6 Must-Play Apple Arcade Games

by Joseph “thepoorassgamer” Reyna

There’ve been long standing rumors surrounding Apple’s move into the world of video games for YEARS. Game controller and console patents; hyperbole has run rampant in this area. When I worked at an Apple Store in 2013, this, along with asking when Apple would make its own TV were among the most common questions I was asked. And now, all these years later, Apple Arcade takes its first healthy step towards fulfilling that dream. It’s not without it’s questions (for developers especially) but it’s well worth the $5 entrance fee. I’ve selected a few games that I highly recommend downloading but by the end of this article I’ll point out why that download is really important.

Grindstone – Capy Games

If there is one game I would tell you to download right now it would be Grindstone. However, imagine this scenario for one moment before we talk about this game and why it’s a great sign of things. Remember back to me in 2013? Well most of the games on the App Store in those days almost always came with some component of pay to play. I remember talking to an older man that admitted he spent hundreds of dollars on Candy Crush alone. The embarrassment on that man’s eyes was something to behold. But I digress, the point being that with Apple Arcade, the old structure of money being built into gameplay just seems, well, gross.

Grindstone is the perfect puzzle game that contains no refresh lock outs, no pay to play, and absolutely redeems this style of puzzle gameplay for me. It’s a welcome breath of fresh air that I can pick up this game and not have to deal with any of those common mobile game issues. Grindstone in short looks like an Adult Swim game come to life with all the addictive qualities of a Bejeweled-like match-em up sort of game.

Grindstone Mountain is overrun with vicious Creeps! Slay your way up its treacherous peak where fortune, glory (and death) awaits!

It’ll take sharp puzzle skills and an even sharper blade to cleave your way through the swarms of bloodthirsty Creeps dwelling within Grindstone’s dungeons. Battle bosses, loot resources, discover long-lost blueprints for powerful gear, all while cleaving the innards from your deadly foes! 150 levels of intense puzzle-battling madness!

Capy Games

What The Golf? – Triband

Exactly right? WHAT. THE GOLF. It’s bizarre, it’s totally weird but equally challenging much like how real golf can be. Quick golf related memory: I once threw my 6 iron into the trunk of a tree during a very good game and managed to snap that club in half. So now you know how good I am at golf.

What The Golf is one of the few Apple Arcade games I’ve played to completion, and I’m happy to report I enjoyed every minute of it. Not withstanding some challenging PAR levels that nearly made my eyes burn. Each level will present you with some golfing related challenge but completely spun on its head. Sometimes it’ll be a golf ball, most times it’ll be flying toasters, mountain bikes, and even the golfer himself. Fling with freedom I say! You’ll be doing a lot of that and surprisingly, most of the time, the touch controls work really well. I say most of the time because it can be challenging to vary the degree of power for some shots. As I kept playing I did eventually feel in control of this mechanism. I won’t give away the larger weird story surrounding this game, but just know that it’s tons of fun to see unfold.

A silly physics-based golf parody where every golf course is a new surprising type of golf, some brilliant or hilarious, others so absurd they will make you go: WHAT THE GOLF?


Assemble With Care – ustwo games

Compared to Grindstone and What The Golf?, Assemble With Care requires, but ultimately rewards, your attention. I say this mainly as the two previous games can be played in smaller, bite-sized sessions, while Assemble really wants you to sit down, plug in some headphones, and just, relax! And personally on this desert excursion, I’ve noticed I never really made time for contemplative experiences such as this game. I really appreciated that.

Assemble With Care surrounds the story of Maria, an entrepreneur with the capability of fixing just about anything. It plays very much like reading and watching an animated graphic novel. Maria will meet a variety of characters all with their own items that are in need of her help. You’ll be tasked with rotating and inspecting objects, using the larger part of touch controls to remove screws and parts from each broken item. There’s a larger narrative of self exploration and discovery with this story as well. Just as Maria is unsure of how to fix a retro camera, I am too. Discovering how to do all of that was really fun to share with her.

From the studio that brought you Monument Valley, comes a story about taking things apart and putting ourselves back together.

ustwo games

Outlanders – Pomelo Games

Would you like to play a town builder game but also don’t want to pay to play or again, have any negative experiences tied to bad gameplay concepts? Well then Outlanders might just be the game to play! The game centers around specific leaders and goals for each pre-set location. Each area will have a specific goal such as, build a certain number of residential homes, farms and end of the run crop goals. Each member of the town will need to be assigned job roles and even children will be born that grown into future working adults. You’ll also manage food constraints which can be a little difficult when towns people start dying from hunger. I only had the chance to play a few levels of this game on my phone and on my Mac in particular, it seems to be using every bit of physical resource in my laptop to run. But, it’s still fun to play. I sat for hours on end playing this game and when looked up I saw it was night, there’s your recommendation. Did I mention also it’s relaxing? No? Well, it’s relaxing to play too.

Outlanders is a charming town-builder simulation game that lets you play as the leader of a group of regular people building a town together. Some want to survive, while others want to build amazing things. It’s up to you to guide them towards their goal.

Pomelo Games

Painty Mob – Devolver Digital

This is the epitome of a game that requires little to no skill or effort on the part of the player. JUST TAP. Seriously there is some level of skill to this game but what Painty Mob exudes most is FUN. This game encapsulates the quick mobile experience. I can see myself playing this game on a lunch break or while waiting for a plane. It more or less plays like a Katamari or Noby-Noby-Boy mobile clone, but the object of the game is to jump around, splashing paint and annoying all the other characters. Pick-ups will give a little boost to your paint which will allow you to quickly smack into other characters. I’ve only been able to reach level five of this game, but it’s definitely a game I’ll keep in my mobile rotation!

Shake up your humdrum world by dousing its unsuspecting citizens with splashes of vibrant paint in an effort to spread a little unrequested cheer around to all. 

Devolver Digital

Overland – Finji games

First off, Overland IS. HARD. Okay so for those readers looking for a challenge to their games, Overland is pretty much it. This game is also available on Switch, Xbox, Steam and PS4! In this turn-based survival game, you’ll control a survivor as you attempt to find resources, other survivors and band together to fight against hordes of creatures. YOU. WILL. DIE. I seriously restarted this game several times until I understood that survival, regardless of who you end up controlling, is the key to this game. Get what you need, kill the baddies if you can, and GET OUT. Even with this challenge, it’s a different experience every time. If you like survival horror, pick it up!


Finji games

Whew! Well alright! That’s 6 great games you should pick up right off the bat! I think again, for $5 and hundreds of games to choose from, Apple Arcade is making a great case for getting back into mobile gaming! That’s not to say I haven’t come across games I would say aren’t for me, but the fair majority of games and the nature of the subscription itself means you’ll be downloading and trying a whole lot of games. Some are misfires for me: Lifeslide, Shinsekai, Over The Alps. But I wouldn’t knock any of these games for lack of quality, just more of, I don’t think I want to play this on my phone.

To sum everything up here, I want to finish with three big thoughts about Apple Arcade: Downloads, Advertising, and Controllers. Downloads, because here is my biggest piece of advice: just download everything anyways. I mean, we all have limited storage on our devices, but when sales are likely tied to total downloads it’s important to recognize that change. Sure, buying a game outright from an indie developer will usually be a good thing. You’re supporting the developers and usually most of those funds go directly to them. With Apple Arcade, it’s still pretty unclear what kinds of deals these developers either received or felt inclined to join just to release their games to a wider audience. Are they making more through Apple or would some do better to sell it on their own? It’s tough to say. I hope that Apple is using the Sony model of paying developers per download when a game is essentially offered for free. So there’s hope at least that this may be a better shake for developers but there’s no way of knowing at this point.

The next big issue lies with advertising and mostly the larger issue of TOO MANY GAMES. Having a platform that caters to a lot of different people is not a bad thing at all, but after a month, my only fear is for those games that’ll get lost in the shuffle. Some of these developers are only releasing on Apple Arcade, but many are offering their games on other platforms as well. Is this a failsafe for many of these developers or would they have any incentive to release soley on Apple Arcade? Time will tell. I do get a notification on my phone each time new games are released and the arcade store does a lot to demystify many of these game quickly. Saying it’s a lot to jump into right away is an understatement.

Lastly, I have a bit of a beef with the controller selection but this is mainly due to not having my Dualshock 4 with me right now. Currently I am able to use my Nintendo Pro Controller with my Mac and Apple Arcade through Bluetooth, however this controller does not connect to my Apple TV or my phone. After looking this up, Apple made the choice to use specific types of Bluetooth with different devices. This could be remedied through using a Dualshock when I get back to Michigan, but honestly, what the hell Apple? If you’re going to support Bluetooth controllers, better cover all the major players. This is totally nitpicky I know, but just something I’ve started to notice. Also! Not all the games on mobile are inherently set up for controller support and not all the games that work on the Mac have controller support! It’s a start for sure, but it is definitely confusing even for a seasoned person such as myself.

All and all by most accounts, Apple Arcade is a pretty good deal to the consumer. It strips away all the baggage that’s be hanging around mobile gaming’s neck for years. At it’s core, it reminds me of why it’s so fun to be able to play games of this caliber on my phone. Sure, it’s not always the preferred experience, but the value alone is why I’d recommend it. Games are meant to be fun and easy to play sometimes and it seems like Apple is starting to get that message. So without a doubt, give it a shot!

More Apple Arcade game reviews to follow so stay tuned!

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Games and Gimmicks, the podcast discussing Video Games, Professional Wrestling, and Everything In Between! Hosted by E_HUFFY and thepoorassgamer!

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