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Skulls of the Shogun updated - we examine the improved Windows Phone visuals

Skulls of the Shogun Windows Phone update title screen

Skulls of the Shogun will forever be known to Windows Phone enthusiasts as the game that broke the Xbox release drought we went through earlier this year. It also happened to be a fantastic game, despite a few rough edges here and there.

When we met up with one of the game’s developers a few weeks ago, he promised that updates would soon be coming to all three versions of the game: Windows Phone, XBLA, and Windows 7. At last those updates are upon us! We've got an exclusive screenshot comparison and visual breakdown of the revamped Windows Phone visuals, plus full change logs for all three versions of Skulls of the Shogun.

Prettier than ever?

Of all the fixes promised for Windows Phone, the most exciting was doubtless the higher resolution assets and fonts. Just watch the interview video one more time and you can almost hear my saliva hitting the table when Borut teases the visual improvements. Now that the update is here, we can put those improvements to the test.

Pre-patch:

Skulls of the Shogun haunt pre-update

Post-patch:

Skulls of the Shogun haunt post-update

The clearest improvement is the font used for the word Haunt; the text is far less jaggy than before. The scroll in the top-right corner has been redrawn, slightly for the better. The various buttons like Pause also seem to be tweaked, but so slightly that I can’t call them improved. More noticeably, the white outline around the shrine is smaller, and the yellow outline around the rice paddies got thinner.

The tutorial text that appears at the bottom of the screen in other shots remains somewhat aliased, but the edges of the voice bubble that surrounds that text are much smoother now. See below.

Pre-patch:

Skulls of the Shogun tutorial pre-update

Post-patch:

Skulls of the Shogun tutorial post-update

Skulls looks better than ever, but the differences are fairly subtle overall. It was always a well-drawn game, even if the visuals aren't quite as smooth as Windows Phone 7 is actually capable of. One change we can’t complain about is the game now displays multiplayer turns directly from the title screen at all times instead of burying the number of turns beneath the Versus menu. I still wish for a proper Live tile as that would be wayyy better, but at least multiplayer turns are harder to overlook now.

Haven’t tried Skulls of the Shogun yet? First check out our detailed review. Then grab the version of your choice with these store links:

Skulls of the Shogun version 1.1 release notes

General Fixes (all versions)

  1. Fixed a physics related crash where some units would stop being able to move would cause the game to crash.
  2. Fixed a crash where during the campaign in Murderous Moats, when summoning Oni in the third section of the map (typically to try and attack the blue general) the game would crash.
  3. Fixed a bug where if you summoned an Oni on Winter 3 and it got frozen, this would count against you as having one of your allies frozen.
  4. Fixed an issue with campaign maps that allowed players to roam free (such as the middle of Fall 1), if a unit was haunting when the script was triggered it would stop the scene’s progress.
  5. Fixed an issue with round number incrementing that would cause some gold skulls to not be awarded if beating the level in exactly the number of rounds specified.
  6. Fixed an issue with unit discoloration triggering Yuki’s cutscene in Fall 1 where unit colors could stay dark if this was triggered by killing the last enemy with a crow’s Gust spell.
  7. Fixed a bug where the color of second or third flags on a unit will be grayed after a lot of play (powering up units, playing new levels, powering up more units).
  8. Fixed an issue where rice paddy flames would keep displaying after rice paddy was burned/used up.
  9. Fixed a bug where winning a match by gusting the general would show the winning general as darkened during the end of level animation.
  10. Fixed a bug where the particles behind the unit that denote it has been activated that turn would be the wrong team’s color.
  11. Fixed a bug where the save message dialog text stays up after manually saving a game.
  12. Fixed collision bugs in the Lion’s Labyrinth (campaign),  Chaos Canyon (campaign & MP), End of the Line (campaign)
  13. Fixed an issue where when trying to obtain the Summer 2 gold skull for killing enemy camp with Oni requires death only, not all damage. Now the Oni(s) only have to kill the units, you can attack to soften them up as long as you don’t kill them.

Touch interface Fixes –Windows Phone and Windows 8:

  1. Fixed double tap on ally while targeting an ally.
  2. Shrine information dialog box will now activate on double tap.
  3. Fixed issue where if you activated a unit and then tapped a target, by cancelling the unit’s movement it would leave the unit still attempting to reach the same target.
  4. Double tapping spell menu, summon menu, and multi-action menus will now be ignored, and double tap in these menus will be treated as two separate taps.
  5. More consistency has been added in bounding boxes for choosing spell menu, summon menu and multi-action dialogs.

Windows Phone Only Fixes:

Skulls of the Shogun attack post-update

  1. Fix a rendering glitch on HTC 8S phones (most visible on the loading screen and on other screen borders).
  2. Increase the resolution of some art and fonts to look better on Windows Phone 8 devices (with larger displays).

Windows 8 Only Fixes:

  1. Fixed a bug where the AI would play against itself in campaign mode, if you signed out , the signing out process took very long, and you immediately entered another level (with the campaign map already loaded).
  2. Handle touch position scaling correctly when a user changes the “Make Everything Bigger” in the control panel while the game is running.

Skulls Anywhere (all versions):

  1. Fixed crash that could happen when players discovered potions.
  2. Fixed bug where demanded rice in Deadly Alliance will not show in buy menus until alliance is created.
  3. Fixed inconsistent controller rumble during replay.
  4. Fixed bug where MP achievements weren’t being awarded when a player resigns
  5. Fixed bug where team based MP achievement were only being awarded to one teammate.
  6. Added retry dialog if turn send failed because of disconnect.
  7. Fixed bug where when player finishes a match, the end of game stats screen would show immediately.
  8. Made the game more robust to cloud storage failures – if cloud storage of the async game failed or timed out, the game might not recognize that and allow players to continue, meaning the match would appear out of sync (because one player would load an older version of the match).
  9. Fixed a bug where manually ending the turn during the losing general’s death animation would send two turns, causing the game to become out of sync.

Skulls Online (XBLA version):

  1. Fixed a bug where in Ranked mode when replaying 2nd match with the same player you received duplicate player entries.
  2. Removed requirement of two human players remaining in match for ranked mode MP leaderboard posting
  3. Fixed a bug where Match cannot be completed if player leaves after dying.
  4. Removed exit prompt when player leaves Ranked game. If a player left a ranked game game, a dialog would pop up with an option to continue or exit which would encourage people to leave 3 & 4P ranked matches early if one player left.
  5. Fixed bugs where cleansing shrine damage and thorn damage would not sync 100% correctly when playing long matches on MP levels.
  6. Fixed a couple bugs where matches would auto-win when starting (in some cases if your last match had been a team match and then going to a two player match against the same person,  and if the mid-game options change screen could accidentally be  left on team mode for a 2 player match).
  7. Fixed a bug where monk spawning could become out of sync after many units were spawned, on long matches.
  8. Fixed a bug where damage could desync when attacking an Oni within his counterattack range, on ice.

Enhancements (all versions):

  1. Reduced overall difficulty of the Casual setting.
  2. Added Load Game button at the Campaign Game Over screen to make it easier for players to jump straight to an autosave or checkpoint save. Also made the continue option a specific button (A) instead of any button, since now multiple buttons are needed.
  3. Added additional time limits for local multiplayer and Skulls Online: Added 90 second & 2 minute round time limits to local multiplayer and Xbox Skulls Online realtime play
  4. Added playable game count to versus option on main menu. Previously the game count (showing playable games) would be added to Skulls Anywhere menu label under Versus. Now it is *also* added to the Versus label on the main menu so players will have another reminder of games to play.

Skulls of the Shogun Game over post-update

All screenshots from updated Windows Phone version unless otherwise noted.

Thanks to TNT Judbud for the tip!

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Comments

There are 24 comments. Sign in to comment

jayruguitar says:

Windows 8 / Windows Phone 8

uselessrobot says:

It's still running at 800x480, so when I first fired it up I didn't notice a difference. Menus seem to be unchanged.
So I started up a match and noticed that most GUI items, but not all, are sharper. It seems to even apply to stuff like shrines where details like textures are now clear. It looks like anything that zooms in or expands has been touched up, meaning that they've probably increased the resolution of these items. Even the world map in campaign mode seems sharper, but that might be my imagination.
I'd rather see an HD mode, but this is a welcome improvement nonetheless.

mr toes says:

Wow these developers really care! Kudos to them

Jason_JS_G says:

I would like to see Crime City by gree but that could just be me.

danish319 says:

nice...I always wonder is it hard to make a 1280x720 game?? even cut the rope is 800x480..is it a hardware limitation or developers are just lazy??

mrcraggle says:

In the case of this game, it was developed with WP7, tablets and PC in mind and didn't get the SDK for WP8 until it was too late. I was hoping they'd just port down the RT version.

Zeeshan360 says:

It's a WP7 game .. They will have to make another HD version on WP8 , to get benefits of different resolutions

Heavy Rain says:

The best windows phone xbl update to date. That is until Zombies!!! gets updated with asynchronous MP.

hacer619 says:

nice!!! updated
what about this week's xbox live release

tylerh1701 says:

Nice to see them put so much work into the update.  I still haven't gotten around to playing my 360 copy of the game.

Banstyle says:

Would like to actually complete a Shogun game without it desync'ing. There should be a way to win a game if the other player stops playing (like Alphajax enjoys). That would make me come back.

Has this been updated in uk yet coz im just getting the share tab no update.

AraknidX says:

For some reason the Win 8 version is showing as $9.99 for me. How do I get the lower price?

nrask7 says:

It has been $9.99 for the last couple of weeks. Not sure why.

AraknidX says:

Bah, just had a reply from the developers on Twitter: They've confirmed that $9.99 is the correct (and permanent) price for Skulls on Windows 8
https://twitter.com/17_BIT/status/327151722709520384

I still haven't bought it because I fear I will play it extensively on my device and compromise the battery life.

I can honestly say this is so far the most played game on my Windows Phone. I just enjoy it so much. And the developers truly care. Kudos to them! ;)

Cleavitt76 says:

Unfortunately, they seem to have broken skulls anywhere (async online games) for some people with this update. I already finished the single player stuff so async games is all I have been playing lately.

Snow says:

Disappointed that the game is still not full HD. Can they make a separate wp8 version?

Paul Acevedo says:

They could, but it would be a fair amount of work for very little benefit. Most WP8 users who want the game already bought it.

Snow says:

There should be an option that allows an app that runs wp7xx and wp8 to auto scale to hd for wp8 phones and 800x400 for wp7xx without the need to develop 2 separate apps.

Paul Acevedo says:

That would definitely be better, but because WP7 and WP8 have different kernels, etc. I guess it's not possible. WP7 apps run under compatibility mode on WP8 and that's it.