The Apple Watch doesn't seem obviously suited to gaming, thanks to its small screen and necessarily one-handed control method. (Admittedly, those things didn't hold back the Game & Watch.) But with Apple's enormous user base buying the watch in large numbers, the stage is set for canny games developers to swoop in and make a killing.
Games devs will need to work with the limitations of the hardware and come up with something innovative and fun, but there are plenty of companies with the experience and skills to do this. After all, many of the best games on iOS are ones that embrace its compact, bite-sized nature and touchscreen controls: it's hard to imagine Super Hexagon and Ridiculous Fishing being made in a world of consoles.
Here, we look at the best games on the Apple Watch currently available. If you're more of a mobile gamer, we've got a selection of amazing iPhone and iPad games and for Mac gamers, the best Mac games you can play.
Best Apple Watch games of 2019
Pokemon GO on the Apple Watch isn't quite the same as it is on the iPhone - you can't actually catch Pokemon, but it will alert you to nearby Pokemon and Poke-stops and allows you to hatch eggs without having the mobile app open. It'll even log each session as a workout, prompting you to walk further and faster than when playing on mobile.
Admittedly it isn't a standalone game - whenever you're notified about a nearby Pokemon or Pokestop, you'll have to get your phone out of your pocket to interact, but it's a good middle-ground between using the app and paying out for the Pokemon GO Plus bracelet.
Free | Pokemon GO on the App Store
A free-to-play, IAP-dependent puzzler in the style of Candy Crush, Best Fiends isn't the sort of iPhone game we pay-snobs tend to go for, but they're crowd-pleasers. Gamers find themselves exploring the lands of Minutia, trying to find treasure and avoid dangerous obstacles with turn-based gameplay (on the watch anyway). Unlock rewards that can be used in the Best Fiends app for your iPhone to upgrade your characters, discover new powers and defeat your enemies, the Slugs.
Free | Best Fiends on the App Store
Developed by Square Enix - high-pedigree makers of such vintage RPGs as Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana - Cosmos Rings is being talked up as the world's first RPG exclusive to the Apple Watch. Whether that's accurate or not, we're still pretty excited about this slick offering.
True to the publisher's legacy, Cosmos Rings is a roleplaying adventure, but it's one that is tuned to the strengths and limitations of the Apple Watch: it's simplistic and playable in tiny bursts… or you can just let it play itself most of the time. You'll need the screen on for the boss fights and during the last three minutes of each play attempt, but otherwise there's gradual progress being made while you're in a meeting or taking a nap. That's handy.
But if you actually pay the game a small amount of attention, the rewards and progress are significantly amplified. In battle, you can tap the screen to bring up your skill relics, which recharge and rotate into view when available - and tapping each one adds, for instance, a massive power boost to your next attack. Keep tapping these skills in succession and you'll create even more damaging chain attacks.
You can be hands-on or laissez-faire, then, but we like the choice: you'll still make slow and steady progress simply by checking in a few times during the day, or you can spend a couple minutes really playing it and significantly enhance the rewards.
The premium price point might surprise some mobile gaming fans, but Cosmos Rings has been rocking our wrists since it launched. We've been pulled into its progressive grind more so than with any other Apple Watch game to date.
Lifeline offers an interesting take with regards to gaming on the Apple Watch. While many other Apple Watch games try to replicate a traditional gaming experience, Lifeline utilises push notifications that take you through a story shaped by your own decisions. Players speak to an astronaut, Taylor, a member of a crew that crash-landed on an alien moon. He (or she - it's never specified which) suspects that he is the last surviving member, and the only person he has been able to contact is you. Together, you make decisions that will help Taylor stay alive (or not, as the case may be).
The other interesting feature of Lifeline is that it happens in real time. If Taylor says it'll take him an hour to reach the shipwreck, it'll take an hour in real life. Just go about your day, and you'll receive a notification (or communication alert if you're using your imagination) once he has arrived. It's a very interesting game to play, and can be played on the Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad.
Those that can't get enough will be happy to know that there's a sequel; Lifeline 2, where players meet Arika, a woman trying to avenge her family while saving the human race at the same time.
£1.99 | Lifeline on the App Store
Nuggetz is a fun reaction-based game for the Apple Watch, based upon the Stroop effect. The rules of the game are pretty simple; name the colour of the word that is written, not the word itself. So if the writing is blue but it reads yellow, the answer is blue. Although it sounds simple, add pressure to the mix and it becomes pretty challenging - especially as your score gets higher. Once you get one wrong, the game is over!
Nuggetz runs natively, which means you don't need to be connected to your iPhone or have an active internet connection to play the game. As with Trivia Crack, it's a fairly simple game to play that'll keep you entertained for 5-10 minutes when you've got a bit of spare time, and requires little effort to play.
Free | Nuggetz on the App Store
The look of Rules! is gorgeous: tastefully artistic, while somehow remaining colourful and, yes, cute. The idea behind the app is to get your daily brain workout whenever you've got a few minutes spare, and is comprised of 10 different stages. Your progress is recorded daily and you can find detailed statistics via the iOS app. Despite the against-the-clock element, this feels like it could be a restful mind-stretcher rather than a stressful brain-buster, and the bite-sized micro-puzzle format is perfect for a watch.
£2.99 | Rules! on the App Store
Runeblade is a game tailored for Apple Watch, according to its developers, and was coined as being "the first fantasy adventure on a smartwatch" when it launched back in April 2015. Designed for glance-based gameplay, it works using push notifications with custom actions. The game offers a horde of mythological monsters and bosses, enchanted runes, spells, magical artefacts and more, which should be exciting for any RPG fan. We're really interested in Runeblade because it's a proper RPG, or something approaching it at least.
Free | Runeblade on the App Store
The word puzzle broken down into its subatomic component parts, Snappy Word couldn't be much simpler: you get four letters and then happily tap them to make words. You have to make as many words as possible (hopefully non-rude, despite the four-letter setup) in 30 seconds.
The minimalist aesthetic is great, and this feels like kind of the puzzle game that Jony Ive would design. Except that Snappy Word is free, and will contain adverts. Ugh, adverts on a wearable - welcome to the future.
Free | Snappy Word on the App Store
Sonic Dash 2
Sonic Dash 2 is the sequel to the hugely popular endless runner Sonic Dash. The second game in the series brought with it a number of improvements, both in terms of graphics and gameplay. Although the game itself isn't available for the Apple Watch, it does offer an interesting Apple Watch companion app that allows players to access new prizes when they play the game on their iPhone.
Using the suite of built-in sensors on the Apple Watch, gamers can earn in-game prizes simply by running and walking. Once you've covered a certain distance (this distance isn't specified in-app) you'll receive prizes that can be redeemed and used when playing Sonic Dash 2 on your iOS device.
This promising sell from the studio that brought you the entertainingly bad-taste dexterity challenge Surgeon Simulator is based on real-time notifications. The idea is that your agent, off somewhere having dangerous spy-themed adventures in the field, periodically calls in for guidance, and these calls are relayed to you in the form of notifications. You need to respond to the options available on your Apple Watch and tell him or her what to do; but the killer part is that if you (the real-life you, not the in-game spymaster) haven't got time to deal with it right now - at the orthodontist, your brother's wedding or your daughter's ballet recital - then the agent will be forced to choose for themselves, with (one imagines) perilous consequences.
£1.49 | Spy_Watch on the App Store [not currently available on UK store]
Tamagotchi Classic is, as you've probably guessed, the digital pet we all knew and loved back in the 90s, only now it lives on your iPhone and Apple Watch instead of a cheap, plastic egg. Just like with the original, you're able to give your Tamagotchi food, clean up their droppings and play with them. But unlike with the original, you'll receive a notification on your Apple Watch whenever they require anything. Hopefully that'll help them survive more than a few days!
The app allows you to look after your Tamogotchi on both your wrist and iPhone, whichever is easier for you. It's worth noting that the iOS app offers two modes - 'Toy Mode', which displays the original Tamagotchi on-screen for you use (along with its e-ink display), as well as an 'App Mode' that's fully touchscreen-enabled and offers a 21st-century look at the Tamogotchi, with vibrant colours and a fully featured design.
Trivia Crack is a great time for the Apple Watch if you've got a few minutes spare and want to test your general knowledge. Simply open the app on your watch and you've got access to hundreds of trivia questions, selected by spinning a wheel of fortune-esque spinner wheel. Categories include geography, entertainment, science and art, and the game will pair you up with a random opponent from across the world where you can battle it out (we're beating our opponent 3-0 at the time of writing).
You can also set up your own trivia questions using the iPhone app, making the game more personal to you and your friends. While it won't keep you entertained for hours on end, it's a cool free app that'll waste 5 to 10 minutes when you've got a spare moment.
Twisty Color is a game for the Apple Watch that utilises the digital crown for control. The idea of using the digital crown instead of touchscreen input on the Apple Watch is a great idea, as the screen is small and tapping it will often obstruct your view of the screen - not ideal for gaming.
Twisty Color is simple to play, but fairly addictive. You'll find coloured bullets headed towards the Twister in the middle of the screen, and all you need to do is rotate the Twister to match the colour of the incoming bullets. You start with three lives, and each time you mismatch a colour to the incoming bullet, you'll lose a life. Simple, but extremely effective. It's worth noting that while it's available on the iPhone App Store, you can only play the game on the Apple Watch.
Here's one last option for the more adventurous.
An app developer named Gabriel O'Flaherty-Chan has created a Game Boy emulator for the Apple Watch Series 2. You can run Pokemon Yellow (shown below) or a variety of other Game Boy titles.
There are plenty of issues - just controlling games intended for a handheld console on a tiny touchscreen display is a major challenge - and it won't be officially sanctioned by Apple so don't expect to see this on the App Store any time soon. But if you're keen to try it for yourself, the code is available on GitHub.