sega

As deal-savvy gamers might have noticed by now, the Xbox Windows Phone Deal of the Week is now technically a part of Microsoft’s Red Stripe Deals, which roll out every Thursday. Basically three Windows Phone apps or games go on Thor’s Day, one of which will be an Xbox Live title. Well, a rose by another name smells just as sweet, and we’ll continue reporting on the Xbox sale game prior to Thursday as we’ve always done.

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Earlier today we discovered that a non-Xbox version of SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball 2 has become available for free to Nokia handset owners. Distributing an ‘indie’ version of an already existent Xbox game is pretty much without precedent. Sure, Angry Birds Space and Star Wars for Windows Phone 7 don’t have Xbox Live features like their Windows Phone 8 brothers, but those are at least completely different versions of the same games. The free version of Super Monkey Ball 2 has simply had its Xbox Live features stripped.

It looks like free games from SEGA for Nokia users may be a trend, because a second game has just showed up as part of the Nokia Collection. SEGA’s phenomenal Sonic CD is now available for free for Nokia owners, once again without the Xbox Live features of the general version. (Somebody forgot to remove the Xbox banner from the game's Live tile though.) The lack of Achievements might just kill much of the replay value of this particular game but people who just want to experience the game will still have loads of fun.

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We’re not sure how Nokia does it (well, we guess money) but they’ve once again managed to give Lumia users something for nothing again. Sega’s Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition, or just SMB2:SE for you shorthand types, is now live in the Nokia Collection and is completely free.

Now the big difference here is this is a non-Xbox Live branded version. That’s good news and bad news as it means you can’t grab those precious Achievements if that’s your thing. Luckily for us, it’s not (though our games guru Paul is surely in another camp). The good news, as we’ve outlined before in our ongoing Xbox games critique is this game can potentially be updated now more frequently.

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In case you hadn’t noticed, your friendly neighborhood Windows Phone Central gaming editor is a big fan of SEGA. While the publisher only operates at a fraction of the size it once did, it continues to produce numerous quality digital titles, plus a fair quantity of worthwhile retail releases.

Last week, we gave the Xbox Windows Phone version of Sonic CD a well-deserved glowing review. This week, we’ve got two mini reviews of SEGA’s latest Xbox 360 offerings: the retail release of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Sega Vintage Collection: ToeJam & Earl for Xbox Live Arcade. Read on to learn about one of the best kart racers ever and a collection of unique Sega Genesis classics.

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Last year’s Windows Phone Xbox Live Black Friday Week Sale wasn’t terribly exciting, but it did put three games on sale at once, a quantity only equaled in the Countdown to 2012 Sale a month later. A lot has happened between then and now, and today Microsoft has really upped the ante. The 2012 Black Friday Week Sale is live and includes a whopping six discounted Xbox Windows Phone games!

Head past the break for sale details, game impressions, and Xbox 360 Black Friday news too.

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Sonic CD is quite a unique entry in the Sonic the hedgehog series. It’s got everything players loved about the Sega Genesis Sonic games, such as fast movement, deep backgrounds, great music, and plenty of personality. But it also adds new time travelling mechanics to learn, a strong focus on exploration and side goals, and another unique set of Bonus Stages. Check out our review for an in-depth discussion of these features.

Getting all of the Achievements could be hard for players new to the game, but we’re here to help! Head past the break for our Achievement Guide, complete with maps that actually label important locations. You’ll have the full 200 GamerScore in no time!

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Sonic CD: Xbox Windows Phone Review

A few years ago, an Australian Sonic fan named Christian Whitehead created a proof of concept of a reprogrammed version of Sonic CD for iOS. The demo video quickly vanished, but not due to a copyright claim from SEGA. Instead, the house that Sonic built actually displayed unprecedented coolness by hiring Christian to fully develop Sonic CD for multiple devices, including the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone. After interviewing SEGA about the game, we came away excited.

The WP7 version appeared 11 months later than the XBLA one, prompting many to wonder whether it had been discreetly canceled. Luckily, the Aussie dev continued plugging away on the XNA port of his Retro Engine, and now Windows Phone gamers can enjoy a virtually perfect port of Sonic CD.

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It’s been a long time coming. SEGA first announced Sonic CD for Windows Phone way back in August 2011. We then interviewed Ken Balough, Sonic’s brand manager, shortly before the Xbox 360 version launched on December 14 of that year. At the time, there was no indication that the WP7 port would arrive dramatically later than the XBLA one… But here we are in November 2012, and the game is finally available. Good news: it was worth the wait!

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Many Windows Phone gamers are familiar with French developer Arkedo’s WP7 launch title, OMG: Our Manic Game. It’s not their best work, but still a pretty little shoot-em-up. Fast forward to this year and Arkedo has actually just released their best game yet (with the help of SEGA as publisher): Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit for Xbox Live Arcade.

We’ve got full impressions of both Hell Yeah! and Jet Set Radio after the break, plus more SEGA XBLA news!

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Let’s face it; there just aren’t enough monkeys in your life. That’s where SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition comes in. The Super Monkey Ball sequel is now available on the Marketplace and as expected, it’s packed with both monkeys and balls. How could you go wrong?

After the first game’s high levels of crapulence, I was concerned that Super Monkey Ball 2 might follow suit. Well, it's pretty much the same, for better or worse. The tilt controls are as finicky ever, often making it a challenge to slow the monkey ball or bring it to a stop. A new tilt meter at least shows how the game is reading your device’s tilt, slightly reducing the difficulty. Basically, the tilting is not as good as a virtual stick could have been, but you can get used to it after a level or two.

The secondary goal of earning crowns on every level (by picking up all 10 bananas without dying) is just as frustrating as before. If you fail to earn a crown on a level, you’ll have to play a batch of 10 levels in order to get return to it and have a shot at earning the crown again. Smart ideas like allowing players to pause and retry a level or pick a specific level and try for its crown have sadly remained in the waste bin, covered in discarded banana peels and (presumably) empty whisky bottles. Anyway, if you can put aside the desire to get all the crowns (hard as that is for Achievements lovers to do), the game will be a lot more enjoyable and less frustrating.

SMB 2 definitely one-ups its predecessor in one key area: minigames. All three minigames: Monkey Bowling, Monkey Target, and Monkey Golf work nicely and have easy Achievements. The minigames only support pass-and-play multiplayer though, unlike the iOS version, which had local Wi-Fi multiplayer. Perhaps this one got ported before Microsoft finally started allowing Wi-Fi multiplayer. You never really know with Microsoft; they don’t seem to have a coherent multiplayer game plan for Windows Phone.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to Zebrasqual for the tip!

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The new Monkey Target minigame

Back when we discovered Final Fantasy would be coming to Windows Phone, we also learned about another upcoming Live title: Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition from SEGA.  Well, Final Fantasy just launched two weeks ago to much acclaim, and now we’re due for some monkey business. Super Monkey Ball 2 arrives on June 27.

As you can see from our exclusive screenshots, Super Monkey Ball 2’s graphics are now fully 3D (the original used 2D sprites for the monkeys). It’s also said to have better controls and stage design. Let’s hope so, because the first game was far too frustrating. 125 stages, six themed worlds, and some tough Achievements will ensure a lengthy experience. One of those Achievements is tied to the game’s new 4-player mode. Hopefully said mode uses the internet rather than local Wi-Fi, but Microsoft wasn’t able to say either way at press time.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition rolls out on Wednesday, June 27 and will cost $2.99… We’re cautiously excited for it.

Update: Multiplayer will be pass-and-play only. Bummer. Good for Achievement hunters though!

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The illustrious club of 99 cent Xbox Live games on Windows Phone has a new member this weekend: Super Monkey Ball from SEGA. The game rolled out at $4.99 on April 6 last year; dropped to $2.99 only a month later; and has at last settled on the rock-bottom price of less than a dollar.

Should you buy the first Super Monkey Ball right now when a much-improved sequel is due later this summer? Sure, if you can tolerate some truly terrible tilt controls. The awful, non-customizable controls and sadistic stage design are really the only things holding SMB back. The core gameplay itself always makes for a good time. The graphics feature very appealing art and color design, and the music isn’t bad either.

On top of the general difficulty issues and nearly impossible final level, there is a ‘semi-broken’ Achievement which does not match its description. ‘Crowned Champion’ actually requires players to earn a crown on every single level rather than just one world - a super tough feat. For more details, check out our review.

Super Monkey Ball now costs 99 cents and there is a free trail. Get it here from the Marketplace. Follow this tag to see more 99 cent Xbox Live games.

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Sonic 4 Episode II Xbox 360 Impressions

Windows Phone Central has eagerly covered SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II ever since its first official announcement. The Windows Phone version is still due out in July, but the console and PC versions have already arrived. As such, here are my impressions of Sonic 4: Episode II on Xbox Live Arcade.

Episode II has a larger budget than the original game and it shows. The game starts out with an actual intro sequence, followed by more story bits later on. Graphically, Sonic and Tails are fully 3D and look great in close-ups like those in the bonus levels. The backgrounds feature more interesting and varied locales than before, such as White Park’s snow-covered theme park. New lighting and show effects impress as well. These graphical improvements extend to the currently-available iPhone version, so expect a similar boost on Windows Phone as well. I wish I could say the music had improved, but it sounds as unimpressive as the last game. Can’t have everything, I guess.

As with Episode I, there are four zones, each with three acts a piece. My favorites are the third and fourth zones, Oil Desert and Sky Fortress. The desert stage involves features unique set pieces like sliding down oil slicks, jumping to avoid sinking into quick sand, and frantically climbing silos as they fill with more death-dealing sand. Sky Fortress starts out with Sonic riding along on Tails’ biplane, just as he did in Sonic 2. After that engaging aerial sequence, look forward to navigating the exterior of an airship, running along walls, and firing Sonic from cannons to reach new areas.

Head past the break for more Xbox 360 impressions and details on the upcoming Windows Phone port!

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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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For a few short hours yesterday, anyone who preordered Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II on Steam (the most popular provider of downloadable PC games) had the chance to download and play a near-complete beta version of the game. Not long thereafter, somebody realized the error, removed the beta, and deactivated it from users' Steam libraries. Before that happened, several players managed to rush through the game, capturing some lovely new screenshots and videos for the rest of us to see.  This sneak peak gives us a feel for what's in store for our Windows Phone later this summer.

Head past the break for new gameplay details and videos.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, the long-awaited sequel to Sonic 4, finally has a release date. And when I say that, I don’t mean just the Xbox 360 version has a release date. Even the Windows Phone and PC versions have them! That’s something you don’t see every day.

The information comes from a new trailer that debuted at GameSpot today. The Playstation 3 version rolls out on Tuesday, May 15; the XBLA version on May 16; iOS and PC versions sometime in May; Android in June; and last, but certainly not least, the Windows Phone port comes in July. Considering the wait for Sonic CD, a mere two months for Sonic 4 Episode II doesn’t sound so bad.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, Sonic 4 Episode II will also reportedly be the first Xbox 360 game to feature synchronous game play with Windows Phone, meaning you can pause your game on your phone and pick up the game in the same spot on your Xbox 360.

The other big news revealed in the trailer is that the already-released Sonic 4 Episode I is getting a surprising new feature. Gamers who buy both Episode I and its sequel will unlock Sonic’s robotic rival Metal Sonic in Episode I! Plus four new levels. How’s that for Lock-on technology? The new content won’t cost anything extra besides the purchase of Episode II. The trailer doesn’t mention whether any platforms will miss out on the Metal Sonic bonus (besides Wii, heh), so it’s safe to assume that he’ll be coming to Windows Phone as well.

Sonic 4 Episode II coming to Windows Phone in July is great news, but what about Sonic CD? That game hit XBLA, PSN, iOS, and Android in December and PC a month later in January. The Windows Phone port is nowhere to be seen, and we have it on good authority that it’s definitely not releasing in the next two weeks. Readers keep asking about Sonic CD, so we’ll repeat what we know. WPCentral has repeatedly asked SEGA, Microsoft, and even the actual developer of the Sonic CD remake for a status update or estimated release date for the Windows Phone port. Even if the game has no concrete release date (few Windows Phone games get solid dates more than two weeks in advance), it certainly has an internal projected date. They simply won’t tell us or make any comment on the subject. Disappointing, but at least we now know it’s likely to come out before July!

Source: GameSpot; Thanks Aaron K. for the tip!

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Now that SEGA has revealed Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II to the world via a gameplay footage trailer, they’ve releasing more and more information and assets for the game. But these details are spread out all over the place online, and who has time to find them all? I do, of course!

First up, the Sonic 4 website has been updated to provide story, character, and background info about the new game. The official Episode II story:

"The fierce battle from Episode I was only an overture…

What was Dr. Eggman searching for in the Lost Labyrinth?

What was Mad Gear built for?

They were all a mere puzzle piece of a grandiose project schemed by Dr. Eggman.

As Little Planet, where “Sonic CD” took place, approaches Sonic’s world once again, Dr. Eggman’s whole scheme will be revealed!"

I love how it ties both Episode I (which had no in-game story) and Sonic CD into Episode II’s events (which Ken Balough mentioned in our interview last year). The site also reveals what happened to Metal Sonic after his defeat in Sonic CD, details about several of Episode II’s new robotic enemies, and descriptions of two of the game’s expected four zones, Sylvania Castle and White Park Zone.

The SEGA blog is also a great source of Episode II news. They’ve posted a ton of shiny new screenshots. Remember, the screenshots are from the Xbox 360 version of the game; SEGA is playing the mobile versions close to its chest for the time being. Concept art is shared across all versions though. The aforementioned blog has a few bits of artwork here and here. Want more concept art? The Sonic Facebook page has seven more pieces, mostly depicting Sonic’s enemies.

Sonic 4: Episode II has no official release date yet, but the XBLA and PSN versions will likely launch in May. We expect the Windows Phone version to arrive several months later. In the meantime, SEGA will surely keep pumping out more Episode II art and details. WPCentral will keep you posted!

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SEGA officially announced Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II way back in December, but the reveal didn’t include a true glimpse of the game. We can now get much more excited over Episode II thanks to a proper trailer that shows off the game’s beautiful new graphics engine.

Sonic 4: Episode II marks the return of Sonic’s sidekick Tails, who sat out the previous game. The console versions will include 2 player co-op play, while we can assume the mobile versions won’t. Either way, Sonic and Tails seem to have some new co-op moves, which should make Tails a more valuable partner than he was back in Sonic 2.

The physics engine has been given a complete overhaul in response to fan feedback, which should improve Episode II’s reception. Similarly, the new graphics will likely elicit smiles from Sonic fans. The backgrounds are simply lush with colors and detail. The characters match the backgrounds much better than before thanks to being rendered in full 3D (the gameplay remains 2D). Phone versions will likely fake the 3D characters with 2D sprites, but you never know.

Like Episode I before it, the new game will be made up of four distinct zones based on stages from classic Sonic games. The new levels do seem to show a bit more inspiration in their design, but that could be the pretty graphics talking. More importantly, the 3D halfpipe bonus stages from Sonic 2 and the Saturn and PC versions of Sonic 3D Blast return. Let’s hope the classic bonus tune makes it in too – it sounded beautiful in 3D Blast.

The XBLA version of Sonic 4: Episode II have a rumored release date of May 16. If Sonic CD is anything to go by, we can expect the Windows Phone version to come several months later. Speaking of which, WPCentral has learned that WP7 Sonic CD is still in development, having been started later than every other version. Hopefully it lands before Episode II makes it out on consoles!

Source: Sonic Retro

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Just days after we reported that Blue Tomato, the brand renaming of Sonic's Jewels, was submitted to the Marketplace, we're excited to announce that it's back and ready for downloading.

Blue Tomato is the Sega Game Gear and Master System emulator that first appeared on the Marketplace a few weeks ago. Since then, Sega appropriately exercised their copyright claim on "Sonic" and any Sega images from the emulator, causing the app to be pulled from the Marketplace. Now it's back with a new name, new graphics and even a sound engine on board making this in our opinion well worth the $1.99 $1.29 should you so desire this type of app.

Folks who previously bought Sonic Jewel's should be able to just "update" to this version with no new incurred costs. Hit us up in comments and let us know what you think. Grab Blue Tomato here in the Marketplace for $1.99 $1.29 with a free trial.

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If you've been following the saga of Sonic's Jewels 7 (SJ7), you'll remember that the popular Sega Master System and Game Gear emulator was due for a nice sound update. That update actually did hit the Marketplace but only for a few hours before it was pulled due to a copyright claim by Sega.

Our own Rafael Rivera worked with the developer to sort through the claim, which revolved around the use of Sonic the Hedgehog and the dev was quoted as saying it will return. The condition of returning though would be to shed all of Sega's copyrights--images and names--in order for it to presumably pass the Marketplace certification. We spoke of this on the last podcast where the name "Blue Tomato" was tossed out as the new name.

Now we got word that Blue Tomato is in the certification process in the Marketplace and the developer has posted some screenshots, showing off the new artwork. The most pertinent question though many of you have is this: Will I have to re-buy the emulator? The answer appears to be "no" as this will by just another update to the existing Marketplace spot for the app. Certainly that should make some of you relieved.

Moreover, that sound update will be included as well as "better game loop" and Zip support, which should make things a lot easier for users. We'll keep you posted if/when the app passes and is re-available for download again.

Source: Facebook

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