Xbox Live

Skulls of the Shogun will forever be known to Windows Phone enthusiasts as the game that broke the Xbox release drought we went through earlier this year. It also happened to be a fantastic game, despite a few rough edges here and there.

When we met up with one of the game’s developers a few weeks ago, he promised that updates would soon be coming to all three versions of the game: Windows Phone, XBLA, and Windows 7. At last those updates are upon us! We've got an exclusive screenshot comparison and visual breakdown of the revamped Windows Phone visuals, plus full change logs for all three versions of Skulls of the Shogun.

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Cut the Rope: Experiments is a fun Xbox Live game for your Windows Phone 7.x and 8 devices. It hit the Windows Phone Store last week for $2.99 and today, the price has been cut to $.99.

The sequel to the original Cut the Rope has a mad scientist putting the title character, Om Nom, through a wide range of scientific experiments. Cut the Rope: Experiments brings 150 levels of game play to your Windows Phone and at only $.99 may very well be a steal of a deal.

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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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Cut the Rope launched on Windows Phone more than five months ago. Surely gamers have had plenty of time to complete its 275 levels and collect all 825 stars (or at least the 300 needed for an Achievement). What do you do if you’re still dying for more Cut the Rope action?

Well, you could always buy the very similar (and also Xbox Live-enabled) Spider Jack for a buck. But that game’s been out for even longer, so I bet you’ve beaten it too! In which case, you’ll be glad to know that Russian developer ZeptoLabs has just released Cut The Rope: Experiments for Windows Phone 7 and 8. It packs another 150 levels of candy-feeding goodness, but it also costs a bit more than a dollar this time.

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The era of Gameloft Windows Phone 8 support is in full swing. Already the prolific publisher has graced us with an amazing racer (Asphalt 7), two less amazing but still decent open world games (Amazing Spider-Man and Dark Knight Rises), and a surprisingly enjoyable physics puzzler (Shark Dash). It’s almost like they’re single-handedly keeping the Xbox brand alive on Windows Phone.

Now Gameloft follows up with Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, the second Windows Phone title with real-time online multiplayer and the platform’s only first-person shooter so far (until N.O.V.A. 3 comes along). FPS games on the phone are new for many of us - including me. Read on to find out how well Modern Combat 4 works as both a single-player and multiplayer game!

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After last week’s Xbox release of the big-budget, hardware-intensive Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour for Windows Phone 8 devices, many of us could use something lighter this week to cleanse our gaming palates. And heck, Windows Phone 7 gamers surely just want something new to play since their platform skipped a new release last week.

Thankfully ZeptoLabs has come to the rescue. This week’s Xbox release will be Cut The Rope: Experiments, a sequel to Cut the Rope (one of our picks for 2012’s best Xbox Windows Phone games).  Experiments will run on both Windows Phone 7 and 8 devices, so everybody can enjoy it. The only bad news: it will cost a bit more than the first game.

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You’ve probably heard that Miniclip is offering four of its Xbox Windows Phone games for free right now. And as of last week, the Xbox Deal of the Week is back. So with a bunch of games gone free at the moment, does that mean we don’t get a new Deal of the Week today? Heck no it doesn’t!

This week’s deal game is another blast from the past, as it’s been on sale once before. But it’s actually a pretty awesome game that many players might have overlooked: Tiki Towers from Game House. Even better, the sale price is 99 cents this time, the cheapest Tiki Towers has ever been.

Now is the part where I remind you, our dear readers, that the Windows Phone Store doesn’t always update like clockwork. Sometimes price changes take time to go live. Case in point: I’m not seeing Tiki Towers on sale yet. But Microsoft assures us it will go on sale, and I believe them. So just be patient and check later tonight or Thursday; the sale will eventually go on.

Update: The sale is not scheduled to go live until Thursday for some reason. That explains it!

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Earlier this week, Windows Phone Central broke the news that Gameloft’s Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour would be arriving on Windows Phone 8 today.  The wait has been hard, but now Modern Combat 4 is finally here! Not only is it the first First-Person Shooter in the Xbox Windows Phone lineup, but it’s the next best thing to having Call of Duty on your phone.

Modern Combat 4 packs both a full single-player campaign and a robust online multiplayer mode for up to 12 players. Not surprisingly, that means you’ll need a Windows Phone 8 device with 1 GB of RAM and plenty of storage space in order to play it. Head past the break for more details and the all-essential Windows Phone Store link!

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Tower defense is one of my favorite genres because of its versatility. There are so many variations between TD games, from the wholesome simplicity geoDefense to the undying awesomeness of Plants vs. Zombies. Sometimes developers even combine tower defense with action games, allowing players to run around the field attacking enemies in addition to the strategic planting of towers. Zombie Attack 2 did just that a couple of years ago, although somehow the game still ended up a big, stinking pile of boring.

Vampire Rush, a former Nokia exclusive Xbox game for Windows Phone comes from Chillingo and Lithuanian developer A-Steroids. While it doesn’t quite achieve its full potential, Vampire Rush does manage to provide the right blend of strategy and excitement that Zombie Attack 2 so woefully lacked. Read on for our full review!

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Earlier today Miniclip dropped the price of their Windows 8 and RT versions of iStunt 2, Gravity Guy and Monster Island to free titles.

Miniclip has now added the Windows Phone 7.x/8 versions of these games to their free offer. The free offer on the Xbox Windows Phone titles is only for a limited time only. As an added bonus, the Xbox Live game Fragger is also a freebie.

So if you've been on the fence or just want to build up your Xbox Windows Phone gaming library, now's the time to act. Head past the break for all the links and QR Codes.

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We can’t say whether there will be two Xbox Windows Phone releases this week just yet. But we can tell you – and show you – one very exciting game arriving for Windows Phone 8 on Wednesday. Originally announced back in October, Gameloft’s Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour will finally arrive this week! Not only will it be the first Xbox Windows Phone first-person shooter, but it promises even more advanced multiplayer features than we saw in Asphalt 7 earlier this year.

During my recent trip to the Game Developers Conference, I stopped by the San Francisco Gameloft office for a quick tour. Lennon Arcaro, Gameloft’s Account Director was kind enough to walk me through the opening moments of Modern Combat 4. See our world exclusive hands-on footage after the break!

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Of all the offsite meetings we engaged in during GDC, the most pleasant place to visit was probably Electronic Arts’ suite at the St. Regis Hotel. Within that cozy location, Android Central’s Simon Sage and I met with Dan Tausney, PR Manager of Chillingo. As you might remember from our article about their most recent Windows Phone releases, Chillingo is the arm of EA responsible for publishing indie games from all over the world. They’ve been a major Windows Phone supporter and will soon be doing the same for Windows 8 as well.

Check out our hands-on footage with Contre Jour for Windows 8, see your favorite mobile Games Editor in action on video, and learn about Chillingo’s future Windows 8 plans after the break!

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Skulls of the Shogun has been an incredibly important game for Windows Phone and the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole. It’s the first Xbox Live game to cross platforms between the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. It was also the Xbox Windows Phone game that ended the game drought we faced earlier this year. After so many weeks without a new game, Skulls quenched many a Windows Phone gamer’s thirst.

We had the opportunity to speak with Skulls of the Shogun developer 17-BIT twice last year, first at E3 and later Casual Connect. Of course, that was all before the game launched. Now that Skulls of the Shogun is live and in players’ hands, Windows Phone Central jumped at the opportunity to ask 17-BIT’s lead programmer Borut Pfeifer about how the game performed and what players can expect in the future.

Head past the break for the full video interview!

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Galactic Reign was quite the revelation when it appeared on Windows 8 and then Windows Phone 7 and 8 last month. Here was an exclusive strategy game for Windows platforms with cross-platform asynchronous multiplayer, and Microsoft basically forgot to tell anybody about it before release. But it’s definitely worth playing if you enjoy competitive strategy games. Check out our review to learn just how the game works.

One of Galactic Reign’s most unique aspects has to be its large-scale space battles. See, the fleets of ships that clash against each other in the game can number in the thousands. Instead of rendering these battles in-engine, the details about each side’s armada are sent to the cloud. From there, a cinematic video gets constructed and sent back to the game for players to watch.

The technology for those cloud space battles comes from Canadian developer Slant Six games. Last week at GDC 2013, we chatted with Paul Martin, Director of Technology and James Ricker, Cinematics Director about Galactic Reign’s videos and Slant Six Games’ experience working with Microsoft. Head past the break for the full video interview!

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Gameloft has made quite a name for itself as a prolific publisher of core games for smartphones. When we say core games, we mean titles that provide a meatier, more console-like experience than typical mobile games. In fact, most of Gameloft’s lineup consists either of licensed games or clones of popular console games. N.O.V.A. 3 is a Halo clone; Modern Combat 4 replicates Call of Duty, etc. That’s why so many of us love Gameloft – they give us the mobile games that other developers refuse to create.

Still, Gameloft is a big company and it can afford to produce all kinds of games – even a few casual ones – without diminishing its reputation. One such game is Shark Dash for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. No, the world wasn’t exactly crying out for another physics puzzle game. But Shark Dash is just fresh, charming, and affordable enough to make it worth a look. And who can say no to easy Achievements?

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Things have certainly been picking up for Xbox on Windows Phone lately. Not only do Nokia and Chillingo continue pumping out exclusives like Vampire Rush and Storm in a Teacup, but there have been two non-Nokia Xbox releases for several weeks now. The trend continues today as the long-awaited Ms. Splosion Man from Iron Galaxy Studios finally debuts alongside Amazing Alex. That’s the good news.

The bad news? Just like Chaos Rings last week, Ms. Splosion Man is only available for Windows Phone 7 devices! It staggers the mind to think that a Microsoft-published game would launch without Windows Phone 8 support in 2013. Color us all highly disappointed. Of course, Rovio’s Amazing Alex is actually a Windows Phone 8 exclusive, so things sort of balance out… Sorta.

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Ah, Chillingo. Where would Lumia owning gamers be without you? Just a couple of weeks ago, the indie-focused arm of Electronic Arts published a pair of new Nokia exclusive Xbox games: Dream Track Nation and Tiny Plane.  Those ports are a little rough, but the developer PowPowGames already has patches on the way. Besides, more Xbox games is always a good thing, especially after that drought we suffered at the beginning of the year.

Now Chillingo is back with two new Nokia exclusives for Windows Phone 7 and 8, each coming from a different developer. First up is the creatively named Storm in a Teacup from Cobra (makers of iBomber Defense), followed by Vampire Rush from Lithuanian developer A-Steroids. One game will be a hit, while the other seriously needs some work. Make your guesses about which is which and then head past the break to find out the answer!

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A couple of days ago, Microsoft announced a slew of Windows 8 games that would be launching over the weekend. Today several of those games are readily available to download: Shuffle Party, Samurai vs. Zombies Defense, Bejeweled Live, and Delicious – Emily’s True Love. The only one that hasn’t shown up yet is Temple Run Brave (based on that movie I dislike), but I’m sure it will be along sometime soon.

Head past the break to check out our hands-on demonstration of Shuffle Party from GDC, plus quick impressions and download links for the games that appeared alongside it.

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iOS screenshots

Bejeweled Live isn’t the only Xbox game coming to Windows 8 and RT this week. As another GDC celebration, Microsoft has just announced a horde of Windows 8 tablet and PC games that should start becoming available this weekend, plus six more that are planned for the future. Most of these will be Xbox-enabled, but we’re not sure about a few of them. The biggest news is that Windows 8 will have its own Temple Run game to brag about!

Head past the break for the full list!

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