Games

We mentioned Sonic's Jewels (SJ7) the other day as coming to Windows Phone. The SEGA Game Gear and Master System emulator has been submitted to the Windows Phone Marketplace and should be made available to all in the next few days. Coming with a free trial, the emulator will ultimately fetch for $1.29 which we find to a great price for this well designed app.

Sonic Jewels

We've playing with it for a few days now and while there is currently no sound (the devs are hoping to get that working in the future) we found the emulation and presentation top notch. The app is fluid, intuitive to use and has built in Skydrive support for importation of your ROM collection. With the ability for three saved-states per game, pinnable Live Tiles for each game and the excellent progress indicators, we're very impressed with the effort here.

We'll keep you posted when Sonic's Jewels goes live in the Marketplace in the next few days. Until then, enjoy our video tour.

Update: This app is now known as Blue Tomato.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Quick Shift

Quick Shift for Windows Phone

Quick Shift is a puzzle game for your Windows Phone that not only challenges your powers of observation but your speed. The game presents you with a five by five grid of numbered tiles (numbered 1-5). Your job is to find number straights that run vertically or horizontally.

Each round is timed and you have a target score to meet before you can advance to the next level. The challenge comes with a secondary timer that will shift the tiles every eleven seconds. At the end of the eleven seconds, your straights are collected and points awarded.  It takes a little time to catch the hang of Quick Shift and you've got to be quick at the touch.  All in all, Quick Shift isn't too shabby.

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Fragger makes it to the Windows Phone Marketplace

Fragger for Windows Phone

Better late than never, right?

The new Windows Phone Xbox Live game Fragger has finally made it on to the Marketplace. The Angry Birds like game includes 310 levels that span ten different worlds. Instead of tossing birds at your enemies, you toss grenades.

You will need to figure out angle, throwing power and make some creative bounce shots with your grenade to take out your enemy targets. The fewer grenades, the higher the score.  We're downloading the game as we type and will get a review up shortly on this latest Xbox Live title.

Fragger will run you $2.99 with a free trial version available. Fragger can be found here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

QR: Fragger

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Must Have Games 2012

Last year’s Must Have Games promotion kicked off in May, but this year it’s coming in February. Since Microsoft announced the February lineup at CES, we’ve been left wondering over the specific release date and price of each game. Wonder no more, Windows Phone gamers, as Larry Hryb (aka Major Nelson) spilled the remaining beans on his blog today.

  • Need For Speed Hot Pursuit – 02/01 - $4.99
  • Bullet Asylum – 02/8 - $2.99
  • Chickens Can't Fly – 02/15 - $2.99
  • Splinter Cell Conviction – 02/22 - $4.99
  • Toy Soldiers Boot Camp – 02/29 - $2.99

No real surprises there. The two more technically impressive games will cost $4.99, not unlike last year’s Hydro Thunder Go. I’m slightly saddened that my most-wanted game, Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp is coming last, but they all look like fine games. If you need a refresher on the portable Toy Soldiers entry, check out our interview with the game’s developers.

Which game(s) are you most looking forward to, dear readers?

Source: Major Nelson; Thanks for the tip, everybody!

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Free Xbox Live game Shuffle Party played a million times

Shuffle Party

Ever wonder how well the free Xbox Live games for Windows Phone do in the wild? Babaroga has provided us with some analytics for Shuffle Party, their shuffleboard/bowling game. Shuffle Party has been played over a million times so far, with an average of 20 minutes per play. Not too shabby!

Babaroga is actually responsible for three of the four free, ad-supported Xbox Live titles so far: Minesweeper, Sudoku, and Shuffle Party. The fourth such game, Breeze, came from Null City Software. All four games were produced by Kirby Leung at Microsoft. In similar territory, the most recent free Xbox Live title, Bug Village was ported by Babaroga for Glu Mobile. Rather than advertisements, it relies on PDLC for revenue.

Did you somehow miss out on Shuffle Party? Check out our review, and then grab the game here from the Marketplace.

QR: Shuffle Party

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WP Central

Remember how the Marketplace didn’t update until about 9:30 AM PST last week? We may be in for a repeat, as neither the new Xbox Live game, Fragger, nor the Deal of the Week have gone live yet.

Fragger, in case you’re wondering, is an Angry Birds-style game in which players toss grenades at enemies. It comes from Miniclip, the makers of Gravity Guy and will cost $2.99. As for the Deal of the Week, it's definitelty Burn the Rope for $1.99.

Keep checking back and we’ll let you know as soon as Fragger and the Deal of the Week go live. Why the delay? It doesn’t seem to be snowing at the Microsoft HQ, but it’s still a nice day to sleep in.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Permutile2

Permutile for Windows Phone

Permutile2 is a new puzzle game that has landed over in the Windows Phone Marketplace. You swap tiles around the game board to find their targeted position. Permutile2 supports single player, two-player and you vs. the computer mode. With the single player you try to get all the tiles into the right position in the least amount of moves. With the two-player or vs. computer mode, you try to get more tiles into position than your opponent.

Add four levels of play and up to five board or grid sizes and Permutile2 has plenty of gaming to keep you challenged. Game play is simple yet challenge and the Permutile is well presented from the graphics to the menu layout. It's a nice puzzle addition to the Windows Phone game line up.

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Sonic's Jewels

Game emulators are always popular and so long as they don't offer the ROMs on board, they seem to be okay in the Windows Phone Marketplace. So it's with great excitement that we're anticipating the first SEGA Gamegear-Master emulator to land within a few days for your purchase.

The emulator, seen above in below in some screenshots, will cost $1.29 and there will be a trial for you to take for a spin. Named Sonic's Jewels, the emulator seems to be a spin off of the popular homebrew app Wario's Jewels 7 (WJ7) and features URL importation for games as well as Skydrive integration. In addition, game saves and even GameGenie codes are supported meaning this should be a fairly solid emulator, assuming the frame-rate and controls are good.

Sonic's Jewels

We'll see about getting an early hands on. In the meantime, start looking for some games you may want to play as over 500 are supported.

Source: Facebook

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Microsoft Points rumor

Here’s a rumor that many gamers probably hope will come true: Microsoft may be doing away with the Microsoft Points virtual currency system. According to Inside Mobile Apps, who cites an inside source, the change will take place by the end of the year.

Microsoft Points have been around since the Xbox 360 launched in 2005. MS Points were originally used to buy Xbox Live Arcade games and downloadable content for Xbox 360 games, though their use has expanded to include purchases for Games for Windows Live (PC), Zune media, and DLC for a handful of Windows Phone games (Beards & Beaks, Gravity Guy, and Bug Village). 400 Microsoft Points equals five US dollars, though the exchange rate varies in other regions.

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DoDonPachi Maximum officially coming to Xbox Live

DoDonPachi Maximum title

Way back in July, WPCentral first reported that Japanese developer Cave would be developing a Windows Phone exclusive shoot-em-up game. But we only knew the genre, not the name of the game or much else. At last, Cave has officially announced DoDonPachi Maximum for Windows Phone.

DoDonPachi is Cave’s most popular shmup series. It’s your basic vertically-scrolling bullet hell shooter, packed with intense gameplay and large, impressive bosses. Strangely, the only American release has been the excellent iPhone version, DoDonPachi Resurrection. The Xbox 360 version of DoDonPachi Resurrection did come out in Europe though, and it’s mercifully region free, so it will play on US consoles.

While the DoDonPachi Maximum teaser website has gone live, it’s still scant in the way of details. We do know it will be an Xbox Live game with tough-as-nails Achievements. If the iOS version is any indication, expect a $6.99 price. Some folks will never be happy paying more than a handful of pennies for a phone game, and I doubt they will care for Maximum. But shmup fans are used to paying $50+ to import Cave’s games, making the phone versions a steal by comparison.

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Xbox Live: PES 2011 drops off the Marketplace

PES 2011 pulled

It’s been a while since an Xbox Live game has been pulled from the Marketplace. Last year, Fast & Furious: Adrenaline, Star Wars Cantina, and Star Wars: Battle for Hoth all got pulled at once. Besides that, the beleaguered Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst was taken down for good, and Twin Blades got temporarily pulled. Now we can add another game to the delisted list: Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 (aka PES 2011) from Konami.

As with the previous pulled games, no warning was given before PES 2011 got yanked. Some have speculated its removal is due to PES 2012’s impending release. It is true that once PES 2012 comes out, nobody will want to buy the previous version. But is there any harm in allowing 2011 to collect virtual dust alongside its successor? After all, once a game has been pulled, people who already purchased that game can no longer redownload it. Removing a game every time its sequel comes around isn’t very fair to customers.

We’ve contacted Konami and Microsoft for comment and will update if they’re able to shed some light on the subject.

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Windows Phone App Review: Dance Central 2 Dance*Cam

Dance Central 2 Dance*Cam Lead

The potential of connectivity between Windows Phone and the Xbox 360 console is vast. We’ve seen mobile Xbox Live games function as companions to their console counterparts (Full House Poker, Kinectimals, and Fusion: Sentient) and a couple of apps that connect with the console (Halo Waypoint, Xbox Companion App). The Dance Central 2 Dance*Cam, which WPCentral first discovered in December, falls in the latter category... Unfortunately, the app comes from a developer called AKQA rather than Harmonix, and they don't seem to understand what Dance Central fans would actually want from an app like this.

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Windows Phone Game Review: El Cagao

El Cagao for Windows Phone

El Cagao is a fun, easy card game that you can take on three computer opponents or challenge up to three of your friends. Then game is nicely animated, fairly easy to pick up and challenging within it's own right.

El Cagao is a card game where each player is dealt 12-13 cards. Amongst these cards is the Joker or El Cagao. On each turn a player will take a card from the next player and then discard any pairs in their hand. You continue to take turns until one player is stuck holding the El Cagao.

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OccassionalGamer Million Downloads

More good news for Elbert Perez and OccassionalGamer. Collectively, Perez's Windows Phone games has passed the millionth download mark. As of January 14, 2012 OccassionalGamer titles have recorded 1,002,760 downloads. Not too shabby.

The titles leading the download parade include Armored Drive at 224,875 downloads and Impossible Shoota at 156,267 downloads.

OccassionalGamer Downloads

There's little doubt of Perez's success with Windows Phone game development. From the number of downloads to the revenue they generate, OccassionalGamer is definitely one of Windows Phone's success stories.  

You can catch our roundup of OccassionalGamer titles here.

Source: OccassionalGamer

 

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Puzzle Quest 2: Xbox Windows Phone Review

Puzzle Quest 2 Lead

Puzzles games often feature enjoyable gameplay, but they rarely give users a reason to keep on playing beyond chasing high scores (or Achievements). That’s what made the original Puzzle Quest so special. Australian developer Infinite Interactive (later bought out by Firemint) had the revolutionary idea of combining the core gameplay of a puzzle game with a sizable RPG adventure. Naturally a slightly less-inspired sequel followed, this time branching out to even more platforms. Namco handled the Windows Phone port of Puzzle Quest 2, squeezing the lengthy console game into a tiny mobile package.

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Grooveshark WP

James Hartig has published a blog article that outlines the reasoning behind the Grooveshark music streaming service not working on Windows Phone (via HTML5). It's all down to... hold your breath... a bug in Internet Explorer. Who would have thought, eh? According to Hartig, once he looked into the problem (after a number of Windows Phone owners complained that streaming could not be achieved) he came up with the following conclusion.

"It seems that the AJAX calls we were making to our API were failing when they were requested over HTTPS. The Microsoft team states that it is a bug with IE8 that you cannot do AJAX calls through XDomainRequest to HTTPS pages from HTTP pages. They never bothered to fix it for IE9. The simple solution would be to just load the site in HTTPS and make all calls in HTTPS, however that is not possible right now.

We only have 1 call to HTTPS on the site right now, but in the future, users will need to login and perform actions that require HTTPS, so this issue is quite the show-stopper."

So it seems we will not be seeing support for Grooveshark anytime soon, and with the issues they're having with apps on iOS and Android (pressure from record labels), we doubt we'll be seeing an official Windows Phone app anytime soon. We did have Music Shark for a while, but this app doesn't appear to be available.

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Windows Phone Game Review: ByeByeBrain App-ocalypse

BBB: App-ocalypse for Windows Phone

The other day we took a look at ByeByeBrain, a zombie slaying tower defense game for your Windows Phone that has been around since the dawn of time and it simply flew beneath our radar.  ByeByeBrain is a marvelous game and it has recently spun a sequel, ByeByeBrain: App-ocalypse. BBB: App-ocalypse, for short, takes the ByeByeBrain game to a new level by adding more stages, levels, and weapons into the mix.

The object of the game hasn't changed. You still need to position your characters in such a manner to prevent the zombie hordes from crossing the screen. As you wipe out the zombies you earn cash that can be used to purchase (or is it enlist) additional characters. You get twenty lives and with each zombie who survives your defenses and passes across the screen, you lose a life.

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Armed! developer asks for user input on balance issues

Armed! development screen

Development screen

Armed! is an excellent turn-based strategy game from Dallas, TX-based indie developer Sickhead Games. The game’s standout feature has to be its online multiplayer, which offers both asynchronous and real-time options, plus ranked and unranked games... Basically everything gamers want from mobile Xbox Live titles but the big MS doesn’t want to give us for some reason.

Of course, with any complex competitive multiplayer game, balance issues are bound to pop up after release. If left unattended, poor game balance can cause players to lose interest and move on to other titles. Thankfully Sickhead has caught wind of a few such imbalances and is already working to correct them.

Balance issues:

  • Tanks are being used too much
  • HoverTanks and Strikers aren’t as useful and cost effective as intended
  • Some matches are lasting longer than intended. 20 minutes should be the maximum.

Armed! development  photo

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Flight Control

For a while there it looked like we might not get a Deal of the Week this time around. Thankfully, the clouds finally cleared away and Flight Control emerged from the storm of Marketplace delays. It’s now on sale for $1.99, down from the regular price of $2.99.

Flight Control is the progenitor of the line-drawing genre of casual games. Created in 2009 by Australia-based Firemint (now owned by EA), it became an instant sales phenomenon. The Windows Phone version lags behind the iOS and other versions in terms of features (no HD makeover and only six maps here), but remains a fun and addicting title.

Achievement hunters, prepare for lots of grinding to reach 10,000 planes landed. I’m about 7,000 short on that one… Then again, Harbor Master, another developer’s nautical take on the same concept, has even more grueling Achievements.

Flight Control is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Pick it up here on the Marketplace.

QR: Flight Control

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Text Twist 2

After a few hours delay, it’s here! The 100th Xbox Live release for Windows Phone, TextTwist 2 from GameHouse, is now on the Marketplace.

TextTwist 2 is a word-finding game that plays a lot like Boggle. The game presents a random assortment of letters which players then use to create as many words as possible. A dictionary with tens of thousands of words means just about any word you can think of should be accepted (no naughty ones though). Multiple game modes include Unlimited (no time limit), Standard (timed), Daily Word (try to find the longest word possible once daily), Lightning (find preselected words under a strict time limit), and Letter Mania (fill an anagram grid before time runs out).

So far, Text Twist 2 seems to be just as good as anticipated. Making selections on the main menu is a bit wonky as you have to highlight a selection before picking it - not sure why they didn't just use words with large hitboxes like practically every other mobile game. But selecting and deselecting letters in-game is completely painless, and that's what counts. The Achievements pop pretty quickly, too. We can always rely on GameHouse for easy GamerScore - except for Doodle Jump.

TextTwist 2 costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Scoop it up here on the Marketplace.

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TextTwist 2 not available yet

As you may have noticed by now, this week’s Xbox Live release, TextTwist 2, hasn’t shown up on the Marketplace. Nor has an older game’s price dropped as the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. It’s frustrating for folks like me who want to grab TextTwist and get their spelling on.

A little background info: the Windows Phone Marketplace usually updates during the wee hours of Wednesday morning in the US, though the actual update time is far more erratic than the Xbox 360 Marketplace. I’ve stopped staying up for it. Occasionally – maybe three or four times a year – the mobile Marketplace doesn’t update until later in the day (most recently in September). But it has always updated by Wednesday night, so we shouldn’t have to wait too terribly long for the new game and sale game to appear.

Speaking of the sale game, Microsoft didn’t announce it in advance like they usually do. Rumor has it that Flight Control may be the Deal of the Week, but nobody knows for sure. Keep checking back at WPCentral and we’ll let you know as soon as the Marketplace update goes live!

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Chromatic is an entertaining two-dimensional shooter that pits you against endless waves of enemy attacks. The developer is nearing the completion of a tournament style multi-player mode (demoed in the above video) for Chromatic and is looking for beta testers to help iron out the kinks.

The tournament mode will be able to play world-wide games where everyone is on equal footing with the same weapons and powerups to see who can rack up the highest score. New tournament games are generated every two and half minutes.

If you are interested in becoming a beta tester for Chromatic, just shoot them an email at chromatic@stackpopstudios.com with your Live ID. They are currently looking for testers who can test out the new game mode at coordinated times. You can find Chromatic (free) here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

If you have any questions or comments for the developer, there's a discussion going on here in the WPCentral Forums. Speaking of, make sure you if you're a developer you post your beta-requests there and for readers, be sure to check our Beta Forums regularly for great opportunities: Developer Beta Testing.

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Brain Cube Reloaded heading to the Marketplace

Windows Phone developers XIMAD Inc. has built up a rather impressive library of Windows Phone games. The company's portfolio includes Pandas vs Ninjas, De-Bugs Pool, Bubble Birds, and Brain Cube. Soon we will see Brain Cube Reloaded available on the Windows Phone Marketplace that will continue where the original version left off.

Brain Cube Reloaded

Brain Cube Reloaded is a puzzle game where you have to navigate your rectangular block through various levels of paths and mazes. Brain Cube Reloaded looks like it will be a challenging game for Windows Phone and we are told it will be available soon.

In the meantime, you can grab the original version of Brain Cube here at the Marketplace. It's a free, ad supported game.

QR: Brain Cube

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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: Breeze

Breeze Lead

While it’s tough for indie games to get noticed on Xbox 360, several of them have found new life as Xbox Live titles on Windows Phone. Breeze is the latest game to make the jump. Developed almost entirely by one person – Rob Hutchinson of Null City Software, Breeze doesn't quite share the scale of most other Xbox Live games. Thankfully it’s a free (and ad-supported) game, and should go over well with a wide variety of gamers.

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TextTwist 2 iOS screenshots

We first caught wind of TextTwist 2 coming to Xbox Live back in August when GameHouse announced multiple Windows Phone projects. The publisher later decided to publish a few of those games as indie titles under their RealNetworks label, but TextTwist 2 has kept its Xbox Live status. And now it’s finally coming out this week.

TextTwist 2 is a word-finding game that plays a lot like Boggle. The game presents a random assortment of letters which players then use to create as many words as possible. Multiple game modes include Unlimited (no time limit), Standard (timed), Daily Word (try to find the longest word possible once daily), and Letter Mania (fill an anagram grid before time runs out).

Achievement hunters/OCD sufferers note that TextTwist 2 has a few Achievements that don’t end in a five or zero. Still, if they’re anything like Collapse!’s Achievements, it shouldn’t be too hard to get all 200 GamerScore in short order.

TextTwist 2 debuts this Wednesday, January 18. We don’t have a price yet, but we’ll update as soon as we know. As for the 100th Xbox Live game designation, I believe that count includes a few non-game apps and delisted games, but it’s still a nice thought.

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