Shao-Lin's Road and Time Pilot MIA

Two weeks ago on November 28, AlphaJax missed its intended launch date. As such, there was no Xbox Windows Phone release that week. We sort of understood that the game had hit a last minute road bump, and then it popped up the next week, so little harm was done. I’m afraid I have similar news to report: there will be no Xbox release this week. Perhaps the sting is lessened since nobody announced a title in advance, though I’d argue the lack of even a delayed game to look forward to makes it worse.

The lack of an Xbox Windows Phone release is not unprecedented. Although it hasn’t been much of a problem this year, we suffered two dry weeks in a row in 2011. Whenever this happens, it’s my duty to point out the finished games that Microsoft could release if they felt like it. That list has long included Shaolin’s Road and Time Pilot, but we can now add Loondon as well.

The Game Room games that weren’t

Shao-Lin's Road
Shao-Lin's Road

For readers who are new to the party, Shaolin’s Road and Time Pilot were among the six Game Room titles Microsoft announced for Windows Phone back at the beginning of 2011. On the Xbox 360 and PC, the Game Room client allows users to test and purchase individual classic game ROMs and play them via emulation. The service showed ample potential, though it suffered from a dearth of quality titles and new games stopped coming a long time ago.

On Windows Phone, Microsoft simply published a handful of titles from the Game Room lineup as standalone $2.99 releases: Asteroids Deluxe, Centipede, Lunar Lander, and Pitfall. These games were seemingly chosen at random as they’re all extremely dated and largely ill-suited for touch-screen controls. Seemingly, negative reaction towards the quality of the released games and their prices led to the cancellation of the two remaining titles.

The cancellation of Shaolin’s Road and Time Pilot is frustrating because of the six announced games, they are easily the best of the bunch. Both titles look markedly better than the games that got released, and Shaolin’s Road is just plain fun.

Shao-Lin's Road Windows Phone screens
Tiny Windows Phone screenshots from Xbox.com.

Besides, these games were actually finished before their cancellation. We even played Shao-Lin's Road at CES last year. There is nothing to stop Microsoft from just publishing them whenever a hole appears in the Xbox release lineup. Sure, gamers may balk at the $2.99 price established for Game Room games, but we have a 99 cent price point now that would make older games like these go over much easier with fickle gamers.

Missing adventure

Loondon for Windows Phone
Not much of a looker, but we'd still like to have played it.

As for Loondon, it was announced as a Windows Phone 7 launch title but never saw release. Microsoft contracted tiny Indonesian developer Flip-n-Tale to port their Flash game to WP7 back in 2010. The developers not only got the game running on WP, they even switched it to a 3D engine and added new content.

Despite all their hard work and the game’s completion, Loondon was quietly cancelled without notice. Check out our in-depth article for a more detailed description of the events leading up to that cancellation. Also note that while we’re told the game was completed, it would probably still require additional language translations before it could be released worldwide.

Uncertain future

Time Pilot
Time Pilot

As we reported before, there will be no new Xbox Deals of the Week for the rest of the year. Could the same apply to new Xbox WP releases? Hopefully not. Microsoft wouldn’t confirm whether a new title would come out next week, but they did promise to let us know on Monday or Tuesday. Let’s hope something new comes along, as Windows Phone 8 needs a steady stream of new Xbox releases if it’s to catch on with mobile gamers.