Apple Arcade has been out for just a few days now, and it's got a problem: there are a lot of games. Most of them are good, but unless you want to dedicate every waking hour to explore each of them in-depth, it's hard to know where to start.
And while there haven't been enough hours since Apple Arcade released to play all the games as long as they deserve, We've managed to come up with a list of the top ten games available right now on Apple Arcade
10. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts is billed as “A Pop Album Video Game,” which is about as fitting of a description as can be fit into a five-word blurb. A neon-soaked musical game that's seeped in a strangely mystical story that never cares much about making sense beyond tugging at a sort of dreamlike logic that makes you feel like you get the gist of what’s going on but never really feel the need to explore it more.
It's far from the best game on the list -- the gameplay is a bit simplistic despite its flashy presentation -- but it is a perfect tone-setter for Apple Arcade.
It spends time to set the stage, which hints to players that it might be more than your standard iOS fare. Because of this, even though it initially just feels like a super-chill version of Temple Run, you get the sense that it might be worth waiting the game out instead of dismissing it into the bin of all the freemium games that you’ve stopped playing after 7 minutes.
Soon, players find themselves riding a motorcycle through psychedelic cityscapes, dodging energy blasts, punching the ever-loving snot out of a team of Magnificent Ladybug wannabes, and it hits you: this is a game. An honest-to-gosh video game that's designed for the iPhone. You're not waiting for the game to smack you with a money-grubbing paywall, you're waiting to see what kind of crazy ideas it's going to run by you next as it cracks open the ground in front of you and has you flying around like somebody out there actually remembered Nights into Dreams was actually a popular game way back when.
9. ChuChu Rocket Universe
There have been a good number of remakes and re-releases of Sega's Dreamcast puzzler ChuChu Rocket, including one on iPhone and Android a while back. But until now, Sega never really released anything that can be considered a sequel to its classic puzzler.
ChuChu Rocket Universe keeps the main gameplay of placing arrows to route the titular mice-like creatures into rockets to escape the evil KapuKapus -- which are pretty much just stylized two-legged cats. The game adds a new twist in the form of 3D playing fields, which the ChuChus can travel on all sides of, mimicking Mario Galaxy in a way.
Though its multiplayer mode (which made the original famous) seems to be lacking in players, the single-player puzzles are charming enough and its new ideas unique enough to make another trek into the ChuChu rocket well worth players' time.
Cardpocolypse is obviously the product of somebody who grew up during the height of the Pokémon card craze, going to one of the many schools whose staff looked suspiciously upon the new popular pastime.
You play as Jess, a new kid at a school that's absolutely obsessed with the card game "Power Pets," a collectible card game that mixes elements of Pokemon, Magic The Gathering and Duel Monsters. You play against other students while making friends, performing quests and building your deck through finding cards across the school, and trading through the use of your own cards and any tasty snacks you might have on you.
Also, the world's ending, causing monsters from the Power Pets cartoon to leak into real life. So you've got that to deal with.
The game is steeped in a tongue-in-cheek version of what the 90s thought was cool, and it has a charm that keeps you engaged as the story gets sillier and sillier.
When scrolling through the full list of Apple Arcade games EarthNight stands out because it actually looks like a game you might find in an arcade -- That is, an early 90s arcade, from the days before arcade floors became the exclusive domain of light gun games, racing games and, well, adaptations of mobile games.
In a far-flung future where the world has been destroyed by space dragons and survivors live in spaceships far above what used to be the atmosphere, the best way to make a living is to dive down onto dragons' backs and slide across the flying landscapes while gathering all the scraps left over from earth's desiccated husk that you can -- and see if you can stab a few of the creatures to death while you're at it.
The game is beautiful, using a sleek, painterly art style to evoke a retro aesthetic without sacrificing graphical quality. The game doesn't bring anything particularly new to the gameplay table, borrowing elements from Tiny Wings, Pilotwings, endless runners, and roguelikes, but it stitches together familiar ideas in a way that transforms it into something more than the sum of its parts.
6. Mini Motorways
Sometimes minimalism is the name of the game, and while the graphics of Mini Motorways is a bit more representative than Dinosaur Polo Club's transit puzzler Mini Metro, it manages to retain the game's simplistic charm while exploring new ideas the ins and outs of the transportation system.
In Mini Motorway, you're tasked with designing the road maps for various real-world cities, dealing with congestion issues and limited resources as you try to handle an ever-expanding population. The cities get crowded fast, making the purpose of the simple design obvious as you try to figure out the best location for your one traffic light while the population grows and cars start jamming up the roadways.
Things will get out of hand, and what first seemed like obvious decisions will end up needing to be completely reworked as situations change. But the challenge is rewarding, and in the end it's an insightful puzzle that remains fun while helping you understand just of difficult of a job city design can be.
5. Tangle Tower
Adventure games have been getting more and more rare on PC and consoles, but they work surprisingly well on phones, which is part of what makes the murder mystery Tangle Tower such a good fit for Apple Arcade. You play as Grimoire, who travels to Tangle Tower with his partner Sally to solve a murder mystery that seems so absurdly clear-cut that you know there's going to be a catch.
As a sequel to the well-received Detective Grimoire, it's an odd mixture of monkey-island-caliber humor, Ace-Attorney-style investigations, brain-twisting puzzles, and a strange deductive reasoning system that helps lead the player to sometimes-absurd conclusions because they're the only thing that could possibly make sense given the information available. In the immortal words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
The addition of a partner in sally provides for fantastic back-and-forth banter in what would normally be dull observations, and the sheer amount of polish put into everything from the animations and the voice acting shows that developer SFB games put in the effort to knock one out of the park for Apple Arcade.
4. Oceanhorn 2
It was hard not to notice Oceanhorn 2 in the lineup of Apple Arcade games -- out of all the offerings, it's the one that looks the most like a full-blown console game. A specific full-blown console game, actually. One that features an epic adventure filled with swords, monsters, treasure chests, and colorful gems.
Yes, Oceanhorn is the sequel to a 2013 mobile game that could be described as "like Legend of Zelda except the main character wears blue." Of course, now that Link is most frequently shown wearing blue in Breath of the Wild, Oceanhorn 2 can now only be described as "Like Legend of Zelda."
The game is more akin to Ocarina of Time than it is Breath of the Wild, and it doesn't wear its influence on its sleeve so much as it it copied Zelda's homework and then just doodled on it a bit to pretend that it's an original property. It does have some elements unique to its franchise, such as recurring characters and the new partners that fight by your side, but the main draw of this game is its familiar action adventure gameplay. Even though it's a blatant copy, it's a good blatant copy, and well-adapted to work on a phone even if you don't hook up a controller.
3. Assemble with Care
While there are a lot of games that do a good job of working around a touchscreen, or adapting an idea for a touchscreen, it's always impressive when a game is designed from the bottom up for a touchscreen. Assemble with Care is one of those games.
You play as a repairwoman who travels to a small town and fixes any broken objects that people bring your way. You have to do each repair manually, like a 3D puzzle, turning the objects over, opening and closing them and removing parts to get at other parts while trying to figure out what's wrong.
The game doesn't hold you by the hand, and the tasks get progressively more difficult as the game goes on, but it never feels impossible the replacement parts you have in front of you always give a massive hint at what needs to be done -- but it's a chill and engaging experience that has a lot of surprising little details -- such as how you get to choose which parts of a sign flash depending on the order to plug in wires, and how you can actually play a short game on the miniature game console you're tasked with repairing.
This is all done in a world with well-written characters whose lives are also broken in their own way. The tasks fit well with the story and offer insight into everyone's worries and problems, giving a fascinating look into a well-crafted world.
2. What the Golf?
There are plenty of humorous games on Apple's new games platform, including the oddball Cricket Through The Ages and the previously-mentioned Tangle Tower, but the sheer variety of ways that What the Golf finds humor in its gameplay and presentation makes you want to keep playing just to see what nonsense you'll think of next.
It's a golf game... sort of. It seems they took the definition of "golf" to be "you make things move towards a goal" and just figured out what they could do with that. Sometimes you're hitting golf ball. Sometimes you're hitting a golfer. Sometimes you're making a slime ball crawl up canyons and leap from wall to wall.
It's reminiscent of the old browser-based classic Frog Fractions in the way that it keeps mixing up the gameplay and subverting your expectations. If you love golf, or you hate golf, or even if the the description I gave in the second paragraph is the complete extent of your knowledge about golf, it's worth giving a try to have a laugh at the developers' inventiveness.
1. Exit the Gungeon
There are a good number of games in Apple Arcade that try to recreate PC and console games, and they all have different philosophies on how to make it work on mobile. Shantae, for instance, just added buttons on the screen, while Rayman Mini turned on Auto-run in a design choice that seems to mimic Nintendo's Super Mario Run.
Both of these work in their own way, but by far the best phone adaptation I've seen is Exit the Gungeon, a quasi-sequel to developer Dodge Roll's excellent roguelike shooter Enter the Gungeon. The game changes up the controls to work intuitively on a touchscreen while still maintaining much of what makes the original work.
The game has changed to a side-scrolling platformer rather than a top-down shooter, and has you shoot automatically, but the bullet-filled frenzy is just as chaotic and delightful as the original game, and the choice to make the dodge roll pull double duty as the jump command makes you feel far more in control than anything else of its sort on mobile.
There's a lot more to find if you explore
There are a ton of other games worth everyone's time out there, but these are the ones that stand out the most out of everything. If we missed your favorite, or you disagree with my order, feel free to leave a comment here or send me a threatening tweet to @PhillipMoyer.