achievements

You can’t count on much from Xbox Windows Phone games (what few there are these days) other than Xbox Live Achievements. But lots of gamers love those, so there exists a significant crossover between Windows Phone gamers and users of the two primary Achievement sites: TrueAchievements and Xbox360Achievements.org.

Surprisingly, neither site has released a Windows Phone app… until now. A developer called Divided Pudding (who also published xkcd Comic Reader back in March) has just released a TrueAchievements app, called TrueAchiever. Despite not using the exact site name, it appears to be pretty much the site’s official app. How does it measure up to the site? Find out in our full review!

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Xbox One: Comprehensive launch review

Eight long years after the Xbox 360 debuted in 2005, its successor console the Xbox One has finally arrived. The new console brings more than just increased horsepower to the table; it also sports an assortment of unique multimedia features and a new Kinect camera/microphone array that kind of works properly this time.

Before we got to this point, the Xbox One suffered through limp reveal events and E3 presentations as well as widespread controversy revolving around initial plans for the console to require an internet connection to function. Since then, Microsoft wisely reversed course on the online requirement and brought its messaging more in line with gamer tastes.

How does the Xbox One stack up to those tastes, the Xbox 360, and its direct competitor the Playstation 4? Find out all that and more in our lengthy and all-encompassing launch review!

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Xbox Windows Phone gamers might have noticed that a Store link for Gameloft’s Kingdoms & Lords has been making the rounds today. Unfortunately, most users are finding they can’t actually download or play the game on their phones. Is it a case of the dreaded 1 GB RAM requirement? Nope, even folks with 1 or 2 GB of RAM can’t get their Kingdoms on.

Windows Phone Central checked in with our friends at Gameloft and discovered just what is happening with Kingdoms & Lords. It turns out the game has soft launched in a few territories but remains mostly inaccessible to users in other regions like the United States. Luckily it will be releasing worldwide next week, so the wait shouldn’t be too hard.

Head past the break for our hands on video, Achievement details, and more!

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Good news for those who enjoy Halo: Spartan Assault, which was released for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 back in July, as the game is set to receive its first upgrade this week. That falls in line with earlier reports that August would see such an update.

The details for the Windows 8 version were revealed on the official Halo Waypoint site with an August 29th release availability. It’s not clear if the Windows Phone 8 version will be updated at the same time, though presumably they will be tied closely together. That version for Windows Phone 8 should also bring support for 512MB devices, as previously reported.

So what can users expect? There’s three big new features here: new missions, new achievements and Xbox 360 joystick support.

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Xbox LIVE has been pushing online multiplayer gaming forward since its launch in November 2002. Microsoft’s online service recently hit 46 million members and isn’t stopping any time soon. With the launch of Xbox One later this year, a collection of new features will be added to the service including smarter matching, a new reputation system, and a new style of Xbox achievements.

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Yesterday’s E3 2013 press conferences gave us lots of juicy console news and game announcements, but our gaming readers who don’t play consoles didn’t get much to chew on from the conferences. Hey, we haven’t forgotten you guys (or me since I love gaming on my phone). We squeezed in a few meetings yesterday and came away with…

Exclusive first footage of N.O.V.A. 3 in action! That’s right, we played Gameloft’s sci-fi First-Person Shooter for Windows Phone 8 and lived to tell the tale. I actually had a little more time to play than usual, and so we can show you lots of highlights of the first level. Head past the break for the video and more details!

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Broken Xbox Achievements aren’t especially common in Windows Phone games these days … Mostly because new Xbox Windows Phone games have become so lamentably rare, not because the certification process has improved. One such game that has suffered from a less-than-working Achievement is Picnic Wars, a Nokia exclusive game from Chillingo that launched a short while ago on January 10th.

In record time, Chillingo and Nokia have published an update to fix up Picnic Wars’ Achievement issue. Learn more after the break.

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When exclusive Xbox Windows Phone/Windows 8 game Wordament jumped ship to iOS, we were perhaps a little disappointed. Windows Phone needs all the exclusive games it can get, and Microsoft doesn’t need to do Apple any favors. Still, the game has gone multiplatform now and there’s no turning back.

In fact, Microsoft just published the most platform-agnostic version of Wordament ever. This one’s playable via HTML5-enabled web browsers. Best of all for Xbox gamers, the web game comes with 50 GamerScore worth of Achievements!

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Alright, so Nokia has a good grasp on what the word exclusive means. But Microsoft takes a more liberal stance towards supporting other platforms. We’ve seen the big MS publish previously Xbox Windows Phone exclusive games to iOS before, such as Kinectimals and Tentacles. It always hurt, but we sucked it up and complained only in small doses.

Yesterday, another exclusive turned coat and migrated to iOS: Microsoft’s own Wordament. I had previously speculated that Wordament could function as a killer app, attracting gamers to Windows Phone with its highly addictive gameplay and smart design. That will no longer happen, but here’s the really bad news: Wordament on iOS is an Xbox Live title complete with real Achievements!

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Wednesday, August 8 was an unusual time for Xbox Live on Windows Phone. The Windows Phone Developer site and Marketplace both underwent some upgrades that week. Not everything went according to plan though, and that week’s new Xbox Live game Sally’s Spa didn’t show up until Thursday the 9th. Coincidentally, the Xbox Live Deal of the Week program came to an unceremonious end that week for unknown reasons.

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Just a week ago, we looked at a number of Xbox Live games whose Achievements were discovered by avid French gamer Zebrasqual: Mirror’s Edge, Battleship, and Fling. I daresay Mr. Squal’s sleuthing rivals my own, as he has uncovered two more future games’ Achievement lists. Both titles will surely appeal to console gamers: Final Fantasy and Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition.

Head past the break for full details on both upcoming games.

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It’s been a while since we’ve had occasion to mention Hasta la Muerte, a December 2011 Xbox Live release from French developer Pohlm Studio. Thought we could not stop for the game, the developers kindly stopped for us, recently releasing the first Hasta la Muerte title update.

Hasta la Muerte version 1.1 release notes

  • Fixed bug that prevented ‘Those dear delicious ravens’ Achievement from unlocking

…And, that’s it. There are 18 tiny ravens hidden throughout the game - see the image above, courtesy of Zebrasqual (full list here). Previously, only 17 would show up as being collected, preventing the associated 20 GamerScore Achievement from popping. Thanks to the update, Hasta la Muerte’s full 200 GamerScore is finally attainable.

We’re always glad when a broken Achievement gets fixed, but it’s disappointing that the update didn’t include Fast App Switching support. Hasta la Muerte was released after the debut of the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango update, but there was a window of time in which some Xbox Live games got pushed through without 7.5 support for various reasons. I would also like to see the game’s main menu undergo a revision – it’s one of the least intuitive menus of any mobile Xbox Live title. Pohlm Studios expressed some interest in fixing those issues when we first spoke to them, so perhaps another update will drop somewhere down the line.

Hasta la Muerte is a curious little maze game with a unique premise and distinct art style. It costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

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Our friends at Xbox360Achievements.org often discover Achievements lists for games before release, and sometimes even before a game’s announcement. Actually, much of the credit goes to French gamer Zebrasqual, who one site called ‘the best Windows Phone gamer in the world.’ Mr. Squal (as I like to call him) makes it his business not just to have the most mobile Xbox Live Achievements of anybody; he’s also great at finding Achievement lists and making them public.

The latest batch of Achievement lists ousted by Zebra and Xbox360Achievements.org include: Battleship and Mirror’s Edge from Electronic Arts and Fling from Miniclip. The two EA games are expected to be timed Nokia exclusives, so don’t let’s get excited about them just yet, non-Nokia owners.

Head past the break for previews of each upcoming Xbox Live game!

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Gun Bros

WPCentral was pleased to bring our readers the first announcement of Gun Bros and Contract Killer, two upcoming Xbox Live games from Glu Mobile. Not only do both games look pretty fun (especially Gun Bros), but they won’t break the bank. That’s because they’re freemium titles, meaning the games themselves cost nothing. Players can opt to spend real money (in the form of Microsoft Points) to purchase items, but PDLC is not required to complete either title.

We have it on good authority that one of these two games (probably Contract Killer) will launch within the next month or two, with the other soon to follow. In the meantime, let’s check out their Xbox Live Achievements! Glu has kindly provided us with the exclusive debut of Gun Bros’ Achievement list. Head past the break to see what it will take to complete Gun Bros and Contract Killer.

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Monster Island’s Xbox Live launch on Wednesday was odd for a couple of reasons. First, only people located in the US could buy it, even though past Miniclip games launched worldwide. Second, one of Monster Island’s Achievements, ‘Big Spender,’ is tied directly to purchasing $3 worth of PDLC. That raised my eyebrows pretty much off my head, and I know I’m not alone.

Only a couple of days after its US-only release, Monster Island no longer shows up while browsing or searching the Marketplace. For all intents and purposes it has been pulled, though you can still grab it from the link in our previous article. Why was it pulled? No official word on that yet, but we do know that Microsoft is actively investigating the Achievement issue, thanks in part to yours truly. The Big Spender Achievement breaking well-known Xbox Live rules and the seemingly erroneous US-only launch are the most likely reasons for the game’s removal.

How did Monster Island end up with an Achievement tied solely to purchasing in-game content? In all likelihood, no one noticed the problem during the certification process. Big Spender’s description, ‘Buy 3 coin packs’ could sound like a normal in-game action to someone who hasn’t played the game or studied it very closely. Of course, part of the certification process should involve testers actually unlocking the Achievements to make sure that they work, at which point the problem would have been spotted. Still, sometimes things slip through, such as Broken Achievements or other bugs.

The important thing here is that Microsoft seemingly realized something was wrong this week and acted quickly to keep it in check by pulling Monster Island. If the practice of literally paying for Achievements was allowed to continue, then Achievements would lose their emotional value. After all, many gamers like me prefer to play Xbox Live games so that we can earn Achievements and share our accomplishments with others. Doubling the cost of a game for 10 GamerScore is not an Achievement.

 We’re still waiting on official word about Monster Island’s Big Spender Achievement and the game’s subsequent disappearance from the Marketplace. If Microsoft releases an official statement, WPCentral readers will be the first to know.

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It’s time to take a break from Sid Meier strategy games for a while and settle into some nice throwing things at other things. I am, of course, speaking of Monster Island, the latest Xbox Live release from Miniclip.

Monster Island is basically a monster-themed version of Fragger. Instead of a grenadier, you’re now a monster who must defeat invading monsters. Aim and throw five different kinds of monster grenades to destroy your stationary enemies. With a whopping 262 levels (and more promised in a future update), it offers plenty of bomb-throwing fun.  

Monster Island features a robust in-game shop in which players can purchase new characters, level unlocks, level skips, and level solutions using in-game currency. Being a Miniclip title, it also allows users to purchase coins with Microsoft Points. That’s not so bad in and of itself, but the Big Spender Achievement actually requires players to purchase not one, but three coin packs!

The cheapest coin pack costs 80 MSP ($1), so users would need to spend a minimum of $5.99 ($2.99 for the base game plus $3 for three coin packs) in order to earn Monster Island’s full 200 GamerScore. Of course, larger packs actually offer more coins per dollar than smaller packs, so why couldn’t the Achievement just be for buying a single pack? More importantly, this is the first Windows Phone title to actually require players to spend additional money in order to get all of the base game’s Xbox Live Achievements. Even among Xbox 360 games that practice is extremely rare (if not prohibited outright), so it’s startling that Microsoft allowed it here.

Perhaps it’s natural for publishers to test the limits of what they can sell to users as PDLC, but many would agree Miniclip has gone too far on this one. It’s a shame too, as without the annoying PDLC component (and multiple in-game pop-ups encouraging players to spend their coins), Monster Island is probably the most robust Angry Birds-type game on Windows Phone. The massive quantity of levels and variety of playable characters and bombs, not to mention some clever level design, certainly makes it worth a look. Could 'Big Spender' have simply slipped through the certification process by mistake? We've contacted Microsoft and will report back if they reply.

Monster Island costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace. Alternately, you can check out the Flash version at Miniclip.com.

Update: Currently the game is only available in the US. We'll let you know when this changes.

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Wordament, the free (ad-supported) Windows Phone indie game from You vs. the Internet, is expected to be re-released as an Xbox Live title on the Marketplace. The multiplayer word game puts players against one another to find as many words as possible from the same grid of 16 letters. The announcement detailing this upgrade was published back in February.

The Xbox Live version -once released- will remain free and ad-supported, much like Minesweeper, Sudoku and Breeze. Before it has time to return with achievements and whatnot, it seems someone has got ahead of themselves at Windows Phone HQ. Should you filter the web Marketplace games catalogue to display Live enabled titles, you'll see an odd listing.

We're not entirely sure why Wordament is present on the Xbox Live list of Windows Phone games, but this further confirms an imminent re-release of the word game. it's good to see such a popular title receive Live features, especially after someone proposed using the game concept. We'll update with more information as it's made available.

Thanks Illum1na for the heads up! 

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