Action adventures and RPGs
The best action adventure game for Apple TV: Transistor (£7.99, universal)
This one starts with protagonist Red suddenly finding herself in a world of deranged mechanoids, with only a massive talking sword for company. She’s had better days. As you battle through a futuristic city — using both real-time and turn-based attacks — a story gradually unfolds.
What makes this action-RPG a must-have, though, is its palpable sense of atmosphere and smart world-building. Your in-game route might be linear, but you want to explore the city’s every nook and cranny.
Oceanhorn (£6.99, universal)
This one whiffs of The Legend Of Zelda. It’s not quite the real deal, but Oceanhorn’s nonetheless a smart slice of adventuring for Apple TV. You explore sun-drenched islands, brave dank dungeons, solve puzzles, and occasionally swear at losing health when Siri Remote points you precisely the wrong way, like some kind of idiot, when trying to hack an enemy to bits.
Skylanders SuperChargers (£free, Universal)
Like Infinity, Activision’s Skylanders SuperChargers pairs plastic and polygons, with a wireless portal in the £55 starter kit that pulls an array of fantastical heroes — and vehicles — into the game. The fighting/shooting/driving action is simple, but amusing and kid-friendly, and you can play on iOS as well. Note that the toys are optional: you can pay for the full game and buy digital heroes instead.
Dynamite Jack (£3.99, universal)
It might look like an indie title from the 16-bit era, but Dynamite Jack is a whole lot of fun. Mixing Bomberman-style blowing things up with stealth and exploration, you must escape the Anathema Mines. Get seen by a guard and they’ll shoot first and probably not even bother to ask questions later, the meanies.
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition (£2.29, universal)
This sweet-natured point-and-click adventure features a moustached ghostbuster attempting to restore peace to a recently deceased rock star’s afterlife. (Essentially, a Slimer wannabe with wings nicked his spectral guitar, the cad.) It’s not terribly challenging, but there’s loads of heart, personality and imagination, which makes it a great fit for the telly.
The best platform game for Apple TV: Icycle: On Thin Ice (£2.29, universal)
Platform games rarely come odder than this tale of naked cyclist Dennis, peddling his way through a deadly post-apocalyptic wonderland. Like something out of an animator’s fever dream, the hero finds himself traversing collapsing cities, exploding wedding cakes, and a skyline of legs.
The controls are simple and effective: you slide left and right to nudge the squeaky cycle onwards, and press Play/Pause to hold aloft a brolly and break Dennis’s fall (lest he become broken on thudding into the ground or, equally unfortunately, be impaled on one of the game’s many spikes).
Visually stunning, brimming with confidence and imagination, and with various challenges to reward repeat play, this is a first-rate platformer for Apple TV that’s not to be missed.
Sonic The Hedgehog (£free, universal)
Yes, this is the same Sonic The Hedgehog you once played on a Mega Drive. Sort of. Because this is what happens when you give an old game to a brilliant developer like Christian Whitehead. You get widescreen 60FPS loveliness, new player-controlled characters, and remastered audio. This is no cheap cash-grab emulator.
What you don’t get, sadly, is a sane control system. Playing with Siri Remote is plain odd – you hold it upright, tapping the edges of the swipe area, and stabbing Play to jump. Oddly, it in some ways works better than playing on a slippy touchscreen. But settle down with a Nimbus (or similar) gamepad, and it’s like 1991 all over again. Only you don’t have that stupid haircut.
Mikey Jumps (£free, universal)
In Mikey Jumps, a single digit tapping or holding the Siri Remote’s touchpad is all you get to control the auto-running protagonist. But rather than being reductive, this proves transformative. It works brilliantly on Apple TV, but more importantly each single-screen challenge becomes a tiny platforming puzzle. Success requires deft timing and reactions so you don’t burn through lives – and that’s the case whether leaping, swinging using the grappling hook, or flying through the air using jet boots that oddly make Mikey appear to be powered by gigantic bubble ‘emissions’.
Bean Dreams (£2.29, universal)
This smart, distilled platformer features a jumping bean who never stops bouncing. You move it left and right, using careful timing to squash monsters and make it to the exit using the fewest leaps. Extra replay value comes from further challenges where you grab all of the fruit and locate pet axolotls.
Beneath The Lighthouse TV (£2.99, Apple TV only)
Nitrome’s arcade puzzler features a lighthouse with spinny rooms of spiked death. Your aim: get a rotund chap from entrance to exit, without being impaled. This requires making circular motions on the touchpad to spin the room, the protagonist tumbling accordingly, and it feels like one of the few titles that hasn’t tried to weld a joypad to the tiny Siri Remote.
The Big Journey (£1.99, universal)
Blob-like glutenous feline Mr. Whiskers is on a mission to find the creator of his favourite dumplings in this roly-poly lurching platformer that spins about the place seemingly in an effort to make you seasick on dry land.
Get your bearings and The Big Journey reveals itself to be an entertaining, colourful title that works well with the Siri Remote (tilt to rotate the screen, and tap to jump). It’s all a bit ‘stripped-back LocoRoco’, admittedly, but the knowing humour and approachable journey ensures The Big Journey is well worth taking.