Secret Oops! brings silly spy-themed AR fun to Apple Arcade [Review]

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Secret Oops! is AR fun on Apple Arcade
Secret Oops! puts its virtual 3D game board in your living room.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Mix a bumbling spy, a secret base, and a lot of augmented reality and you’ll get Secret Oops!, the latest addition to Apple Arcade. This innovative children’s game from MixedBag shows a virtual 3D game board in the real world through the magic of AR.

I explored the possibilities of Secret Oops!; read on to see what I found.

MixedBag Secret Oops! review

Special Agent Charles goes into a secret base on a mission to retrieve stolen briefcases. He must evade deadly traps and dangerous robot guards. Sounds like the plot for the next Mission: Impossible film, right?

But in Secret Oops!, the agent is dumb as a bag of hammers, and therefore utterly incapable of doing his mission alone. It’s up to players to hack into the computer systems for the secret base and disable the traps to help Agent Charles get through.

Gameplay

There’s a lot of buzz about augmented reality, but so far the technology has shown up best in games. Secret Oops! is a prime example. It’s played on a virtual game board that appears as a highly detailed diorama. The difference between it and a traditional board game is this one can only be seen through an iPhone or iPad.

Each level of the secret base Agent Charles is exploring appears in beautiful 3D. Walk around it and the perspective shifts — it’s kind of amazing. Charles walks blissfully through these virtual corridors, directly into each trap. It’s up to players to disable them when he gets to each one. Doing so only requires tapping and holding on a button, but traps don’t stay shut off and Charles keeps moving — players always have to be ready to turn off the next trap.

What makes this truly challenging is that the game board is 3D, so not all the buttons can be seen from a single angle. It’s necessary for players to circle the virtual board, positioning themselves to see each button at the appropriate time.

The Secret Oops! 3D game board appears in augmented reality, or you can play it like a regular video game
The Secret Oops! 3D game board appears in augmented reality, or you can play it like a regular video game.
Photo: Apple/Mixedbag

Secret Oops! can be enjoyed by a single player, or up to four can join in to help. Each person sees the game world through their own iPhone or iPad. As more players join, the levels get harder to compensate.

Age requirements

This is a children’s game. Developer MixedBag says it’s for ages 4 and up. Adults won’t find it very challenging, but it’s a fun game to play as a family. The goal is cooperation among players, not competition.

There’s no combat and no blood. About the closest Secret Oops! gets to violence is Special Agent Charles getting flung across the board when he stumbles into a trap.

Everyone playing needs their own iPhone or iPad to see the board. And holding up the devices gets tiring after a while. Games like this one will get better once the rumored Apple AR glasses arrive. Still, it’s enjoyable now.

There are two Secret Oops! missions available today, each with dozens of levels, and MixedBag promises that more missions are on the way.

This game can also be played without augmented reality, in which case all the action happens on the iPhone or iPad screen, like any other video game. But that cuts out everything that makes this game unique.

Secret Oops! final thoughts

With Secret Oops!, MixedBag created a classic family board game updated for the 21st century. The 3D augmented-reality game board looks amazing, and gameplay is simple but challenging enough that a range of ages can join in.

Playing requires an iPhone or iPad for everyone participating. And holding these up gets tiresome. Still, it’s worth it for some really innovative fun.

On Apple Arcade

Secret Oops! is only available through Apple Arcade, which requires a $4.99-a-month subscription. But this fee also brings access to more than 100 other games, many aimed at younger players.

Plus, this gaming service forbids ads, loot boxes, in-app purchases, chats and tracking. The only cost is the monthly fee.