Apple Arcade gets NBA 2K21, Fantasian and some of the best iOS games ever

Apple Arcade gets NBA 2K21, Fantasian and some of the best iOS games ever
(Image credit: 2K)

It's a big day for Apple Arcade. That's because not only is it getting two huge titles with NBA 2K21 and Fantasian, but Apple is also adding a bunch of older classic iOS games to the $5/month subscription service. 

But let's start with the slam dunk-simple reasons to sign up today. NBA 2K21 dribbles its way onto iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple TVs today, bringing the current  2020-2021 season NBA roster, 5-on-5 basketball games on the court and online multiplayer via Game Center.

But wait that's not all. You'll also get street-game style play with the Blacktop Quick Match, for those who miss the lively games from Rucker Park. There's even a MyCAREER mode, with storylines and hours of gameplay.

If sports aren't your thing, then you may have heard about a little game called Fantasian. It's the latest RPG from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, and it too is available on Macs, iPhones, iPads and Apple TV for Apple Arcade subscribers. And while it's definitely an RPG, it has a completely different look to any of its predecessors: each scene looks more like a diorama. 

In Fantasian, you play as Leo, an amnesiac with only one memory, walking around a world wrecked by a massive explosion. It's also sporting an interesting battle dynamic called Dimengeon Battle, that involves using previously vanquished enemies. 

Fantasian also features a soundtrack from well-known Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu. All of this adds up to making Fantasian look like the kind of AAA-game that Apple Arcade has needed. Big names, beautiful aesthetic and ambitious storytelling. And just like NBA 2K21, you're going to want a video game controller to play it right.

Other Apple Arcade exclusives include Star Trek: Legends, Simon’s Cat: Story Time and a new Oregon Trail game. In a new Timeless Classics section, you'll find indie developer Zach Gage's Really Bad Chess and Good Sudoku, as well as Backgammon and Chess - Play & Learn.

Apple Arcade gains iOS classics

Those who are new to iOS, or just didn't pay for games back in the day (but now have Apple Arcade) should look for the section titled App Store Greats. There, you'll find beloved hits such as Monument Valley, Mini Metro, Threes!, Fruit Ninja Classic and Chameleon Run — titles you once had to pay for, but are now included with your subscription.

These classic titles, plus the other new additions, raise the Apple Arcade game count to more than 180 titles. Will this be the tipping point for Apple Arcade? Or does Apple need the rumored Apple TV 2021 to be the device that makes people take it seriously as a place to get great games. Only time shall tell. If Apple made its own gaming controller for the Apple TV, we bet it would have a better shot.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.