Hello all, we are past Christmas, and on the cusp of a new year. Did you receive an Apple product for Christmas? Did you want to play lots of games for a low price on your new phone or tablet? Well while it hasn’t grabbed a lot of headlines, Apple Arcade, a service that offers mostly exclusive (or at least timed-exclusive) games for your Apple device has been chugging along offering a pretty good amount of content for just $5 a month. These games mostly aren’t anything revolutionary but there’s no draconic pay-to-win mechanics or having to sit through tons of ads and it’s a fairly curated selection.
Though the purpose of this column isn’t really to judge the worthiness of the selection at hand in Apple Arcade (also it’s $5 I’ll bet if you actually use it you’ll easily get your money’s worth), but there are a few exclusive Disney games on the service and I thought I’d check them out. These aren’t in-depth reviews but none of these games are extremely deep experiences so I didn’t spend more than an hour or two with each title.
Lego Star Wars Battles actually ticks off a lot of boxes that should make it extremely unappealing to me because frankly not a big fan of RTS (I like turn-based strategy a lot but not real-time) or tower defense and that’s what this is along with gotcha elements as you unlock new troop types as well as upgrade your current ones with what you get out of loot boxes.
And eventually, I did bounce off Lego Star Wars Battles, but it’s mostly because it aims too low. Like a campaign that really got you used to the ins and outs of the game would do wonders. Instead, you just have this bare-bones experience that just isn’t appealing for very long periods. And sure, the aim is certainly for something you can get in on say a quick break but there just could be so much more here plus there’s just not a wide variety of modes to spice things up. Finally, it feels incredibly cheap that I can lose because time runs out and I was about to destroy my opponent's base but they destroyed more of my towers which my troops are awful at defending. If you like RTS/tower defense and Star Wars this is certainly at least worth checking out but not going to bring in any new fans.
Lego Star Wars Castaways is a really interesting idea brought down by the execution. What if you were just on this planet in Star Wars and there’s kind of a plot and an evil thing to beat but also what if you just hung around and flew vehicles for fun and dressed up in fun costumes and fished or whatever? It’s definitely got an Animal Crossing vibe to it as it’s more of a social space hangout than anything else. And I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if the controls weren’t so bad.
The on-foot sections are just clumsy and since this is a Lego game and you can just die and respawn instantly that’s not a huge deal but for example, flying a tie fighter through an asteroid field and trying to shoot things was literally physically painful. This could probably be alleviated with a controller but that’s not what I want to use on an iPad. Still, Lego Star Wars Castaways is a pretty novel use of both Legos and Star Wars so if you can get past the control issues it might keep you entertained and busy for quite a while.
Finally, there is Disney Melee Mania. While the title might make you think Disney is finally getting into the mascot-fighting genre, it’s actually a MOBA starring Disney characters. This title actually intrigued me the most as I’ve never gotten into the MOBA genre, it seems incredibly intimidating (and the communities tend to be super unfriendly to inexperienced players), but a Disney one had to be a beginner-level game right? Something even young kids could understand and then get the basics and maybe graduate to a more complex game eventually.
However, if Disney Melee Mania is a MOBA for newbies, MOBAs certainly aren’t for me. After an extremely basic tutorial, you are really just kind of thrown in there without much explanation of how anything works. Maybe it’s meant to be something you learn through a lot of trial and error or reading a tips guide, but much like Lego Star Wars Battles, I feel Disney Melee Mania would benefit hugely from a single-player campaign that really lets you learn the ins and outs of how the game works. It wouldn’t even have to be a lengthy one, maybe a few hours. Something that doesn’t just throw you in there with the most basic of instructions and doesn’t even wish you good luck.
In essence, what we have here is three potentially good games that unfortunately just fail or fall flat in some very necessary areas. Is this indicative of Apple Arcade as a whole? Not really. There are literally dozens of games available on the service at any given time that represent a wide variety of experiences so odds are you’ll find something that you get $5 worth out of, but as far as Disney experiences go, there’s nothing on Apple Arcade that I feel will be worthwhile for a Disney fan looking to play games based on their favorite IPs. Maybe that will change over time as more games come to the service, but knowing Apple they might just kill the service in a year or so if they feel it’s not really getting the return they were counting on…
That’s for today and certainly for 2021. As for 2022, well my original plan was to take a hiatus until Midnight Suns came out and that was March. Just seemed like a good excuse to take a break. But then that got delayed till late next year and there’s not a whole ton of Disney content on the horizon right now. But that’s fine because while the last several months has certainly been focused on the present of Disney games (because there was suddenly a lot of news and new games on that front), this has always supposed to have been much more of a retro focus, so that’s what I’ll be getting back to more next year. I am still taking a break of sorts though. I don’t think it’ll be till March, but might be until February. Basically, when I feel like picking up this blog again I’ll just get back to it but the good news is I don’t feel like I need a super long break so see a real soon, just not as soon as you’d usually expect…