The best of Apple Arcade: five games that you need to try out
Apple Arcade has brought a refreshing new model to mobile gaming and has already produced a ton of worthwhile games to check out. Here's some of our early favorites you may want to check out.
We've already talked about how Apple Arcade is solving some of the biggest problems in mobile gaming. By subscribing to Apple Arcade, you don't need to worry about in-app advertising or in-app purchases. On top of that, you'll get a curated list of quality games. We've spent a fair amount of time checking out the games on offer, and we've picked out five that highlight the best of what Apple Arcade has to offer.
What the Golf
The creators of What the Golf describe it as a "golf game for people who hate golf" and "a silly physics-based golf parody." While I think that both are true, I'd probably take it a step further and say that it's also a solid entry as a classic arcade-style game.
The objective of What the Golf varies by level, so describing gameplay can be a little difficult. Some levels, you're just trying to hit a flag pole with a golf ball. Other levels, you might be an office chair trying desperately to beat a sheep in a footrace. You're never really sure what you're going to get in a level until you play it.
One of the best parts about this game is that it is truly a quick-play game. If you've got a few minutes of downtime, you can easily knock out a level or two of What the Golf. Stuck waiting in line at the post office? That's at least one level. Commercial break in your favorite TV show? You could probably get a couple levels finished there, too. It makes it a welcomed distraction that isn't too distracting, which is why it'll live on my iPhone until I finish it.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
Okay, I need to get something out of the way. I'm not a big dual-stick mobile game fan. I find that I'm extremely clumsy when it comes to using a touch screen to move around in an action-oriented 3D space. I'd much rather use a controller. I wasn't originally excited to try Oceanhorn 2, but almost everyone I know is raving about it and having a great time. That meant I was going to give it a go, despite my reservations.
Surprisingly, I liked it a lot. The controls are doable, and if you're not a ham-fisted player like myself, you're probably going to think they're fine.
Personal hang-ups aside, the game is excellent. It's an action-adventure game that is somewhat reminiscent of games like later era Legend of Zeldas or even something like Spyro. A lot of what you're doing is beating up monsters, completing objectives, and swapping out equipment. There are some light RPG elements, too, that keep the game interesting.
The game is incredibly polished, especially for a mobile offering, but that shouldn't be surprising. Cornfox & Brothers, the studio who developed the game, have been working on Oceanhorn 2 for five years. After the first Oceanhorn game was finished, the developers felt like they needed a challenge.
"We decided that meant doing a sequel with a third-person camera, a much more ambitious storyline and a world brimming with new locations." A Cornfox spokesperson told AppleInsider. "It took us a while to learn the ins and outs of the process, but nothing was cut from that original vision. We hope the final result speaks for itself."
Overall, the game is a solid play, especially if you're into real-time action-adventure games. While I don't think I'll continue to play it on my iPhone, I know I'll definitely be playing it when it comes to macOS when Catalina launches.
If you're anywhere between 25 and 40, chances are you've played some sort of extreme sports game while you were growing up. Skate City reminds me a lot of of my teenage years, crowded around a TV with my cousins, passing the controller back and forth while we played BMX and skateboarding games.
Skate City was developed by Agens Games, and released by the same publisher that put out the popular side-scrolling snowboarding games Alto's Adventure and Alto's Odyssey, Snowman.
Skate City has all the trappings of a good skateboarding game, too. The controls are pretty easy to get the hang of, and because it's essentially a side-scroller, it's beginner friendly as well. You get currency for completing objectives or pulling off particularly coordinated stunts. The currency can be used to customize your skater and unlock new tricks and levels.
It's not the most robust skateboarding game, but it's not trying to be. It's more like a cozy trip down nostalgia lane. On top of that, the game is gorgeous, with a day/night cycle and dynamically shifting weather. It features a lo-fi beats soundtrack, perfect for passing time. Snag Skate City if you're looking to relive your high school skater fantasies.
Possessions is a simple, perspective-based puzzle game where a wordless narrative plays out between low-stress levels.
The objective is easy: put the room back together by placing items in the correct place. Items will float senselessly in the room until you change the perspective to make them fit. You can turn the room by swiping your finger across the screen. It starts out fairly easy in the beginning, but later employs a clever order-of-operations style system that adds a little more complexity.
It's a short play, for sure. I finished the non-AR content in about an hour, but definitely enjoyed my time with it.
After you finish the game, you unlock the ability to play the levels a second time, but this time in AR, using your iPhone's camera. The AR mode will require you to drop a level on a flat surface, then physically move around it to solve the puzzle. This mode would be especially fun for kids to do, though I liked the idea enough that I played through the entire first chapter.
If you like puzzle games, there's no reason why you shouldn't snag Possessions— it's a perfect play for a rainy weekend afternoon.
The Pinball Wizard
If you're a fan of pinball, The Pinball Wizard is a must-play. Not only is the game extremely fun, it also brings a total reimagining to pinball as a genre on the whole.
The Pinball Wizard is half pinball, half dungeon crawler RPG. Attacking a monster involves running into them with carefully timed flipper flips. Killing monsters rewards both coins and experience. Coins can be used to upgrade abilities you can employ to defeat enemies. Leveling up grants more health and stronger attacks.
Death isn't just possible, but pretty much a given in this game. It's sort of rogue-like in a sense, but seeing as you keep all skills and level ups, you'll always start at an advantage post-death. I cannot recommend The Pinball Wizard enough, and I think that if you're looking for a fresh twist on an old concept, this is one of your best bets.