While posts on this site have been few and far between this year, I couldn’t let December go without the usual awards and end of year wrap up (which you’ll find right here).
I’ve chosen two games this year, one Apple Arcade title, and one non-Apple Arcade title.
The end of year wrap up was enough of a preamble, so let’s get straight into it.
Mash the Continue button below.
Non-Apple Arcade 2021 Game of the Year:
Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure
I can’t write enough good words about BBR2. To have a kart racer of this quality within the Apple TV catalogue that’s able to go toe to toe with kart racers across any platform, is an indication of what the Apple TV is capable of as a gaming console, and a compliment to the attention and care that studio Vector Unit applies to its craft.
“All up, there’s lots of ways to enjoy BBR2: IA on Apple TV, whether solo or with the family or friends.
The sheer volume of content would be nothing if BBR2: IA didn’t bring the fun.
Gorgeous cartoon visuals permeate the track, character and car designs, begging for fan art, while acoustic guitars and tropical percussion complement the aesthetics to round out Island Adventure’s paradise karting ambience.
BBR2: IA really is a big game, but if it’s a small package then it’s definitely bursting at the seams.
Kudos to Vector Unit for continuing to gamble on the Apple TV platform.”
What more can I say?
Apple Arcade 2021 Game of the Year:
The picture above will start to feel like an old friend as it acts as a background to the title screen when loading up Fantasian each time. I’ve been a fan of RPGs for decades, particularly the Final Fantasy series, and Fantasian feels like coming home.
Yes, it offers a warm hit of nostalgia for middle-aged gamers such as myself, but at the same time it manages to feel fresh and new. The battle system manages to circumvent the random battling that impedes progress in older RPGs of this sort, but hasn’t been done away with altogether. Studio Mistwalker have cleverly implemented a system which offers both options.
The handmade dioramas Fantasian is becoming known for are simply beautiful, and imbue this gorgeous game with a character and soul that just wouldn’t be there had it been built by pixels alone. The love Mistwalker have crafted into each scene spills from the screen and helps connect players with the characters and environments.
An epic storyline with music to match from the incomparable Nobuo Uematsu complement the wonderfully expressive visuals.
I haven’t actually finished Fantasian yet, I’m about two thirds of the way through, and it’s around this point in an RPG, especially if I’ve really fallen for it, that I try to really savour the experience and make it last. A part of me will be sad when the entire game is in my past and there is any part of it yet to be experienced.
To have such a heavyweight RPG of this calibre exclusive to Apple Arcade, and playable on the big screen via Apple TV is another testament to what the Apple TV can offer as a gaming platform. Just last night, Mistwalker picked up Apple’s award for Apple Arcade game of the year, and hopefully there’s many more awards to come for this modern masterpiece.