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Gaming

Drive on!’ Review – Apple Arcade’s new killer app? – Touch Arcade

Having gotten a Nintendo 3DS years after the system launched and having never owned a Nintendo DS before, I enjoyed checking out the huge library of games from Japan that I had missed. Aside from the multiple RPGs I played, there were quite a few Nintendo eShop exclusives that were constantly featured. One of them was pokemon developer Game Freaks Pocket Card Jockey. Pocket Card Jockey mixed elements of simulation games, horse racing and solitaire to be something I never thought would work on paper, but it did. I only played a few hours of it when I bought it on 3DS, but I loved what I played.

Game Freak was launched earlier today Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! () for Apple Arcade devices as the latest game on the service. Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! is a mix of a remake and a port of the Nintendo 3DS game for modern devices. I’m playing a pre-release version of Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! on my iPhone and iPad for review but also wanted to try the macOS and tvOS versions for this review as this is our first time doing a Pocket Card Jockey game on non-portable platforms as well.

Since I haven’t put as much time into the 3DS version over the years as I would have liked, I can only comment on the similarities or differences in the early parts of the game. This Apple Arcade review will also focus mainly on the ports rather than the game itself, which is very similar to what I played on 3DS, albeit with a few changes and a new feature.

If you are not familiar with it Pocket Card Jockey it is totally a card game that mixes with simulation, solitaire, horse racing, strategy and more. Initial, Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! may seem a little complicated with its mechanics, but the gameplay loop is sublime once it clicks. However, if you’re not into solitaire at all, this isn’t for you. I like seeing new take on tried and true gameplay, and Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! feels like a game that has always been designed for mobile, rather than an enhanced version of a portable console release.

In Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On!, spend your time in races or in the simulation aspects. The first consists of several stages. These include solitaire, strategy, and resource management. The simulation aspects are quite deep and you’ll see them continue to expand the more you play. Did some playing Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! daily for about a week on various devices, I’m very happy with the latest addition to Apple Arcade. The structure of Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! makes for seemingly infinite replay value.

When it comes to controls, Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! is really a touch oriented game. While it has macOS and tvOS versions, being an Apple Arcade Original, those feel like side issues. They even say “tap” instead of “click” for macOS. The tvOS version on Apple TV forces you to pair a controller to play Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On!, but you use it to simulate a touch cursor with the left stick and press the confirm button to click. The interface here also mentions tapping instead of clicking or pressing a button. At the time of writing, there is no controller support on iOS and iPadOS. I’ve tried three different controllers on my iPad Pro with no luck. The interface feels great to the touch, but this is worth noting since some people who subscribe to Apple Arcade like to use controllers to play games.

Barring the change to 3D for racing, Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! also has a new daily login system. I expected this given that the goal of this release is also to keep people playing the game and staying subscribed to Apple Arcade. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but something to keep in mind. I didn’t play the free-to-play iOS version of the game in Japan years ago, so I’m not sure if this is a holdover from that release. There are also some changes to some aspects of the game from the 3DS version, which you can read about in my interview with Game Freak here.

I praised Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! quite a bit, and while I love the transition the game has made from 3DS to modern iOS devices, I hope a future update can add a higher frame rate option. The races would be a lot more fun at 60fps or 120fps. I can’t imagine that’s too much for modern iOS devices given the images shown. Barring that, Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! looks great and syncs seamlessly between devices.

While some technical issues are disappointing, Pocket Card Jockey: Drive On! is an easy recommendation if you have an Apple Arcade subscription. The structure of the game fits perfectly with the service and I hope it will be updated over time to introduce new content and fix some issues. If you don’t already have an Apple Arcade subscription but enjoyed it Pocket Card Jockey on 3DS, it’s the best reason to check out the service.

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