5 must-play games for the new Apple TV

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Our picks for the 5 best games out on Apple TV right now.
Our picks for the 5 best games out on Apple TV right now.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Apple TV’s killer feature is the App Store. And with an App Store comes games.

I don’t care what near-sighted gaming sites are saying. Sure, Apple’s new box doesn’t have a whole lot of gaming content yet, but it has some great offerings if you poke around a bit. I’m finding games for the new Apple TV that never grabbed my attention when they were on my iPhone or iPad, but seeing them up on the big screen pulled me right in.

Which are the best games for the Apple TV to check out right now, though? Here are our five favorites, in no particular order. Note that the links below will take you to the iTunes App Store. If you purchase them with the same iTunes ID you have set up on your Apple TV, they’ll appear in the “Purchased” tab of the little black puck’s App Store. Alternately, you can search for the game name directly from your TV.

So cute, so tricky, and so much fun.
So cute, so tricky, and so much fun.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Lumino City
Lumi’s grandfather is missing and you have to help her find him again, exploring a whimsical city environment by figuring out various mechanisms that power things. I mainly sat on the couch and watched my oldest kid run through this adorable, delightful puzzle game up on the big screen, it was that engaging. When I say “puzzle game,” though, don’t be afraid. These are some of the most sweet puzzles you’ve ever seen: find a delicious bun to give to an angry resident of Lumino City, play cigar-box guitar with a banjo-playing conductor, or place lemons on a electrical grid to get a guard’s TV set to work again. The visuals are top notch and wouldn’t look out of place in a traditional console game like Little Big Planet. The team crafted all the bits and bobs in the game by hand out of paper, card stock, miniature lights, and motors. The gameplay runs to about six to eight hours long, which makes it even more totally worth your $5, as there’s no other in-app purchases to bug you while you play.

Surprisingly addictive simplicity.
Surprisingly addictive simplicity.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Electro Ball
If you’re a fan of difficult yet addictive games like Flappy Bird, you’ll love Electro Ball. No, you won’t tap or click to flap a bird through various pipes, but rather move a ball around on screen to avoid electrical shocks. To be honest, this game never quite gelled for me on iOS; dragging my finger around on the actual play screen kept me from really enjoying the process. With the Siri Remote’s touch surface, though, Electro Ball’s quick-thinking game play is refreshingly fun. You just move the ball around, collect the little square points and avoid the shocks. Simple to learn, maddeningly difficult to get very far, but incredibly enjoyable. It’s free, too, which is a lovely feature.

Llamas, stars, and snowboards, oh my!
Llamas, stars, and snowboards, oh my!
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Alto’s Adventure
Another game that I never quite got into when I tried it on my iPad, Alto’s Adventure on the big screen has me spending some serious time gliding down snowy mountains on my snowboard, collecting llamas and avoiding rocks. Oh, and you can grind your way across various rails and pennant strings within the mountain village with the beautifully subdued color palette, too. I find myself blissing out to the gentle gameplay, willing to try again and again just to exprerience the Zen-like thrill of swooshing down the snowy mountains on my snowboard. One-click games are tough to get right, but Alto’s Adventure does so with style and grace.

Takes me back to the Zelda-style adventures of yore.
Takes me back to the Zelda-style adventures of yore.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Oceanhorn
Sure, this title will set you back $9, but it’s eminently worth every dollar. If you enjoy Legend of Zelda games from Nintendo, you’ll love this homage to everything Link. You’ll wake up as a young lad with potential on an island village, speak to the mysterious old man who lives nearby, and eventually travel by glorious sailboat (Wind Waker, anyone) to a ton of other islands, solving environmental puzzles and fighting baddies along the way. The visuals are drop-dead gorgeous, the controls work really well with both the Siri Remote and MFi gaming controllers, and while the dialog can be pretty cheesy, it’s a pretty spot-on tribute to the games we all grew up playing. Add to that an amazing soundtrack by famed Japanese composers Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy) and Kenji Ito (Seiken Densetsu). It’ll take you right back, for sure.

Geometry Wars 3 Apple TV
Crazy. Beautiful.
Photo: Sierra

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved – Arcade games can be pretty hit and miss at times. They have to be simple enough to just pick up anytime, but they also need to avoid being repetitive or boring. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved packs a ton of variety underneath its ridiculously unwieldy title. The basic idea is that you’re navigating a ship around 3D maps, destroying enemies and racking up the highest score you can. The Apple TV version is identical to the one we got on iOS, which means you can run the whole thing from your touchpad with one finger. Ideally, you’ll want a controller with a couple analog sticks to get complete control over your craft and where its shots go, but a mostly capable auto-fire mode lets you just focus on driving. With a bunch of modes and customizability through the friendly drones you unlock as you play, you’ll find plenty to do, and the killer soundtrack and gorgeous, neon visuals will keep you “just one more level”-ing for hours.

Additional reporting by Evan Killham