Xbox Live

Major Nelson has kindly started tallying the top Xbox LIVE games for Windows Phone on his site (before it was only the console).

While nothing groundbreaking, it's kind of nice to get insight into what sells and what doesn't e.g. SIM3 is at #13, despite being, you know, terrible (see review). The top five games though were:

  1. Sonic the Hedgehog 4
  2. Doodle Jump
  3. geoDefense
  4. Hydro Thunder GO!
  5. Rise of Glory ('Deal of the Week')

Sure enough, the top four are part of the 'must-have-games' campaign and we have to agree that they're all pretty much worth it.

Source: Major Nelson; Thanks, Karl C, for the heads up

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As the 6 Weeks of Must-Have Games draws near its end, Popcap’s Plants vs Zombies is finally available on the Marketplace.

Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense game like no other. Zombies are invading the player’s home, and only a host of attack plants will fend them off. The variety of towers, err, plants at your disposal (49 in all!) is amazing and allows for all kinds of strategies. Adventure Mode’s 50 levels will take a fair while to plow through, but that’s only half the game. 19 unlockable minigames really do flesh out the package and keep the fun going. Even when you’re not playing, don’t be surprised if the catchy soundtrack (including a brilliant music video during the end credits) gets stuck in your head.

Plants vs. Zombies costs $4.99 on Windows Phone and there is a free trial. Harvest it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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It’s a very Popcap week on Xbox Live. Not only are all of Popcap’s Xbox 360 games on sale, but the Bejeweled Live is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week on Windows Phone. It’s on sale for $2.99 (the price it always should have been, many would say), down from $4.99.

Bejeweled is the classic match-3 puzzle game that has enchanted casual gamers across a variety of platforms. If you’re hungry for a simple puzzle game to play whenever a spare moment pops up, Bejeweled is a good place to look. As our review indicates, the Windows Phone version has three ways to play: Classic, Race the Clock, and Endless. It’s also got some tough Achievements despite being a casual title, but that’s Popcap for you. Don’t ask me about XBLA Zuma’s Achievements or we’ll be here all night.

Bejeweled Live is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. Grab it here on the Marketplace.

If you’d prefer some console Bejeweled action, both Xbox 360 versions are on sale too: the fast-paced and multiplayer-oriented Bejeweled Blitz Live for $2.50/200 Microsoft Points and regular old Bejeweled 2 for $5/400 Points. From a PC or Mac, you can purchase Blitz here and Bejeweled 2 here.

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Rise of Glory is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

We recently mentioned Rise of Glory in our article about broken Achievements in Windows Phone games. The long-delayed update to fix the game’s Achievements hasn’t been released yet, but on the positive side, the game is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. It’s on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

Rise of Glory is the Windows Phone version of iPhone flight simulation Skies of Glory. It puts players in the cockpit of a World War I-era fighting plane. Our review praises the game’s tilt controls and 3D graphics. The controls are challenging, in a realistic way. I pretty much just crashed repeatedly when I tried it, but hopefully you’re more coordinated than me.

Rise of Glory is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. If you’re itching to take to the skies, pick it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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For many gamers, Xbox Live Achievements are the Windows Phone platform’s main selling point. They provide primary and secondary goals to strive for in games. They also make it easy for other people to see what you’ve accomplished. Earning Achievements contributes to GamerScore – an overall score that quantifies a person’s accomplishments across Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Games for Windows Live games. It’s a brilliant and addictive system.

Except when something goes wrong. Despite the apparently rigorous testing that games undergo during the Xbox Live certification process, sometimes a game is released with one or more with unobtainable Achievements. We call an Achievement broken or glitched when it is impossible for gamers to unlock through any means.

Why are glitched Achievements a big deal? As I said, people get addicted to earning Achievements. Obsessive compulsive types eat them up. People who really buy into the Achievement system sort of calculate the full 200 GamerScore into a game’s purchase price. They feel ripped off if they can’t get the full 200 no matter what they do. Even for less compulsive gamers, it can be frustrating to go through the effort to satisfy an Achievement’s unlock conditions and find that it didn’t unlock.

Head past the jump for the full list of broken Xbox Live Achievements and what’s being done to fix them.

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Doodle Jump - Review

Slowly but surely, all of the major iPhone gaming hits are finding their way to Windows Phone. It’s important that Microsoft’s young platform has the games that people like and want to play. The latest game to make the jump to Xbox Live is Doodle Jump, originally developed by Lima Sky. The Windows Phone version was ported by Mr. Goodliving (who were shut down by owner RealNetworks prior to the game’s actual release) and Game-Lion Studios. Doodle Jump has been a huge success on other platforms due to its unique, appealing art style, precise accelerometer-based controls, and easy-to-learn, hard-to-master game play.

Is Doodle Jump just as much of a standout on Windows Phone? Step, no, jump past the break to find out.

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The Xbox 360 is a great place to advertise Windows Phone 7 as the phone’s Xbox Live features are designed to appeal to console gamers. Now gamers can learn about Windows Phone and get a free avatar prop for their trouble.

Here’s what to do:

  • On the Xbox 360, switch to the Inside Xbox section of the dashboard.
  •  Find the tile that reads: Get a free Windows Phone for your avatar/Your avatar is the special guest on Hot Apps with Laura Foy (it’s marked as an Advertisement).
  • Watch the video and then…
  • You’ll see a zoomed-in view of a Windows Phone. Navigate the cursor to the “Keep the phone!” tile. Click it and download the avatar prop.

That’s it! Have your avatar call my avatar. We’ll go out for ice cream.

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It’s the third week of Microsoft’s Must Have Games promotion. This week’s Xbox Live release, geoDefense, comes from Critical Thought Games. It’s now available in the marketplace.

geoDefense is a traditional tower defense game in which waves of enemies travel along a path on their way to the player’s base. Building and upgrading towers along the way is your only defense. geoDefense’s claim to fame is its Geometry Wars-inspired vector graphics. Everything is made up of colorful neon outlines and explosions are accompanied by a cool background warping effect. geoDefense gets pretty hard eventually, but I found it much easier to learn to play than the existing Xbox Live tower defense games,  Battle for Hoth and Zombie Attack! 2.

geoDefense costs only $2.99 and there is a free trial. Tower defense fans will definitely want to grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Last week’s Deal of the week, Pac-Man, underwhelmed us due its poor controls and steep difficulty. This week’s sale game isn’t too exciting either, though it’s kind of by design. You see, the game in question is Glyder: Adventure Worlds from Glu Mobile. It’s on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

As our review explains, Glyder is a very sedate game with no real story or sense of urgency. But it does have lots of flying around wide open 3D spaces. Activities include item collecting, races, and that’s about it. Control-wise, players can opt for tilt or touch-screen controls – always nice to have a choice. Glyder will appeal to patient, even-tempered gamers. People who can read a Stephen Baxter novel without dying of boredom. If that sounds like your thing, put down that hefty copy of The Time Ships and give the demo a try.

Glyder is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Collect it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Microsoft’s E3 keynote presentation may have left Windows Phone cold in the dust, but that doesn’t mean the company has completely neglected their mobile platform at the event. They’re showing off several new Xbox Live games and a few that were previously announced but haven’t been mentioned in a while.

Head past the jump for screens and details on all 7 upcoming titles.

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Microsoft's E3 2011 keynote summary

Today Microsoft delivered their keynote presentation at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles. The presentation details their Xbox 360 console plans for the next year. Windows Phone was disappointingly absent from the presentation, though some WP7 games are being announced separately today. For now, let’s look at the major announcements from the presentation.

As expected, Kinect was a major focus this year. The huge sales success of Kinect as well as the uniqueness of the device caught many developers by surprise last year. This year, we’ll be seeing several much more substantial games either require Kinect or support it optionally. Kinect Fun Labs is a new feature that’s now available on the dashboard. The approximately 720 MB download features several free Kinect tools and activities and even Xbox Live Achievements. Inside the Fun Labs, gamers can create an Xbox avatar by scanning their bodies, scan objects and have them appear on-screen, and move their hands to draw in the air. Kinect is certainly becoming a much more useful peripheral to own, though many would like to see a price drop too.

Microsoft continues to expand the Xbox 360’s functionality as a home entertainment device. A new, redesigned dashboard update will come this fall. Video-related features include YouTube support (finally!) and live television too.

Windows Phone users who have grown accustomed to the Bing search button will welcome the Bing search function’s arrival on Xbox 360 too. It can search the Xbox 360 Marketplace, content stored on the console, and Netflix. Bing Search will be even more convenient thanks to Kinect voice recognition.

Head past the jump for a full list of games mentioned during the conference.

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So the big E3 gaming convention is going on today, with Microsoft set to reveal tons of Xbox goodness. It may not be a coincidence then to see Xbox Live Extras get updated today to v1.6 with a significant addition, namely the ability to buy and change your avatar's appearance within the app itself.

As you can see from the image above, you can now change your avatar and purchase new items from the Marketplace (using MS Points)--this is quite the update and nearly completes the Xbox LIVE experience on the phone. The ability to use MS Points is interesting only because we're expecting the usage of actual money and MS Points to overlap, eventually, in the Marketplace as an option for purchases--perhaps this is the first sign?

Finally, we can't help but notice the usual speed-tweaks, making the app a bit zippier than before (though perhaps that's placebo). We've reached out to Microsoft for an exact change-log, so expect an update to the post later on.

You can grab Xbox LIVE Extras for free in the Marketplace here.

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Windows Phone gamers know developer Press Play from their beautiful and creative puzzle platformer, Max and the Magic Marker. The studio hasn't been resting on its laurels since that game's release. Today WPCentral brings you an interview with Thomas Gravgaard, senior software developer and project lead for Press Play’s Windows Phone titles. We’re especially proud to bring you the first screens and details of their upcoming Window Phone-exclusive Xbox Live game, Tentacles.

Slide past the break for the full interview and lots of Tentacley goodness.

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If you're a heavy Xbox user this offer is for you. BestBuy is adding a 4,000 Microsoft Points card in your shopping cart for free when you purchase a Windows Phone 7 handset. This deal is only avaiulable in-store so you'll need to swing on by to your local BestBuy to earn this mammoth amount of points. 

Unfortunately -- as of yet -- Microsoft points can't be used in the WP7 Marketplace, which would make this offer all the more worth while, but getting those must-have addons for your Xbox 360 games, renting/downloading movies, completing your music collection and suiting up your avatar to show off on your WP7 device can't be all bad, right?

Currently BestBuy are selling six handsets; Samsung Focus, HTC Surround, HTC HD7, LG Quantum, HTC Trophy and the HTC Arrive. Going for this deal certainly wont leave you feeling "cheaped" into getting a below-par device since there's a great selection available.

Source: BestBuy, via: WMPU

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Hydro Thunder GO recently headlined Microsoft’s 6 Weeks of Must Have Games promotion. As the only Windows Phone-exclusive game in the promotion’s lineup, it had some big shoes to fill. Luckily the game’s 3D graphics are some of the best on the platform and it controls like a dream.

When Microsoft offered to let WPCentral interview Mattias Olsson - CEO of Pixelbite, the game’s developer, we jumped at the chance. We grilled him on the challenges Pixelbite faced in bringing the fan-favorite boat racing series to Windows Phone and even got to peak at some of the game’s maps.

Zoom past the break for our first Xbox Live Developer Interview, complete with plenty of images.

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Harbor Master, the nautical line-drawing game, received an updated recently. We’ve braved dangerous waters to smuggle in some release notes for the update.

Harbor Master version 1.1 changelog:

  • We fixed a glitch that would cause the frame rate to be choppy on certain devices when playing the trial version of Harbor Master
  • We fixed a few incorrect translations for buttons on the pause screen (I believe French and Spanish were switched)
  • We fixed the options for the Fast Forward Speed multiplier.  It was possible to set the speed on fast forward to be the same as normal speed.  This shouldn't have been allowed.  So we fixed that.

The performance fix really makes the game run much smoother. WPCentral has also learned that Imangi plans to release a future update to address some Leaderboard issues.

In Harbor Master, players direct ships to port by drawing lines on the touch screen. After a ship has unloaded its cargo, it must also be steered safely away. Seven levels with hazards like cyclones and sea monsters, plus some fairly tough Achievements, will keep players busy for a long time. For more details, check our preview here. Look forward to a full review soon.

Harbor Master costs $2.99 and has a free trial. Pick it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Let’s see, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX recently hit Xbox Live. Everybody loves it, but they’re not crazy about the $6.99 price. Do the powers at Namco lower the price to make the Pac-public happier? No way, they put the original Pac-Man on sale instead. Pac-Man is the Deal of the Week at $2.99, down from $4.99.

Pac-Man is a straight port of the original arcade game. It contains a single maze which Pac-Man must clear of its dots and fruits repeatedly until the ghosts finally become too fast and take him down. Pac-Man was once a huge arcade hit and many of us fondly remember the original. Unfortunately, it’s not a terrific game on Windows Phone. As our review points out, the controls just can’t keep up with the challenging gameplay, plus the Achievements are like 3 cents and a Twinkie short of impossible. Buy it if you want a quick dose of nostalgia, but don’t expect anything near the fun and quality of Championship Edition DX.

Pac-Man is $2.99 for one week only and of course there is a free trial. Chomp it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Doodle Jump has landed on the Marketplace

The 6 Weeks of Must Have Games is in full effect. Following on the heels of Hydro Thunder Go comes this week’s Xbox Live release, Doodle Jump. It’s out now on the Marketplace.

Doodle Jump is the progenitor of the jumping game subgenre. It distills the essence of platformers – jumping onto platforms, avoiding death by falling, and defeating enemies – into a simpler game. Here players control the Doodler by tilting the phone. He’s always jumping, so you only need to worry about where you’re going to land, collecting powerups, and tapping enemies to kill them.

The Windows Phone version of Doodle Jump (like Pocket God before it) contains the main game but loses a bit of content. Namely, a few themes are missing. Each theme changes the appearances of Doodle Jumper and his enemies as well as completely changing the background. Five themes are currently included on Windows Phone: Original, Halloween, Christmas, Jungle, and Space. For those keeping track, indie clone MonsterUp (similar if not better in quality) only has three themes right now, so Doodle Jump still has the leg up there.

Doodle Jump is a monster hit on other platforms. It’s extremely cute and easy to play. The Windows Phone version costs $2.99 and there is a free, short trial. Jump on it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Remember The Revenants: Corridor of Souls? It’s an early Xbox Live title from Chaotic Moon Studios, the developers who recently brought Enigmo to Windows Phone. The game recently received a major update, and WPCentral is here to unlock its mysteries for you.

The Revenants version 1.2 changelog:

  • Improved visuals on the "end of level" sequence.
  • Improved the "loop detection" logic.  This should help people who draw "nearly closed" circles.
  • Improved how the game handles volume control for music started outside of the game.
  • Added new 8 backgrounds.  Improved the background for the last room in the level sequence.
  • Updated the Chaotic Moon logo screen.
  • Changed version from v1.0.5 to v1.2.0.

That last bit is worth mentioning because a surprising number of game makers forget to update their title's version numbers when a patch is released, including Star Wars: Battle for Hoth and Rocket Riot.

The Revenants is an arcade-style game in which players draw circles around ghostly enemies in order to free their souls. The game keeps players on their toes as hordes of enemies simultaneously flood the screen. Clear a room of its deceased stragglers and it’s on to the next room with untold dangers. Our review praises the circle-drawing gameplay and visual effects; though we thought it could have used a bit more content. The new backgrounds should add some welcome variety, and the loop detection logic makes a good thing even better.

The Revenants: Corridor of Souls is only $2.99, and there is a free trial. You’ll find it here (Zune link) in the Marketplace… if you dare.

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Guitar Hero 5 Mobile - Review

If you play music games on consoles and also have friends who play real instruments, then you probably know at least one who won’t be bothered to play said games because he’d rather be doing the real thing. It’s a snooty perspective in which the musician is actually bothered by the idea of people pretending to do what he (or she) does without going through years of practice. You can try to tell them how the singing in Rock Band and Guitar Hero is real singing (karaoke-style), but by that time they’re probably outside smoking a cigarette while thinking of how much cooler they are than you.

Just as music snobs don’t get music games, as a music gamer, I don’t quite get Guitar Hero 5 Mobile. The real Guitar Hero is a simplified simulation of the complex act of making music that uses plastic instruments. The mobile version is a simplified simulation of that simulation, sans plastic instruments. It helps if you think about it that way – this version in no way recreates the act of making music. But it is kind of like playing the console game on a touch screen. Perhaps that’s reason enough for it to exist?

Plug in your amp and follow the jump for our full review.

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