Games

Monster Island

It’s time to take a break from Sid Meier strategy games for a while and settle into some nice throwing things at other things. I am, of course, speaking of Monster Island, the latest Xbox Live release from Miniclip.

Monster Island is basically a monster-themed version of Fragger. Instead of a grenadier, you’re now a monster who must defeat invading monsters. Aim and throw five different kinds of monster grenades to destroy your stationary enemies. With a whopping 262 levels (and more promised in a future update), it offers plenty of bomb-throwing fun.  

Monster Island features a robust in-game shop in which players can purchase new characters, level unlocks, level skips, and level solutions using in-game currency. Being a Miniclip title, it also allows users to purchase coins with Microsoft Points. That’s not so bad in and of itself, but the Big Spender Achievement actually requires players to purchase not one, but three coin packs!

Monster Island

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Game emulators are a lil' pastime around WPCentral. What can we say other than we like our old games as much as our new Xbox LIVE ones? We've covered Purple Cherry (Gameboy) and Blue Tomato (for you Sega fans) and now we're very happy to see Nudua's vNESLight come to the Windows Phone Marketplace for emulating games from the Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated as NES).

Version 1.0 of the emulator actually arrived two weeks ago after a two-month hold up by Microsoft and v1.1 is about to go live in a few days with some minor bug fixes. Version 1.0 now features Skydrive support,  including recognition of ZIP and RAR files making ROM imports very easy. You can also save your games to Skydrive too in case you want to switch devices and the UI has been re-worked to be more "Metro".

Emulation of Nintendo games also now supports sounds from varying bitrate quality (8000, 22050 and 44100 Hz) as well as Auto-frame skip for older Gen 1 devices. But if you're like us with a Titan, Titan II, Focus S or Lumia device, you can easily run at no skips and max bitrate. Audio emulation is pretty good but there are distortions here and there, but since we know sound emulation is hard stuff, we're just glad it's here.

vNESLight

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Wordament

Lately we’ve been fortunate enough to receive release dates for new Xbox Live games a week or two in advance – including this week’s release, Monster Island. Naturally Windows Phone gamers are already anxious to know about next week’s new game, and we can now put those anxieties to rest. Microsoft Studios has officially announced that the Xbox Live version of Wordament launches on April 25. The game prematurely appeared on the Marketplace’s list of Xbox Live games last week, but was not Live-enabled.

Wordament is already available as an indie game. The gameplay involves trying to find as many words as possible from a field of 16 letters, all within a time limit. The hook? You’re competing against hundreds of others in real-time over the internet. Visually it’s quite plain, but the multiplayer/leaderboard aspect is compelling.

Head past the break for the full story and an update from the game's developer.

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20

Windows Phone Game Review: Duudle

Duudle, a Draw Something styled game for Windows Phone

Duudle, the Draw Something alternative for Windows Phones

Duudle is a Draw Something type game for your Windows Phone where you have thirty seconds to doodle a picture describing a word. Your opponents then have to guess the word from the picture.  Duudle is the product of the 2011 Nokia World Hackathon where forty developers had forty hours to create an app for a Nokia Phone. Duudle, the creation of Visiarc, was the winning app.

Duudle is a cross platform game to let you compete with your friends on Android devices and it is our understanding an iPhone version is in development.  If you're a fan of the Draw Something/Pictionary type games, then you'll like what you see with Duudle.

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99 cent Xbox Live games

Remember that huge Easter sale on Xbox Live titles we were so enthusiastic about a short time ago? It took a little while to receive confirmation on this, but we’ve learned that the seven featured games have permanently dropped in price to 99 cents. That’s good news to Windows Phone gamers as it means we have a new (and more competitive) price point for games!

The seven games that dropped in price from $2.99 to 99 cents:

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11

Trine's Hangman updated and gets a price reduction

Trine's Hangman for Windows Phone

If you like playing word games on your Windows Phone, Trine's Hangman is one of the best out there. It's a simple game of hangman that is graphically well presented and you compete against other players around the world for global ranking. You have Wikipedia integration, achievements, and free ringtones. The game also has one of the best video trailers out there (see below).

The new version of Trine's Hangman, v1.20, is designed to make the game more user and budget friendly. The update makes the game more user friendly by making the ads less frequent, appearing after every eight words completed instead of after every three. Trine's is also more budget friendly for those who don't want ads with the price dropping down to $.99.

Along with updating Trine's Hangman, Gydar Industries is also focusing on a new game (no details as of yet) that will be both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 compatible. The new game will support seamless play between the PC and Windows Phone. So you can play on the go and continue where you left off on your computer when you get home.

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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: TextTwist 2

TextTwist 2

There are plenty of excellent indie word games for Windows Phone (Words by Post, AlphaJax, and Spell It, to name a few). Even Wordament is available as an indie title, though it will shortly be jumping ship to Xbox Live land. But for now, there is a single Xbox Live game that involves finding words from an assortment of letters (i.e. anagrams): TextTwist 2 from Game House. Does it scratch the word game itch as well as the other games I mentioned? Well, Text Twist 2 honestly does contain both text and twisting, but unfortunately it lacks the polish and magic of other Game House titles or even its indie competitors.

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45

Best free apps for Windows Phones

WPCentral's list of the best free apps for Windows Phone

Free Apps for your Windows Phone

We've taken a look at must have games and must have apps for your Windows Phone, now we turn our sights on the best free apps that might interest every Windows Phone owner. Everyone likes free stuff, right?

The Windows Phone Marketplace is full of free apps and games. Some good, some bad. Some with ads, some without.  We've compiled a short list of free Windows Phone games and apps the we found interesting and thought you would too.

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Last year WPCentral asked our readers what mobile games they’d most like to see ported to Windows Phone. One highly-requested game was Cut the Rope from Chillingo. Well, we’re getting one step closer to seeing that happen. WPCentral is pleased to announce that Chillingo has officially begun to support Windows Phone. Their first game: Feed Me Oil, from developer Holy Water Games.

Feed Me Oil is a physics puzzle game that closely resembles Enigmo. The player’s job is to get a bunch of dropping oil into the mouths of gigantic creatures. You’ll use a variety of gadgets to do so, pushing, pulling, and otherwise directing the flow of oil. While the gameplay may be somewhat familiar to puzzle fans, Feed Me Oil’s creative art design is far more appealing than Enigmo’s sterile setting.

Feed Me Oil

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49

Must-have games for your Nokia Lumia 900

WPCentral's list of the best games for the Lumia 900

Games!

You've read our Must-have apps for the Nokia Lumia 900, now it's time for the games...

One of Windows Phone’s most attractive features to gamers is its Xbox Live integration. All Xbox Live games feature Achievements and online friends leaderboards, making it easy to compare and show off your progress with your pals. Every Wednesday Microsoft releases a new Xbox Live title, which come in the following price ranges: free, $2.99, $4.99, and $6.99.

With over 100 Xbox Live titles released so far and many more on the way, new users like those who’ve just picked up the Nokia Lumia 900 (review) might have a tough time deciding which games to grab first. Factor in the abundance of indie games and there’s even more to choose from. Fear not, friends – I’ve played nearly every single Xbox Live game on Windows Phone, and reviewed most of them for this very site. If anyone can help, it’s WPCentral.

Read past the break to learn what I think are the best...

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WP Central

Wordament, the free (ad-supported) Windows Phone indie game from You vs. the Internet, is expected to be re-released as an Xbox Live title on the Marketplace. The multiplayer word game puts players against one another to find as many words as possible from the same grid of 16 letters. The announcement detailing this upgrade was published back in February.

The Xbox Live version -once released- will remain free and ad-supported, much like Minesweeper, Sudoku and Breeze. Before it has time to return with achievements and whatnot, it seems someone has got ahead of themselves at Windows Phone HQ. Should you filter the web Marketplace games catalogue to display Live enabled titles, you'll see an odd listing.

WP Central

We're not entirely sure why Wordament is present on the Xbox Live list of Windows Phone games, but this further confirms an imminent re-release of the word game. it's good to see such a popular title receive Live features, especially after someone proposed using the game concept. We'll update with more information as it's made available.

Thanks Illum1na for the heads up! 

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Pirates

It’s time to put on your black caps and eyepatches, Windows Phone gamers. Sid Meier’s Pirates! from 2K Games is now available on the Marketplace.

In Pirates! gamers play as the son of a man whose family was unjustly imprisoned by a nobleman in the 1600s. The path to rescue them is fraught with peril, as he’s forced into the life of a pirate. From there, players must form alliances with some nations while warring on others, collecting treasure, upgrading their ship, and hiring new crewmen all the while. Pirates! is ostensibly a strategy title, but it packs a wide variety of gameplay, including ship battles, sword fighting, city bombardment, and even dancing. How else are you going to romance those ladies?

Sid Meier's Pirates!

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3D brick breaker Revolution

After a fantastic seven game Easter sale, it’s only natural that the next Xbox Live sale wouldn’t match up. And this one really doesn’t match up! The Deal of the Week is 3D Brick Breaker Revolution from Digital Chocolate. Its sale price is $1.99, down from $2.99.

3D Brick Breaker Revolution is an Arkanoid-style brick breaking game. It has lots of levels. Now that we’ve got the good parts out of the way, let’s talk about the bad. The game’s 3D graphics run really poorly on Windows Phone. I find this annoying because not only are they the opposite of complex, but a game like this doesn’t need to be in 3D in the first place. The Marketplace screenshots aren't even from the Windows Phone version, as they show the wrong aspect ratio. 3D Brick Breaker Revolution's controls are just awful and add unnecessary challenge to an already tough game. The Achievements are super hard and you’re never going to get all of them. Check out our review to learn why we rated it a 3.5, back in our scoring days.

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Monster Island

While Sid Meier’s Pirates! is arriving on Xbox Live this Wednesday, Microsoft has already announced next week’s new title as well. It will be Monster Island from Miniclip.

Monster Island is basically a monster-themed version of Fragger. Instead of a grenadier, you’re now a monster who must defeat invading monsters. Aim and throw five different kinds of monster grenades to destroy your stationary enemies. With four huge sets of levels, it offers plenty of bomb-throwing fun.  Being a Miniclip title, Monster Island will also feature optional microtransactions, allowing players to purchase level skips and solutions with Microsoft Points.

Monster Island comes to Windows Phone on Wednesday, April 18 and will cost $2.99. If you’d like to try it sooner, check out the Flash version at Miniclip.com.

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Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Do you like grinding? You know, replaying the same section of a game over and over in order to meet some kind of goal before moving on to new parts of the game? Then Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is for you. The latest Need for Speed release on Windows Phone isn’t a direct sequel to Need for Speed: Undercover – each entry in the long-running series basically involves a whole new premise and structure while retaining the core element of racing fast cars while avoiding the cops. On consoles, Hot Pursuit is considered a return to form following the lackluster Undercover. On Windows Phone, it’s a chance to repeat the same handful of races until you’re just sick of ‘em.

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Sid Meier’s Pirates! for iPad

Last week’s Xbox Live release, Civilization Revolution, is part of a series crafted by design genius Sid Meier. This week, 2K Games follows up with another of Meier’s creations: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Pirates! is a strategy game/sim that debuted on the Commodore 64 computer in 1987. It was then remade for consoles and PCs in 2004. Unlike Civilization Revolution, Pirates! never came to iPhone, though the iPad version (pictured) is highly regarded by critics. Microsoft couldn’t provide screens for the Windows Phone version in time for this article; let’s hope the graphical fidelity hasn’t taken too much of a hit this time.

As for Pirates!’ gameplay, it primarily involves sailing around the Caribbean, attacking other ships and stealing their treasure. In addition to ship-to-ship battles, players can bombard towns with cannon fire and even take part in sword fights. Managing good and bad relationships with other nations is key; otherwise you’ll find nothing but hostile ports when you come to land. At port you can hire new crew mates, buy and sell goods, and talk to the locals for news.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! comes to Windows Phone on Wednesday, April 11. We don’t have an official price yet, but $2.99 is likely.

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Last year, this writer paid a visit to Twisted Pixel Studios in Austin, TX to discuss their Kinect title The Gunstringer. Twisted Pixel is best known for their creative and irreverent Xbox Live Arcade titles, including The Maw, Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, and Ms. Splosion Man. Shortly after the visit, Microsoft acquired Twisted Pixel. I dared to hope that the move to first-party status would bring Twisted Pixel titles to Windows Phone, and what do you know…

Ms. Splosion Man, the larger-than-life sequel to Splosion Man, has now been announced for Windows Phone! In MSM (as I’ll now shorten it), players control the titular antihero. Like her male predecessor, she’s the result of scientific experimentation gone awry. MSM is a platformer, but unlike other games, the lead character doesn’t just jump, she ‘splodes to reach new heights. She’ll also ‘splode the hapless scientists and any other contraptions they’ve built that get in her way. It’s bright, cheerful, and extremely silly fun.  The XBLA game also provides quite a challenge, but I’m sure Windows Phone gamers are up to it.

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A few weeks ago we mentioned the results of a recent Windows Phone hackathon, where devs get together, dream up and code apps and games within a fixed time period.

One of the noteworthy games that came out of that workshop was SpaceShooterz by Cubeslam. A retro arcade space shooter, the game needed some music and some finishing touches before it headed to the Marketplace. Luckily for you, it's now live and it's a fun little number.

SpaceShooterz

The game is free with no ads (for now), has excellent controls, smooth gameply with a high framerate and the music is just badass sounding. It's certainly falls into the quick-gaming category as you only have one life and no continues, but it's a lot of fun and done very well. For that, we have to recommend it.

Pick up SpaceShooterz here in the Marketplace for free. In addition, the French-only home automation app that was also coded during the same hackathon is now available too. You can grab that app, called ZibaseWP, right here.

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Xbox Live Easter 2012 Sale

Microsoft hasn’t announced it yet, but we’ve caught wind of a mobile Xbox Live Easter sale. Or it could be a celebration of the Lumia 900's release - who knows? The following games are currently only 99 cents each:

This is easily the biggest and best sale on Windows Phone Xbox Live titles ever – seven titles is a lot, and they’re 66 percent off instead of the usual 33. Which games will you be picking up, awesome WPCentral readers? I probably had the most fun with Burn the Rope, but you can’t lose with most of these.

We don’t know the dates of the sale, but it’s likely to run at least through Sunday. This post will be updated should we spot an official date.

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2

Windows Phone Game Review: Chicken Invaders 3

Chicken Invaders 3 for Windows Phone

Chicken Invaders 3 is an arcade game for your Windows Phone that is designed in the tradition of classic arcade games such as Space Invaders and Galaga. The key difference being that instead of battling alien space ships, you face hostile space chickens.

Graphically, the game is very appealing and the game play is somewhat challenging. You dodge a barrage of eggs, asteroids and treasure chests as you work you way to battle the various bosses of the game. Ship navigation can be a little tricky but overall, Chicken Invaders 3 is worth giving that trial version a go.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, the long-awaited sequel to Sonic 4, finally has a release date. And when I say that, I don’t mean just the Xbox 360 version has a release date. Even the Windows Phone and PC versions have them! That’s something you don’t see every day.

The information comes from a new trailer that debuted at GameSpot today. The Playstation 3 version rolls out on Tuesday, May 15; the XBLA version on May 16; iOS and PC versions sometime in May; Android in June; and last, but certainly not least, the Windows Phone port comes in July. Considering the wait for Sonic CD, a mere two months for Sonic 4 Episode II doesn’t sound so bad.Sonic 4 Metal Sonic

As mentioned a few weeks ago, Sonic 4 Episode II will also reportedly be the first Xbox 360 game to feature synchronous game play with Windows Phone, meaning you can pause your game on your phone and pick up the game in the same spot on your Xbox 360.

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10

Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: DoDonPachi Maximum

DoDonPachi Maximum lead

Japanese developer CAVE is almost singe-handedly responsible for keeping the shoot-em-up genre alive in modern times – they have produced over 15 such titles since their formation in 1995. CAVE’s very first game, DonPachi, has also proved to be the most enduring, spawning many sequels under the DoDonPachi moniker. None of the DoDonPachi console ports have made the trip to the US, but DoDonPachi Resurrection was at least released as a region-free Xbox 360 title in the UK. Thankfully, CAVE has taken to publishing their games on smartphones in the US – first releasing a handful of DoDonPachi titles on iOS, and now launching DoDonPachi Maximum for Windows Phone worldwide. Hardcore shmup fans will certainly enjoy Maximum, but the game’s esoteric design will leave some gamers scratching their heads, if not flinging their phones in frustration.

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MiniSquadron lead

Last week’s Xbox Live Deal of the Week was an unexciting repeat, but things are looking up this week. We’ve got a game that’s never gone on sale before, and it’s a relatively recent release, too. MiniSquadron from Supermono and Fat Pebble Studios is now on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

MiniSquadron is a fast-paced and challenging 2D aerial combat game. With 9 maps and 63 different aircraft to unlock, it certainly has a lot to keep players interested. The colorful graphics and classical music impress, and even the menus are better than average. Unfortunately, MiniSquadron is also a fairly buggy game, with a broken Achievement worth a whopping 50 GamerScore. The developers haven’t even updated it for Mango, either. Despite these major problems, it’s still an enjoyable game – see our review to learn all of the pros and cons.

MiniSquadron is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Fly over here to get it from the Marketplace. Thanks to Jimbob73 for the tip!

QR: MiniSquadron

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