ICYMI: Recap – Celebrating 3 Years Of Apple TV Gaming – Year One (2016)

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Correction: The fourthgen Apple TV was of course released 2015 not 2016. Time to start fact checking myself (I’ll blame it on too much jazz, whisky, and a long day at work. My apologies dear readers). The story below has been corrected accordingly.

Prelude: In a very real way, 2019 feels like the year that Apple TV as a platform for gaming came of age.

Apple Arcade has absolutely been the most significant event in the platform’s three-and-a-bit year history, bringing over 100 quality titles to a console that up until the launch of the gaming subscription in September, was having a very slow year for releases.

With more players finally starting to discover and explore this relatively new country of gaming, ATVG thought that now was a perfect time to do something a little special. For the rest of the week I’ll showcase the last three year’s Best of lists, in an effort to shine a light on the dark path a few of us trod in order to get to the light.

After a look back, with a preamble such as this before each to highlight each year’s most significant events, we’ll get to this coming weekend, at which point I’ll post 2019’s Best of. That’ll be a tough one. A lot of games have hit Apple TV in 2019, 103 of them since September with the launch of Apple Arcade, arriving late in the year to rearrange the furniture.

But for now let’s go back to 2016. The beginning.

When Tim Cook announced the fourth-generation Apple TV at WWDC 2015 with its gaming capability, I knew straight away watching the event that a new platform had arrived. I also suspected that it would be a slow burn, but a captivating journey. I wanted in on this niche.

How often does one get to follow a gaming platform from inception, watching it evolve. Three years on, I can say it’s been nothing short of fascinating.

I didn’t actually end up picking a Game of the Year until 2018, but if I had my time again, I’d pick Dan The Man for year one – 2016 – in a heartbeat.

The bulk of the games in this 2016 list were launch titles, and after setting up my brand new fourth-gen Apple TV and pairing my Steel Series Nimbus, Dan The Man and Real Racing 3 were some of the first games I downloaded.

Playing Dan The Man with a controller in-hand confirmed that a path had opened up for this new gaming platform, and knowing how much fun I had with Halfbrick’s title, I was confident I’d embarked on a journey worth taking. And here we are.

I’d like to thank all the developers who shared their games, their time, and their insights with me over the last three years, and of course for taking chances on releasing games for this platform that really looked like it was going nowhere fast.

Thanks also to the readers, for your emails, your shares, likes, RTs, and of course for your valuable time spent reading these silly ramblings of mine. Much appreciated.
Unfortunately, we’ve lost a few of the games from this list along the wsy, with Gameloft no longer supporting Modern Combat 5, and also Minecraft and Geometry Wars 3 leaving the platform. They were fun while they lasted.

Gameloft is of course back on Apple TV with its Apple Arcade title Ballistic Baseball. So, welcome back Gameloft. It’s stories like these that shape a platform and give it history, with games coming and going, rising and falling.

We’re certainly in a different place now then we were three years ago.

Ready to jump in the time machine? Excellent. Let’s go.

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Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, Game No. 103 Hits Apple Arcade

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Those looking for futuristic sports kicks on Apple Arcade have a couple of good options following today’s latest release.

Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, joins HyperBrawl Tournament on Apple’s subscription gaming service for players after a hyper-realistic, Tron inspired neon battler.

And in an interesting turn, the 103rd game to hit Apple Arcade is actually the start of an exclusive franchise.

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Tim Cook Visits Mistwalker, Studio Behind Upcoming Fantasian

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Fantasian would have to be one of ATVG’s most highly anticipated upcoming Apple Arcade titles.

Fantasian is being cobbled together by the team at Mistwalker – helmed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series.

Sakaguchi’s creation featured back in March in a fascinating slice of video, in which the games veteran is seen bent over obsessing with real-world models being created for the upcoming game.  As you’ll see in the video, and in the character design from the screenshot above, there is definitely a Final Fantasy flavour going on here.

Apple CEO Tim Cook toured the studio earlier this week, and photos from his visit give a sneak peek at some of those models which will be used as environments in-game.

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Sakaguchi narrates the video, bemoaning how many models the team will need to fashion to complete the project, and the narration almost reads like a beautiful Haiku.

The full dialogue is as follows:

Fantasian is a game that shouldn’t exist.
Every day is a challenge, creating game worlds by hand.
We are building dioramas, photographing them and adding 3D characters.
I’m a little scared of how many sets we are going to have to build in the end.

The Fantasian portion of the video kicks in at 1:15, and it’s a must-watch to see these
dioramas being carefully crafted, and then gameplay footage shown implementing them.

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Does the fact that Cook visited Mistwalker during the week mean that Fantasian is readying for release? Remains to be seen.

Whether it finds its way to the service in 2019 or 2020, Fantasian is an exciting prospect.

Roll the video.

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 2019 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. 

10 Apple Arcade Games That Have Already Had Free Content Updates

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No ads, no in-app-purchases (IAPs).

These were only two of the bullet points promised back in March 2019 when Apple unveiled Apple Arcade, its disruptive gaming subscription service. But those two bullet points add up to a whole lot of value for Apple Arcade gamers.

No IAPs also means no paid downloadable content, meaning that any content updates that come to Apple Arcade games, will be free.

Have you ever opened up the App Store to check for updates and noticed one of your go-to games has had a free content update? Now you can love that game you already love even more. And as we know, love is all folks.

An excellent example is the recent 8.0.0 update that came to Real Racing 3, bringing Formula 1 racing to this six and a half year old game, and getting me playing again.

With 102 games currently available, ATVG expects to see a lot of Apple Arcade games receiving free content updates over the next 12 months, but even now, with the service only having launched in September, many games have already received additional goodness to enjoy. And there is more on the way.

In this recent piece, ATVG had a look at studio Cornfox’s 2020 roadmap for excellent JRPG Oceanhorn 2, noting that there’s a big content update brewing. I guess I’ll have to get in and finish the game before then. Work to do.

Over the page you’ll read about 10 Apple Arcade games that have already had content additions in the last couple of months. Some are small, such as additional achievements, and some are big, adding whole new levels and worlds.

Let’s dig in.

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An Evening With Sayonara Wild Hearts – 2019 Apple Arcade Game Of The Year

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Of the 102 games currently available (at the time of writing) through Apple’s gaming subscription service – Apple Arcade – The Apple TV Gaming Blog has not yet dipped its toes into Simogo’s latest release, Sayonara Wild Hearts.

As I said in my recent article detailing an evening spent with Stela, I am but one man with two hands. One game at a time it must be.

But ’tis the Season of Lists in the games industry, and Apple kicked things off recently by handing out some awards and announcing its various picks of the year. With all the hype and fanfare surrounding Sayonara Wild Hearts – which featured as a launch title for Apple Arcade – I thought what better time to spend an evening with Simogo’s newest creation?

So I fired up the telly and the Apple TV 4K, powered up the Nimbus, cranked the stereo and dimmed the lights. If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it properly.

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