Apple’s Arcade subscription service can be quite hit-and-miss — or overly focused on casual gaming — but this July, a trio of all-time indie greats will be joining the Arcade roster, and might make dipping in worthwhile.
Headlining the month of updates is an all-new remaster of the App Store classic Ridiculous Fishing by Dutch iconoclasts Vlambeer (Nuclear Throne, Super Crate Box). According to Apple, it’s a “full and expanded remaster,” now in 3D, that’s been “built from the ground up by the original award-winning team.” This is something of a surprise, since Vlambeer’s founders closed the studio down in 2020.
“Vlambeer remains closed,” Rami Ismail, who founded the studio with Jan Willem Nijman, told Polygon in a statement. But Ismail and Nijman did work together on EX along with their original Ridiculous Fishing collaborators, plus some new partners at Goodbye Volcano High studio KO_OP, he said. “The both of us did collaborate on this, so we decided to keep it under the brand of Vlambeer, but we don’t expect more collaborations like this. The two of us, Zach Gage, and Greg Wohlwend just couldn’t resist the opportunity of revisiting the game that catapulted our careers — and having an opportunity to approach the game anew without the catch of the clones, and with 10 years of development experience. The team immediately realized that to do a proper take on the game for the modern day, we also wanted to bring aboard the creative powerhouses at KO_OP for their signature style of playfulness, to bring the game to life.”
Ridiculous Fishing is an enormously fun arcade game that involves plumbing the depths of the sea with improbable bait (such as a toaster), collecting as many fish as possible, hurling them into the sky, and then gunning them down. It was famously plagued by clones before it had even been released, but Vlambeer succeeded in defeating the copycats and releasing one of the outright best games on mobile. Along with the visual makeover, the new EX version adds a competitive mode with daily, weekly, and monthly challenges and leaderboards, and an “expanded and prestige-able” new game plus mode. Ridiculous Fishing EX hits Apple Arcade on July 14.
Also coming to the service are “App Store Greats” versions of the brilliant deck-building roguelike Slay the Spire and immortal farm sim Stardew Valley. Like other App Store Greats on Arcade, they gain a plus symbol on the end of their titles to indicate that you get all content and updates included, with no in-app purchases, ads, or other monetization (not that these two premium games had any of that in the first place).
Slay the Spire+ arrives on Apple Arcade on July 7, and Stardew Valley+ is released on July 21.
Also coming to Apple Arcade in July are Hello Kitty Island Adventure on July 28 — a “cozy new life/simulation game” featuring the indelibly cute mascot — while parents of young kids will be excited to learn that the eye-wateringly expensive Lego Duplo World is getting an all-inclusive App Store Greats version on July 7.
There will also be “major” updates for two of Arcade’s best games, Mini Motorways and Mini Metro+, plus updates for a bunch of other titles including What the Car?, the recently released follow-up to the hilarious What the Golf?
Update: This article has been updated with comment from Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail, clarifying who worked on the development of Ridiculous Fishing EX.
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.