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Apple Arcade: Ranked - Top 25 [Updated 7.14]

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 14th, 2021

In case you missed it, I am on a quest to rank every Apple Arcade game there is.

Over a year into the Apple Arcade experiment, I’m adjusting my approach to these rankings to make it a bit less cumbersome to update and read. For the most part, this means the number of updates on previously released games will decrease, and the text below each entry will be kept to a brief-yet-accurate justification for its positioning.

This has less to do with the pace of Apple Arcade releases and more to do with the fact that the general quality of games on the service simply isn’t what it should be. In the time that one release comes to the service, multiple high quality games hit the App Store that you don’t have to pay monthly upkeep for. Unless something drastic changes with the service, my opinion on it probably won’t change much. With the most recent update bringing older established titles to the service, Arcade is certainly the strongest it has ever been, but additional shakeups like this will need to keep happening to finally sell me on the service.

Anyway, on with the ranking updates:

Game ranking updates for 7/14:

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 151+ [Updated 7.14]

Posted by Campbell Bird on May 11th, 2021

This is part 7 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126-150 | 151+


151. BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner

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Description:

Launch your bunny pilot into the skies to blast away baddies and collect coins. BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner combines the mechanics of a vertical shooter and a fishing game. As you are launched out on your journey, you want to blast as many things as possible, but when your rope runs out, you cast a net and want to collect as many coins and other currencies as possible. Upon your return, you can use your collectibles to upgrade your ship to take on harder airspaces.

Rank Explanation:

This game feels an awful lot like Ridiculous Fishing, but it is nowhere near as charming or satisfying. The overall game is also slow and poorly explained. BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner feels like a way to waste your time while buying upgrades. It’s certainly not the worst way to do that on Apple Arcade, but nothing about this game comes off as exciting or innovative.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 126-150 [Updated 7.14]

Posted by Campbell Bird on February 22nd, 2021

This is part 6 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126-150 | 151+


126. Stellar Commanders

Description:

A portrait-mode real-time strategy about planetary annihilation, Stellar Commanders pits two players against each other in a plodding race to see who can control the most territories before destroying the environment. Combat itself operates a lot like Clash Royale’s Elixr-based system, but involves a lot more management of node control, and subverting your opponent’s expectations.

Rank Explanation:

The store page for Stellar Commanders looks rad as hell. There’s helicopers, rockets, and tanks deploying simultaneously all over the planet. Too bad this isn’t really how the game plays, or—if it is—it’s not how things start. Matches in Stellar Commanders move at an odd, lumbering pace, where it never really feels like you’re particularly productive. You can only really do single actions at a time and spend a lot of time just waiting to see what your enemy does to see if you can counter it. To be clear, this can deliver satisfying moments from time to time, but it’s not enough to make it something you’ll want to return to regularly.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 26-50 [Updated 7.14]

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 29th, 2020

This is part 2 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126-150 | 151+


26. Reigns+

[img id="110255" alt=""][img id="110256" alt=""]

Description:

It's Reigns again! The first game in Nerial's now somewhat tired series of swipe-based management games is now on Apple Arcade. You play as a succession of kings that has to balance their kingdom's power between the church, people, military, and economy to complete achievements, discover new cards, and otherwise try to rule as long as possible.

Rank Explanation:

After being increasingly nonplussed by subsequent Reigns entries, I wasn't sure if the magic from the first game would still be there. As it turns out, the first game isn't all just novelty. It's still really good--almost better than I remember. It's whip-smart writing is the star, and doesn't get obscured by too many other gimmicks or puzzles like it does in later entries. If you're going to play one Reigns game on Apple Arcade, make it this one.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 101-125 [Updated 7.14]

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 29th, 2020

This is part 5 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126-150 | 151+


101. Little Orpheus

[img id="105521" alt=""]

Description:

Who would’ve thought that the creators of Dear Esther, a plodding and cerebral meditation on trauma, would be the same studio to make a game with a pitch like "what if we made Inside but with bright colors and there are cosmonauts and dinosaurs?" This is essentially what Little Orpheus is: A hollow, meandering romp of simple platforming set pieces accompanied by voiceover narration.

Rank Explanation:

Little Orpheus gestures at great ideas and fails to really execute on any of them. It looks great in screenshots, but is really clunky and borderline unplayable using touch. It evokes Inside, but does not have the same clever puzzle design or creativity. It’s supposed to be funny, but it’s voice actors charmingly quip without ever really landing a punchline. To its credit, I was intrigued by the game’s overarching narrative and its general style to see the whole thing through in short order, but I walked away from it being pretty disappointed.

Path of Giants review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on August 29th, 2019
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: PEAK PUZZLING
Path of Giants is an incredibly well-made traversal puzzler that prioritizes player experience.
Read The Full Review »

Linn: Path of Orchards review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on February 18th, 2019
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: LABORIOUS LEAPING
This platformer has neat ideas, but doesn’t execute on them in the best ways.
Read The Full Review »

Where Shadows Slumber review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on September 20th, 2018
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: REMAIN IN LIGHT
This puzzle game has its fair share of issues, but it’s worth seeing through to the end.
Read The Full Review »

What mobile gaming can learn from the Nintendo Switch

Posted by Harry Slater on January 16th, 2018

While Nintendo might not have had things all its own way since it began developing for mobile, one thing it has got right is the release of the Switch. After the disappointment of the WiiU, which I still can't really explain, the Switch felt a little make or break for the big N. And it's fair to say it fits squarely in the make category.

The things that the Switch does so successfully are things that I've been saying mobile gaming has needed to do for a while now. It just so happens that Nintendo has got there first. But that doesn't mean that the mobile gaming world doesn't have things it can learn from the Switch. Things like these.

GNOG review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on January 8th, 2018
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ROBUST ROBOTS
GNOG takes a simple emerging genre and smartly gives the additional depth it deserves.
Read The Full Review »

Starman: Tale of Light review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on November 13th, 2017
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: TALE OF LITE
Starman is a short but sweet artistic puzzler.
Read The Full Review »

Pathos review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on July 7th, 2017
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: FLIPPING GIMMICKS
Pathos is a puzzle game that struggles to find an identity.
Read The Full Review »

Monument Valley 2 review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on June 12th, 2017
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: PRETTY PUZZLES AGAIN
Sequels can be tough, especially when you have monumental shoes to fill.
Read The Full Review »

Monument Valley developers launch a new mindfulness app

Posted by Jessica Famularo on April 4th, 2017




Monument Valley developers ustwo have a new app out for iOS, though it might not be quite what you're expecting. Rather than a cerebral puzzle game, their latest project, in collaboration with Danish wellness company PauseAble, is a mindfulness tool. Sway allows you to relax and focus no matter where you are. Here's how it works.

5 calming mobile games to play while waiting for election results

Posted by Jessica Famularo on November 8th, 2016
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Polls are still open across the United States, and it will be a few more hours before we begin to get an idea for who the next president will be. No matter who you want to win, waiting is a stressful, anxiety-fuelled process. Don't drive yourself crazy! Instead, take a break from the news and try some of these ultra relaxing mobile games while you wait for the final results.