Crossy Road Castle is out on Apple Arcade, and it's not a bad way to spend time with your family

No microtransactions, thankfully

The Apple Arcade experience is still progressing (the $4,99 subscription service that works much like Xbox Game Pass), and it just got a boost this month with Crossy Road Castle, its latest exclusivity.

In case you missed the Crossy Road phenomenon, it was a Frogger-like game that took the world by storm, developed by a studio called Hipster Whale. It went on to spawn several spinoffs and arcade machines, and now it's coming home to roost in the platforming arena with its new incarnation: Castle.

If Road was a homage to the Konami classic, Castle in turn takes many cues from the Mario series. The idea is that up to four players can traverse giant randomized castles, which are divided by a series of boss fights. If you make it to the top floor, you win: if not, you get currency that can be applied to a slot machine that gives you access to more characters.

The joy of Crossy Road Castle is in its simplicity. If three of the players die in a given level and the fourth makes it to the exit: you're good. This makes it perfect for family play with people of different skill levels. This slot isn't as insidious as it sounds either, as Apple Arcade's "No Microtransactions" edict helps keep things fair. If you want these characters, you have to unlock them the old-fashioned way.

Races last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, and it should take experienced rigs around an hour to get a lay of the land to the point where they can conquer the first rainbow-themed castle. Other environments will appear periodically. And that's about it. Again, it's simplistic, but effective. With no microtransactions overhead and the ability to hook up four players (with support for PS4 and Xbox controllers), it's a great way to spend an afternoon.

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