Apple Aracde Rescues Pokemon Devs’ Cult Hit From The 3DS

Jockeys ride horses and playing cards fly overhead.

Image: Game Freak / Nintendo

The first gaming surprise of 2023 is here, and it’s surprisingly enjoyable: Pocket card jockey comes to Apple Arcade on January 20. Game Freak’s experimental 3DS game is notable for both being genuinely fun and one of the studio’s only non-Pokémon releases, and Apple’s ongoing exercise in subscription play is now poised to bring it to life. save from Nintendo platform dead.

Pocket card jockey is a mix of horse racing and solitaire. You play as a man who dies and comes back to life to use his card-playing skills to help his horse win races. It sounds absurd and it is. But it’s also brilliant, showing that Game Freak knows its way around more than just iterating on Pokemon suites.

Apple announced the port to iOS, called Come up!, Tuesday, and while the gameplay will remain the same, the horse racing itself will now be represented in 3D. It’s the perfect kind of fundraiser for the platform’s subscription service, rewarding players who signed up with a hidden gem without ruining a beloved formula with ads or microtransactions.

Pocket Card Jockey – Launch Trailer: Available Now!

Players compete in each horse race by clearing stacks of cards, with their corresponding horse performing better the more cards they manage to pass. That’s not all. Some cards also provide bonuses, improve performance, raise the horse’s level or give it new skills. There’s even horse breeding, because while the cards are eternal, a horse’s life is not.

He did my citythe 2016 list ofThe weirdest 3DS games you might have missedwith former editor Stephen Totilo praising the gameplay as both “strategic and shockingly deep”. But why does it exist in the first place? Why Game Freak, the studio continually churning out new Pokemon bestsellers, take the time to ship a $7 microgame?

The studio has an internal system called “Gear Project” where employees form teams and submit game projects. Those that are approved are then given the green light for full development. Besides Pocket Card Jockey, games like HarmoKnight, Tembo The Badass Elephant, and Giga Wrecker were also born out of this process. Game Freak programmer and director Masayuki Onoue previously said in a interview with VGC that it helped the staff build their experience around making original games and get back to the Pokemon “refreshed” series.

The most recent game released this way was small town hero for the Switch in 2019. Another card-based hybrid, it was a fun little tactical RPG with charming visuals and a soundtrack of Subtitleit’s Toby Fox. Hopefully the current onslaught of Pokemon games, and their obvious need for more development and finishing time, doesn’t stop Game Freak from continuing to experiment with weird unique projects in the future.

Leave a Comment