5 Apple Arcade games I just can’t quit, from Grindstone to Wonderbox
If Xbox Game Pass is the best deal in gaming, Apple Arcade is a close runner up. Launching in September 2019 for a mere $4.99 a month, it puts an extensive, exclusive library of the very best games from the very best mobile game developers in your pocket on iPhone – as well as offering the exact same library across iPad, Mac and Apple TV, too, complete with cloud saves.
Whereas the more expensive Xbox Game Pass has a regularly-rolling library of titles, Apple Arcade has the distinctive advantage of being an ever-growing catalogue, with Apple regularly adding more brand new and classic titles to the service each month without removing any long standing favorites. Apple Arcade only ever gets bigger, with all the games available at launch still present to play today.
Which is a good thing, as so many of them are highly addictive. Though there's a good number of "one-and-done" games on Apple Arcade, like the wonderful Assemble With Care and Sayanora Wild Hearts, many Arcade games have been expertly tuned to keep you hooked for ages. These are the five Apple Arcade games that I've been playing for months on end.
Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker
Ever played a Zelda game and thought, "I could make something better than that?" No? Probably not – Zelda games are awesome. But you've probably at one point or other fancied trying your hand at creating a video game adventure yourself. Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker lets you do just that.
Tipping its hat to the Nintendo franchise's fairytale dungeon crawling stylings, the game lets you create a series of interconnected dioramas to build your own gaming adventure around. From dank castles to snowy mountaintops, you can fill them up with all sorts of friendly characters and monstrous creatures, with secrets to find and treasures to uncover. Think an isometric Minecraft and you're almost there, with Wonderbox letting you share your creations with its growing community of players, as well as downloading adventures made by other players. Game Center lets you play through any adventure you like with a few friends, too.
It's just a shame that the Apple TV version doesn't feature the same create-a-game options that the other builds of Wonderbox do – here's hoping the rumoured Apple TV games-focussed edition rights that wrong.
To know Peggle is to love Peggle, to play Diablo is to be addicted to Diablo. So what if you could combine both? Roundguard takes the basic precision-pinball mechanics of Peggle and marries it to a cutesy roguelike dungeon crawler that will have you completely hooked.
Rather than merely knocking pegs off the board, you'll be firing off a hero at skeletons, spiders, goblins and more, collecting treasures and using powerups to get as far as you can through the ever-changing labyrinth of levels on offer.
With tons of different items to discover, gameplay modifiers to try out and powers to master, there are tens of hours of fun to be had – maybe even hundreds, considering the recent introduction of the 'Encore Mode' which significantly increases the challenge.
The best Apple Arcade game of them all? Probably – Grindstone is as addictive now as it was upon its first release back with the launch of Arcade in 2019. In many ways, its similar to the Roundguard game above. It too takes a Cartoon Network style aesthetic, and wraps it around two key infusions of game mechanics – in this case, dungeon crawling and gem-matching puzzle games.
What that doesn't explain is just how wildly moreish the game is. As a muscle-bulging barbarian slicing and dicing your way though fantasy foes on your way to your next treasure haul, developers Capybara Games expertly deliver satisfying feedback on every blow. As your combos chain up and your comic book killing spree get more outlandish so too does the feverish way in which your character's blood-thristy slayings play out.
Bejewelled by way of Adventure Time, nearly three years after release and I still can't get enough.
Clap Hanz Golf
It doesn't matter if you've ever picked up a club in your life, know a driver from a wedge or can identify Augusta from beachside putting course - golf is one of those weirdly universal sports among gaming fans. A satisfying swing of a Wii remote or long-range birdie via a couple of pinpoint button taps, golf has been well digitised for decades.
Few developers have managed this as well as Clap Hanz, responsible for making the approachable-yet-deep Everybody's Golf games for two decades. Leaving that franchise name behind for Apple Arcade, it's essentially the same series under a different name with Clap Hanz Golf.
Years of experience pay off in the Arcade exclusive – whether you're playing on a gamepad or a touchscreen, the game plays a mean 18 holes, letting you pull of precision drives and expert chips. Don't let the game's colorful cast of collectible golfers sway you – this is a proper golf game with a lot to offer. With regular seasons, challenges and a clever RPG-style levelling system, it's one Apple Arcade game that should definitely not be missed.
Lego Star Wars: Castaways
That galaxy far, far away (you know the one) is always best enjoyed with friends – and there's no re-interpretation of George Lucas's sci-fi universe more loved than the one conceived by the geniuses at Lego. With Lego Star Wars: Castaways you get the best shared-world Star Wars experience since The Old Republic MMO.
A kid-friendly action adventure, it falls somewhere between Destiny and Diablo, offering top-down quests to take on with friends as you level up your Star Wars minifig for greater adventures. It gets a bit grindy at times, but the unlockables are great, and the Star Wars world lovingly realised. The vehicle missions in particular are visual treats, and as good as anything the recent Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga console games offered.
Unlimited games, one price
Apple Arcade has over a hundred premium games with more added regularly each week. There is something here for everyone, and it only costs $5 a month for all you can game!