feel for the environment, but short enough to promote that desire for one more go, given that death means starting over.” – Read ATVG’s Story.
Reader Rabbit (Dashalope Games)
“Starting life on the Apple II, Reader Rabbit was part of the edutainment software vanguard, vying for the attention of children alongside Mario and Sonic. After a long, righteous life, it seems fitting that the character should find his way to the big screens of 2018 via the tech-giant’s more recent hardware – Apple TV.” – Read ATVG’s Story.
Best 3D Aerial/Space Combat Game of 2018
Manticore: Galaxy On Fire – Deep Silver Fishlabs
Deep Silver Fishlabs have brought the full console version of Manticore: Galaxy on Fire to Apple TV. A rich, full space combat experience.
Sky Gamblers: Storm Chasers 2 (Atypical Games)
“Storm Raiders 2 sends players into World War 2, with the studio boasting fighters, bombers, and dive-bombers straight from the history books. Players can also customise their aircraft with historically accurate skins, or colour outside the box with their own creations.” – Read ATVG’s Story.
Best RPG of 2018
Evoland 2 – Shiro Games
“Evoland 2, developed by Shiro Games and published by Playdigious, is a shining example of respectful acknowledgement of the past, used to create something new and fresh. A must-buy for your Apple TV console library.” – ATVG.
Chrono Trigger (Square Enix)
“In Game Informer Magazine’s Top 100 RPGs of All Time, published in 2017, Chrono Trigger was placed at number three, sitting behind only Final Fantasy 6 and Skyrim respectively. Many would argue Chrono Trigger to be the best JRPG ever made.
Today it hit Apple TV.” – Read ATVG’s story.
Best FPS of 2018
Shadowgun Legends – Madfinger Games
“Shadowgun Legends from Madfinger Games is a big, blockbuster addition to the Apple TV gaming catalogue, and a must-have sci-fi MMO shooter for your Apple TV library. Boasting a huge single-player campaign, PvP, co-op modes, raids, guilds, and epic loot, well…let’s just say those aliens aren’t going to shoot themselves.” – ATVG.
Shadowgun Legends is also ATVG’s 2018 Game of the Year. Congratulations Madfinger Games.
Escape From Chernobyl (Atypical Games)
“This third instalment’s story follows a husband’s search for his wife – an investigative journalist who mysteriously vanished following up a lead in the irradiated zone. Weirdness, science-gone-wrong, and time travel ensues.” – Read ATVG’s story.
If you’re new to The Apple TV Gaming Blog (ATVG), or just new to Apple TV gaming in general, or both, then the best place to get acquainted is our Best Apple TV Games of 2020 article. You’ll find a great collection of games to play, and a bunch of useful links to our previous site content. Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride.