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Tom’s Guide
Tom’s Guide
Kate Kozuch

This is the year I became an Apple Arcade believer — here are my 5 favorite games

Lego Star Wars: Castaways on iPhone.

Apple Arcade launched in 2019, introducing a subscription-based gaming service to iOS, iPadOS, macOS and tvOS. So, why did it take me until this year to finally try the platform out?

After spending countless hours playing dozens of Apple Arcade games, I’ve been asking myself that very question. Not only does Apple Arcade have offerings in every popular genre, but new titles are regularly added. In fact, nearly 60 games were added to Apple Arcade in 2023 alone.

While some games are made specifically for Apple Arcade, others are adapted from major game console titles. Two of the best Switch games even landed on Apple Arcade a few months back, for example.

Apple Arcade costs $6.99/month and can be shared among up to five family members. Access is also included for Apple One subscription, which starts at $19.95/month for individual users. There are free trial offers to take the service for a test drive first, too.  

I find it’s worth the price if you’re someone who tends to dabble in multiple games at once. When it comes to mobile gaming, I’m one of those people who plays a couple minutes of a game before moving on to another. That said, there are a few games I simply couldn’t get enough of this year.

LEGO Star Wars: Castaways

(Image credit: Gameloft)

Put LEGO and Star Wars in the same sentence, and you have my attention. Lego Star Wars: Castaways takes place on an island planet designed entirely of Lego bricks, where you and other online players can level up and explore, or participate in small side quests by request of the locals. Otherwise, you spend your time transporting your character to iconic Star Wars scenes to repair corrupted simulations.

The in-game missions have the feel of other Lego Star Wars games such as Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. You shoot at random objects to collect coins (called databits), take down enemies, and revive as many times as you need to proceed. In the starfighter simulations, you fly through battle scenes to destroy TIE fighters and blow up targets. My favorite, obviously, is the Death Star trench run.

Download Lego Star Wars: Castaways

Crossword Jam+

(Image credit: PlaySimple Games)

I’m as loyal as anyone to the daily NYT Crossword, but sometimes, I don’t have the brainpower to solve clues. Instead, I want to look at a crossword-style grid and fill it in based on available letters. At least, that’s what I realized after downloading Crossword Jam+.

While it’s true that it should be labeled as a word search instead of a crossword, Crossword Jam+ is one of those games that will relax your mind. Even after completing hundreds of levels, I don’t find it particularly difficult, but it’s an easy way to pass some time. There are enough in-game challenges to keep me entertained, while the travel theme switches up the game design every couple of puzzles. 

Download Crossword Jam+

Sneaky Sasquatch

(Image credit: RAC7)

Sneaky Sasquatch’s spot in Apple Arcade’s top games list is practically permanent, and for a good reason. This adventure game is as endearing as they come, as you start by tip-toeing around campsites as an adorable Sasquatch in search of food. Eventually the Sasquatch finds itself taking on all sorts of funny tasks to piece together a treasure map. 

The main storyline is simply enough to follow, but I made the most of the game by exploring easter eggs and playing the mini-games to earn some gold. I mean, what’s not to love about a skiing Sasquatch?

Download Sneaky Sasquatch

Cityscapes: Sim Builder

(Image credit: Magic Fuel Games)

Unlike some of my other favorite Apple Arcade games, Cityscapes: Sim Builder is far from relaxing. As the first city sim available on Apple Arcade, it has all the makings of a game that can suck you into a virtual world for hours as you cater to a growing community in constant need of attention. Taking on the role of mayor, I’m invested in addressing my citizen's needs by building new roads, shopping centers, apartments and other facilities. 

The game also has a modern sensibility with a focus on sustainability. I like that I can build windmills and parks to balance the pollution generated in the city. Between solving problems and completing tasks, Cityscapes: Sim Builder offers non-stop play.

Download Cityscapes: Sim Builder 

Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition

(Image credit: Gameloft)

As one of the most recent additions to Apple Arcade, Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition is a spin on one of the best cozy Switch games. While progress doesn’t carry over from where you might play Disney Dreamlight Valley elsewhere, it’s a great starting point for anyone who’s never played before.

It’s essentially Animal Crossing, but in a world of all things Disney. You’re tasked with cleaning up your town, but you’ll run into familiar faces — good and bad — along the way. My favorite thing about this game is how it connects me to my inner child. I get just as excited to unlock new characters as I did finding them at Disney World as a 6-year-old.

Download Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition

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