The latest batch of new games to Apple Arcade are here, and that means we're updating our coverage of the tech giant's burgeoning platform once more. March 2020 saw a new game hit Apple Arcade every week, including two that are so great, we expect to be playing them long into the year. Seriously, if you're a subscriber or thinking of becoming one, don't miss out on some of March's new additions.
With that in mind, we’ve put together our ranking of the 25 best games in Apple Arcade, which ultimately makes up less than a quarter of the ever-expanding library. Some tough cuts were made and some games rose and fell – even right out of the list in some cases – but in the end we think this is a list we can stand behind, and if you’re new to Apple Arcade, this is where to start.
We'll be sure to update this list of the best Apple Arcade games over time, as Apple continues to add new games to the platform frequently. For now, here are our picks for the top 25 games featured in Apple Arcade.
Apple Arcade Game of the Month: Roundguard
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Peggle, and those who have never played Peggle. If you're in the first group, you probably feel like a Peggle sequel is long overdue. After all, it's been six years since we got a new game in the series and today EA seems totally uninterested in doing much with the series other than operate the mobile version Peggle Blast. The problem with Peggle Blast is, like many mobile games, its predatory system of forced timers, pay-to-skip downtime, and power-ups that quickly feel vital yet rarely come for cheap.
Really that's been mobile gaming's problem for a long time, and just like Apple Arcade arrived to save mobile gamers from their ad- and microtransaction-heavy fates, so too has Roundguard delivered the Peggle sequel no one else bothered to make. Roundguard isn't just a great game in the spirit of PopCap's classic, either. It's one of the absolute best games on Apple Arcade.
Even among Peggle fans, it's unlikely anyone ever asked, "this is great, but where are the roguelite elements?" Fortunately the developers at Quantum Astrophysicists Guild (QAG) had the bright idea to ask it themselves, and the end result is a game that simultaneously feels out of left field and just about perfect at the same time.
The core gameplay is undeniably familiar, even as the color palette of Roundguard takes a less appealing medieval approach rather than the bubbly predecessor from PopCap. The controls and basic objective remains the same: aim and shoot a pinball down toward a Plinko-like level of scattered pegs. But instead of basic score-chasing, you choose a character class from three fantasy tropes: warrior, rogue, and wizard. Each comes with their own starter stats like HP, damage per hit, and mana, and these can all be improved over the course of a run.
I say "run" because Roundguard is a roguelite. Among the pegs you want to hit for gold, there are also enemies whom you can blast away with your blade or magic powers as you clink and clank around each level, but they always hit back too, so the game quickly elevates the Peggle formula by introducing a smart element of combat. No longer are you just measuring your shot trying to maximize a multiplier. Now you must consider when to attack, when to heal, and when you use your special abilities. If you drop down to 0 XP, you'll keep some bonuses but otherwise have to start over from scratch with a new hero.
Clear a dungeon, on the other hand, and you'll get to make several fun choices that expand the spiritual successor even further. First you choose between two power-ups to use. Some can heal you a bit when you collect gold, others can slash right through obstacles in your way to get that last enemy, there's a lot to see and I'm still finding new ones on subsequent runs. You carry two at any time and the deeper you get in a run, the better these power-ups become. You also get to choose which path you take on your quest by shooting the last ball into one of sometimes several pots that tease the enemies waiting on the other side.
Sometimes you may know you don't want to face off against spiders and their poison damage, so you may elect to take on more skeletons instead. Other times, you may have only one route through the next dungeon, and it may even be a boss on the other side which will regularly act as challenging but fair battles with huge rewards.
All of these systems are familiar to most avid gamers, but for a Peggle-like, they carry so much more weight. All those years clamoring for Peggle 3, I would've been satisfied with just another game in the vein that we had seen til now. But Roundguard reinvents the pinball by adding layers to the already irresistible gameplay loop.
Stylish trick shots, last-ball victories, and hitting the safety pad at the bottom (in Roundguard's case, a throne-like cushion) are all intact and just as reliable and fun as you remember. But now there's a lot more reason to play and it's hard to pause the game in the middle of a run, even as you will get through dozens of dungeons on a good day.
The procedurally generated levels makes replaying Roundguard much fresher than Peggle on consoles, and Apple Arcade makes it a cleaner, less predatory game than Peggle Blast. We've seen it time after time through these first few months of Apple Arcade, where a game reinvents a genre that had been buried under ads and paywalls previously on phones and tablets. Roundguard is just the latest and won't likely be the last, but it's unquestionably one of the very best so far and will likely remain that way years from now. It's that good.
There are a lot of qualifiers I could throw in front of my praise for Roundguard. "Best Apple Arcade game," "best mobile game," "best puzzle game," but let's make it simpler than any of that. Roundguard is, right now, a contender for my Game of the Year.
Turn to the next page to find our rundown of the best Apple Arcade games...