5 iPhone Games that are Even Better on Apple TV

4th Generation Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone on app store game screen

 Apple Inc.

If you're a gamer setting up your Apple TV for the first time, here's a pretty great perk you may not know about: many of your favorite iPhone games are already available in the Apple TV App Store. Even better, some of them are universal, meaning the purchase you made on your iPhone or iPad will carry over to the Apple TV.

This isn't always the case mind you, and some developers are quick to double-dip (charging you on two platforms for the same game), but regardless of how they've decided to handle it, there are some fantastic iPhone games that are now playable on your TV.

In fact, we're even enjoying some of them more on the big screen than we have on our touch screens.

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A game that was pretty enough to earn Apple's Game of the Year in 2013, you'd better believe that BADLAND looks even better when blown up to living room size. And its striking visuals aren't the only thing to feel better in XL. The game's audio design is spectacular when pumped through your home theater system. It's a lot easier to get lost in a soundscape like this when you're not listening through the mediocre speaker on your iPhone.

The gameplay translates smoothly, too, thanks to a "one-touch" design scheme. You'll be guiding creatures through silhouetted landscapes by pressing and lifting your thumb on the Siri Remote -- no other inputs needed.

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Gameplay of Surfingers

Some games that hit the App Store provide a perfect little bite of high score mania; these are the sort of games that provide a single mechanic and a myriad of fast-moving challenges to overcome. Surfingers, a game about swiping waves up and down on your iPhone to create a safe path, is one such game.

Who would have thought it would be even more fun on your TV?

Offering the same single-swipe challenge as on the iPhone, players will quickly swipe up and down on their remotes to control the waves for their little surfer dude or dudette. Games are typically over in about a minute, making this the perfect way to pass the time while you're waiting for a friend to make popcorn before switching over to the Netflix app. 

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Steven Light: Attack the Universe

Steven Universe: Attack the Light
Cartoon Network

Whether you're a fan of the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe or not, Steven Universe: Attack the Light is a stellar example of an Apple TV role-playing game done right. The game was a critical darling when it first launched on the iPhone in 2015, but with the Siri Remote controls, you'd have a hard time believing it wasn't built from the ground up for your living room.

Players navigate through stages by swiping in the direction they'd like to go. This doesn't move the characters so much as it moves the rooms of each stage, allowing for fast travel. Like many RPGs, the combat here is turn-based; and like so many things on Apple TV, switching between heroes, abilities, and targets is as easy as swiping around on your remote.

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Pac-Man 256


While Crossy Road (with the addition of multiplayer) might have been the game Apple used to unveil the Apple TV, it's another game from the same developer that really has our attention. Hipster Whale's PAC-MAN 256 is a clever reinvention of a gaming stalwart and an experience that moves at a much brisker pace than their earlier road-crossing hit. 

Thanks to the simple "left, right, up, down" controls, PAC-MAN 256 has made an incredibly smooth transition to the Apple TV. And while it's still a blast to play in your pocket, being able to jump in for a few rounds of PAC-MAN between shows is just a natural fit for the device.

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Despicable Me: Minion Rush

Despicable Me: Minion Rush gameplay

Maybe it's because of the gameplay, maybe it's because of the adorable Minions from Despicable Me, but whatever the reason, there's no denying that Despicable Me: Minion Rush is one of the most popular endless runners to date. The game offers fast movement, plenty of obstacles, and more than enough reason to chuckle. 

If there's one thing we're quickly realizing, it's that iPhone games with simple controls seem to make the best transitions to Apple TV. Despicable Me: Minion Rush is no exception. But unlike some of the other selections, Minion Rush uses more than a simple tap or swipe. Players will use basic swipes to control direction, click to jump, and even tilt their Siri Remote during certain segments to navigate while sliding.

Despicable Me: Minion Rush still keeps things simple, but adds just enough bite to remind us that there can be more to a good game on Apple TV than a single tap or swipe.