Skulls of the Shogun

Next week’s Xbox Windows Phone release Skulls of the Shogun is possibly Microsoft’s most ambitious game yet. Not only will it be launching on Windows Phone, but also XBLA and Windows 8/RT simultaneously. Take that, WSOP: Full House Pro! Sorry, I just ate some sour grapes. On top of the three-platform release, Skulls also supports shared campaign progress across devices thanks to cloud saving and asynchronous cross-platform multiplayer.

The only problem with Skulls coming to all Xbox-supporting platforms at once is that Microsoft has yet to establish a ‘universal app’ pay structure like iOS and the Playstation 3/Vita support. Thankfully the game’s developer 17-BIT and Microsoft have just announced special launch pricing that will make picking up all three versions (or even just one) more attractive to gamers.

Every launch is a special launch

Skulls of the Shogun for Windows Phone
Windows Phone screenshot

The special pricing applies only to the mobile versions of Skulls of the Shogun, not the Xbox 360 game. That one launches at 1200 MS Points/$15. Tablet and phone games are used to paying a little less for games though, hence the Windows 8/RT version debuts at $9.99 and the Windows Phone 7/8 game at $4.99. This will make the cost of picking up all three versions $29.99 – not unreasonable for a game of Skulls’ caliber.

Microsoft has dabbled with launch discounts before. XBLA hit Super Meat Boy debuted at 800 MS Points before eventually going up to 1200 Points. The recently released and fantastic Retro City Rampage for XBLA followed the same pricing pattern. The pricing scheme seems designed to encourage early adoption among gamers rather than waiting for sales.

Skulls primer

Skulls of the Shogun is a fast-paced, turn-based strategy game set in a feudal Japanese underworld. In the single-player campaign, players take on the role of a general who was betrayed in his former life by his second-in-command. Awakening in the afterlife, he quickly builds an undead army and sets out on a mission of vengeance. The story’s writing is both interesting and hilarious thanks to excellent writing, some of which you can witness in our hands-on video.

Strategy veterans and people who’ve never played a strategy game before will have no trouble learning Skulls’ gameplay. When a character’s turn comes up, his movement radius appears as a circle around him. Move him anywhere within that area and attack any nearby enemies. Eating the skulls of downed warriors buffs a unit. Each side has a General character with greater offensive power than the rest. But if your General dies, you lose, so part of the strategy is keeping him sufficiently protected.

About the developer

17-BIT (formerly known as Haunted Temple) is a Seattle-based indie game maker. The founder Jake Kazdal has worked for Nintendo, Capcom, and SEGA before starting out on his own. You can watch our video interview above, another interview with 17-BIT’s Borut Pfeifer and Ben Vance, and read about our studio visit here.

Just one week to go

Skulls of the Shogun for Windows Phone
Windows Phone screenshot

Skulls of the Shogun launches on Wednesday, January 30th. After the special launch pricing ends (at a currently undisclosed date), the Windows Phone version will cost $6.99 and the Windows 8/RT version will go up to $14.99, so be sure to buy them early if you’re interested!

Thanks to Steve Frolleau for the tip!