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Apple Arcade adds four games, including a new Pac-Man

With new Frogger and Pac-Man, Apple Arcade is really emphasizing the “Arcade” part of its name. Here’s hoping for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Touch.

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Pac-Man Party Royale
Bandai Namco

Apple Arcade debuts four new games.

Almost exactly a month ago, tech giant Apple launched its gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade. At launch, the service offered unlimited access to 70 games for $4.99 a month. Right from the start there were console quality experiences like Neo Cab, Sayonara Wild Hearts and Shantae and the Seven Sirens.

Since then, Apple has slowly expanded the line-up. Earlier this month, Pilgrims, Inmost, The Bradwell Conspiracy and more debuted on the platform. Today, Apple added four new games, including one featuring a very famous gaming mascot.

The new games are: Pac-Man Party Royale, Manifold Garden, Things That Go Bump and Ballistic Baseball.

Expanding the Arcade

Despite the connotations typically associated with the word “royale” in a post-PUBG world, the new Pac-Man pits up to four players against each other, not 99. Mostly, it’s multiplayer Pac-Man, though the addition of the “256-glitch” means that after a certain amount of time without a winner, the maze will begin to shrink.

Pac-Man Party Royale

Manifold Garden is a first-person puzzler that creator William Chyr has been hard at work on for seven years. The game pairs Escher-esque architectural design with a Moebius-like comic book aesthetic. It’s also available, for $19.99, through the Epic Games Store.

Things That Go Bump is a bit mysterious to me — it has no virtually Internet presence; Googling “things that go bump game” brings up a text adventure from 2010. But, it looks like a single- or multiplayer action game inspired by Japanese architecture and yokai.

And, Ballistic Baseball is a PvP baseball game with customizable characters and RPG elements.

Of course, before I get to any of these, I need to finish Mutazione, which is excellent and the most sweetly melancholy game I’ve played in a long time. Maybe ever? Play Mutazione, right now is what I’m saying.


Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for weekly updates on the latest Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard or Twitter.

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Andrew King is a journalist, critic, poet, stand-up comedian and museum caretaker living in Illinois.

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A delightful indie game is free on the Epic Games Store

Pikuniku, a pleasantly daft indie adventure, is free on the Epic Games Store.

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Pikuniku ghost
Devolver Digital

Pikuniku, a pleasantly daft indie adventure, is free on the Epic Games Store.

Be sure to grab Sectordub and Devolver Digital’s brightly coloured delight, Pikuniku, before it’s too late. The deal is good, no strings attached, through next Thursday.

Our own Tom Baines loved it, writing in his review: “The dialogue in Pikuniku switches from casual, off-hand, inane chatter – delivered in all lower-case, with little punctuation – to statements shouted and all in caps, with multiple exclamation points and the text literally jumping up and down for dramatic effect. It’s a use of language and delivery that is born of Twitter, wholesome memes, and a degree of internet and media-savvy that most self-proclaimed ‘comedy’ games can only dream of. It’s genuinely very funny.”

In addition to its brilliant little main story, Pikuniku also features a fun co-operative mode, where two players get to play as the titular Piku and Niku. Some of the co-op levels feature little cars, and something really neat happens if you beep the horn to the right rhythm.

And I know I said there are no strings attached, but there is one string. You’ll need an Epic account. (You can sort that out here.)

Once you do, you’re all set to grab Pikuniku. And, now that Pikuniku is free, Epic has unveiled next week’s pair of freebies. Abzu and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam will be up for grabs on October 8.


You love free stuff, right? You could always bookmark our dedicated free games landing page – or follow us on Twitter or Facebook – to get the latest updates.

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Four new Minecraft fighters announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The shock reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s new Minecraft characters coincided with a Twitter outage as delight poured in.

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Minecraft Steve Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Nintendo / Microsoft

The shock reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s new Minecraft characters coincided with a Twitter outage as delight poured in.

Nintendo announced on stream that Minecraft’s Steve, Alex, Zombie and Enderman will all be joining as playable fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Once this second Fighters Pass is through, the total roster will number an impressive 86.

The announcement coincided with widespread Twitter downtime, leading to many users (half-) joking that the announcement had “broken Twitter“.

Nintendo confirmed that Steve and Alex will either be available to players who purchase the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass Vol. 2 for £26.99 or Challenger Pack 7, which can be bought separately for £5.39. This challenger pack includes the two fighters as well as a new stage and seven music tracks. 

The Fighters Pass Vol. 2 currently boasts only Min Min from ARMS, but four more characters/challenger packs are yet to be announced.

A full live-stream presentation on the Steve & Alex fighters is due October 3rd, which you can watch on the Nintendo UK YouTube channel. Expect a release date during that stream.

Minecraft seems a natural fit for the mega-franchise, given smashing is among Steve’s main activities. As for building, I’m not holding my breath that we’ll see a redstone calulator in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate anytime soon.


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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Nintendo: Remember to charge your Switch at least every six months

Nintendo Support tweets out a warning to all those letting their console gather dust – it might not be the same when you return.

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Nintendo Switch Battery Charge
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Nintendo Support tweets out a warning to all those letting their console gather dust – it might not be the same when you return.

Lithium batteries are a pain as much as they’re a convenience. Whilst we’d love them to be magic items we can imbue with power, instead the darn things are subject to real-world physics and require good maintenance practice. Typical.

Nintendo Support took to Twitter to push this message home for the Switch, saying:

“The battery built into the game console may become unchargeable if it has not been charged or used for too long. Please charge it once every six months.”

I’d go further and recommend you cut that to every month. Keep your batteries at room temperature and aim for partial discharges over full ones (around 50% is the sweet spot). Since batteries are under the most strain when they’re fully charged or completely empty, neither overcharging nor completely draining is ideal.

A few months ago PSPs were similarly suffering from underuse, leading to battery swelling and even bursting.

Who are these Switch-owning monsters who leave their consoles so unloved for half a year at a time? Have they not seen that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is out? That said, I know I’ve been guilty of leaving my own console discharged for perhaps two months at a time. Don’t look at me.

Whether it’s the battery of your Switch, your phone, (or for god’s sake check that PSP now!), we could all probably do better to look after the future explosives we sleep next to at night.


Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily video game news updates.

Enjoyed this article?

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Super Mario Bros. 35 is out now on Nintendo Switch

The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

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Super Mario Bros. 35 - Nintendo Switch
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The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

The Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary celebrations continue apace with the release today of Super Mario Bros. 35 on Nintendo Switch. The game is based on the 1985 NES classic but adds a battle-royale gameplay twist similar in format to Tetris 99.

The game sees 35 players compete online across classic Mario courses, beginning with the iconic World 1-1. The platforming gameplay comes as naturally as breathing, but this time, defeated Koopa Troopers and Goombas are sent over to other players’ courses to disrupt their progress. You’re also up against the clock which counts down from 35 seconds and has to be topped up by stomping on enemies. The fun continues until there’s one Mario left standing.

It’s a simple concept, and in our brief time with the game, a well-executed one. Matches are chaotic and pleasingly clumsy with familiar levels made significantly more challenging. The game is also exquisitely produced with a user interface that echoes Super Mario Maker.

Here’s the launch trailer.

Super Mario Bros 35 is free to download and play for Nintendo Switch Online members at no additional cost. Weirdly – and just like the recently released Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection – the game is only available until March 31, 2021. To get it, navigate to the Nintendo Switch Online section of the Switch eShop.


Get updates on the latest Xbox One, Switch, and PlayStation 4 video games via our new releases page. And follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily news updates.

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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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October’s PlayStation Plus games are fast and frightening

Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

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Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

First on the starting grid is EA’s Need for Speed Payback. Which Need for Speed is that you ask? It’s the 2017 effort from Ghost Games. The racing isn’t actually that bad, but the game is dragged down by creaky storytelling and aggressive microtransactions. It’s worth a quick spin.

Next up is Vampyr, Dontnod’s 2018 tale of bloodlust and revenge set in Edwardian London. It’s a distinctly AA game but not without merit for fans of gothic fiction and Hippocratic hokum. In our review, we said that a “vivid sense of time and place, and a fantastic central idea, soon turn pale with repetitive combat and a forest of conversation trees.” It certainly doesn’t suck.

Both of next month’s free PlayStation Plus games are available to download from October 6, 2020.

PlayStation Plus free games – October 2020

  • Need for Speed Payback
  • Vampyr

September’s PlayStation Plus games – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Street Fighter V – are available to download until next week. And if you’re playing on Xbox One, Microsoft has also confirmed the four titles coming to Games with Gold in October.


Take a look at our new releases page for regular updates on the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 games. You should also follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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