Apple Vision Pro could bring back the heyday of couch co-op games — is this the best use case for the mixed-reality headset yet?

Pips and Pixels Couch Co Op
(Image credit: Future)
Pips and Pixels

Pips and Pixels Boxout

(Image credit: Future)

Pips and Pixels is a new column from James Bentley, iMore's resident gaming expert, discussing all things gaming in the Apple ecosystem. Pips and Pixels explores the latest news, accessories, and titles you might have missed out on, and brings you commentary from the leading developers in the app market. As recent advancements in the Apple Silicon M processors and the brand new A17 Bionic chip show, Apple is becoming more serious about gaming. James looks to the rest of the games industry to see what could be next for Apple gamers.

Apple Vision Pro has been out for two months now and, in that time, it has seen plenty of criticism for its Persona feature and Eye Sight. Yet it has also seen some surprising compatibility with more traditional games. Advertised as a ‘spatial headset’ with its own specific games, Apple has stayed far away from the ‘AR’ or ‘VR’ label. 

One user has shown off an awesome way to play couch co-op with your buddies — it just requires the $3,499 headset and a bit of creativity. This means you can take traditional offline co-op-enabled games and play them with your friends online — a truly fantastic feat.

Taking this even further, someone has gotten Apple Vision Pro working with Call of Duty, allowing friends to play together like they’re in the same room, even if they’re thousands of miles apart. 

Elsewhere, iMore’s very own How-to editor, John-Anthony, has shown off a clever little box, that allows users to play their own GameBoy cartridges on the best Macs. Though that would be more than enough, this isn’t all that device can do. 

Read on for the rundown.

This week's Apple gaming news

1. Apple Vision Pro's Spatial Personas could bring couch co-op gaming back for a whole new generation

Spatial Personas are a recent addition to Apple Vision Pro, thanks to a software update — though these were originally hinted at last year. Spatial Personas are like traditional Personas except users can exist in your space, with fewer barriers. You can pick up on hand movements and they can even move around. This means, like in the story above, two people could connect to the same game, sit on their respective couches, and play couch co-op. It’s a wonderful bit of creativity and a way to make Cuphead just a little easier, though it will still give you some difficulty. 

2. Some Apple Vision Pro owners are already playing Call of Duty on their spatial computer, but there's a catch

Part of the reason couch co-op has become less popular with time is the prevalence of excellent online games and more widespread internet connectivity. You don’t need to borrow someone’s controller, and their sofa, to play a game with them. With this very cool story, you don’t even necessarily need a video game to have couch co-op to play it like you’re on the same couch, you just need to be able to connect to a buddy and you can get going. 

An Apple Vision Pro and GeForce Now subscription is a lot to pay upfront but players who happen to already have them can have a very good online experience, right next to a virtual friend. 

3. Play any Game Boy cartridge on your Mac with this awesome gadget — backup saves, spot fakes, and more with the Epilogue GB Operator

The Epilogue GB Operator is not only a great device capable of playing your own GameBoy cartridges on the gorgeous screen of your Mac, but it also allows you to both backup save files and detect if your cart is a fake. If you are a retro collector or just someone looking for a bit of nostalgia, this is a great way to enjoy the physical act of playing old games without having to play with the awful backlight of your original GameBoy. 

Many original GameBoy games manage to lose save files due to aging internal batteries failing so this is a good way of avoiding the heartbreak of losing that shiny Magikarp. 

Gaming news from our friends

7 years into its legendary comeback, No Man's Sky claws back another 1% on its Steam review score: "I never thought it possible, but guys we might hit 'Very Positive' one day — GamesRadar

No Man’s Sky’s fantastic Mac port was one of many good steps made by Hello Game over the last few years. Originally, this survival crafter/ space exploration / FPS / pretty much everything else video game had a very rocky launch due to the game overpromising and underdelivering. Some mechanics didn’t exist, as was expected, and a promised multiplayer mode was entirely missing at the start. Hello Game has spent the last six and a half years making up for No Man’s Sky’s poor launch with tons of free updates, fixes, changes, and more. 

After all that time, the Steam page for the game is now at 78% positive reviews, which means the team is just 2% off the much coveted “Very Positive” review tag. This is not only a sign of how far the developer has come since launch but how much goodwill the game has managed to earn among its fans as a result of that. 

Alongside a widely praised new Palworld patch, the survival game devs are already promising a summer update with a "new island" and "many new Pals" — GamesRadar

Palworld on iPhone and iPad is a surprisingly viable option thanks to Xbox Game Pass Cloud streaming. I managed to play it for a good few hours back in January and I thought it was a decently fun, if somewhat derivative, game. Often marketed as “Pokemon with guns” it’s a good bit more than that — taking after Breath of the Wild, Rust, and so much more. 

The latest patch has added new items, abilities, and even a brand-new raid with a tough boss. If you’re looking for a reason to go back and give it a go, or play it for the first time, now is the perfect time. This is especially true when you consider the developer has announced the next patch will be even more ambitious. 

Calendar: April's Big Game Releases

Pips and Pixels Couch Co Op

(Image credit: Future)
  • Throne of Bone launches next week and is natively playable on Mac. It's a roguelike card-based autobattler where you play a necromancer taking out minions who stand against you. If you're into card builder games, it seems worth keeping an eye on. 
  • I managed to play the demo of Children of the Sun during Steam's Next Fest indie celebration. It's a super stylish shooter puzzle game where you play as an assassin who has to take out hits with a single bullet, that pings from enemy to enemy. You have to plan your routes, wait for the right time, and pull the trigger. No Mac port has been confirmed yet but the great color would really pop on the screen of a Mac so we have our fingers crossed. 
  • Harold Halibut is a game I've been looking forward to for some time. It's an adventure story-driven game made entirely in stop motion. In it, you play Harold, a scientist aboard a spaceship stranded in an alien ocean. Graphically, it looks wonderful and is one of the most unique-looking games I've seen in a while. This has not been confirmed for Mac yet but may work with Parallels. We'll test it closer to the launch as we will be playing either way.
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GamesRelease DatePlatformsPlayable on Apple?
Throne of BoneApril 8PCYes
Children of the SunApril 9PCNot natively
Harold HalibutApril 16PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo SwitchNot natively
No Rest for the WickedApril 18PC, Xbox, PlayStationNot Natively
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred HeroesApril 23PC, Xbox, PlayStationNot Natively
Stellar BladeApril 26PlayStationNo
Sand LandApril 25PC, Xbox, PlayStationNot Natively

Level Up — Gaming accessories on our radar

If you’re looking for a fantastic gaming keyboard to go with your Mac, the ASUS ROG Azoth managed to claim 4.5 stars in our review and it’s currently on sale. 

Asus ROG Azoth |$249.99 $199.99 at Amazon

Asus ROG Azoth | $249.99 $199.99 at Amazon

With an excellent screen at the top for displaying information, incredibly comfortable typing, and a wonderful sound, Asus knocked it out of the park with its ROG Azoth keyboard. Despite being a viable gaming option, it doesn’t look too “gamery” either, which is a huge bonus for me. 

Hitting the Arcade — What to play on Apple Arcade

Pips and Pixels Hitting the Arcade

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Arcade is filled with tons of exclusive experiences and fantastic games. However, with so many out there, it can be hard to decide what to play. Here are a few choices I've been testing out this week:

If you like Wordle or Scrabble, you will love Words in Progress. At its heart, it is a puzzle game where you have to combine single letters into words as they fill the screen, where you can then build out full sentences. With only a handful of spaces on the screen, you could try and risk your chance of building a huge word or sending one off early to make a little more room. You could bank the word ‘play’ for some points, or risk losing the whole game to get ‘player’ for much more points. It combines probability, English, math, and is somehow much more fun than that all sounds. 

I’ve recently gone back and played Alto’s Adventure — Remastered, an endless runner with a gorgeous art style and super smooth gameplay. In it, you have to snowboard down a mountain, perform tricks, and collect coins. If you lose, you can just restart in a moment. I never feel fully punished for losing so I found myself casually playing away without thinking about it. Apple Arcade has cemented itself as a service that is perfect for someone looking for a game to ease their mind just before bed. Alto’s Adventure — Remastered has been one of my favorite chill games and I don’t know if I see that stopping soon. 

Have you played any great games this week or seen some interesting Apple gaming news we've missed? Let us know in the comments!

James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.