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WP Central

Not the official Microsoft image, but it should be

Black Friday and Christmas holiday sales are regular yearly occurrences on Xbox 360, which means we’re about due for another sale. This year, the Countdown to 2012 Campaign begins on Tuesday, December 20 and lasts until Monday, January 2. Every day during that time, one or more pieces of content (XBLA games, avatar items, etc.) will go on sale.

Xbox 360 sales are great, but what about Windows Phone? Yes, there will be mobile Xbox Live games on sale during the Countdown to 2012. Just like this year's Black Friday week sale, the Windows Phone sale will include three games (in addition to the standard Deal of the Week game). The holiday sale games include Fruit Ninja, Fable: Coin Golf and Hydro Thunder Go. All three are great titles that any mobile gamer would be happy to own.

The Countdown to 2012 Campaign runs from December 20, 2011 to January 2, 2012. We’ll let you know as soon as the sale goes live.

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Hyper Defence XT Christmas Edition

Hyper Defence XT

We've seen Bubble Birds get into the Holiday spirit and now the popular tower defense game Hyper Defence XT is getting into the spirit as well. The Windows Phone game was updated to version 2.0 and brings a new Christmas Bonus level to the full version.

Hyper Defence XT's update also adds:

  • New difficulty settings (easy, medium and classic)
  • Level awards to win depending on the difficulty
  • Six new enemies to deal with.

Hyper Defence XT has 16 levels of play (17 with the Christmas Bonus), 8 upgradeable defense turrets, and a Survival Mode where everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at you. We found Hyper Defence XT (here's our review) to be a very good tower defense game for your Windows Phone.

Hyper Defence XT Screens

There is a free trial version available for Hyper Defence XT and the full version is running $1.29. You can find Hyper Defence XT here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Flying Tiles

Flying Tiles

Sometimes the simplest games are the most enjoyable. The Windows Phone game Flying Tiles qualifies for both. It is a Windows Phone game that is simple to play, has simple graphics, has a simple object and is most enjoyable to play.

The concept has a series of flying tiles racing across your Windows Phone screen. Your job is to catch the colored tiles and avoid the black tiles. The more tiles you catch, the more points you earn. Along the way you have bonus items that appear as question marks. The bonus items include slowing the tiles down, speeding them up, shrinking the size of your catcher, turning all tiles into color, and applying gravity to your catcher to pull the colored tiles to you.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Radiant

Radiant

If you like retro games you're going to get a kick out of the Windows Phone game Radiant. Radiant has enjoyed success on other platforms and based on playing the game for a few days, it should have similar success on the Windows Phone platform.

Radiant comes across as a combination between Space Invaders, Galaga, and Asteroids. Add the pixilated graphics and you get an 1980's arcade feel with Radiant (and that's not a bad thing).

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Bubble Birds getting into the Holiday Spirit

XIMAD has released their popular Windows Phone game Bubble Birds with a dash of holiday spirit. Bubble Birds Christmas is a special edition of the game that ads a wintry scene in the background and gives the games' music a holiday twist.

Game play is the same with your goal being to match three or more birds of the same color to remove them from the playing field. You do this by shooting colored birds from the bottom of the screen. If the playing fields of birds reaches the bottom, game over.

Bubble Birds Christmas

Bubble Birds Christmas is a festive rendition of the original game (here's our review) that is just as entertaining. It is a free, ad supported game that you can find here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Bubble Bird Christmas Tag

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WP Central

For years, Microsoft’s Dream.Build.Play Challenge has showcased and inspired some of the best and most innovative indie games around. Developers get the chance to compete for cash and prizes as well as showcase the fruits of their labors to the world. Most winners produce their games on Xbox 360 and XBLIG titles, with many seeing PC releases as well.

The 2012 competition looks to be the best one yet. For the first time, the contest will feature a Windows Phone category. The winners will likely go on to be hit indie titles in the Marketplace, but there’s always a chance they’ll be picked up as Xbox Live titles instead. The 2008 winner, Carneyvale: Showtime, went on to become a Games for Windows Live title on PC and Xbox Live title on Windows Phone.

The Dream.Build.Play Challenge is open to developers from around the world. Games are evaluated on the criteria of Innovation, Fun Factor, and Production Quality. Winners will be announced in the summer of 2012. Learn more about the contest and past winners at the official Dream.Build.Play web site and the Facebook fan page.

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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: Let's Golf 2

WP Central

Gameloft is a true heavy hitter in the mobile games arena. They’ve made a business of creating mobile equivalents of popular console games. Halo, Final Fantasy, and even World of Warcraft have received the sincerely flattering clone treatment – though sadly not for Windows Phone. Gameloft has finally thrown us a bone, though, with Let’s Golf 2. Based on Sony’s long-running Hot Shots Golf series, Let’s Golf 2 has just about everything you could want in a golf game (except for multiplayer).

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Doodle Wagon!

Joining the free game Breeze on Xbox Live this week are two paid titles, Battlewagon and Doodle God. Both games are now available on the Marketplace.

Battlewagon is a curious and very British game that takes place during medieval times. The object is to retake your lands from four evil barons. Battlewagon’s 68 levels encompass a variety of gameplay styles: firing a catapult from a stationary wagon, winding up the wagon just the right amount to stop it within a designated zone, jumping over or barreling through obstacles and enemies, and tossing bombs at specific parts of enemy castles.

Battlewagon Upgrades

While the gameplay is creative and the art charmingly retro, Battlewagon shows a few rough spots out of the gate. The slingshot mechanic could work better as you don’t have much room to aim without hitting the edge of the screen; it’s easy to fire accidentally too. The game seriously needs a retry option from the pause menu and after failing levels as well.

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WP Central

While we’ve seen several repeat Xbox Live Deals of the Week lately, this week’s special is something fresh. Tentacles, the Windows Phone-exclusive title from Press Play, is now on sale for $2.99.

Tentacles is a game that you’re bound to fall in love with, at least early on. Pulling protagonist Lemmy around one-tentacle at a time is different and fun. The stellar graphics, sound, and humorous story sequences instantly appeal. Unfortunately, later in the game the level design goes way downhill, creating lots of frustration from repeated deaths. It’s annoying and unfitting a game that would otherwise have huge mass appeal. I discuss the issue more fully in our review. Not everybody has a problem with the difficulty though, so many of you will likely enjoy it anyway.

Tentacles is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. To buy it, use the appendage of your choice to head over here on the Marketplace.

WP Central

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Free Xbox Live title Breeze has blown to the Marketplace

Breeze

The series of free, ad-supported Xbox Live games that began with Minesweeper and Sudoku now continues with Breeze. The new game comes from the same Microsoft producer as previous titles (Kirby Leung) and developer Rob Hutchinson at Null City Software. For more details about the game’s development (and original Xbox 360 version), check out our exclusive preview.

Breeze is basically a maze navigation name. In each level, players must blow the flower from the start to the goal, sometimes collecting Sunshine orbs in order to unlock the goal. Touch anything – a wall or moving obstacle – and you’ll have to retry the level. As such, managing the flower’s momentum plays an important role in keeping it safe.

WP Central

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Kinectimals iOS

Just like they did with the Xbox Live and Halo ATLAS apps, Microsoft has brought over Kinectimals to iOS, where players can enjoy interacting with their cute, cuddly e-animals. The title was only released a few months ago on Windows Phone, but features Xbox Live achievements and connectivity with the Xbox 360 version. The question on many minds is -- of course -- why is Microsoft releasing these apps on other platforms?

For the Xbox Live app, Microsoft provided iPhone/iPad/iPod owners with limited functionality for the online gaming service. It still comes nowhere close to what Windows Phone provides with achievements and true integration. As well as this, the app gives iPad users an insight as to how a Windows 8 tablet app could look like, with the Metro UI being implemented. For ATLAS and Kinectimals, the former is again providing functionality to other platforms (so the software giant doesn't come across as creating a monopoly) at a fee while the WP version is free, while the latter is to not only earn revenue from the fairly large iOS market, but it could be that Microsoft is almost attempting to re-brand itself. The only downer is Kinectimals was supposed to be exclusive for us Windows Phone owners. What do Apple followers think of the big M? Excel, Word and Powerpoint.

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Submarine Patrol surfaces at the Marketplace

Submarine Patrol is an arcade styled game for your Windows Phone that is based on the Battles of the Falkland Islands.  For those not familiar, in the early 1980's Argentina several islands off the coast of South America that happened to be British Territories.  Needless to say the U.K. took exception to this and sent troops in to remedy the situation.  After seventy four days, Argentina surrendered and un-invaded the islands.  Submarine Patrol focuses on the naval component from this war.

You command a submarine that is patrolling the islands in search of enemy ships to sink.  You see the world through the periscope, aligning your cross hairs and launching torpedoes at destroyers, fast attack ships and other naval ships.

Submarine Patrol

You control your periscope by tilting your Windows Phone left or right and tap the fire button to launch your torpedoes.  Submarine Patrol is a multi-level game and each level is limited on the number of torpedoes available.  You have to lead your targets with each shot and some ships require multiple hits before they will sink.

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Trine's Hangman goes Mango

The popular Windows Phone word game Trine's Hangman has gone mango.  Version 1.13 brings fast resume, deep tile links to take you straight to your game screen, and ringtones.  Yes, ringtones.  If you like the songs used in the game you can save them to your Windows Phone as custom ringtones.

The deep link tiles are a nice feature to allow you to skip the intro screens and menus to get right to the heart of the game.  It's also a nice feature if multiple players are using the same Windows Phone.  Just create a tile for each player to give everyone quick access to Trine's.  Along with all the mango features, the update includes the following changes to Trines.

  • Added functionality so you can report misspelled words to me with one click
  • Improved the WikiPedia-look-up, it will give results more often
  • Now you can look-up words with Bing and Google in addition to WikiPedia
  • Adjusted space for scores and highscores in the game page and high scores page
  • Added option to share your player-page by Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn
  • Added option to share info about the game to friends by SMS/e-mail/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn

You also have various spelling corrections and bug fixes with the update including fixing the problem of listening to Zune while playing Trine's Hangman.  Gydar Industries, Trine's developers, are already working on the next update to the game as well as another hangman game based on everything they learned and that has been suggested from the Trine's Hangman game.

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Sonic CD - the remake of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog adventure - comes to Xbox 360 this week, but not Windows Phone. The 14th, it seems, is just too packed full of Xbox Live releases. But Sega's latest will very likely land on Microsoft's mobile platform on December 21 or 28. We’ve already interviewed the remake’s brand manager, digging up some choice details about the new version. Now it’s time to learn more about how the original Sega CD/Mega CD platformer came to be, thanks to a new video from Sega.

The Developer Diary features Sonic Team Art Director Kazuyuki Hoshino, who reveals numerous pieces of never-before-seen concept art. Highlights include original drawings of Amy Rose and an explanation of Metal Sonic’s design process. You’ll also see several tantalizing unused enemy and boss concepts. Interspersed throughout the video is footage from the remake, giving a great impression of how the game looks and feels.

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WP Central

While our recent review of Press Play’s Xbox Live title Tentacles may have sparked some debate (despite being written by an all-around terrific guy), many gamers don’t have strong feelings one way or the other because they haven’t played it yet. A certain subset of those gamers will likely leave their dangerous neutrality behind when Tentacles becomes the Xbox Live Deal of the Week this Wednesday. It will cost $2.99, down from $4.99.

Tentacles is the tale of Lemmy, a small tentacled creature who ends up inside the body of his mad scientist creator. Unique touch controls allow Lemmy to move one tentacle at a time, navigating dangerous levels and eating eyeballs for health. With 40 levels, beautiful 3D graphics and 2D story sequences, and an atmospheric soundtrack, Tentacles could be a game you’ll fall in love with. Just keep in mind that its difficulty is so high in later levels that it can be quite frustrating. Depending on your patience and constitution, your experience may be different.

Starting Wednesday, Tentacles will be on sale for one week only. You’ll find it here on the Marketplace.

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Xbox 360 version trailer

Last week we said that two Xbox Live games would hit the Marketplace this Wednesday the 14th. It turns out that wasn’t quite accurate… But don’t worry, it’s good news! Joining Battlewagon and Doodle God will be Breeze, for a total of three Xbox Live releases in one week!

What’s Breeze, you ask? We’ve got exclusive early details. The goal of Breeze is to navigate a flower through 60 maze-like outdoor levels. Each level has a goal that must be unlocked by collecting Sunshine orbs, plus dangerous obstacles like tree branches that can snag the fragile flower.

Instead of directly moving the flower around those hazards, you’ll control the wind that blows the flower – hence the name.  The game offers two control types: Touch and Tilt. Touch mode uses multi-touch controls; whatever points you touch acting as the source of the breeze. Tilt controls work as you’d expect, allowing players to control the breeze by moving their phones to and fro.

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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: Tentacles

WP Central

Games are usually fairly consistent in quality from start to finish, with the latter third or half perhaps showcasing more bugs and less interesting level designs. It’s a typical effect of the rushed production schedule that developers go through as they’re forced to hit a release date on time. While I’m used to a slight drop-off in quality as I get farther into a game, nothing prepared me for Tentacles’ downward spiral. The platformer-esque Windows Phone exclusive from Press Play, makers of the whimsical Max & the Magic Marker could have been one of the best games on the platform. Instead, it comes across like a malicious bait-and-switch.

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Sonic 4 Mango update turns the music back on

Sonic!

The arrival of the Mango update has been a great thing for Windows Phone Xbox Live gamers, with a few exceptions. Specifically, Twin Blades couldn’t run on Mango until it got patched, and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I began to experience a nasty sound bug. Thankfully Sonic 4 received a Mango update today that fixes things right up.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I version 1.1 release notes

  • Added Fast App Switching support
  • Fixed sound bug that occurred when players earned an extra life, causing the music to stop

Sonic 4 is a great touch-screen platformer that captures nearly all of the magic of its console counterpart. Now that its tunes are working properly again, fans of the blue hedgehog can step into his shoes and thwart Dr. Eggman’s plans as intended. If you haven’t played the game yet, give our review a look.

Sonic 4 costs $6.99 and there is a free trial. Pick it up here on the Marketplace. To learn about Sonic CD, the follow up/prequel to Sonic 4, check out our developer interview.

Thanks to Mark Tepper for the tip!

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WP Central

We’ve already mentioned that our friends at IronSun Studios (that’s SUN, not SON) will be releasing Battlewagon on Xbox Live next week. But that is only half of next week’s story. WPCentral is proud to announce that there will be two Xbox Live releases on December 14!  Joining Battlewagon will be Doodle God, from the fine folks at JoyBits.

Doodle God surprisingly doesn’t have much to do with doodles, but it’s got the god part pretty well covered. Players take on the role of a creator by combining numerous elements to create even more elements. Discovering every element will take lots of time and creativity. It’s like chemistry, but fun!

Interestingly, Doodle God was previously available as an indie title but has now been removed from the Marketplace - just like IonBall disappearing when IonBallEX came out. Doodle God is also the second Xbox Live title from a Russian developer, following last month’s strange and addictive Farm Frenzy 2.

Doodle God and Battlewagon will both be available on Wednesday, December 14. Each game will cost $2.99. You can try the free Flash version of Doodle God right now.

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WP Central

Microsoft first announced the addition of an ATLAS to Halo Waypoint back in October. But the ATLAS didn’t show up with the Halo WayPoint Mango update that coincided with Halo Anniversary’s release. Thankfully we’ve learned today that the ATLAS is not very far off – it’s coming this Saturday, December 10.

Halo ATLAS uses maps (sponsored by Brady Games) to provide valuable multiplayer data to Halo Reach and Anniversary players. When we say Halo Anniversary players, we really mean Reach players because the non-campaign Anniversary multiplayer simply piggybacks off of Reach.

The connectivity with Reach is possible because during multiplayer games, Reach constantly sends out packets of data called heartbeats that contain gameplay status. Halo ATLAS provides a bunch of that information in near-real-time to smartphone users.

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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: Fusion: Sentient

WP Central

When Microsoft announced that downloadable Xbox 360 title Fusion: Genesis would receive a Windows Phone companion game, Fusion: Sentient, my eyes lit up. Sentient comes from Wahoo Studios, makers of some charming and creative XBLA titles. And what gamer doesn’t enjoy the promise of cross-platform connectivity? Imagine my surprise then when I finally played Sentient and discovered it to be a dull, arduous cash-in of a game.

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WP Central

Emily Dickinson would be happy to know that Death has finally stopped for Xbox Live gamers. And by that I mean, Hasta la Muerte (Until Death or To the Death) is now available on Xbox Live.

A Windows Phone exclusive from French developer Pohlm Studio, Hasta la Muerte places gamers in control of one of death’s emissaries. The emissary must free the souls of the dead in order to prevent them from becoming cursed lost souls. He won’t go it alone as friendly souls called Soulpets offers assistance. Hasta la Muerte features over 30 levels, boss battles, and a stark European art style that’s unlike anything else on the platform.

Is anyone else curious why a French developer chose a Spanish title for their game? The French translation of Until Death is Jusqu'à la Mort. Or maybe Pour la Mort, that works too. Either way, it doesn’t roll of the tongue as easily, does it?

Hasta la Muerte costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Pick it up here on the Marketplace. To view the game’s trailer, check out our previous post.

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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: Shuffle Party

WP Central

Shuffle Party is the latest free Xbox Live game developed by Babaroga and published by Microsoft Studios. Unlike its predecessors Minesweeper and Sudoku, Shuffle Party even had the good manners to release simultaneously worldwide. Whereas the other two games are cerebral logic puzzlers with sizable learning curves, Babaroga’s latest offering is a far more accessible sports game. The sport? Why, shuffleboard and bowling, of course.

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Battlewagon storms to Xbox Live next week

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that IronSun Studios’ Battlewagon would be coming to Xbox Live soon. At last, Battlewagon has a release date: December 14, next week!

Battlewagon is a lot like Robin Hood, but with a rolling death machine instead of a bow and arrows. Four evil Barons have taken the player’s kingdom, and it’s time to get it back! Equip your wagon with instruments of destruction and then storm the bad guys’ fortifications in 68 levels of medieval mayhem. Not only is Battlewagon a totally fresh premise, it also has that lovable Amiga-like British artwork that has all but disappeared these days.

WP Central

Battlewagon debuts on Wednesday, December 14. It will cost $2.99.

Head past the jump for the full Battlewagon announcement press release.

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