firemint

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Flight Control Review: The seed of proliferation

Let’s face it, all the cool Windows Phone gamer kids are playing Skulls of the Shogun right now, but we can’t review that game until we’ve spent a little more time with it. Instead, we'll take a look at a classic title. Some people felt left out with last week’s Flight Control: Rocket review since that fine game is a Nokia exclusive. As such, it’s high time for our review of the original Flight Control, a game that all Windows Phone 7 and 8 owners can play. Flight Control comes from developer Firemint (now known as Firemonkeys) and Namco Bandai games.

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The original Flight Control from Australian developer Firemint created the line drawing genre. It plays to smartphones’ strengths, allowing players to craft flight paths for incoming aircraft by drawing smooth lines on the touch screen. But the gameplay boils down to endless score runs, limiting its appeal to goal-oriented gamers.

Thankfully Firemint and EA took that consideration to heart when developing their sequel Flight Control Rocket (aka FC Rocket). It improves on the original game in pretty much every way, although the new focus on grinding goes a little too far. Still, FC Rocket is my pick for the most addictive Nokia exclusive Xbox Windows Phone game yet.

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You might have noticed that yesterday’s editorial/news piece about the extended Xbox release drought Windows Phone is currently experiencing made no mention of Nokia exclusives. After all, those exclusives don’t do people who own non-Nokia devices any good. Not one Nokia Xbox game has become available for all Windows Phone devices so far, even six months after the debut of Mirror’s Edge.

Still, in times of release famine, Nokia really does seem to come through for its customers. First they published iBomber Defense back in December, and now they’ve surprised us with another new Xbox game. Picnic Wars from Chillingo is now available for all Lumia devices running Windows Phone 7 or 8. As if that news wasn’t good enough, Nokia exclusive Spy Mouse is now available on Windows Phone 8 devices.

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Wow, Nokia is aggressively aiming to attract Xbox gamers to their Lumia Windows Phones lately. Two weeks ago they published exclusives The Game of Life; Jet Set Go, and Parking Mania out of the blue; their exclusive port of Connect 4 dropped to 99 cents over the weekend; and Mirror’s Edge just became free for all Lumia owners. Chalk another point up to Nokia as two new exclusive Xbox games debut today: Spy Mouse and Trivial Pursuit, both from Electronic Arts.

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Puzzle Quest 2: Xbox Windows Phone Review

Puzzles games often feature enjoyable gameplay, but they rarely give users a reason to keep on playing beyond chasing high scores (or Achievements). That’s what made the original Puzzle Quest so special. Australian developer Infinite Interactive (later bought out by Firemint) had the revolutionary idea of combining the core gameplay of a puzzle game with a sizable RPG adventure. Naturally a slightly less-inspired sequel followed, this time branching out to even more platforms. Namco handled the Windows Phone port of Puzzle Quest 2, squeezing the lengthy console game into a tiny mobile package.

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For a while there it looked like we might not get a Deal of the Week this time around. Thankfully, the clouds finally cleared away and Flight Control emerged from the storm of Marketplace delays. It’s now on sale for $1.99, down from the regular price of $2.99.

Flight Control is the progenitor of the line-drawing genre of casual games. Created in 2009 by Australia-based Firemint (now owned by EA), it became an instant sales phenomenon. The Windows Phone version lags behind the iOS and other versions in terms of features (no HD makeover and only six maps here), but remains a fun and addicting title.

Achievement hunters, prepare for lots of grinding to reach 10,000 planes landed. I’m about 7,000 short on that one… Then again, Harbor Master, another developer’s nautical take on the same concept, has even more grueling Achievements.

Flight Control is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Pick it up here on the Marketplace.

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EA buys Firemint

Electronic Arts, Inc. announced in a press release Tuesday that they will be acquiring mobile software developer Firemint.  Financial details about the deal are not being provided by either party, but it has been made clear that maker of popular games like Flight Control and Real Racing will continue to operate out of Australia.  In a post on their website, Firemint CEO Rob Murray, had this to say to those concerned about the acquisition:

I would forgive people for believing that we didn’t exist before Flight Control, but we’ve been in business since 1999. Before Flight Control and Real Racing, our greatest success was achieved making games for EA Mobile, games like Madden, Sims DJ and Need For Speed Most Wanted. We learned our skills working with the same people that we are partnering with today.

Murray also added, "we have an exciting slate and I think people will be pleasantly surprised with our games this year."  Though Firemint has made games for past versions of Windows Mobile, they have not produced in the WP7 department.  However, given EA's prolific work with Microsoft, this could very well change.

Electonic Arts recently acquired Mobile Post Production Inc., "the worldwide leader in high quality cross-platform development and porting of games for smartphones."  Coupled with the news able Firemint, EA is clearly throwing a huge hat into the mobile gaming ring.

Source: EA, Firemint; Via: AndroidCentral

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