Risk available for Windows Phone 8

Every time we report on Windows Phone 8 compatibility, it’s a good news/bad news situation. The Oregon Trail gained compatibility while Shoot 1 UP lost it… Babel Rising 3D sort of became compatible (which was a mistake), and KenKen lost it for no apparent reason…  Which brings us to this weekend.

Good news: Risk from Nokia and Electronic Arts is now available for Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8! On the other hand, two more games – both Nokia exclusives – have jumped ship from Windows Phon 8. Can’t win, can we?

The semi-delisted club

Parking Mania
Insert crashing pun here

Before we talk about Risk, let’s get the WP8 incompatible games from Nokia out of the way first. Parking Mania is one of the partially delisted titles, which should surprise nobody. The game consistently crashes on certain levels, making it impossible to complete on Windows Phone 8 devices. Too bad, because otherwise it’s a fun little casual title about the celebrated pastime of parking cars. Hopefully Parking Mania gets patched soon; I’m eager to complete and review it.

Second on the newly incompatible list is Chillingo and Cobra’s iBomber Defense. In our recent review, we complained of frequent crashes when returning to the main menu after starting or completing a level. iBomber also suffers from a horrendous frame rate whenever the screen gets crowded. Even worse: several of its ridiculously hard Achievements are broken! According to our always tactful reader Arsenic17, these issues aren’t unique to WP8, as it runs poorly on Windows Phone 7 as well. Considering iBomber Defense’s overall fun factor, let’s wish it a speedy return and (however unlikely) reduced difficulty.

As far as we know, both iBomber Defense and Parking Mania can still be purchased from Nokia WP7 handsets.

Risky business

Risk attack

QR: RiskWith that unpleasant business out of the way, it’s time to celebrate the return of Electronic Arts’ Nokia-exclusive port of Risk. After launching on October 19th, Risk can finally be played on Windows Phone 8 devices – that’s relatively speedy for an Xbox Windows Phone update. The game still has an odd graphical glitch on its Achievement menu (pictured), but otherwise it runs quite smoothly and speedily.

Risk is based on the classic strategic board game. Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of the real game nor the enhanced XBLA version, but for some reason the Windows Phone 7 game actually grabs me. The interface is well-designed and allows for fast-forwarding of just about all the repetitive stuff like dice rolls and AI turns, unlike the much slower Game of Life.

Remember how Carcassonne required players to win an insane 200 lengthy games for its Achievements? Risk requires a much fairer 20 wins and has only one challenging Achievement to its name. It even supports Wi-Fi multiplayer, another advantage over Game of Life.

You can find Risk’s Windows Phone Store page here, but it can only be purchased from a Nokia Lumia phone.

Growing pains

Risk Windows Phone Achievement bug
One of these stripes doesn't belong...

Technically, the Windows Phone 8 incompatible list has grown by one title due to the double whammy of games getting pulled. Heck, four out of the nine Nokia-exclusive games can't be bought on WP8. In a way, their partial delisting is actually good news since it means Nokia and EA are aware of the games’ issues. That gives them a decent chance of getting fixed, just like Risk.

Still, you have to wonder why so many recent titles haven’t run properly on WP8. Shouldn’t Microsoft test for that kind of thing before allowing games to pass certification? After all, it highlights the fact that Windows Phone 7 games frequently don’t run smoothly on Windows Phone 8 despite early promises to the contrary.

Conspiracy theory time: maybe somebody at the big Microsoft actually took that idea to heart and has chosen not to allow Windows Phone 8-incompatible Xbox Windows Phone games to release in the future. That could explain the recent, worrying drought of new releases. Maybe they actually had some games lined up, but realized those titles wouldn’t run on Windows Phone 8 at the last minute. I doubt we’ll ever find out the truth, but that possibility is the only one that wouldn’t indicate a lack of support from the Xbox for Windows Phone team.

What do you think, dear readers?

Thanks to TNT Judbud and Sans Gluten for the tips!