games

World of Rabbit - The Dig is an interesting, well animated adventure game for your Windows Phone. It's really hard to put your finger on what type of game World of Rabbit is. It's part time management, part adventure and part strategy.

You are tasked at managing a rabbit population that will dig deeper into the ground to create burrows that generate energy and food as well as rooms for rest and entertainment. As you generate energy you can build more levels. As you generate more food more rabbits become available.

You use your entertainment and sleep areas to keep your rabbit population happy. World of Rabbit is a game of balance, management and patience with a bit of addictiveness added in for good measure.

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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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Looks like Windows Phone’s big brother Windows 8 has coughed up some interesting details on allowing games to be paused, resumed across various platforms. The Xbox Live games, Minesweeper, Solitaire and Mahjong all seem to indicate we’ll finally experience the dream of picking up one device and resuming play on with another.

Early on in Windows Phones lifecycle, we saw a demo of the continuous client principle with the arcade shooter The Harvest, but so far, this kind of interaction has all but eluded us. Whilst these games are essentially turn-based, this could be the start of great interactive experiences coming to Windows Phone.

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Mush: Xbox Windows Phone Review

People play games for many different reasons: to be challenged, to be stimulated artistically or intellectually, for the narrative, and even for the Achievement points. Not every game needs to be a high-pressure experience or a bombastic assault on the senses though; sometimes you just want to relax and play. In fact, I would argue that calming games are especially suited for mobile play since we often play them on the go during our otherwise hectic days. Mush - from student developers Angry Mango - is just the game for such an occasion.

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At lunch time on Wednesday, we were a bit hesitant to post a story about the Marketplace updating late. What if it updated within the next few minutes after the post went live? As it turns out, we needn’t have worried. Sally’s Spa, this week’s Xbox live release, finally went live around 1 am EST Thursday. That’s officially the latest a Windows Phone Xbox live game has ever been posted. Cheers?

There is some good news, however. While Game House quoted the game’s price as $4.99 to us, it’s actually showing up at $2.99 right now. Could the lower price be a mistake? I don’t know, but if you’re interested in helping Sally start her own spa chain, I would advise buying now rather than waiting. That price increase on Fling makes me antsy! But you know, $2.99 certainly is fair for Sally’s Spa given that it’s a bit shorter than its predecessor Sally’s Salon and retails for $2.99 on iOS anyway.

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Brazilian Windows Phone owners have always complained about the lack of games (including Xbox Live titles) available for the platform, and rightly so. The Brazilian government has strict regulations that require video games (or any 'game') to be certified by its own ratings system, which has proven to heavily delay the release of said games to the Windows Phone Marketplace for owners in the region.

We previously looked at Microsoft adding a batch of 300 titles to increase available content on the Marketplace, but still numbers dwindled compared to other regions. Today, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice filed a statement that plans were in place for games to be certified by distribution companies themselves. 

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As folks ‘in the know’ know, updating a platform’s Marketplace/app store is a challenging and laborious thing. Regular occurrences like publishing the latest Xbox Live game and updating the Deal of the Week might seem (to simple laymen) like things that could be easily set up in advance, but that is not the case at all. If you need proof, just notice how the Windows Phone Marketplace hasn’t updated yet. Challenging, I tell you!

All sarcasm aside, these late updates happen from time to time, most recently in June when Fling was scheduled to launch. Today’s delay means Sally’s Spa is not available just yet, much to my dismay (the last game was seriously fun, naysayers). Nor do we have a new Deal of the Week. Interestingly enough, last week’s sale, Need for Speed: Undercover actually ended on Monday, well before the scheduled end time of Wednesday morning. More evidence that running a Marketplace is super hard? You tell me.

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Namco Bandai’s Windows Phone output has been somewhat uneven so far. Some of their games like Puzzle Quest 2 are great, many are overpriced (Pac-Man Championship Edition DX anyone?), and a few like More Brain Exercise are simply duds.  Their previous release, Pac-Man Kart Rally, fell somewhere in the middle of the quality spectrum, but I respected the developer’s boundary-breaking use of local Wi-Fi multiplayer. Now Pool Pro Online 3 pushes things even further, becoming the first mobile Xbox Live game with true real-time online multiplayer. While its online mode is unparalleled, a few fouls keep Pool Pro Online 3 from being a truly great pool game.

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Windows Phone Game Review: LeaderFlip

I really had no clue on what to expect when I first started playing the Windows Phone game LeaderFlip. It's a jumper game where you jump various world leaders as high as you can in an effort to reach the moon.

Now you might say, "Joy, another jumper game" but LeaderFlip was surprising fun to play. You have enough bonuses to help boost your way up the screen (some in a rather creative way) to keep things interesting. And in the end, while I don't see playing LeaderFlip for marathon sessions, it's not a bad time waster for short bits.

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Over the weekend Windows Phone Central reported on a killer bug introduced in the latest Farm Frenzy 2 update. Since then, developer Alawar notified us that they are indeed aware of the problem and working on a fix. They also let us in on some good news: they have a new game on the Marketplace.

Farm Frenzy 2: Pizza Party is an expansion to the enjoyable Xbox Live game. But unlike its predecessor, Alawar has chosen to self-publish Pizza Party as a non-Xbox Live title. The decision seems to stem from Pizza Party’s similarity to Farm Frenzy 2; it is an expansion, not a true sequel. The Farm Frenzy series is already several games large on other platforms. By publishing this one as an indie title, Alawar can get Windows Phone caught up more quickly and without publishing too many similar Xbox Live releases.

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Last week’s Xbox Live release, Pool Pro Online 3, boasted a highly impressive online multiplayer mode and like, three different pool games. How could this week’s release possibly hope to top that? Why, with girl power of course! Game House has exclusively revealed to Windows Phone Central that Sally’s Spa comes to Xbox Live this Wednesday.

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Windows Phone Review: Cat Lab!

There is a new Windows Phone game on the Marketplace. Cat Lab! is a multi-level game that has you playing the role of a cat who must capture experimental mice that have gotten loose in the lab.

To progress to the next level you have to collect two of the three mice that are scattered about the screen. Cat Lab! starts out a little slow (not necessarily a bad thing) but the challenge grows as the game progresses.

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Saved games gone?

Title updates are usually something to look forward to: they fix bugs, add new features, or restore an Xbox Live Achievement to working order. Sometimes things go awry though. Remember the Shuffle Party update that broke many of the game’s textures? Now we have an even worse example, as the Farm Frenzy 2 version 1.2 update has actually erased multiple people’s saves!

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Zombies continue to invade the Windows Phone Marketplace. Kill Zombies for Money is one of the latest installments and is a multi-level, multi-game mode, fast action title where...wait for it...you have to obliterate zombie hordes.

You play the role of the mercenary searching various areas of the game, tackling missions, earning gold, and making sure the zombies don't make it out alive. Kill Zombies for Money is a decent game for your Windows Phone that is challenging enough to keep you interested for short bits of time.

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Our recent visit to 17-BIT, Seattle-based makers of upcoming Xbox Live strategy title Skulls of the Shogun included a studio tour and interview with founder Jake Kazdal. As much as I enjoyed those parts of the visit, I was still dying to get my hands on the game itself once again. We had a few minutes with the Windows Phone game at E3, but that wasn’t much time to get a grasp on the story mode. Luckily, this time I got to play through the entire first campaign level as well as set up a Skulls Anywhere online game. See our latest hands-on video after the break!

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Remember that Windows Phone Summit that took place in San Francisco last month? It centered around Windows Phone 8, aka Apollo. Microsoft chose to reveal a new Apollo-specific Xbox Live game on-stage during the event: Fairway Solitaire from Big Fish Games. Big Fish is a major producer of casual games on PC and other mobile platforms, so the developer’s signing on to support Windows Phone is a great thing.

As it happens, Big Fish was on-hand at Casual Connect Seattle last week to reveal their new cloud gaming service, Big Fish Unlimited. Of course we took advantage of their presence to set up an exclusive interview with Patrick Wylie, VP of Big Fish Games Studios. Head past the break to learn just what Patrick’s team has in store for Windows Phone and Windows 8!

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During our recent visit to Microsoft headquarters, we had the pleasure of meeting with Beth Goza, Sr. Community Manager at Microsoft. Beth is one of the people in charge of PR for first-party Xbox Live titles on both Windows Phone and Windows 8, you see. She kindly agreed to an interview in which we discuss her favorite Windows Phone games, the ratio of casual to core games in the mobile lineup, Wordament, and other gaming topics. Check it out after the break!

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It’s a great week for Windows Phone gamers. Not only do we get a terrific new release, but the Deal of the Week is a game that’s never been on sale before. Need for Speed: Undercover, a launch title from Electronic Arts is finally on sale for $2.99, down from $4.99.

Now, I wasn’t much impressed with the more recent NFS title, Hot Pursuit – see my review. But Undercover isn’t bogged down with endless grinding or absurd difficulty. It’s just fast racing in beautiful licensed cars, as you’d expect from the series. Just look at our review; it’s pretty glowing.

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