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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

[img id="102099" alt=""][img id="102100" alt=""]

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.

Orwell's Animal Farm review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on December 11th, 2020
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: FARMING THE FORMULA
Orwell’s Animal Farm may look different, but feels all too familiar.
Read The Full Review »

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 - 51-75 [Updated 7.14]

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 29th, 2020

This is part 3 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

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


51. TinyCrossword+

[img id="110367" alt=""][img id="110368" alt=""]

Description:

TinyCrossword+ is exactly what it sounds like. This game serves up micro-puzzles with 5-6 rows and columns each and serves up clues for you to start filling in the blanks with. As you go, you unlock harder difficulties, which you might need to overcome with the help of some hints like random letter powerups, highlights of incorrect letters, or straight-up asking for the answer.

Rank Explanation:

A crossword is only as good as its clues, and the ones in TinyCrossword+ are solid. It covers a lot of ground between abbreviations, pop culture knowledge, idioms/sayings, and more with its riddle-like hints. I do wish the game's keyboard felt a little more snappy, and it only took me a dozen puzzles or so before I got a repeated clue, but knocking out a tiny crossword on the daily as part of my Apple Arcade experience feels nice nonetheless.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 76-100 [Updated 7.14]

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 29th, 2020

This is part 4 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

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


76. King’s League II

[img id="105976" alt=""]

Description:

King’s League II is basically the video game equivalent of plate-spinning. You are in charge of a team of fighters who spar in a kind of fighting league. Between fights though, you have to rest all of your fighters, train them, and secure increasing tributes to your team in order to win championships and advance to more challenging leagues. All of this moves along in real-time without a pause button, so you have to exercise sound judgement and manage time efficiently at all times.

Rank Explanation:

I really dig the structure of King’s League II, even though it can be hectic at times, but the game's combat just isn't engaging enough to keep me playing it for any significant amount of time. Fighters just bumble into each other and the team with higher numbers usually wins.

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.

Democratic Socialism Simulator review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on May 8th, 2020
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SWIPE FOR SOLIDARITY
Democratic Socialism Simulator imagines a world where the US government actually works for the people.
Read The Full Review »

InfiniteCorp review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on March 23rd, 2020
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: ROBO REIGNS
InfiniteCorp is a Reigns-like game that rewards you for contributing to the dysfunction of a cyberpunk society.
Read The Full Review »

Reigns: Game of Thrones review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on October 17th, 2018
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: A SONG OF SWIPING AND DYING
Nerial finds a way to breathe new life into two properties that are past their prime.
Read The Full Review »

Swipe Manager Soccer 2018 review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on August 13th, 2018
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: HE SWIPES
An unexpected mashup of Reigns and sports makes for a pretty delightful management game.
Read The Full Review »

Reigns: Her Majesty review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on December 7th, 2017
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: A WORTHY HEIR
The follow up to Reigns adds a ton of extra content while maintaining the same base formula.
Read The Full Review »

Underhand review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Campbell Bird on October 17th, 2017
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: GOD HAND
Underhand is a unique take on the Reigns formula and it's 100% free.
Read The Full Review »

The Talos Principle comes to mobile -- here are 7 other Devolver Digital games you should play

Posted by Jessica Famularo on October 12th, 2017



Sci-fi puzzler The Talos Principle arrived on the App Store this week. The game, which tells the tale of a newly awokened robot, is a philosophical story of what it means to be human, while the player explores over 100 different areas in a beautiful 3D space.

The game is published by Devolver Digital, who has a bounty of other fine indie titles on iOS. Here are seven of the best.