Games

Casual game fans will surely love this news. Game House, publisher of the hit game Doodle Jump, has a new Xbox Live title in the works: Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition. WPCentral is proud to bring you these exclusive screenshots of the Windows Phone version. (Note that the screens are a bit grainer than the final game will be.)

Sally’s Salon is a new spin on the classic Diner Dash formula. Customers enter the salon with their hair all a-frizz and it’s up to Sally to get them seated and trimmed to perfection. She needs to exercise careful time management, otherwise patrons will go elsewhere for their lock-shearing needs. When the profits start rolling in, players can hire new employees, upgrade salon stations, and add new amenities such as coffee machines. Stylin’!

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Now that Twin Blades is back where it belongs (on the Marketplace), new games can start making their way to Xbox Live. Next week’s release is an exciting one: Beards and Beaks from Microsoft Game Studios.

Beards and Beaks is an action-strategy title in which murders of cute but evil crows are invading peaceful Gnome Town to rob it of its riches. Crows are such jerks, don’t you think? Except for Brandon Lee, he was okay. Anyway, Beards and Beaks gives players an army of gnomes to command by flicking them all over the screen. Collecting mushrooms allows the player to unleash special powers. With simple controls and charmingly unique art style, this game could easily appeal to fans of Plants vs. Zombies and fun.

Beards and Beaks is notable for being the first Windows Phone game to be developed and produced by Microsoft Game Studios. Previous games were actually developed covertly by third parties, operating under the cover of night.

Beards and Beaks will be available on Wednesday, July 13 for the gnome-sized price of $2.99.

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Wizard of Words - Review

We did a round-up on the various word games available for your Windows Phone a while back. While we didn't cover all the word games available for your Windows Phone, we did receive several suggestions to add to the list. One such game is Wizards of Words.

Wizards of Words is a Boggle-type word game in which you are presented with nine letters and your job is to find all the words these nine letters can create. To help make things interesting, there are four gaming modes.

And to find out more, follow the break.

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Flee - Review

Atabow is offering the Windows Phone game Flee over at the Marketplace. Flee reminds me a lot of the old board game Sorry and you can test your skills against the computer or an online community.

Simple, yet effective, graphics combined with an enjoyable gaming concept makes Flee a game worth trying. To find out more on this Windows Phone game, make the jump past the break.

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After a long absence, Xbox Live action title Twin Blades - from developer Press Start Studio - has returned to the Marketplace.

Twin Blades tells the tale of Sister Angelika, a scythe- and gun-toting nun on a mission to save the world from an evil necromancer. You know, necromancers tend to get a bad rap. Why do people have to hate? Anyway, instead of talking her problems out like a mature adult, Sister Angelika simply slices and blasts through hordes of zombies in this action title. A virtual thumbstick controls running and jumping while buttons take care of scythe and gun attacks. Twin Blades has a lengthy story mode and a survival mode. The Achievements aren’t too hard, but it will take four total playthroughs to get them all. Stay tuned later today for our full review!

Twin Blades costs only $2.99 and there is a free trial. If you support the oppression of necromancy, hack and slash your way here (Zune link) to grab it from the Marketplace.

PS Yes, this is the Xbox LIVE game this week.

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Last week Women’s Murder Club from I-Play was the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. Continuing the trend, another I-Play title goes on sale this week: Bubble Town 2. The sale price is $1.99, down from $2.99.

Bubble Town 2 is a Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move clone. In these puzzle games, a stack of colored bubbles slowly descends from the top of the screen, threatening to crush the player. By aiming and firing your own bubbles you can make matches and eliminate the stack. Bubble Town’s controls are a bit imprecise but it’s still pretty fun. It also has some of the most hideous graphics ever, a true testament to how far an artist can go without the benefit of education or talent. But hey, until Taito decides to bring Bust-a-Move to Windows Phone, Bubble Town will have to do.

Bubble Town 2 will be on sale for one week starting Wednesday. You can get it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. Anybody think I-Play’s other Xbox Live game - Fast & Furious: Adrenaline - will go on sale next week?

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Bubble Birds v2 - App Spotlight

What seems as a life time ago, we shared with you a bubble burst kinda game called Bubble Birds. You basically shoot colored birds out of a basket into a closing formation of birds. Your goal is to form groupings of three or more similarly colored birds and keep the birds at bay. If the birds make it to the bottom of the screen, game over.

The developers have recently unleashed Bubble Birds v2 that brings a slightly different design, levels and new characters to make the game more challenging. The basic game play hasn't changed but within the field of birds you have coin bubbles that can be collected and used as you advance through the levels to buy additional lives or to open up extra levels. A key bubble is also added to the mix and when you collect it, you advance to the next level.

In just tinkering with Bubble Birds v2 for a short period, the improvements add to an already enjoyable game. You have a few new character birds, such as the stone bird that can only be removed by a bomb or the chameleon bird.

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Plants vs. Zombies: Xbox Windows Phone Review

As a critic, it’s rare that I can unequivocally say that a game is the very best game in its genre. So many titles do different things well, and they usually have their minuses too. It’s even more uncommon for a game to transcend its own genre and become something that appeals to pretty much everybody. That’s why Plants vs. Zombies is such an amazing game. Not only is it hands-down the best tower defense game on Windows Phone, it also tweaks tower defense conventions and brings so much content that even tower defense naysayers will find a lot to enjoy.

What exactly is tower defense? It’s a type of real-time strategy game. Players build stationary towers which shoot at enemies as they try to reach the player’s base. To put that in Plants vs. Zombies terms, zombies attack the gamer’s yard, striving to get inside the house and eat the tasty brains inside. Weaponized plants with faces and personalities take the place of mechanical towers. In case it wasn’t immediately obvious, this game is loaded with charm and humor.

Watch out for potato mines as you head past the break for our full review.

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Alchemic Phone 7 - Review

Feeling up for an elemental challenge? Alchemic Phone 7 is a Windows Phone game that puts you in charge of building a universe by combining elements to create oceans, seas, volcanoes, islands, machines and a lot more.

There are 1400 elements to unlock ranging from machines, electricity, thunder, lightning, Atlantis, and the Great Wall.  To find out more on this unique Windows Phone game, slide on past the break.

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Angry Birds - Review

Angry Birds may have been one of the most anticipated Windows Phone games. Most are familiar with the game as it's been available for some time on other platforms.  While I've played my fair share of Angry Birds on other platforms, it was nice (almost refreshing) to see the popular game come to the Windows Phone platform.

For those not familiar with the game, evil pigs have stolen the birds eggs and have angered the feathered population. Negotiations fail and to arms (or wings) the birds go.  The pigs fortify their positions with sticks, rocks, and anything else they can get their hoofs on.  Your mission is to destroy the pigs by hurling an assortment of birds at them from a slingshot.  You work your way through the various levels to eventually take on the pig king.

Sounds easy, right? Shoot on past the break to see how the Windows Phone version of Angry Birds measures up.

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Pokédex Mobile - Review

The stereotype of Xbox 360 gamers is that they’re only interested in first-person shooters and games with lots of violence. People like that wouldn’t give Nintendo’s Pokémon series a second thought. Stereotypes are often wrong though, as plenty of 360 gamers like me enjoy all kinds of games. Besides, while it’s very common for Windows Phone gamers to also own Xbox 360 consoles, that doesn’t mean they don’t also have a DSi or 3DS. What I’m trying to say is that while the crossover between Windows Phone owners and Pokémon fans may not be tremendous, such people do exist. Pokédex Mobile from indie developer Imaginary Pocket aims to be a useful tool for active Pokémon players.

The Pokémon series of games revolves around collecting a large variety of Pokémon (Pocket Monsters), training them to learn new abilities, and commanding them in battle against rival Pokémon teams. While the original GameBoy Pokémons contained 151 different monsters to catch, each generation of sequels adds to the pot. The current DS offerings have pushed the total number of monsters up to a whopping 649. That’s a lot of Pokémon to keep track of! When you consider that even the same monster may appear in different places and have different abilities in each sequel, the need for an all-encompassing resource becomes readily apparent.

Journey past the break for our full review.

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Games for Windows moving to Xbox.com

Microsoft is continuing to merge services together, which is fantastic news particularly in this case. The Games for Windows Marketplace is merging with Xbox Live's website, even though it was just overhauled back in November . We've always personally found Microsoft products to be horribly fragmented, but it seems Windows Phone 7 is the start of something magical and is driving change within the big company too. Leading to design improvements in Windows 8, advancement in mobile technology and Xbox Live, acquisition of Skype and now the combining of games for multiple platforms in one location.

"Games for Windows Marketplace will fully transition over to Xbox.com. Now you can get all of your gaming needs in one place. It’s convenient, it’s concentrated, and it’s a whole lot of great games."

In the PC world, Steam plays a heavyweight competitor to Microsoft's Games for Windows, merging the marketplace with Xbox.com should hopefully improve the dated layout. There are many Xbox gamers who also use their PC as a platform, I'm sure they'll welcome the merge with having both stores in one location. Could we see the implementation of Microsoft Points in the Games for Windows store?

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Harbor Master - Review

Touch-screen gaming has its advantages and disadvantages. We’ve all played games like Earthworm Jim that try to replicate traditional console controls on the touch screen with limited success. But building a game around the advantages of a touch screen can produce wonderful results and even new genres. Such was the case with Firemint’s Flight Control – the first line drawing game. It played like nothing else and sold like crazy on numerous platforms, including Windows Phone. Every good idea can be improved upon, as developer Imangi shows with Harbor Master. Its nautical theme and new mechanics will keep Flight Control fans and new players alike enthralled for quite some time.

Chart a course past the break for our full review.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I - Review

The Sonic the Hedgehog series has endured a tumultuous existence. Sonic debuted as a mascot character for the Sega Genesis and starred in several classic platformers for that console and the Sega CD. After basically shelving Sonic during the 32-bit Sega Saturn era, Sega finally decided to bring him back in a launch title for the Sega Dreamcast. Sonic Adventure received a warm reception, and yet it was the beginning of a dark time for Sonic.

You see, Adventure was the first fully 3D Sonic platformer and it introduced a host of problems that would only grow worse in follow-up titles: poor collision detection, largely on-rails game play (during the actual Sonic levels anyway), pointless town sections and side quests, terrible music, general glitchiness, numerous annoying furry pals for Sonic, and equally annoying voice work and storytelling. Each 3D Sonic sequel became progressively more heinous, culminating in 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog, which remains the worst game I’ve ever played in my life.

Despite numerous missteps, Sonic’s popularity never fully disappeared. His fan base split into two camps though: one consists of furries and children who basically just don't know any better. The other camp remembers Sonic’s glory days and pleads for a return to the character’s roots. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I was made just for them.

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Twin Blades - Review

For several months, Twin Blades from Press Start Studio reluctantly enjoyed the distinction of being the only Xbox Live game to be pulled from the Windows Phone Marketplace. During its absence, it earned something of a cult status as mobile gamers suddenly realized they were missing out on a hardcore action experience. Now the game is back with green zombie blood instead of the original red. Is Twin Blades’ return cause for celebration? Yes, unless you’re a zombie, in which case, stay out of Sister Angelika’s way.

Slice past the break for our full review.

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geoDefense - Review

As the plethora of tower defense games on the Windows Phone marketplace proves, tower defense games aren’t hard to make. But they are hard to do well. Just look at the first two tower defense games on Xbox Live: Zombie Attack! 2 is an undercooked snooze-fest and Battle for Hoth is too difficult to be much fun. Both games stray unsuccessfully from tower defense conventions, whereas geoDefense from Critical Thought Games is the exact opposite. It’s as traditional as they come, but also tremendously fun.

geoDefense’s claim to fame is its Geometry Wars-inspired look. Every tower and enemy is composed of neon outlines, harkening back to the days of vector graphics. It’s an extremely simple but charming look, even if one enemy type resembles Pac-Man a bit too closely. The background, no matter the level, is always made up of black space with a pattern of graph paper-like lines, further enhancing the geometric feel. Explosions create a cool warping effect on the background, adding a clever modern contrast to the retro visuals.

Follow the path past the jump for our full review.

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Murphid - Review

We’ve heard from developers that the XNA framework makes it easy to port games between Xbox 360 and Windows Phone.  That’s a good thing as gamers who enjoy a game on the big screen may also want to play it on the go and vice-versa. One indie game that recently made the transition from 360 to Windows Phone is Murphid from Decapod Studios. While Murphid’s name might lead one to expect a connection to Robocop, it’s actually an unrelated but unique puzzle game.

Drop past the break for our full review.

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Spinballs Special Edition - Review

If you're looking for a bubble buster type game with a twist (or in this case spin), check out the Windows Phone game Spinballs Special Edition. Spinballs SE is very similar to the original Spinballs game but adds an additional gaming mode (more on this in a bit).

The object of the game is simple, line up three or more of the same colored balls to have them explode off the screen. The twist or spin in this case is that the balls are placed on seven spinning wheels.

Throw in two game modes, four bonus items, a pesky timer and you've got a decent game on your hands. Spin on past the break to read more about Spinballs SE.

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Now that the 6 Weeks of Must Have Games has ended, we’re back to learning about the weekly Xbox Live releases a bit less far in advance. The first Xbox Live title to follow Angry Birds will be… Twin Blades from developer Press Start Studio and publisher Microsoft Game Studios.

That’s right, after disappearing from the Marketplace for several months over concerns about it gory content, Twin Blades is coming back. Users who already own the game have received an update that changes the game’s blood to green, and soon the game will be officially available for sale.

Twin Blades is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash game starring a nun who is tasked with saving the world from an army of the undead. She’s armed with a sickle and an assortment of guns, all of which can be upgraded by collecting zombie hearts. It’s a challenging and lengthy game with both a story mode and an all-action survival mode. We’ll have a full review soon.

Twin Blades will be available on Wednesday, July 6 for $2.99.

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Slowly but surely the entire collection of Xbox Live launch titles for Windows Phone games are going on sale. Having scratched Bejeweled Live off the list, it’s now time for Women’s Murder Club from I-Play to see the weekly discount. It’s on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

Women’s Murder Club is a hidden object game with mild adventure elements. Players take on the role of various crime solving ladies as they scour crime scenes for clues and try to solve a murder mystery of some sort. As our review mentions, the plot is incredibly forgettable. But it’s still a competent hidden object game (the only one on Xbox Live right now) and its Achievements are fun and easy.  Provided you like the genre, it’s easily worth getting for the low sale price.

Women’s Murder Club is on sale for $1.99 for one week only and there is a free trial. Point your magnifying glass here (Zune link) to find it on the Marketplace.

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Angry Birds for Windows Phone is now Live!

Yes, people. Let the taunting end tonight. Between the promise of custom ringtones and now the fulfillment of 'Angry Birds', Windows Phone 7 has had its day.

Angry Birds is easy on of the most anticipated games to hit the new OS and it should gives us a wee bit more parity with competing systems (using some odd metric for success, of course). From the app description, it's what you expect:

"Angry Birds is coming to Windows Phone! The survival of the angry birds is at stake. Dish out revenge on the green pigs who stole the birds’ eggs. Use the unique destructive powers of the angry birds to lay waste to the pigs’ fortified castles. Each of the 165 levels requires logic, skill and brute force to crush the enemy."

The game fetches for $2.99 with a free trial, as usual, though we're skipping right to 'buy' since we're kind of predictable like that. You can get it right now by following this link to the Marketplace. Hit us up in comments and let us know what you think. (Thanks, Dalton C., for the heads up!)

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Chicks 'n Vixens: No Donuts in the works

Chicks 'n Vixens is one of the more popular "angry birds like" games over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. We've watched the game grow from a beta to a decent arcade game for your Windows Phone. According to the developer a free, ad-supported version of the game, "Chicks 'n Vixens: No Donuts", has been submitted to the Marketplace for certification.

The game is to follow the same story line as the original. Your mission is to hurl chickens at foxes that are hiding behind various fortifications. The game will continue to be a multi-level game with assorted chicken styles to shoot from the canon.  There is one modification to the chickens though.  The red chicken (tap the screen and it will accelerate in flight) will now speed up in the direction of your tap.

For those who don't care for banner ads, there is plans to have a paid version minus the ads. The developer is unsure as to how this new version will effect the existing version of Chicks 'n Vixens but it sounds similar to the various chapters of Angry Birds that are available on other platforms.

If you're not familiar with the Chicks 'n Vixens saga, you can download the original here(opens Zune) at the Marketplace.  We've got another preview video of Chicks 'n Vixen: No Donut after the break.

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Catch Phrase Party - App Spotlight

Kinsoft has a rather simple gaming app over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. Catch Phrase Party is a party game app that is a guessing game with a hint of the game "hot potato" mixed in.

You compete with two teams with a team member describing to fellow team mates the phrase or word that appears on the Windows Phone. Once the phrase or word is guessed, the phone is passed to the other team, a new phrase is generated, and the guessing begins again. All the while, a timer is running behind the scenes and the team not holding the Windows Phone when the buzzer sounds, gets a point. First team to reach seven points wins.

It's a simple gaming app for your Windows Phone and might break the ice at your next house party. The only downside to Catch Phrase Party is that it does not have a free trial version. The full version runs $2.99. It get's good reviews at the Marketplace but a trial version might help win some over.

You can find Catch Phrase Party here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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