Zombies!!!

It's not an easy being an Xbox game for Windows platforms. First you have to go through a difficult pitching process just to make it into the portfolio. If by some miracle Microsoft actually approves you for Xbox status, you then enter the equally unpleasant certification process. And once you finally make it to market, you'll probably just get pulled from the Store by Microsoft at some point. You're an endangered species, son.

That's what happened to Zombies!!! for Windows Phone back in September of last year. The game was delisted for having in-app purchases, and then returned in November without Xbox features. The Windows 8 version managed to keep its Xbox features for a time… But now that time has ended. Microsoft recently chose to stop publishing the Xbox Windows 8 version of Zombies. And so developer Babaroga has republished the game as a universal app (but without Xbox features). Zombies!!! has come back to life, you might say.

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It’s been a rough year for Xbox games on Windows Phone. Many weeks go by without new releases, and a fair number of developers have jumped ship and switched to indie releases (see Asphalt 8). If we had to name the single worst day for Xbox Windows Phone, it would undoubtedly be September 27 – the day the In-App Purchases died. Yes, on that day (or maybe slightly earlier that week) a whopping 11 games disappeared from the service, never to return… Not with Achievements, anyway.

Since then, Chickens Can’t Fly actually did come back to Windows Phone without its Xbox Live features. And just recently, a second de-listed title has done the same thing: Babaroga’s horror-themed board game Zombies!!!. The game is now on sale once again with its former DLC included automatically, all for $5.99. Read on for more details.

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When Windows Phone 8 launched in November of last year, it soon become clear that certain Xbox Windows Phone 7 games were incompatible with the new OS. Microsoft’s immediate solution to the problem was to partially delist all of those games, removing their listings from the Windows Phone website. They did this without informing the developers of those games. After we published an article exposing the issue, the games eventually made it back to the web store with updated compatibility information.

We tell you all this because Microsoft has just made a similar but even more harmful maneuver. This week, no less than eleven Windows Phone 7 games were completely delisted from the Store. They can’t be redownloaded by people who purchased them. And several of the game’s developers were NOT informed by Microsoft of the issues leading to their removal or the removal itself. Read on for the full scoop!

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Windows Phone Central Roundup: Zombie Games
Windows Phone Central Game Roundup: Zombie Games

Zombies. A pesky bunch of creatures that have had a presence in movies and television of years.  They also seem to have a strong presence in our Windows Phone Store. These brain hungry monsters can be found in a ton of Windows Phone games from Zombies Ate My Pizzas! to Zombies, Run!.

For this week's roundup we picked three popular Zombie games along with one game that had a unique approach to taking out the Zombies.

With so many Zombie games available, it was tough picking just a few of the gaming titles. If we've overlooked your favorite Zombie game, feel free to shout out your recommendation in the comments below.

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Babaroga’s Zombies!!! was an early Xbox Windows Phone exclusive that  still commands a loyal following from board game fans. I fondly remember buying it about a month before joining the Windows Phone Central staff, and subsequently advocating for an update to make one of the Achievements more easily attainable.

Jump ahead to the present, the Xbox Windows 8 and RT version of Zombies!!! has finally gone live. We previously covered some of the new version’s features and improvements, and now PC and tablet gamers can experience the enhanced game for themselves. To get everyone in a zombie killing mood, we present this interview with Andreja Djokovic, the CEO and founder of Babaroga.

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The Windows Phone 7 version of Zombies!!! has just gone on sale as the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. At the same time, Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system for tablets and PCs just launched. That makes this the perfect time to check up on the Windows 8 version of Zombies!!!, wouldn’t you say? Windows Phone Central has done just that, and now we've got an exclusive interview about the new version’s features and enhancements to share with you.

Head past the break for the full interview, screenshots, and two videos!

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We mentioned a few weeks ago that Babaroga’s survival horror-themed board game, Zombies!!! (review) would soon be receiving its first PDLC expansion pack, known as ‘Zombies!!! 3.5: Not Dead Yet!’ As it turns out, the expansion has quietly slipped onto the Marketplace and won’t require a new title update. Finding it might prove a challenge though – you have to actually start a New Game and then select Expansion Packs from the top of the screen. While ‘Not Dead Yet!’ may not be easy to find, its price is fairly easy to swallow: 160 MS Points ($2), a bit lower than anticipated.

Head past the break for WPCentral’s exclusive detailed descriptions of the expansion’s contents, hands-on impressions, and Achievement tips.

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The first 'Not Dead yet!' image reveals the new Meat Cleaver item.

Babaroga’s been hard at work updating their mobile Xbox Live titles, as evidenced by the recent Minesweeper and Sudoku updates. Now Zombies!!! -  the developer’s only self-published Windows Phone game so far – has received a new update as well.

Zombies!!! version 1.2 release notes

  • Added a free ringtone (found under Options)

Free ringtones are always nice, but the really exciting news is what the next update will bring. The first Zombies!!! PDLC expansion pack should debut within the next month or so. ‘Zombies!!! 3.5: Not Dead Yet!’ adds 18 new cards, new animations, five new Achievements worth 50 GamerScore, and more. Yes, this officially makes Zombies!!! the first Windows Phone game to break the 200 GamerScore barrier.

All five new Achievements are worth 10 GamerScore each:

  • Blunt Force Trauma: Player unlocks this Achievement by killing 3 zombies while the card “No Guts. No Glory.” is in play.
  • It’s Me! Let Me In!: Player unlocks this Achievement by playing the “There You Are” card to move their pawn from an outdoor square into any building. Zombies update adds ringtones - PDLC with 50 GamerScore of Xbox Live Achievements on the way
  • Shop Smart: Player unlocks this Achievement by using the “Hey, I Got One of Those” card to gain a Shotgun.
  • Night Drive: Player unlocks this Achievement by playing the card “The Keys Are Still In It” while the card “Too…Tired…To…Run” is in play.
  • Fresh Meat: Player unlocks this Achievement by killing 50 zombies with the Meat Cleaver.

We don’t have pricing details for the expansion yet, but 240 Microsoft Points ($3) seems likely. More expansion packs are planned for the future, each of which can be toggled on or off after purchase.

Asynchronous multiplayer (announced in WPCentral’s developer interview last year) will not debut with the ‘Zombies!!! 3.5’ expansion, though it should come along in the next update. Will Carcassonne beat Zombies!!! to the punch as the first mobile Xbox Live game with online multiplayer? Only time will tell.

Zombies!!! is a faithful adaptation of the horror-themed board game of the same name. See our review for more details. The game costs $4.99 and there is a free trial. Pick it up here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us about the Achievements.

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Xbox Live: Zombies!!! Mango update unleashed

Babaroga’s Zombies!!! (review) is a very cool survival horror-themed board game for Xbox Live.  The only thing I didn’t like about it was a nasty Broken Achievement that almost nobody could get. I’ve got good news and bad news then for my fellow Zombies!!! owners. The good news: an update that fixes the ‘Was it Worth it?’ Achievement is finally available. The bad news? It’s a Mango-only update.

Here are the full release notes for the first Zombies!!! Mango update:

  • Added Fast-App-Switching support
  • Fixed bugs that have been reported since the initial release
  • Reduced difficulty of “some” achievements :-)

While some Xbox Live titles have seen increasd frame rates with their Mango updates, the graphics in Zombies!!! remain the same. It looked great to begin with. More importantly, Babaroga listened to their fans and reduced the frustration of that infamous Achievement.

When WPCentral interviewed Babaroga over the summer, they promised asynchronous (turn-based, over the internet) multiplayer and paid downloadable content in a Mango update. Those features are still coming to Zombies!!!, but they’re not ready just yet. We’ll keep you posted on the next update’s progress.

For now, Zombies!!! players who are running Mango can commence to unlocking ‘Was it Worth it?’, while the rest of us have another reason to hope that Mango rolls out as soon as possible. Don’t have the game? It costs $4.99 and you can find it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Developer Interview: Babaroga, makers of Zombies!!!

Zombies!!! (review) was one of the first Xbox Live games I bought after jumping on the Windows Phone bandwagon. A survival horror-themed board game, it’s like nothing else on the platform. The game’s developer, Babaroga has made it no secret that they are working on a major update for the game. That’s good because I hate secrets almost as much as black licorice. Putting the devil candy aside for the moment, WPCentral is excited to bring you something much tastier: our interview with Andreja Djokovic, CEO and Founder of Babaroga, about their future plans for the Zombies!!! franchise and Windows Phone.

Grab a snack if you like and head past the jump for the full interview.

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Broken Xbox Live Achievements on Windows Phone

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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Zombies!!! - Review

Zombies seem to be invading our Windows Phones these days. At last count, there were about fifteen zombie themed games at the Marketplace.  One of the more anticipated zombie themed games for Windows Phone 7 has to be Zombies!!!.

A collaborative effort between Microsoft Game Studios, Babaroga, and Twilight Creations, Zombies!!! brings the popular board game to the small screen of your Windows Phone.  Graphically well presented, Zombies!!! represents the original board game extremely well.

The game premise is simple. Wipe out 25 zombies or make it to the helipad to escape the City. Along the way you compete with other players who'll do what they can to slow you down by playing action cards or positioning zombies in your way.

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Sure, we hit 6,000 apps tonight in the Marketplace, but what's a Tues/Wed day without some Xbox LIVE goodness? Tonight, two pretty solid titles have hit the streets: Zombies!!! by MGS and Brian Challenge HD, another welcomed Gameloft production.

Brain Games HD is one of them there "smart apps" that are suppose to be entertaining as well as exercising your noggin'. It features 43 mini-games and should provide quite a few hours of frustrating and yet rewarding game play. But, will you force yourself to do it every day? That's the question. Personally, we always dug these games, when done right. We're not yet sure with this, plus the "HD" thing...well, it's getting old.

Zombies!!! is a deep, meta-exploration into the meaning of nothingness, based on the writings of famed philosopher Nietzsche. Nah, just kiddin', it's a game where you have to kill what is already dead, like a million times over. Oh and it's got killer lookin' graphics. Check here for our earlier coverage plus video.

Both titles fetch for $4.99, which is on the high-end these days, and can be found here (Zombies) and here (Brain...) in the Marketplace.

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