The 15 Best Apple Arcade Games of 2021

Brittany A. Roston - Dec 8, 2021, 2:10pm CST
The 15 Best Apple Arcade Games of 2021

Apple Arcade, arguably the best thing to ever happen to mobile gaming, offers a huge library of ad-free, high-quality games for the iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. This past year brought dozens of new games to the platform, including remastered versions of classic mobile titles and entirely new hits with excellent graphics.

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Quick Apple Arcade Primer

Not familiar with Apple Arcade? The service is a subscription-based platform that gives Apple device owners access to a growing library of mobile games. The titles offered to subscribers are ad-free and can be accessed across Apple’s device ecosystem, including on Apple TV devices.

Customers have two different Apple Arcade plan options: the standalone game platform for $4.99/month or Apple One, a bundle with half a dozen Apple services like TV+ and Music, for $14.95/month. Once you sign up, you’ll have access to more than 200 games, including the 15 exciting titles below.

Oddmar

Oddmar is an action-adventure platformer game that revolves around a Viking warrior named Oddmar. The title revolves around Norse and Viking mythology, magic included, offering 24 total levels packed with magical weapons, enemies, bosses, puzzles, and other challenges.

Players are tasked with taking Oddmar through a variety of landscapes, including everything from the top of snowy mountains to the mines under the fantasy world. Complete the quest and you’ll distinguish yourself as a formidable warrior, earning a place in Valhalla.

Though the title is new to Apple Arcade, it isn’t a new game — it has a rich history and previously won an Apple Design Award in 2018. Oddmar comes from Senri, the same team behind Leo’s Fortune, another award-winning title. The game is distinguished by its excellent graphics, which are similar to something you’d find on a console like the Nintendo Switch, plus it features a unique storytelling element in the style of a “motion comic.”

The game was released for Apple Arcade with the title Oddmar+ on December 3, 2021; it is suitable for players ages 9 and older, supports game controllers, and includes iCloud game saves so that progress syncs between devices.

LEGO Star Wars: Castaways

LEGO Star Wars: Castaways is the latest installment in the LEGO Star Wars universe, one created specifically for the Apple Arcade platform. This title offers a social action-adventure experience set on an abandoned secret planet filled with technology from an ancient civilization. Players can create their own characters, explore an island, participate in battle arenas, relive “key Star Wars moments” in the LEGO versions of iconic locations, and more.

LEGO’s rich Star Wars video game history goes back to 2005 with the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and other retro systems.

The new Apple Arcade exclusive Castaways represents a shift to mobile, bringing similar gameplay to the iPhone you already carry around. Gameloft, the company behind the new title, created a robust entry for the LEGO Star Wars franchise that ties together fan-favorite moments and an entirely new world, a new set of characters, and a unique storyline.

This makes the title not only appealing as a game that can be played repeatedly without getting bored, but also as an expansion of the wider Star Wars universe’s rich narrative for dedicated fans who can’t get enough. LEGO Star Wars: Castaways is rated for players ages 9 and older, can be played online with friends, and includes controller support.

NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition

2K brought an exclusive version of 2K22 to the Apple Arcade platform in October, giving basketball fans another way to enjoy the game on their iPad or other Apple devices. The game allows players to put in the work for All-Star status or, with “The Association,” climb the ladder to become a Head Coach or GM for an NBA franchise. Top NBA athletes are included in Arcade Edition, including Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard, among others.

The developer promises an “authentic” experience similar to what players get with the company’s console titles, but with the big perk that basketball fans can take the game with them anywhere via the iPhone and iPad. NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition has already been updated with the 2022 player roster, plus there’s online multiplayer support, three vs. three “Blacktop” street game mode, a Career mode starting as a rookie, and 30 NBA teams to pick from.

2K22 Arcade Edition is suitable for players ages 4 and older. In addition to improved controls and compatibility with PlayStation and Xbox controllers, the title also has an AI assist feature for defense and offense teams, plus a Casual controller option for players who need the help.

Crossy Road

Crossy Road+ is the Apple Arcade version of the popular Frogger-like title already available on mobile devices and other platforms like Fire TV. The game, which is rated for ages 9 and older, presents a blocky world full of cars and other obstacles players must avoid while getting to the other side of the road(s). In addition to controller support, Crossy Road is great for devices with limited storage at only 273MB.

Hipster Whale’s arcade title was first released in 2014, earning high marks from critics, as well as coming in as a finalist for the Australian Game Developer Awards’ 2014 Game of the Year Award. Apple awarded Crossy Road an Apple Design Award in 2015, helping spur two spin-off titles: Disney Crossy Road and Crossy Road Castle (via CNET).

The game offers Apple Arcade subscribers a modern take on classic arcade hits like Frogger with the convenience of quickly toggling between an iPhone and Apple TV, for example. The Arcade version of Crossy Road is rated for players ages 9 and older; it includes controller support and some gameplay tweaks for Arcade, including more rapid progression via quests and the addition of Crossy Park.

Thumper: Pocket Edition

Thumper: Pocket Edition brings a colorful space beetle to Apple Arcade, tasking players with navigating nine colorful, intense levels packed full of psychedelic visuals and boss battles. Though Thumper wasn’t made exclusively for Apple Arcade, the Pocket Edition version was redesigned to make gameplay possible with a single hand.

Many games released for Apple Arcade in 2021 were of the action-adventure, platformer, and puzzle varieties. Thumper is a refreshing alternative as a rhythm-based title that revolves around an original soundtrack and what developer Drool calls “synesthetic bliss,” the combination of which has earned it more than 25 game awards and award nominations.

The game is unique, ridiculously fun, and suitable for players ages 9 and older. Even better, Thumper: Pocket Edition includes 120fps gameplay on devices that support it. Keep in mind that for the best experience, Drool says players should use wired, not wireless, headphones during gameplay due to potential audio latency issues.

LEGO Star Wars Battles

LEGO Star Wars Battles is another title from the Star Wars universe that hit Apple Arcade this year. Unlike Castaways, however, Battles is a real-time strategy game with player-versus-player battles set in a variety of arenas. This gives Star Wars fans the opportunity to experience the universe and its characters as part of the highly popular tower defense genre.

Whereas many tower defense games are relatively simplistic in terms of character upgrades and storylines, Battles manages to evolve the genre with robust elements like Force mastery, assembling unique armies involving more than 40 units from different Star Wars eras, and real-time multiplayer battles. Can Porgs take on Stormtroppers? This game will let players find out.

LEGO Star Wars Battles is suitable for players ages 9 and older, it supports up to two local players, and though a controller isn’t required, one can be used if desired. As well, this game supports offline gameplay with the exception of online multiplayer mode.

Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls

Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls arrived on the Apple Arcade platform on September 17, giving fans of the beloved franchise an entirely new title to enjoy. The Castlevania universe dates back to the first title released in 1986, spurring the release of dozens of additional titles in the decades since.

Grimoire of Souls was made by Konami specifically for the Apple Arcade platform to give subscribers an entirely new storyline. The game includes combat styles unique to each of its characters, a variety of level bosses, several different game modes, and the threat of Count Dracula’s castle returning to unleash monsters on the world.

Castlevania fans will want to check out this title given its exclusive nature, while Apple Aracde subscribers who haven’t previously experienced Konami’s dark world have the chance to play it for the first time at no extra cost. Grimoire of Souls is rated for ages 9 and older; it includes controller support and is designed with an old-school side-scrolling action format.

Asphalt 8: Airborne

Popular racing game Asphalt 8: Airborne hit Apple Arcade in late August, offering up to eight players the opportunity to race each other in a variety of stunning landscapes. The game includes cars from some of the world’s most notable makers, including Audi, Mercedes, Ducati, and Ferrari, as well as an extensive career mode with more than 400 career events.

Asphalt 8: Airborne was first released back in 2013, skyrocketing to popularity as one of the highest quality games available on mobile platforms. The title’s continued success nearly a decade later underscores its quality, which has been maintained via many updates over the years and evolving support for the latest mobile gaming hardware.

Gameloft has earned multiple awards for its racing title, including the 2014 Pocket Gamer Award. Asphalt 8: Airborne+, the version exclusive to Apple Arcade, is a bit different from the Android version, including the older garage layout and the ability to unlock and upgrade every car entirely through gameplay.

Asphalt 8: Airborne+ is rated for players ages 12 and older, but keep in mind the title’s 2.7GB size — you may need to uninstall a few apps to make room for the game.

Detonation Racing

If you’re burned out on Asphalt 8 and looking for a different racing game, check out Detonation Racing added back in July. Developer Electric Square calls its title the “least sensible racing series ever devised.” What makes it so chaotic?

Detonation Racing is full of hazards and amusing gameplay, including the ability to drop submarines on the track to knock out opponents, explosions, and even taking different routes (mostly caused by explosions) to win. The title’s absurd nature distinguishes it from the other racing games available on iOS and makes it a rarity on Arcade specifically.

Detonation Racing offers local multiplayer support, online gameplay, and solo racing, covering the needs of just about every player. As well, the title has full crossplay for Apple’s ecosystem, meaning it can be accessed on an iPhone, Apple TV, or even a MacBook. The game is suitable for players ages 9 and older; it includes multiplayer support for up to four racers, plus controller support.

Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City

The endless runner game Alto’s Odyssey took off in mobile gaming circles a few years ago when it launched. Fast-forward to this past summer and Apple Arcade subscribers now have access to Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City, a similar title that offers new landscapes across four different biomes.

Players are tasked with finding The Lost City and uncovering its secrets, all the while riding a sandboard as the core gameplay element. The Lost City is notable because it brings both the original game and expanded content to the Apple Arcade platform. As such, players new to Alto’s Odyssey will get the full experience from start to finish, discovering why the title earned itself an Apple Design Award for Outstanding Design and Innovation.

The title is rated for players ages 4 and older, plus there’s controller support. Even better, the game requires very little device storage space at only 183MB.

Leo’s Fortune

Leo’s Fortune, a mobile platformer that revolves around getting back stolen gold, presents some of the best graphics you’ll find on Apple Arcade. Each of the game’s 24 levels features beautiful atmospheric designs that look particularly stunning on Apple’s 4K devices, while the overall gameplay is reminiscent of older PlayStation 3 platformer titles.

The game was first released in 2014, raking in high marks from critics and players while offering some of the best visuals among mobile games. The title’s quality is underscored by its enduring popularity several years later, as well as its 2014 Apple Design Award and App Store Best of 2014 award.

Though the title has been available on other platforms for a while, 2021 marks Leo’s Fortune‘s arrival on Apple Arcade, giving a new generation of players the chance to experience the platformer for the first time. 1337 & Senri’s mobile title is rated for players ages 9 and older.

Star Trek: Legends

Star Trek: Legends was one of many titles dropped on Apple Arcade back in April. The mobile game allows Trekkers to play as their favorite characters from every generation of the TV shows. Legends is an RPG with battles, turn-based combat, and exploration.

The game includes excellent 3D graphics for a mobile game, as well as the ability to download updates in the background while continuing to play. Legends gives Star Trek fans the opportunity to find and learn about new worlds in the sci-fi universe, operate the U.S.S. Artemis, and utilize classic abilities like the Vulcan nerve pinch.

Though many board, computer, and console games based on Star Trek have been released since the 1980s, the number of mobile games based on the hit is still limited. EA’s Star Trek: The Mobile Game kicked off the lineup back in 2009 as an Apple exclusive, spurring the release of another nine titles — including Legends — in the years since. The game is unique in that it allows players to shape the story’s outcomes by making a variety of choices during gameplay.

Star Trek: Legends is a single-player game is rated for gamers ages 9 and older.

The Oregon Trail

Gameloft’s The Oregon Trail arrived on Apple Arcade back in April, giving a new generation of players the opportunity to experience a reimagined version of the hit 1971 game by the same name. The Oregon Trail features a mixture of retro-like pixel art and more modern graphics, as well as a storyline that mixes “the totally extreme” in with historically accurate elements.

Gameloft’s The Oregon Trail is an excellent update to the classic game, giving kids the chance to see what all the hype is about, but with some important changes. Among other things, this new version of the game includes a better, more respectful representation of Native Americans compared to the original title.

As such, this title represents the first time The Oregon Trail has included the ability to play as Native American characters, learn about their history and cultures, and understand the impact westward expansion had on indigenous peoples.

The game’s developer rates The Oregon Trail as suitable for kids ages 12 and older; it supports controllers, but requires a somewhat hefty 2GB of storage space.

The Room Two

The Room Two, which arrived on Apple Arcade around the beginning of 2021, boasts nearly perfect ratings in the App Store at 4.9 out of 5 stars. The puzzle game tasks players with following a scientist’s letters as they explore a unique environment and try to solve a mystery.

This game was first released in 2013 on mobile and Windows PCs from Fireproof Studios. In addition to maintaining solid ratings in the years since, the title was also nominated for multiple awards, including the 2014 and 2015 BAFTA Games Awards.

Though first developed for the iPad, Fireproof later updated the game with support for the iPhone in 2014, followed by the Android version only weeks later. The Apple Arcade version of the game is called The Room Two+ and is rated for players ages 9 and older.

Angry Birds Reloaded

There’s a reason new Angry Birds games are still being made more than a decade after the initial game’s launch. The incredibly popular series returned earlier this year with the release of Angry Birds Reloaded on Apple Arcade, giving fans access to a variety of new birds, pigs, and puzzles to solve by launching birds at pigs.

Players can expect a total of 45 new levels in the Apple Arcade release of this Angry Birds game, a new Eagles game mode, and the same slingshot-based gameplay first experienced back in 2009. Angry Birds Reloaded is essentially a semi-remake of the original game, which won Casual Game of the Year and is notable as the first mobile game to ever get a Game of the Year nomination.

The classic gameplay and levels are joined by additional worlds based on the Angry Birds movies, as well as characters from some of the other games in the series. Angry Birds Reloaded is rated for kids ages 4 and older, plus there’s controller support and only a 460MB installation size.


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