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Apple TV Games

Apple TV Games

Using Dual Screen AirPlay and an iOS device, such as an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, it’s possible to play games on Apple TV. With this configuration the iOS device acts as a controller as gameplay is displayed on TV. With a touch screen and motion sensors, your iOS device provides an excellent gaming experience.

Let’s take a look at the most popular Dual Screen AirPlay games: Motion TennisBitBreaker, Ducati Challenge HD, Four In A Row, MetalStorm: Online, N.O.V.A. 3, Real Racing 3, SketchParty TV, The Incident, The Walking Dead: The Game and Zombie Gunship.

How to Setup Dual Screen AirPlay

Before reviewing Dual Screen AirPlay games, let’s explore how to enable this AirPlay feature. In order to use Dual Screen AirPlay, you need an iOS device, an Apple TV and a TV set. Your iOS device must support AirPlay Mirroring. The iPhone 4, for example, will not work as it does not support Mirroring. Compatible devices include: iPad 2 (or later), iPad mini, iPhone 4S (or later) and the 5th generation iPod Touch. The first generation Apple TV is not compatible with AirPlay Mirroring. The 2nd and 3rd generations models (the small, black “hockey pucks”) are required to play Dual Screen AirPlay games.

AirPlay must be configured before you can play video games on Apple TV. Make sure that your iOS device and Apple TV are on the same WiFi network. Next, turn on AirPlay screen mirroring on your iOS device. If you’re running iOS 7, slide up Control Center and tap on the AirPlay icon. A panel will pop up with AirPlay options. Tap “Apple TV” and then slide the Mirroring switch to On. You should see your iOS device’s screen mirrored on your TV.

turn on AirPlay screen mirroring

If you’re using iOS 6, activate AirPlay Screen Mirroring by double tapping the home button. Next, slide your finger to the right over the multi-tasking tray, until the media controls appear. Tap the AirPlay icon and tap on your Apple TV as the target, then switch Mirroring on. Your iOS device’s screen should appear on your TV. Turn on AirPlay Mirroring before you launch any of these games.

Turn on main AirPlay screen mirroring

Motion Tennis

Rolocule’s Motion Tennis is one of the most ambitious and innovative efforts to bring motion gaming to Apple TV. Using your iPhone or iPod touch as a motion controller, users can play tennis on Apple TV. Motion Tennis goes beyond the basics and provides a feature-rich tennis experience.

Motion Tennis features a smooth and lag-free gaming experience, thanks to software optimizations that mitigate AirPlay Mirroring lags. To be fair, most of the games featured in this article don’t have noticeable lag. Professional game developers realize that poor gaming performance is simply unacceptable.

Going beyond the basics, players can connect two iOS devices for a multiplayer game. The app also calculates the amount of calories burned, making it a fun way to get fit. You can even customize the tennis environment, with choices of grass, clay or synthetic courts. Gameplay is exceptionally realistic, with the ability to perform groundstrokes, lobs, and slices while accurately directing the ball with precise motion detection.

Motion Tennis requires a fairly recent iOS device in order to work. The game runs on the iPhone 4S (or later) and the 5th generation iPod touch. These devices must be running iOS 6 or later. An Apple TV (2nd or 3rd gen) is also required. At $7.99 the game seems a bit pricey, but it has a lot to offer. The developers clearly put a lot of effort into this game. It’s much less expensive than a gym membership or even a can of tennis balls.

Motion Tennis is just the tip of the iceberg for software developer Rolocule. More motion controlled Apple TV games are in the works. They plan to create a suite of games, turning Apple TV into a motion controlled game console.

price: $7.99

tip: Use Motion Tennis to add some fun to your exercise routine.


For those who want a fun way to exercise, BitBreaker brings motion sensing gaming to the Apple ecosystem. Similar to Breakout, the objective of the game is to destroy bricks in a wall by bouncing a ball off a moving paddle.

Active Theory Inc brings a new twist to this arcade classic. After enabling AirPlay mirroring and starting the app, the user places their iOS device on the ground, making sure to take a few steps away from the device. The paddle is controlled by moving one’s body to the left or right. Users can fire off a power shot by jumping.

Apple recently made headlines by acquiring PrimeSense, the company that created the Kinect motion sensing technology used in Microsoft’s XBox. The developers of BitBreaker have demonstrated that motion sensing technology is already possible with the existing Apple ecosystem. After all, most iOS devices have a camera, which is all that’s needed to detect motion. It’s not an easy task — there’s a lot of visual noise to filter out.

I’m impressed by Active Theory’s creation. This app gets great reviews. It makes exercise fun! Active Theory has created a few other apps to make exercise more enjoyable. Fit Freeway Lite is a racing game that works with exercise bikes and elliptical machines. It senses vibrations in the exercise equipment, which controls acceleration. The user steers with head movements. Fit Freeway Lite isn’t an AirPlay Dual Screen game, however. It’s just another innovative app from this creative developer.

price: free

tip: Use this app daily for exercise. It will add some fun to your workout.

BitBreaker Dual Screen AirPlay game for Apple TV

Ducati Challenge

If you have a need for speed, Ducati Challenge is the game for you. This popular motorcycle racing game can be played on your iOS device or in stunning 1080p HD on your Apple TV. Players can choose between a quick challenge race and a multiplayer game. The multiplayer game allows 4 users to play head-to-head on the same WiFi Network. Additionally, the game offers different HUDs (heads up display), enabling different views of performance and progress indicators.

The motion sensors in your iOS device are used to play the game. You steer the motorcycle by tilting the device. The accelerator and breaks are controlled by pressing the onscreen buttons. These can also be controlled by tilting the device up or down, using the device’s accelerometer. Players can also use a virtual joystick to control the game. This can come in handy if you’re playing the game while travelling. In AirPlay Dual Screen mode, your iOS device becomes the controller, and the gameplay is displayed on your TV. Tapping the camera icon on the control screen changes the point-of-view.

Overall, the game is a pleasure to play. The controls are responsive. The only issue is that there is the occasional lag in gameplay, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment. The developer, Digital Tales, clearly put a lot of work into this game. They seem to have thought of everything. It has great graphics, is highly customizable, and features responsive controls.

price: Free and $2.99 versions, both support Dual Screen AirPlay. The full version features more bikes, race tracks and an ad-free user experience.

tip: Tap on the screen to move past the credits and introductory screens. Also, make sure to turn on AirPlay Mirroring before starting the game. (continue…)

Ducati Challenge iPad control screen for Apple TV Dual Screen AirPlay game

Four In A Row

While not the most exciting game, TapMedia Publishing’s Four In A Row is good, clean family fun. The game is a knock-off of the popular Hasbro game Connect Four. Players drop virtual pieces into a suspended grid, trying to get four in a row.

The most surprising aspect of this game is that it requires Apple TV and AirPlay mirroring to work. The game doesn’t work without these other Apple products. Four In A Row is not an amazing experience, but it can be good clean family fun. It’s inexpensive and can be a bit of a brain teaser. There is strategy involved. The game can be challenging if you’re playing a sharp opponent.

price: $0.99

tip: Players can compete against the computer for a real challenge.

Four in a Row Dual Screen AirPlay game for Apple TV

MetalStorm: Online

MetalStorm: Online is a popular aerial combat game. Players wage simulated warfare, flying state-of-the art military jets. The game features three modes — campaign, versus mode, and survival mode. In campaign mode, the user embarks on an epic battle spanning several single-player missions. Versus mode allows players to combat online opponents using their Game Center account. Survival mode pits the player with wave after wave of attacks, allowing an online friend to join the battle.

Using AirPlay Dual Screen technology, players can use their iOS device to control the game, which is projected on TV. The controls are simple and intuitive. Tilting the device controls the plane. Weapons and other features are controlled by tapping virtual buttons on your iOS device’s screen.

Metal Storm: Online on Apple TV

MetalStorm cockpit controller on iPad

Game play is surprisingly smooth, even when playing online opponents. MetalStorm: Online is one of my favorite iOS games. Dual Screen AirPlay mode makes it even better.

price: Free, with optional in-app purchases of credits to buy weapons, planes and other virtual products.

tip: You can earn “coins” by playing the game and watching advertisements. The coins can be spent on planes, missiles, and other virtual products.

N.O.V.A. 3

Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance 3 is a highly complicated first person shooter, similar to HALO. This science fiction oriented game revolves around Kal Wardin, and exiled human, who returns to Earth in order to free mankind. This is an epic game with battles taking place across the galaxy.

N.O.V.A. 3 has excellent support for Dual Screen AirPlay. As with most games supporting this technology, your iOS device is transformed into a controller. The graphics for this one are amazing on a flat screen TV. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a lag. Also, the complexity of this game can make it a bit difficult to control the game while focusing on the gameplay on TV. With enough practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

Much like HALO, N.O.V.A. 3 also supports online gaming. Users can play a variety of game scenarios with up to 12 players on 7 different maps. Players can enjoy games such as capture the flag, free-for-all, capture the point, and four other modes. N.O.V.A. 3 also supports audio chat. Now you can “talk smack” while you’re playing friends, co-workers, and frenemies.

price: $6.99

tip: Use the Duo Gamer game controller for even better gameplay.

Real Racing 3

Electronic Arts has created yet another masterpiece with Real Racing 3. This car racing game is the top free app in over 90 countries and has won numerous awards. After playing this game, I can honestly say it does live up to all the hype.

Real Racing 3 is extremely realistic, as its name implies. An enormous amount of effort has gone into making sure the cars, drivers and tracks are just like the real world. You can choose from over 70 vehicles with makes including Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. Players can race these cars on 12 authentic tracks, including Circuit de Catalunya, Dubai Autodrome and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. One can compete in over 1500 events, change camera angles and modify the HUD.

Like many iOS games, Real Racing 3 is very social. You can race people around the world using Game Center. The graphics on this game are incredible. Even the rear view mirrors look realistic and reflect the road behind you. Real Racing 3 is incredibly realistic and well done. It’s what you’d expect from a company like Electronic Arts.

price: Free version with optional in-app purchases.

tip: You can earn credits for in-app purchases by playing the game.

Sketch Party TV

A fun game can often breathe life into a dull party. SketchParty TV is similar to Pictionary, but played on an iOS device. Using AirPlay Mirroring, everyone at the party can follow the game on the big screen.

SketchParty TV is a team game. The game supports up to 16 players, with 8 on each team. The active player is presented with a word on the iOS device, which is not displayed on TV. The player attempts to draw the word on the device, which appears on Apple TV. There’s only a limited amount of time to guess the word. The game keeps track of players, timing and scoring, making it even easier to play than Pictionary. After all, people want to have fun at a party. SketchParty TV removes the burden of being responsible for scoring, timing, and other mundane aspects of a Pictionary-type game.

price: $4.99

tip: Make sure your guests haven’t had too much to drink or they might drop your device.

The Incident

Fans of retro-style arcade games are sure to enjoy The Incident. This amusing game centers around protagonist Frank Solway, who navigates a post-apocalyptic world. This may sound gloomy, but it’s actually done in a cute and cartoonish way.

This is a retro-style game, so one shouldn’t expect the high-end graphics found in today’s first person shooters. The graphics are on par with classic games like Donkey Kong or Super Mario Brothers. Much like these classics, the game is very easy to play. Tilting your device moves the player and tapping the screen makes him jump. As debris drops from the sky, one must move Frank in order to dodge objects and climb upward. Players can shove debris to move and stack it, enabling Frank to climb or build shelter. It’s really quite fun.

The Incident seems basic at first glance, but offers some innovative features. Players can use another iOS device as a controller. For example, you can use your iPad as the screen and your iPhone as a controller. While the full version has proper support for AirPlay Dual Screen mode, even the free version works well with AirPlay Mirroring.

price: free version and $0.99 full version

tip: The full version allows players to compete online using Game Center.

The Walking Dead: The Game

If you love the AMC show The Walking Dead, the iOS game will not disappoint. The game actually is based more closely on the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman. The comic-styled graphics are lifted straight from the pages of The Walking Dead graphic novels. This game is not intended for children and carries a 17+ rating.

One of the most amazing aspects of this game is that you must live with the consequences of your actions. As you play, the decisions you make dictate how the story will unfold. There’s continuity, as opposed to simplistic games where you lose a life and everything starts over, like a cartoon.

The Walking Dead is a combination interactive movie and action game. In some parts of the game, the player interacts by selecting preset replies in order to participate in a conversation. This shapes the storyline. In other vignettes, the player must react quickly to fight off walkers and stay alive. Overall, it’s a fun game and quite an ambitious endeavor. It’s so much easier to use a touch screen as a controller, as opposed to playing the game with a computer keyboard. In many respects, these iOS games are superior to their PC counterparts.

Although Dual Screen AirPlay mode is supported, it really just mirrors the display in wide-screen. Regular iOS games will just display the game in the standard 4:3 screen ratio. This isn’t a drawback, however. It’s much easier to play the game when you can look down at your iPad. With the cinematic graphics and great sound, it’s quite an experience on the big screen. The game developers recommend playing the game with headphones. It also sounds great with TV speakers and even better if your system is connected to a stereo.

Users can make in-app purchases to add more story modules. This game is epic and has a compelling story. Much like the AMC show, it has me on the edge of my seat. Being an interactive game, you can play it over and over, making different choices. This may be the future of media. Instead of just watching a movie, you can interact with it. There is also a sequel to this video game — The Walking Dead: The Game – Season 2.

price: The Walking Dead: The Game – free with in-app purchases; The Walking Dead: The Game Season 2 – $4.99;

tip: There’s a lot of The Walking Dead games and apps in the App Store. The games featured in this article were developed by Telltale Inc.

Zombie Gunship

If The Walking Dead hasn’t satiated your need to kill zombies, Zombie Gunship might help. This action game puts the player in the cockpit of an AC-130 military plane in a battle against zombies. It may seem like an unfair battle, but the waves of zombie attackers are relentless. The game features 3D night vision and a choice of weaponry, including a 25mm Gatling gun, a 40mm Bofors auto-cannon and a 105mm Howitzer. These weapons are upgradable as players earn virtual credit in the game.

The object of the game is to protect the bunker and rescue the humans. After all, zombies are on the ground, making it impossible for them to damage an AC-130. Once a zombie has breached the safety of the bunker, the game is over. This is a refreshing change from most games, where the player sustains damage or has a finite amount of lives. Players battle walking zombies and big zombies while attempting to rescue humans on the ground. Every rescued human yields 100 coins, which can be used to upgrade weapons.

The game features four different maps, offering different terrains. AirPlay Dual Screen mode beams gameplay onto your TV, with your iOS device acting as a controller. In Dual Screen mode, the iOS device features a unique “tactical view” as gameplay is beamed onto Apple TV.

price: $0.99

tip: Use iCloud to save game progress to the cloud. You can start a game on your iPad and resume it later on your iPhone or iPod touch.

Apple TV as a Gaming Platform

AirPlay Dual Screen mode opens up a whole new world of gaming for iOS users. The ten games featured in this article directly support Dual Screen AirPlay, but just about any game can be played using AirPlay Mirroring. Although the game will not have a dedicated controller screen, you can still play the game on your iOS device and watch the action on your TV. The Infinity Blade series of games works quite well with AirPlay Mirroring, even if this isn’t by design.

Many tech writers predict that Apple TV will evolve into a gaming platform. To some extent, this is true today. In the near future, it could be possible to play games on an Apple TV without an iOS device doing the heavy lifting. Apple TV features the same A4 or A5 processor as an iPhone 4 or iPad 2. It runs a special version of iOS. With an 8GB solid state drive, it is possible to store very complicated games. The most complicated game featured in this article, Real Racing 2, takes up 1.5 GB of space. Most games don’t even use 300MB. It’s possible to store quite a few games on existing Apple TV models, with plenty of room for buffering streaming video and downloading movies. Apple TV’s BlueTooth support could enable the use of third-party gaming controllers. As Apple TV evolves, I expect to see it directly support gaming.


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