Xbox Live

After three weeks of Game Room releases, we finally have a modern game for this week’s Xbox Live title. Enigmo, from Austin-based developers Pangea Soft and Chaotic Moon Studios (makers of The Revenants, see review), has now made the jump from iPhone and Windows Mobile to Windows Phone 7.

Enigmo features 50 levels of physics-based puzzles. The goal is always to force one or more liquids (water, etc.) into their matching receptacles. Players have a limited number of gadgets at their disposal to reflect and filter fluids in the right direction. Enigmo’s realistic physics are brought to life with some very clean 3D graphics. You’ll find more details and a list of Enigmo’s Xbox Live Achievements here.

Enigmo costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Grab the enigmatic puzzler here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve also learned that Pangea Software’s Cro-Mag Rally is coming to Xbox Live for Windows Phone. Indie developer Citizen 12 is very secretively handling the port. Yet we do know that Cro-Mag Rally is a caveman-themed kart racing game with 9 tracks and 11 drivable vehicles. Windows Phone needs a kart racer, so let’s hope it races to market soon.

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This week’s Xbox Live title is Enigmo, a physics-based puzzle game. Enigmo sort of blind-sided us as we hadn’t heard about it coming to Windows Phone until recently, but now we’ve got some concrete details to share with you.

Enigmo was originally developed by Austin-based developer Pangea Software. It debuted on the strange and foreign Mac platform before making a successful run on iPhone. It’s also been released on the Windows Mobile platform – anybody remember that one?

We’ve already seen a physics-based puzzler on Xbox Live in the form of iBlast Moki. Enigmo is a little bit like that, but the goal is to direct streams of liquids into the appropriate receptacles using various gadgets. The Windows Phone version of Enigmo features sharp 3D graphics and 50 puzzles to solve. It was developed by Chaotic Moon Studios, also located in Austin, and will cost $2.99.

Head past the break for our exclusive reveal of Enigmo’s Xbox Live Achievements and the game’s debut trailer.

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This competition has been running for a while now and you have the last chance in entering it before the closing date (2nd May 23:59 PDT). So, do you fancy laying your hands on the box of awesome? US only, unfortunately.

It's contents are pretty impressive:

  • Samsung Focus
  • Samsung Series Notebook
  • Windows 7 home Premium
  • Microsoft Arc Touch mouse
  • Samsung 46" LED TV
  • Xbox 360 250GB console with Kinect
  • 3 Kinect-enabled games
  • Xbox Live 12 month gold membership
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2010

This bundle is worth quite a chunk of money so better get your entry in should you wish to be in with an opportunity to win, win, win. Please note -- however -- that this offer is through Facebook and requires access to your personal information, not to mention you are required to sign up and supply your name, address, email, etc.

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Pitfall! - Review

Many younger gamers’ first exposure to Pitfall! came from the console title Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which featured a Pitfall! minigame. But Pitfall! started its life way back in 1982 on the Atari 2600. The product of a single Activision developer, David Crane, it sold over 4 million copies and skyrocketed Activision to stardom. Now developer Krome and publisher Microsoft Game Studios bring the ‘Fall! To Windows Phone as both an Xbox Live and Game Room title. Is it better suited to mobile play than cranky ol’ Asteroids Deluxe? Yes!

Pitfall! stars the adventurer Pitfall Harry. His sprite was comprised of four separate colors on a platform in which most sprites were made of only one or two colors. Harry’s surplus of colors produced such a realistic effect at the time that many people thought an actual human being had somehow become trapped in their game cartridge. Thanks to modern computer technology we now know that this was not the case, but Harry still retains a certain visual charm after all these years.

Grab onto a vine and swing past the jump for our full review!

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Asteroids Deluxe - Review

Centipede, the first Game Room title for Windows Phone, impressed many with its faithful arcade emulation and stellar presentation. Asteroids Deluxe is the second portable Game Room entry. It’s still a very faithful port (perhaps even more so than the console/PC version), but the game itself is more of an acquired taste.

Asteroids Deluxe is the 1981 arcade sequel to the original Asteroids. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting space debris for points. Once a large asteroid is fired upon, it breaks into two smaller ones. Each of those splits into two really tiny, hard-to-hit rocks. Clear a wave of all asteroids and a new wave starts up with even more rocks to avoid and destroy.

Fly past the break and into hyperspace for our full review.

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A recent job posting over on Microsoft Careers has caused a wave of speculation that Zune music services may be getting renamed to "Xbox Live Music."  The posting, entitled "Business Manager-IEB-Xbox Live Music Marketplace," calls for a candidate who is "passionate about driving [Microsoft's] first party Music business in the US across multiple tuner end points; Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7, PC, WWW and Bing."  Most notably, the would-be Interactive Entertainment Business team member would be "responsible for management of relationships with two of the four major record labels as well as a number of high profile indie labels, and creating strategies around content to drive the Zune Music business."

The new moniker seems to be in line with Microsoft's decision to kill off the Zune music player back in March, followed by the guarantee that their Zune Hardware Business Developer would "be going to work tomorrow."  The Zune media player never quite took off the way MS would have liked, but the marketplace was a great infrastructure in which to base WP7's app store.  Perhaps the potential name change is simply the first step in a re-branding to bring Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, and Zune together.  One green ring to rule them all!

Source: Microsoft Careers; Via: WPSauce

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It’s Xbox Live game updates day at WPCentral. First we covered the news of Full House Poker and Hexic Rush’s updates, and now we’re revealing the recent update contents of Pocket God (review) and Puzzle Quest 2.

Pocket God version 1.1 changelog:

  • Added the Double Rainbow All The Way Across The Sky episode
  • Miscellaneous bug fixing and optimization tweaks

The iOS version of Pocket God receives regular updates, called Episodes. It has 38 episodes so far. Prior to the version 1.1 update, the Windows Phone version only included the first 32 episodes. Double Rainbow is actually episode 35, which means two episodes have been skipped. The missing episodes both involve a new area, Ape Mountain, that hasn’t made it to WP7 yet.

What changes does Double Rainbow All The Way Across The Sky bring? According to Wikipedia, it "adds the ability to draw a double rainbow in the sky (referring to the internet meme). The Pygmies will react to the rainbow. This is the first update where the Pygmies can actually talk, when showing reactions from the double rainbow.”

Pocket God’s Achievements are notoriously difficult, which is surprisingly given the game’s utterly casual nature. NGMOCO, the developer who handles the Windows Phone port of Pocket God, assures us that Achievement difficulty will be addressed in a future update. Hopefully Ape Island makes it into the next update too. At any rate, Pocket God fans should be glad to know that NGMOCO hasn’t forgotten them.

Puzzle Quest 2 version 1.1 update includes:

  • The Cheating AI and PWNT! Achievements are now attainable.

Nobody likes glitched Achievements, so it’s good to see Namco has fixed Puzzle Quest 2’s. Now if they’d only fix the game’s lofty price… Puzzle Quest 2 is a puzzle RPG, not unlike Castlevania Puzzle. The original console Puzzle Quest is one of my all-time favorite games. We’ll review the slightly less impressive Windows Phone sequel sometime soon.

You can find Pocket God for $2.99 here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. Puzzle Quest 2 is a much steeper $6.99 here. Both games have free trials. God save the Prince, gov'nah. Cheerio!

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Two Microsoft Game Studios titles recently received software updates – Full House Poker (review) and Hexic Rush (review). We’ve worked tirelessly from the moment they were updated to find out just what was changed, and it has finally paid off. Don’t say we never did anything for you!

The following issues were fixed in the Full House Poker version 1.1 update:

If listening to Zune music while playing the game, and you turned the game music volume all the way down (in the game settings), after exiting the game, you could no longer turn up the volume on your Zune music without rebooting the phone.  The game music slider no longer controls the Zune music volume as that’s what the phone volume buttons control.

If you tombstoned during a tournament at the right time, when you went to continue your game the blinds would reset to 5/10.  This was very frustrating in a high buy in game or late in a tournament where they should be much higher.

It’s great to have both of these issues fixed. However, Our own George Ponder has recently experienced a separate problem with his temporary save game (not the permanent one) disappearing, so we hope to see that tackled in the future.

Hexic Rush version 2.3 update:

The Hexic update was to fix a NoDo media playback change in XNA. 

What’s that, you want more details? It’s pretty technical … Microsoft XNA developer Nick Gravelyn’s blog explains that post NoDo update, Windows Phone applications and games are no longer able to mute or alter the volume of the Zune media player, should audio files be presently active. Not a very exciting title update, but it’s nice to see that Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about Hexic Rush.

There you have it! You can get Full House Poker here and Hexic Rush here. Both games cost $2.99 and have free trials.

Thanks to WPCentral’s Richard Edmonds for help in deciphering the XNA blog post.

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We were originally told that two Game Room titles, Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall!, were coming to Xbox Live on April 20. The date rolled around and Pitfall! was nowhere to be seen, breaking my fragile gamer heart. I can stop crying man tears now as Pitfall is finally available on the Marketplace.

Pitfall! was originally an Atari 2600 game from Activision. It was a huge hit in 1982 thanks in large part to its groundbreaking graphics. The lead character, Pitfall Harry, is made up of 4 unique colors, a level of detail so amazing that - I believe - it used to give children nosebleeds. Harry must run, swing from vines, and jump on top of alligator’s mouths across 255 unique screens as he searches for 32 lost treasures. Pitfall! is an adventure so exciting that Activision legally had to include an exclamation mark in the title so as not to fatally surprise people with its awesomeness.

Being a Game Room title, Pitfall! includes a 3D recreation of an Atari 2600 console, historical data and detailed instructions, friends and global leaderboards, and 10 Achievements.

You can purchase this slice of platform gaming history for $2.99 or try the free trial. Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Last week, a game that’s meant to multiplayer but isn’t went on sale and the Xbox Live gaming public collectively yawned. This week, we get something a little more interesting…

Earthworm Jim HD is on sale for $2.99, down from the regular price of $4.99.

Earthworm Jim is a faithful port of the classic Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo platforming game that was originally developed by Shiny Entertainment. It stars an earthworm who has been given super powers by an alien space suit. EWJ (as his friends call him) thwarts enemies both with a pistol and by whipping them with his own earthworm body. The creative cast of bosses includes Bob the Killer Goldfish, Evil the Cat, and Queen Slug-for-a-butt. In addition to lovely hand-drawn art, Earthworm Jim also features a stellar soundtrack. Just be warned that the touch-screen controls aren’t the best and the Achievements are fairly hard.

Earthworm Jim is $2.99 for one week only, and there is a free trial. Snap it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. 

Update: Also, Assassin's Creed - Altaïr's Chronicles HD (see our review) has also dropped from $6.99 to $4.99. That's here in the Marketplace.

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Avatar Gadgets now free as a bird

Avatar Gadgets has always been an odd piece of software. It’s lumped in with the Xbox Live games, but it’s not a game. It’s just a collection of utilities. If you buy it, it sits there at the top of your games list, mocking you with its non-gameness and lack of Achievements. It does use your Xbox Live avatar though, so there is a tenuous Xbox Live connection.

Avatar-Inspector-Gadgets is also the only Xbox Live product on Windows Phone that regularly sells at the 99 cent price point (everything else starts at $2.99). At least, it used to be 99 cents… Avatar Gadgets is now free!  Our review praises the Zippo lighter gadget and the product’s overall novelty. Now that it’s free, you have no excuse not to try it for yourself - other than the aforementioned space it takes up at the top of the games list, natch.

Grab Avatar Gadgets here on the Marketplace for the low price of zero cents. Will it be free forever? Probably, but we have contacted Microsoft just in case and will update this article when we know for sure.

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Earlier this week we reported that two Game Room titles, Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall, would be this week’s Xbox Live releases. Windows Phone retro gamers will have to wait a little longer for their Atari 2600 fix, as Pitfall didn’t come out today after all. I was jumping at the chance to play it, but I doubt legions of people will be disappointed at this news.

On the bright side, Asteroids Deluxe made it out the gate. The sequel to Asteroids, Deluxe is an arcade game that Atari published in 1980. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting both asteroids and aliens. It uses vector graphics in which everything is composed of lines, not unlike upcoming Must-Have game geoDefense. As part of the Game Room series, Asteroids Deluxe has a 3D arcade cabinet, seriously great Leaderboards, and 10 Achievements that are awfully similar to Centipede’s.

Asteroids Deluxe is $2.99, and like all Xbox Live games there is a free trial. Classic gaming fans can grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

Head past the jump for our CES video of Asteroids Deluxe and Shao-Lin's Road.

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The Xbox Live Deal of the Week program has featured a few high-quality games so far – Rocket Riot and last week’s Carneyvale come to mind. They can’t all be winners though, as this week’s deal proves…

Uno HD is now on sale for $2.99, down from the regular, crazy price of $4.99.

Our Uno HD review praises the game’s interface, features, and gameplay experience. However it does criticize the game’s price, so $2.99 seems fairer. But I have to wonder, how many gamers are dying to play a single-player version of Uno for any price? Anyone???

Uno HD is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. There’s also a free trial, which you might want to try before buying… Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Zombie Attack! 2 - Review

Windows Phone 7 has no shortage of tower defense games. In addition to numerous indie offerings, Xbox Live games Star Wars: Battle for Hoth, Plants vs. Zombies, and geoDefense will all be available by the end of June. Then there’s Zombie Attack! 2 (AKA Zombie Attack! The 2nd Wave) from IUGO Mobile Entertainment. “Sweet, zombies and tower defense go together like brains and ketchup,” you might be thinking. Don’t get too excited just yet…

Zombie Attack 2’s claim to fame is that the player controls a human survivor that runs around planting and upgrading towers. Standing next to a tower boosts its damage by fifty percent. The survivor can attack zombies directly with a machete or shotgun, but zombies can hurt him or her as well. If the human dies, he or she will re-spawn at the base after several seconds. The base has its own health meter. If the zombies destroy the base, the game ends.

The six playable characters include: Survivor, Red Ninja, Fighter, Super Spy, Santa, and Daisy Mae. They don’t play differently and are fairly generic, except maybe for Daisy Mae. She’s actually the star of a separate indie WP7 title from IUGO.

Creep past the break for our full review.

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Last week, Centipede - a very nice arcade port and Game Room title - hit Xbox Live. This week, Microsoft follows up with two more Game Room games: Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall.

Asteroids Deluxe, like Centipede, is an arcade game that Atari published in 1980. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting both asteroids and aliens. The arcade version of Asteroids Deluxe is unique for a couple of reasons. First, it featured vector graphics (instead of traditional sprites, everything is composed of lines) that were tinted blue by a transparent overlay. Behind the vector graphics, a printed backdrop added a bit more color. Second, unlike most arcade games, Asteroids Deluxe did not use a joystick for movement. Instead, individual buttons turned the ship left or right and cause it to accelerate. This control style should translate well to Windows Phone, though touch screen buttons will never provide the tactile feedback of real ones.

Pitfall is actually an Atari 2600 game, not an arcade game. Activision's bestseller featured multicolored, non-flickering sprites, a first for its home platform. Donkey Kong may be the first true platform game, but Pitfall pioneered many platform elements. Instead of being confined to a single screen, the game’s star, Pitfall Harry explored a level consisting of 256 different screens. The objective is to find 32 lost treasures within 20 minutes. Pitfall’s simple controls (run left, right, and jump) are a great match for mobile gaming.

As Game Room titles, both games will feature 3D arcade cabinet recreations (Pitfall has an Atari 2600 sitting on an arcade cabinet), historical data and detailed instructions, friends and global leaderboards, and 10 Achievements.

Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall will debut on Wednesday, April 20th for $2.99 (12 quarters) a piece.

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Centipede - Review

Gamers and critics alike panned the first two Xbox Live retro arcade games for Windows Phone, Pac-Man and Frogger, for several reasons. Both games have sub-par touch screen controls, shoddy presentation, and annoyingly difficult Achievements. Pac-Man even has an audacious $5 price tag. But those shoddy ports are Namco and Konami’s wrongdoing. How would big and powerful Microsoft handle bringing a classic arcade game to their mobile platform? Surprisingly well, as Centipede proves.

Centipede is not as fondly remembered or highly sequelized as its contemporaries Pac-man and Space Invaders. But when it debuted in arcades in 1980, there really was nothing like it. Instead of a joystick, players controlled the main character with a trackball. The hero, a tiny garden gnome, could move in any direction and at greatly varying speeds thanks to the analog control input.

The goal is to destroy the titular centipedes as they descend from the top of the screen. If the centipede hits one of the many randomly-placed mushrooms, it moves down a little faster. Each shot the player hits the centipede with destroys one of its segments, but also spawns a mushroom and usually splits the centipede in two. Destroying an entire centipede causes the screen’s color to change as a new, faster centipede begins its attack. As if death by centipede wasn’t enough, jumping spiders and mushroom-dropping fleas and scorpions also threaten the pitiably outnumbered gnome.

Squash a few bugs and head past the jump for our full review.

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The Sims 3 - Review

The Sims, the hit life simulation series of games, originated on the PC and has since landed on practically every platform under the sun including the Windows Phone 7 platform. In these games, the player creates a digital avatar and then directs it through the rigors of everyday life: eating, sleeping, work, fun, and all that stuff. I do some of that stuff myself, and let me tell you, even the fun isn’t all that fun. But somehow the Sims makes everyday drudgery enjoyable, hence the game's millions of fans. The Sims 3 for Windows Phone 7 brings a fair helping of the PC game’s magic to mobile gamers, although this version’s many issues prevent it from being a must-have.

Cruise past the break for our full review.

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Looks like Microsoft may be retooling the Xbox LIVE hub a bit for Mango as well, though they are mum on the details at the moment.

The image to the left was taken by us during a MIX11 session today. Denoting Xbox LIVE Gold Status, the change is quite significant from the current version. Our guess is that if you have a Gold account, it will now reflect on the tile. When we asked Microsoft's Andrew Clinick about it, he was very coy giving us a "I have no idea what you're talking about!" with a grin. Real frunny guys!

The second shot to the right, comes courtesy of Long Zheng/iStartedSomething of ChevronWP7 fame and was taken during the keynote (from his Flickr stream). It shows what the nex Xbox Hub may look like, with a smaller list view being shown. What other changes are there? We'll try to find out, but MS seems to not be revealing too much here.

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An amazing two weeks ago, we brought you the news of this week’s Xbox Live releases and their prices, and now our prediction has come true. Harbor Master and Centipede are finally available on the Marketplace.

Harbor Master is a line-drawing game from Imangi Studios in which players direct incoming ships to port. Once the ships unload their cargo, they must also be sent safely on their way. It features seven levels with cool hazards like pirates and sea monsters. For more information, check out our exclusive preview.

Centipede is a faithful emulation of the hit 1980 arcade game from Atari (the Windows Phone port comes from Krome Studios). Players control a garden gnome who fends off invading centipedes and other vile bugs. Centipede is also the first Game Room title for Microsoft’s mobile platform. These arcade ports include bonus content like 3D recreations of the original arcade cabinets as well as historical data. WP7 Game Room games share Leaderboard data with the Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Live (PC) versions.

Both games costs $2.99 and have free trials. Grab Harbor Master here and Centipede here (Zune links) on the Marketplace.

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It’s time for the Meal of the Week! What’s that, you already ate? Let’s do the Deal of the Week then. This week’s deal is Carneyvale: Showtime from Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. Man, that’s a mouthful. Anyway, the game is on sale for $1.99, down from the regular price of $2.99.

In Carneyvale, players launch a clown into the air, dodging obstacles and trying to send him through a flaming hoop. Prior to debuting on Windows Phone 7, it won all kinds of indie awards. Our review praises the level design and replay value of the game. Be warned that it’s got some tough Achievements, but they should be attainable with practice.

Carneyvale Showtime costs $1.99 on the marketplace, but just for one week. There is a free trial, though it doesn’t show the more interesting levels that come later in the game. Try your hand and win a prize by grabbing it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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