Angry Birds

There isn’t exactly an abundance of Windows Phone 8-specific Xbox Live games out there. Since the launch of Microsoft’s latest mobile OS, we’ve only had two such games to choose from: Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars. As we reported last week, more Windows Phone 8 games are coming, but at least a few are mired in certification woes.

We have both good and bad news to share about this week’s Xbox release. The good: it’s a Windows Phone 8 game! It's not even a Nokia exclusive. Depending on who you ask, the identity of the game is the bad news. It’s Angry Birds Seasons. Yes, after all this time, we get another Angry Birds game instead of something different. But hey, history has proven that people love throwing birds at things, so let’s just be glad another mainstream game has come to our growing platform.

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Finally, after what seemed like an eternity Star Wars fans (who also play Angry Birds) can finally rejoice as version 1.1.2.0 of Rovio’s Angry Birds Star Wars edition has gone live, bringing with it the ‘Hoth’ level update.

The Hoth update famously went live to iOS way back on November 29th, giving Windows Phone users two months and some odd days to ponder what it would be like. In between, a version for Windows Phone 7 also came out that app lacked Xbox Live features. Only the version for Windows Phone 8 received the ‘Hoth’ update today.

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Over the last couple of months, Windows Phone Central has been highly skeptical and/or critical of Microsoft’s dedication towards Xbox games for Windows Phone. As the weeks without a new Xbox release (excluding Nokia exclusives) have grown, so has our certainty in an underlying problem. This culminated with a game developer stepping forward to explain Microsoft’s reticence towards approving new Xbox projects, not to mention the conspicuous snubbing of Windows Phone in the announcement of the multiplatform WSOP: Full House Pro.

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If you're an Angry Birds fan and own a Nokia Lumia 610 we may have some good news for you.

We had heard back in May that Rovio was going work on optimizing Angry Birds for the Lumia 610. While it may have taken six months to accomplish, it is our understanding that Rovio has optimized all versions of the Angry Birds games to work with the RAM memory limits of the Lumia 610.

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One of the key differentiators for Windows Phone the past few years has been on the go access to the Xbox service and Xbox enabled games. We’ve had some popular ports like iStunt 2 (Dan's favorite) and Plants vs. Zombies. Windows Phone has also had its fair share of original and exclusive titles, fun games like Chicken Can’t Fly and Mush. Over on the Xbox website, we can see the first set of upcoming titles to be Xbox Live enabled.

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Just as we have seen with Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space has joined the Windows Phone 7 gaming lineup at the Windows Phone Store.  The Windows Phone 7 version of Angry Birds Space is not an Xbox title, as is the case with the Windows Phone 8 version of the game.

Angry Birds Space features over one hundred thirty levels of play pitting your angry birds lineup against space pigs. The Windows Phone 8 version offers over one hundred fifty levels.  Beyond that, game play on the two versions is just about the same.

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When Angry Birds Star Wars appeared on Windows Phone 8 back at the beginning of November, early adopters of the new mobile OS had reason to celebrate. The latest installment in Rovio’s hugely popular franchise launched simultaneously on WP8, iOS, and Android, whereas most Windows Phone Xbox games appear months or even years after debuting on the other mobile platforms.

However, another group of Windows Phone owners wasn’t quite so happy about ABSW’s WP8 status: Windows Phone 7 users. Nokia quickly announced that ABSW would soon come to Windows Phone 7 too, but with no time table we couldn’t be sure if it was an empty promise or not. As it turns out, Angry Birds Star Wars has just appeared on Windows Phone 7 – exactly one month after Nokia promised it.

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It was just 4 days ago that Rovio updated Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars for Windows Phone 8. Both games jumped to version 1.1 and at the time, we did not notice any changes in the games nor new features.

And on this Thanksgiving day, version 1.2 has rolled out for both games--hey, at least they're keeping them consistent! Once again to our untrained eye (we're not hardcore 'bird players around here) we don't see anything new--no new levels and they're still Windows Phone 8 only. But we suppose there are some important "fixes" that are necessary for the updates.

But there's also a potential problem...

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Looks like Rovio’s commitment to Windows Phone is a fact as both their new Star Wars and Space games for Windows Phone featuring perturbed fowl just got bumped to version 1.1

Unfortunately that’s about all we can tell you at this point as there were no change logs nor are there any new levels, including that yet-to-be-released Hoth round. And yes, both games are still locked to Windows Phone 8 as far as we can tell.

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Although Angry Birds is admittedly getting a little tired these days, it's still kind of fun to see the Star Wars variant in action. Actually, the bigger news is the fact that the Windows Phone 8 version launched at the same time as the Android and iOS versions (gasp!). Folks, we now have platform parity.

We decided to fire up the game to wet your whistle on what the game offers. Sure, it's not going to redefine mobile gaming but we're psyched to know this game is available just in time for AT&T's big push tomorrow. And the game is fun, with those silly birds getting some Force powers and some clever use of the Star Wars sound effects. Plus for $0.99 we can't complain. 

Check the above video and yes, Lumia 7.5 users should be getting this soon too.

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Yesterday, Angry Birds Space became the first Windows Phone 8 game available for purchase. While its appearance may have disappointed those Windows Phone 7 gamers who can’t upgrade to WP8 anytime soon, Space is exactly what WP8 needed to kick off its bid to seriously compete with iOS and Android. Sure, the game arrived about 7 months later than on competing platforms, but it’s timed perfectly with Microsoft’s new mobile OS launch.

Today Windows Phone Angry Birds fans discovered even better news. Angry Birds Star Wars, first announced for Windows Phone alongside every other version on October 8, has just launched for Xbox on Windows Phone 8. That’s right, day and date with the iOS and Android versions! That’s a far cry from the days when Rovio almost couldn’t be bothered to even announce a WP version, let alone support WP7 Angry Birds with the same updates as the other platforms.

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With the news that Windows Phone 8 devices will officially launch this Friday, November 9th, it probably wouldn’t hurt for Microsoft to have a WP8 game available for users to purchase. It just so happens that this week’s Xbox Live release will require Windows Phone 8. Not only that, but it’s a pretty popular title: Angry Birds Space from Rovio Entertainment.

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Lost in the fuss over the launch of Windows 8 news we overlooked this the other day. Angry Birds in space is now available in the Microsoft Store.

Can you be an “app store” without at least on version of Angry Birds being present? If that’s the yard stick then many will breathe a sigh of relief to see the game pop into the store right from launch day!

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Take it for what it's worth but Rovio has announced a new Angry Birds game for our Windows Phone. Angry Birds Star Wars combines the gaming action of Angry Birds with the settings of the Star Wars movies.

According to Peter Vesterbacka, CMO of Rovio,

"This is the best Angry Birds game we’ve ever done. It’s the best parts of Angry Birds with all new cutting-edge gameplay set in in a galaxy far, far away. As a big Star Wars fan myself, I’m really excited about this new universe. The Force is definitely strong with this one."

Angry Birds Star Wars is expected to become available worldwide on November 8th and was developed for iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle Fire, OSX, Windows 8 and Windows Phone.  The wording of the presser leaves us uncommitted to a Windows Phone date. While November 8th is revealed as the launch of the game, the official wording does not connect that date to all platforms, which we would find difficult to believe as launching simultaneously. 

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Windows users will be helping pigs fly shortly

Rovio, the makers of the ever popular IP Angry Birds, has released a new game called Bad Piggies (www.badpiggies.com). In previous Angry Birds games plays had to use multiple types of bird to knock out pigs who stole their eggs. The pigs return in Bad Piggies (hence the name), but are in fact the protagonists this time around.

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It’s always interesting to see a popular mobile phone game jump to consoles. Xbox 360 has already received Fruit Ninja Kinect (which turned out pretty well other than the crummy menus), and Doodle Jump is coming with Kinect controls too. That only leaves one other major casual franchise to make the jump: Angry Birds! Well, just as Angry Birds Space is coming to Windows Phone eventually, so too are several Angry Birds games coming to Xbox 360 in the form of Angry Birds Trilogy.

Rovio’s popular bird-flinging series will be published on consoles by Activision (best known for their Call of Duty franchise). Angry Birds Trilogy contains the first three series entries: Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio, and Angry Birds Seasons. For those keeping score, only the first game made it to Windows Phone, where it has languished with only a single title update and no Mango support. A patch for 256 MB devices is supposedly coming, at least. But hey, at least it only costs 99 cents nowadays!

With the Xbox 360 being the number one console as opposed to the current third-place position of Microsoft’s mobile OS, we can certainly expect Trilogy to receive much better support as far as content updates go. However, free updates are extremely scarce on the 360 (Minecraft: XBLA Edition had to get special permission for regular updates), with PDLC much more the norm. Rovio and Activision haven’t commented on exactly episodes (sets of levels) are included in Trilogy or their DLC plans, so these things remain to be seen.

Head past the break for more detals, screenshots, and pricing info!

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Although we’re still stuck with plain ol’ Angry Birds on Windows Phone, Rovio may finally be embracing Microsoft. Rovio now has a few titles coming to the Windows Phone platform including Angry Birds Space.

The latest franchise though is ‘Amazing Alex’ which is just about to launch on iOS and Android. The game is another physics-based puzzler where users must place objects on the screen in a certain way to cause a chain reaction. The game isn’t an original Rovio title as another firm, Mystery Coconut, released it in 2011. Rovio later picked it up and tweaked it a bit (evidently it wasn’t much of a hit, initially).

In a tweet to the Nokia Blog’s Mark Guim, Rovio confirmed that “PC, Mac & Windows Phone versions are to come later, post launch”.

That’s good news and bad news, of course. The good news is Rovio is at least thinking of Windows Phone users which may be due to the Nokia intervention that has evidently occurred. The thought being that Nokia is assisting Rovio with the process of bringing games over to Windows Phone, either financially or with developer support. The bad news is iOS and Android still get it first.

No word on what “come later” means in actual human time but at least it’s in the works. 

Source: Twitter, BBC; Thanks, Sabita M., for the tip

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A few days ago some sites made some hay over the fact that the Nokia Lumia 610 (and any other 256MB devices) can't run certain apps or games. Some of the big titles thrown out include Tango Video Calls, Skype and and Angry Birds which at first blush appears to be bad news. Insert fragmentation commentary, yadda yadda.

While certainly true, the situation is far from permanent or dire. In short, neither app has been updated for 256MB devices as requested by Microsoft. There's no real reason why Angry Birds can't be optimized for 256MB devices, nor presumably Tango Video Calls. Heck, Angry Birds has barely been updated at all on Windows Phone.

That's about to change though as Rovio is working on a 256MB optimized version for the Luma 610 and any other low-end Windows Phones. Heidi Lemmetyinen, Editor-in-Chief, Nokia Conversations, responded in comments on Nokia's Blog with the following (translated):

"The Rovio team is currently being Angry Birds Lumia 610 for the optimized version. Yet it is not therefore available to the public but we've known about this.  We will notify you, of course as soon as possible."

So bump in the road? Yes. Permanent fiasco? Hardly. We expect Angry Birds and the remaining 5% of apps and games to be updated over the coming weeks as the Lumia 610 and other 256MB start to come online. Let's not forget: Nokia and Rovio have forged a partnership to fast-track Angry Birds Space and their other titles to Windows Phone, so making their previous title compatible with the 610 shouldn't be a surprise.

Sorry folks, nothing to see here. Time to move along.

Be sure to check our demo of Skype on the Lumia 610 and our unboxing video for more info.

Source: Nokia; via Nokia HD Blog; Thanks, simone, for the tip

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