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New on Apple Arcade in February: cozy farming sim Farmside

Plus a sci-fi text adventure and some edgelords on jet skis

Cheerful farmers lean out of a truck as they travel through a cartoon landscape full of animals Image: Team 17 USA
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

As usual, Apple Arcade subscribers get new releases every Friday, plus a bunch of content updates in February 2023 — and after an excellent January, with the releases of Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! and a new update for the superb Grindstone, it’s looking like a quieter month on Apple’s gaming subscription service.

There’s more classic mobile gaming fodder this month, in the form of a physics puzzler and a farming sim, plus an arcade racing game and a potentially intriguing sci-fi text adventure. There are also substantial content updates for Cut the Rope Remastered and more.

Feb. 3 — Castle Crumble

A castle on top of a tall spire of rock crumbles in Castle Crumble Image: Orbital Knight/Apple

This one’s all in the title: a physics puzzler in which you must make castles crumble by hitting them with cannonballs, explosives, magic spells and more. There’s some kingdom-conquering going on, and “unique biomes” apparently. But mostly it’s medieval buildings falling over.

Feb. 10 — Riptide GP: Renegade+

Two riders on futuristic jet skis race through a futuristic, industrial landscape in Riptide GP Image: Vector Unit/Apple

The developers at Vector Unit clearly asked themselves what would happen if they combined Wave Race with Wipeout, plus some edgelord stuff about being an outlaw on the run in “a futuristic world of illicit hydro jet racing.” This is a new Apple Arcade version of a 2016 game for mobile, consoles, and PC, itself a lawbreaking sequel to the more straight-laced Riptide GP series. It got reasonably good reviews back then, and racing on water is always fun, in theory.

Feb. 17 — Farmside

A pleasing layout of a nicely ordered cartoon farm, seen from above Image: Team 17 USA

This looks to be a fairly straightforward farming sim with all the features you’d expect. Take over an inherited but abandoned family farm and enjoy “fun, farming, rich customizations, and a deep quest system,” according to the press release. This is the first game from Team 17 USA, an offshoot of the independent British developer/publisher that formed when it acquired indie mobile game publisher The Label last year.

Feb. 24 — Lifeline+

A space explorer in a space suit appears in an ominous dark landscape under the Lifeline+ logo Image: 3 Minute Games

This science-fiction text adventure plays out as a series of messages on your device. Taylor, the only survivor of a spaceship crash, gets in contact with you and asks for your help, and you guide them through a branching story of survival. The story plays out in real time, with notifications keeping you updated about what Taylor is up to, with “realistic delays” in between chunks of story.

Content updates

Apple Arcade is almost as focused on keeping your favorite titles updated as it is on new releases, and February will bring patches for some of the most popular titles on the service:

  • Cut the Rope Remastered — new levels
  • Episode XOXO — a Valentine’s Day-themed story will be added to the romance series, released last month
  • Pac-Man Party Royale — new single-player adventure mode
  • Wylde Flowers — new clothing, jewelry options and a new mystery to unravel
  • Lego Star Wars: Castaways
  • Amazing Bomberman
  • Jetpack Joyride 2
  • Shovel Knight Dig
  • SpongeBob SolitairePants

What is Apple Arcade?

Apple Arcade is Apple’s subscription service that offers access to more than 200 games. All of them are available on iPhone and iPad, with some also playable on Apple TV and Mac computers. The service includes definitive versions of mobile hits like Jetpack Joyride 2, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, The Oregon Trail, and Crossy Road, as well as newer games like Fantasian, Mini Motorways, NBA 2K23, What the Golf?, and Wylde Flowers. Apple promises that Apple Arcade games won’t ever have ads or in-game purchases.

How much is Apple Arcade?

It costs $4.99 a month, and it’s also included as part of Apple One, a bundle that bundles it with Apple Music, TV Plus, and iCloud for $16.95 a month for an individual, or $22.95 for a family of five. Apple offers a one-month free trial for Apple Arcade, and users who buy a new Apple device can get three months for free.

Is Apple Arcade worth it?

If you like playing games on your phone but don’t like the ads and in-app purchases that have become synonymous with mobile gaming, then Arcade is worth checking out. It’s relatively cheap, and it’s carefully curated — the included games are of decent quality and cover the whole broad spectrum of mobile gaming, from indie narrative games to casual puzzle games, console-style role-playing games to kids’ titles. It’s perhaps the best gaming subscription service for families, and it feels great to be completely free of microtransactions and ads.

However, it’s worth noting that there is a strong casual-gaming bias to the game catalog, and that Apple has struggled to find truly exciting new exclusives for the service of late. If you’re looking for a steady stream of exciting new releases to justify the subscription fee, you might find it wanting.

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