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Xbox Windows Phone version of AlphaJax to play its tiles right on November 28

AlphaJax Xbox version

Back in September, we reported that indie word game and Windows Phone exclusive AlphaJax would be upgraded to Xbox Live status (or is that Xbox Windows Phone status?) at long last. The game’s developer, Marker Metro has been a Windows Phone supporter since before the platform launched. That support finally paid off when they got Microsoft to pick up publishing rights for the Xbox Windows Phone version this year. Gamers will also reap the benefits of the upgrade quite soon, as the new version launches this Wednesday!

Words with pals

AlphaJax is a Scrabble-style multiplayer crossword game. Now, you might be wondering why should care about another Scrabble clone when the hugely popular Words With Friends just appeared on Windows Phone (at long last) earlier this month. Well, it comes down to preference but many players – including yours truly – prefer AlphaJax to Zynga’s game. For one thing, Marker Metro actually eager to support the Windows Phone platform, launching their game way back in December 2010. The much larger Zynga held out for quite a bit longer rather than helping the platform grow.

From a gameplay perspective, both games are quite similar. But the special scoring tiles appear in different locations on each game’s board, which affects scoring slightly. AlphaJax’s visuals also take better advantage of the Windows Phone screen’s real estate, whereas Words With Friends has a lot of wasted space. Overall I find AlphaJax is cleaner and easier to use, though both games are great.

Live alive

AlphaJax live tiles

AlphaJax is one of the few indie Windows Phone games to be republished as an Xbox-branded title, joining IonBallEX, Wordament, and Chickens Can’t Fly (technically a sequel). And let’s face it, that’s the reason many of us will choose to play AlphaJax over the non-Xbox Words With Friends.

The new version comes with 200 GamerScore worth of Xbox Live Achievements – see the full list at Xbox360Achievements. I fear the presence of Achievements will lead to rampant cheating within a certain crowd, though at a glance the list appears to be more reasonable than Wordament’s. Besides, you can always play with people you trust if cheating becomes an issue.

The other benefits of the Xbox upgrade include Xbox Live avatar integration and the ability to invite friends or other specific players by their Gamertags. In fact, avatars are displayed both on the friends list and at the top of the screen during gameplay. As an Xbox fan, I appreciate little touches like that. Finally, the game offers multiple Live tiles, including one that shows your opponent’s latest chat message.

Free for all

AlphaJax AchievementsThe Xbox –enabled AlphaJax will be a free, ad-supported game. It doesn’t look like people who previously purchased the paid indie version will be able to upgrade it to Xbox status, unfortunately. In fact, the indie version will become defunct at the end of the year when its servers shut down. Everyone will need to start fresh rankings-wise with the new game, just like when Wordament became Xbox-enabled.

If you’re a fan of word games or even just free games with Achievements, the new AlphaJax is something to get excited about. The only question is: will the online functions actually work at launch? Xbox Windows Phone games often suffer from server issues, which could happen again with this title. We’ll find out when the Microsoft Studios-published AlphaJax launches on Wednesday, November 28!

Thanks to TNTJudbud and TehParalyzer for the tip.

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Comments

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Djole77 says:

If its better than words by post I can see my self dumping the latter.
I hope push notifications will work better than those on wbp.

Paul Acevedo says:

Push notifications worked poorly in general on WP7. Fingers crossed that they just plain work right on WP8.

Flagz says:

My Push notifications work pretty well actually. Never had a problem except can't see which ones I missed while I was busy. That's known issue though.

Djole77 says:

push notifications is my main issue with wp7. Anyone know why they are crap on wp7? Is it the developers fault or microsoft's?

It's the developers fault.

x I'm tc says:

What doesn't work right with WBP notifications?  In my experience, they work perfectly, coming in within a second or two of eachother on my W8 laptop and my WP7 (and as of yesterday 8!) phone.
 
WPB is definitly the better game.

Djole77 says:

For me sometimes I get notifications and sometimes I don't. Its not consistent :(

Jakeway says:

indeed, I this was the first multiplayer game I played on WP7 (before mango) and it worked fantasicly well. 
 
Its has much better performance they Words With Friends. 

Tahiti Bob says:

Finally! A well deserved push for this game and its developer. I stopped playing it when WordFeud came out because WF is cross platform (and in my opinion superior to Words by Post) but I'll be right back on it comes Wednesday. If it gets the kind of following Wordament got it shouldn't be hard finding lots of people to play against.

evilrobot says:

So do we automatically get upgraded to the Xbox Live version, or do we get screwed over again like every other time a game has been promoted to Live?

buggyglint says:

Look ok the brightside, its now free for everyone and with the new xbox live addition it should bring even more players online. 

How are you getting screwed when it's a free game?

CJ Thunder says:

He lost $3 if he purchased it.

evilrobot says:

Actually I think I paid $4.99 when it first came out :)  I didn't realize it was going to be free - but if it's free because they added advertisements then I'm still getting screwed IMHO.

CJ Thunder says:

Ad placement is terrible in this game, you can't see the score after ten or so seconds. Hopefully it is fixed.

Mamacita42 says:

Hmm we are all hooked on Words By Post. I'm wondering why MS didn't pick this one up instead. Maybe because it isn't on Windows Phone exclusively.

Look, I love my WP, but my GF loves her iPhone. I'd love to still be able to play this cross platform with her.

Tahiti Bob says:

Cross platform aside, AlphaJax is a better game.

Terrin says:

this is actually a server issue with xbox live games, as to get achievements to work you need to connect to the xbox servers but to play on other platforms they cannot get xbox access to developers have to choose between xbox live or cross platform. why we don't see ps3 and xbox cross platform

kidjenius says:

I've been waiting for this game! Can't wait to own all of you ;)

AriesDog says:

Xbox achievements have worked a sinister spell. Whenever I play games that are not on Xbox LIVE I feel like I'm playing in a vacuum.

ZuNuKoo says:

I don't see why words by post didn't get this first. Or even at all (maybe in time) it had more downloads then alphajax. I could be wrong I looked it up awhile ago to compare. But once this goes live I'll be installing ot once again. I'll give it another go.

CJ Thunder says:

Any word if we'll get a W8 version? Love to be able to play on phone or PC the same game.

Yipcanjo says:

I've tried all of the Scrabble-like games on the Windows Phone platform...but I always come back to AlphaJax, and for a number of reasons:

  1. It flat-out looks the best of any Scrabble game I've found.  It's bright, uncluttered, and very WindowsPhone-esque.  By comparison, other games (like Words By Posts) feel dark and cheap.
  2. It totals up your "play" for you...before you play.  Why doesn't every game have this feature?
  3. Great stats.  You can see detailed stats for yourself (I'm ranked #106 right now), as well as the Top 50 rankings for Best Players, Best Games, and Highest Scoring Words (my wife has #3 on the list!)
  4. Notifications work very well for me.
  5. Pay for "without ads" or choose the free version.  I like having the choice, and I really don't like ads in games.

Although I'm generally fine with this upcoming Xbox Live-enabled update, I wonder what it's really going to offer over their current version?  And one concern that I have is that my wife and I share a Windows Live ID (one purchase allows for three users), but since Windows Phone auto-logs-in with your Live ID, then it sees us as the *same person* no matter the phone we're on.  That kinda blows, and I wonder if my wife and I will be able to to separate players or not.  It should at least allow for logging on as a different Live ID per game.
Losing my ranking is gonna blow, but what can you do :)
Yip

Paul Acevedo says:

You two will need to get separate accounts at some point if you want to play online games together. And I do say what the new version offers in the article, yo.

Krinos says:

I like alphajax because of the board layout, it doesn't have a high prevalence of double special tiles within striking distance of each other like Words with Friends, meaning it values longer words over short words for hitting multiple special tiles.

Banstyle says:

AlphaJax was always the best. Can't wait to play it all over again.

really really hope there's a windows 8 version in the works / planned to be released asap. i used to love alphajax (by far the best-in-breed among scrabble games on wp; also makes words with friends look like a total shitstorm design-wise) but with wordfeud already on windows 8 i quickly made the jump.
 
can’t really express how its great having notifications pop-up on my phone, surface, and pc simultaneously; hope more apps go the w8+wp8 route with tight integration like that, it lends itself especially well to turn-based games like these

Murgatroyd7 says:

Neato, I'm looking forward to it.  Especially now that my wife has a Windows Phone!

tylerh1701 says:

Free is good for me, looking forward to checking it out!

Lukeja says:

I just got a notification saying it's available now and to finish my games and download it.

Tomasz S. says:

Download it from where? Did you get a link to it?
 
Cause their twiter says "Xbox LIVE version is a separately published title" and "there's an update coming for the existing apps, that will prompt you when it becomes available". Which if I understand correctly means the recent updates for "AlphaJax" and "AlphaJax Free" are only adding notifications about "AlphaJax Xbox LIVE" availability.

 

Ebaneeezor says:

Xbox part is cool - but the ads kill it for me, no battery killing ads 4 my phone + it clutters up everything.

Divination says:

Might get it. Was pissed off when I lost because Words With Friends didn't accept Iraqi as a word which couldve landed me a triple word and letter score :(.

Localhorst86 says:

I really hope they will make it multi-language like wordament did. I don't like playing scrabble games in english :(

evilrobot says:

I will now never purchase another non-xbox live game again.  Microsoft is screwing over consumers with this crap and now they are forcing me to screw over independent developers on their platform since I refuse to waste any more money on games that will be abandoned after they get live status.

Banstyle says:

Because it happens so often, right?

Paul Acevedo says:

Does a $3 purchase that you got plenty of time from going defunct affect you that much?

its asking me to upgrade now but id ont see it.  its telling me to finish my 'games' and i have a lot of them so i resigned on all of them.

JammyGitz says:

Games are so friggin expensive on Windows Phone. £2.29?? No way

Banstyle says:

*checks watch* Where's my AlphaJax Paul? Can you rattle the cages? :)

Paul Acevedo says:

Looking into it. Was really hoping the game would pop up last night, darn it.