I’ve been wanting to make a video about gaming on the Apple TV for awhile now, but it took me several months because I kept waiting for more games to come out that were really worth playing.
And if I sound a little disappointed it’s because it’s not quite the gaming experience I was hoping for. BUT the truth is that gaming on the Apple TV isn’t bad, not at all. It’s just nothing like a console. You’re not going to get PS4 or Xbox One graphics or even the same type of game selection.
The main reason for this is the 200 MB limit that Apple placed on developers which means that the static resources for an app can’t exceed 200 MB and that any additional resources must be downloaded on-demand. So basically: you’re stuck with pretty small game sizes. For comparison, the game install sizes for different titles in the Call of Duty series for the PS4 range in size from about 30 to 40 GB!
That said there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had gaming on the Apple TV once get your expectations set in the right place.
So what should you expect in terms of what types of games are available on the Apple TV? Basically… by and large it’s iOS games that have been tweaked for your TV.
Obviously this list is pure opinion and you might disagree but hopefully you’ll at least get a good idea of what’s out there. But stick around to the end of the video if you’re interested in a few games I think you should avoid (and trust me, a few of them might surprise you).
#1 Geometry Wars Dimensions Evolved
Geometry Wars has been around on the iPhone for quite awhile now and I have to admit I skipped it until the Apple TV version was released, but now it’s one of my favorite time killers.
I definitely love the graphics of this game and I think calling it completely unique is almost an understatement.
So in this game you pilot a ship which auto fires at nearby enemies. You also get to choose a drone to hover nearby and help you out and each drone has a special ability. One’s a sniper, one covers your back and one circles around you providing a shield of sorts, for example. The object of the game is basically to score enough points to move on to the next level while avoiding any collisions with an enemy — once that happens it’s game over.
And this is actually one of the few games that actually works really well with the Apple remote (and actually not all do, by the way).
So aside from the style there are plenty of things to like here: lots of levels, several upgrades, plenty of enemies and bosses and a pretty cool soundtrack.
In order to score upgrades like better drones and special abilities you’ll have to collect enough gems (or whatever those little green things that fly out of enemies are). And here’s a pro tip for you: there are a couple of levels that are FAR easier than others to earn gems on and if you play them for a few times you can level up really quickly (rather than just progressing along level to level) so be on the lookout for those.
This game is great for replayability since you can go back and and try to outdo previous scores.
Overall it’s quick to learn, fun to play and one of the few games worth spending real money on in the App Store at the moment.
#2 Asphalt 8
Now if you’re looking for more of a challenge I’d recommend checking out Asphalt 8. Yes, I know, this game has also been around for a long time on iOS, but it’s probably my favorite game on the Apple TV right now.
Now the graphics on this game are only decent, at best, and there are times when you can see a bit of aliasing and dropped frames during intro sequences, but this game is super fun — especially in online multiplayer.
Traditionally I’m a big Halo fan and love anything with some competition and there’s truly nothing close on the Apple TV right now. But if you like competing against real players online, there’s nothing better than Asphalt 8 right now.
To steer in this game you’ll tilt the remote left or right and I find this works WAY better than other driving and racing games that make you use the remote’s touch pad.
Now this is very much an arcade style game. Your car can get speed boosts and do tricks off jumps so it’s not very realistic but I think these elements add a lot to the game because players that know how to take advantage of them can get a leg up on the competition.
There are enough tracks to hold my interest and you can also race them in reverse so gameplay doesn’t get too stale, but still I find myself wishing there were a few more tracks to choose from.
But if multiplayer isn’t really your thing there are several fun single player modes you can play like competing against your car’s ghost from previous races.
Pro tip for you: don’t pay much attention to car classes and, in all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend paying for an expensive in-game car with real money. You would think that buying a Lamborghini would give you an easy advantage over all the other players racing around in Dodge Darts, but once you race with a supercar you’re only going to be playing other players who bought supercars too.
Still, some cars do handle better than others and I’ve found that the ??? is just about the best car you can buy for your money (either real or in-game). It’s definitely the best deal in Asphalt 8.
#3 Bullet Boy
So if you’re not a fan of shooters or racing games and are looking for something a bit more casual you might want to check out Bullet Boy.
This is a bizarre game where you control a kid wearing a bullet-shaped helmet as he flies out of various canons. That sounds weird, I know, but this game is actually of fun.
While the game controls are simple to the core — all you ever need to do is click the remote’s main button to fire — there are enough variables to keep things challenging. For instance, there are several types of canons. One is stationary, one rotates, some are moving… you get the point.
And then there are the upgrades like getting a rubber hat that lets you bounce off of surfaces (which can get you to some otherwise off limits areas) and a drill hat that lets you go straight through objects!
The graphics in this game definitely aren’t amazing but the game play is fun. I like that I can play a few levels here or there because they’re pretty short (and luckily there are several levels — I actually haven’t even reached the end of the game yet).
There’s also a subplot happening where you are trying to collect pieces of a statue or statues as you fly through the air in the different levels… ya… I haven’t even paid much attention to that.
Oceanhorn… Zelda… same thing, different name. This game really takes me back to the Super Nintendo days.
In this adventure game as you explore a series of islands, you’re trying to solve a mystery and you collect clues from various treasure chests and people. The gameplay itself is super easy, but there are several puzzles in the game that will challenge both kids and adults.
What I like about this game is it’s more engrossing than an arcade game. The story is so-so, but it’s still fun to make progress and investigate all the corners and caves of each island.
While there’s just a tad bit of fighting and shooting, the skill in this game is more intellectual as you try to piece things together.
#5 Sky Force
Sky Force is your typical top down shoot em up scroller game — just with far better graphics.
Basically you’re flying a plane that, big surprise, auto shoots but this time it just shoot straight ahead so it’s up to you to make sure you hit the enemy planes and ships.
You’re also trying to rescue hostages while avoiding getting hit by enemy fire or planes.
This is a good game in terms of providing some variety and you can grab some upgrades as you go to keep things interesting.
The bosses on this game are absolutely INSANE. They’re huge and some take up almost the entire TV screen.
But I have to say I can’t stand the voice telling me weapon upgrade every few seconds…
Personally I like Shooty Skies a lot better for this type of game but that’s not yet available for Apple TV.
- Rayman Adventures
- Crossy Road
- Snowboard Party 2
Games to stay away from:
- Galaxy on Fire Manticore rising: this game is so boring and disappointing.
- Fantastic Plastic: I just hated the controls here. There’s very little action.
- Battle Supremacy Evolution: I wanted to like this game but it just didn’t live up to the premise.
- Breakneck: this game is so basic it’s almost embarrassing.
- Zen Pinball: this game got me to download it for the Star Wars content. It’s so boring.