Apple Arcade landed with a whump. 71 games showed up at once, all angling for attention.
One weekend later, it’s impossible to know the best titles from all 71. So Stuff has instead spent hours digging into Apple Arcade and unearthed five titles that’ll give you an instant gaming blast on your iPhone.
There are of course deeper games on the App Store – Oceanhorn 2’s Zelda-like adventuring; the Super Smash Bros. meets plastic bricks of Lego Brawls; visual stunner (that very much needs a controller) Sayonara Wild Hearts – and we’ll cover those soon.
For now, though, try these five when you’ve signed up for your free month and want a superb quickfire gaming fix.
1. Super Impossible Road
The original Impossible Road was an App Store classic, and had you coax a ball along a minimalist roller-coaster ribbon stretching into the infinite. Super Impossible Road ramps up the experience – lush visuals and a slew of modes combine to make for a rich, adrenaline-pumping slice of arcade greatness.
The basic premise remains the same – don’t fall off of a road that’s all too keen to send you into the abyss. But now you’ll find yourself required to cheat, leaping between sections of track to get ahead of opponents, or make the next time gate.
With bite-sized gameplay and responsive two-thumb controls, this is ideal iPhone fare when you fancy an injection of excitement – and your ego handed to you.
2. What The Golf?
Oh no, you might think when first setting eyes on What The Golf?, what with its run-of-the-mill flicky golf shenanigans. But then it all goes very weird, very quickly. The golfer will fly through the air rather than the ball, or you’ll be sending an entire clubhouse towards the hole.
Not weird enough? Then try levels where the ball seemingly thinks it’s Spider-Man, flinging out goop and swinging from walls. Or side-on platform fare where you begin with dozens of balls, and need to get one to the hole. Or… well, you get the idea. Even if you hate golf, if you don’t laugh along with this one then you’re deader inside than a golf ball in the rough.
3. Card Of Darkness
Having seemingly temporarily tired of giving us skewed takes on mobile classics beamed in from a parallel universe, Zach Gage has turned his hand to smashing Rogue-like adventuring into a game of cards.
On boards illustrated by Pendleton Ward of Adventure Time fame, you make your way to the bridge that’ll elevate you to further glory. Success depends on balancing risk and reward. Flip a card to grab some bling, and you must clear the entire stack before you progress. If you lack the health and/or stabby weaponry to do so, you’re done for.
Quite a thinky one, then, but with bright and breezy visuals, and the kind of speedy playtime per level that lets you crack on in short bursts.
4. Assemble with Care
Florence marked a kind of turning point in mobile gaming – a moment where it was suddenly fine to create something finite and beautiful that was as much narrative as game. Assemble with Care is in a similar space, albeit tucked away in Apple Arcade, meaning you can experience the entire thing for free.
And Assemble with Care is very much worth experiencing. Played out across a dozen chapters, it tells the story of globe-trotting restorer Maria who rocks up in a town and starts helping people by repairing their stuff – only it turns out it’s not just their things that are broken, but also their relationships with each other. If you don’t have the odd lib-wobble along the way, you’re clearly a monster.
5. Bleak Sword
With visuals that look like they’ve escaped a ZX81 to assault your retinas, Bleak Sword is a tense, tight brawler that finds you fending off all manner of blocky nasties in a low-res forest.
The clever one-digit control method is a little reminiscent of Stuff favourite Beat Street, enabling you to roll, parry, and unsportingly stab your foes by way of swipes and taps.
At first, you’ll scream for a controller. But get properly stuck in and you’ll realise you don’t need your hands claw-gripped around a gamepad to give a bunch of menacing guardians a good thrashing – just your very best pointing digit will do.