Games

Gravity Guy

When Gravity Guy launched last year, two of its Achievements were unavailable to players. This was not due to glitches but by design – quite unusual for an Xbox Live game. Fast forward to today and Gravity Guy’s version 1.1 update has arrived. It packs quite a lot for an update, including a few surprises.

Gravity Guy version 1.1 release notes:

  • Added Fast App Switching support
  • Added the Rescue chapter to Story Mode (29 new levels)
  • Added paid DLCs:
    Slowdowns: Slows down the game for 90 seconds. It's like "bullet time"

The paid DLC (PDLC) is the big news here. Gravity Guy has officially become the first third-party Xbox Live game to offer PDLC, a bit ahead of Bug Village and Zombies!!!. Players automatically get three free Slowdowns, which can be used by tapping the new icon in the top-left corner of the screen. Slowdowns typically last for about one and a half levels – if the player doesn’t make any mistakes. Use up your free Slowdowns and it costs 160 Microsoft Points ($2) to buy a pack of 5 more.

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Dethtris Flash game

Today Microsoft and Arkadium, a developer of casual and social games (as well as socially casual games), announced a multi-year, multi-game publishing agreement. Microsoft Studios will bring several of Arkadium’s titles to multiple unnamed platforms over the next few years. Truth be told, the platforms have names, but the two companies just aren't sharing them yet.

Arkadium’s expertise is with highly casual Facebook and Flash games – they haven’t made of an impression in the mobile arena yet. Still, this agreement could be extremely promising. Arkadium’s best known title, Mahjongg Dimensions, is their single iPhone game of note (pictured below) and an extremely good candidate for a Windows Phone port. Dimensions basically brings the classic game of mahjong solitaire (AKA Shanghai) to the third dimension, allowing players to rotate the field of mahjong tiles as they search for matching pairs. Mahjongg Dimensions would also translate easily to Xbox Live Arcade, maybe even with Kinect support.

Mahjongg Dimensions iOS

As for Arkadium’s hefty library of Flash games, Dethtris (pictured at top) would most appeal to the mainstream crowd. It mixes platforming with the falling block genre – kind of a reverse take on Tetris Plus. Here, players take on the role of a hapless young explorer as he runs, jumps, and climbs through bite-sized jungle-themed levels, collecting treasure and dodging giant falling blocks along the way. Dethtris could work on mobile phones thanks to its simple controls and short levels, but an Xbox Live Arcade release is even more likely. We’ve seen such a transition before with last year’s XBLA port of Fancy Pants Adventures, another Flash platformer from Armor Games and EA.

Of course, Arkadium’s press release does not mention actual titles, so that’s my own speculation. But the release does spell out the reasoning for both parties behind the deal. Arkadium wants to expand their development to new platforms, while Microsoft hungers for a piece of the social games pie. Hey, maybe the partnership will motivate the big MS to finally bring some actual social features to Windows Phone games! We can only dream…

Source: Arkadium via Joystiq. Thanks Mike to the Peck for the tip!

Head past the break for the full press release.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Bubble Popper XXL

Bubble Popper XXL

Bubble Popper XXL isn't your bubble popping game for your Windows Phone. Sure, you have to pop bubbles of two or more of the same style to gain points but there's a little more to it with Bubble Popper XXL.

Bubble Popper XXL is a multi-level game that calls upon you to remove a certain number of bubbles in a limited number of moves per level. You've got a few bonus bubbles to help you along the way and even with the help, Bubble Popper XXL can be somewhat of a challenge.

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Xbox Live: Zombies are now on teh Phone

Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne)

One thing is for sure – Xbox Live absolutely does not have enough grungy top-down zombie shooters. The situation just got a whole lot better though, as Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) has crawled onto the Marketplace.

Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) (a title that absolutely begs to be copy and pasted rather than typed) is the Windows Phone port of popular-‘cause-it’s-cheap Xbox 360 indie game I MAED A GAEM W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1. Thankfully it includes a new game mode, 'Endless Zombies,' as well as the entirely new side-view shooter 'Time Viking.' It’s like two or three games for the price of one! Look past the intentionally basic yet chaotic visuals and you’ll find a challenging shooter with a nice sense of humor; just listen to the horrid but silly lyrical theme songs for proof. To learn more about the concept, check out our Xbox Live Developer Interview with the totally friendly and not indifferent creators at Ska Studios.

Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Pick it up here on the Marketplace and help stop those zombies!

Also, don’t forget the Xbox Live Deal of the Week, Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition, is now on sale for $2.99.

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Sally's Salon Luxury Edition

Last’s week’s sale game may not have been very exciting, but this week’s Xbox Live Deal of the Week is much more enjoyable. Starting tomorrow, Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition goes on sale for $2.99, down from $4.99.

Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition is a time management game – the only example of the genre in the mobile Xbox Live lineup ever since the much inferior Star Wars Cantina got pulled. Over the course of 73 levels, players will help Sally keep customers happy by washing their hair, cutting it, and performing a number of other services. Her shops get busy though, so you’ll really need to stay on your toes. As I mention in our review, it’s tons of fun and the Achievements are quite reasonable. If you’re open to playing a game with a feminine theme, you won’t regret the purchase.

Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition goes on sale this Wednesday, for one week only. Scoop it up here on the Marketplace. Also, don't forget that Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) is this week's new Xbox Live release.

Update: The sale price is live.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Word Puzzle

Word Puzzle

Word Puzzle is another boggle styled word game for your Windows Phone that follows in the footsteps of similar games such as Word Arena and Wordrix. Word Puzzle presents you with either a 4x4 or 5x5 grid of letters that you have to create words from.  The 4x4 grid is challenging enough but if you really want a challenge, the larger 5x5 puzzle can really be humbling.

You create words by dragging your finger from letter to letter (moving left, right, up, down or diagonally). When you're done creating the word, just lift your touch and the word is registered and you earn points.  Instead of playing simulataneously against others trying to solve the same puzzle, Word Puzzle has you competing against the clock (two minute rounds) for the highest score.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Ninja Shooter

Ninja Shooter for Windows Phone

Ninja Shooter is a simple, yet challenging Windows Phone game that is brought to us by XIMAD. Ninja Shooter continues the never ending conflict between Pandas and Ninjas.

Ninja Shooter joins other XIMAD games such as Pandas vs. Ninjas, Ninja Breakout and Kung Fu Tic, Tac, Toe. Ninja Shooter is a nicely animated game for your Windows Phone and includes a local leaderboard and three game speeds.

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If you recall, way back in November one of the events at Nokia World was the announcement of the Hackathon winner. Hackathon was a development contest where 40 developers had 40 hours to create an app for a Nokia Phone. Visiarc won the contest with their Windows Phone game Duudle. Why the recap? Well, Duudle is now available over at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Duudle is a Pictionary styled game for your Windows Phone where you have thirty seconds to doodle a picture describing a word. Then your opponents have to guess the word from the doodle. The quicker they correctly guess the word, the more points earned.

Duudle

Duudle is a multi-player, turn based game that is played online much like AlphaJax or SpellIt. You'll need to register (free) with Duudle to play online when you first launch the game.  If you signup with your Facebook account, you'll automatically see your Facebook friends who are Duudle players.  You then pick up games against your Facebook friends or in random games to make new friends. Being turned based the game takes on a relaxing pace giving players up to seventy-two hours to complete their turn.

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Chickens Can't Fly

Last week we learned that Konami’s upcoming sports Xbox Live title Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 would feature unlockable avatar awards in the form of a t-shirt and soccer ball. Now UK website Electronic Theatre is reporting that another impending title, Chickens Can’t Fly, will have avatar awards as well. They don’t say what the game’s avatar items will be, but it’s nice to know it’ll have something for our precious avatars.

Chickens Can’t Fly is the Xbox Live sequel to indie hit Chickens Can Dream from developer Amused Sloth. Players steer a falling chicken down a trench filled with all sorts of deadly hazards (and tasty corn). Think of it as a reverse Doodle Jump, but with powerups you can store and use later.

Chickens Can Dream is no longer listed on the Marketplace, but you may be able to grab it here (for free). Chickens Can’t Fly is due on Xbox Live sometime around February or March.

UPDATE: As one of the developers indicates in the comments section of this post, the avatar items will be patched in with the first title update rather than being included at launch.

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We like it when leaks happen. We like it even more when they come from Microsoft and are out in the open. Yes, on the Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone 7.5 page, Microsoft lists a bunch of games, most of which we already have or know about. But in the post, they also slip in a few new titles that get us excited:

Bullet Asylum - From UberGeekGames, Bullet Asylum was first announced for WP7, Xbox 360 and PC way back in late 2010. Looks like the Missile Command meets bullet-hell game will finally see the light of day soon though. We're not gonna lie, this looks awesome.

Bullet Asylum

geoDefense Swarm - geoDefense by Critical Thought remains one of our favorite tower defense games so we're stoked to hear of a sequel not only in the works, but evidently close enough to release that Microsoft is listing it. Swarm is available on iOS and is a proper sequel to the game, so nice to see it coming to our neck of the woods.

geoDefense Swarm

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Bug Village Title

Last week, WPCentral revealed that Bug Village would be the first freemium game on Windows Phone. We shared a few details about how it would work and promised more to come. Here then is the next installment of our Xbox Live Developer Interview series. This time, we grill Mike DeLaet of Glu Mobile about Bug Village’s revolutionary features and the challenges of bringing a freemium game to Xbox Live.

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WPCentral Holiday Gift Guide: Apps and Games

WP Central

Happy Holidays everyone! With some of our readers finding a new Windows Phone under the tree or getting their Windows Phone Marketplace gift card in the mail, we thought it was a good time to throw out some app suggestions. We've polled our staff and have come up with a few games and apps that we think every Windows Phone should have. Or in the least, we highly recommend you give them a try.

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 Z0MB1ES!!1

The wildly popular Xbox title I MAED A GAEM W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1 has been ported to Windows Phone as one of three games within the new title Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne), which we broke news of back in September. Now it looks like the game is set for release this coming week as the main Xbox LIVE title for Windows Phone. It will run for the very reasonable $2.99.

 Z0MB1ES!!1

Back from our interview, the games within Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) were described:

"Endless Zombies takes place in a little, infinitely looping labyrinth that has a room-by-room progression similar to that of Smash TV. It’s a neat challenge mode for some twin-stick time killing, but it’s definitely not nearly as epic as I MAED A GAM3."

Q: Gotcha. Time Viking, on the other hand, is a brand new game. How does it fit in with the two Z0MB1ES titles?

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II officially announced

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, the long-awaited return to 2D gameplay for the Sonic series, met with a mixed reception when it debuted on consoles in 2010. The Windows Phone version debuted several months later. In WPCentral’s Sonic 4 review, I praised its faithfulness to the console game (outside of a crummy pinball level exclusive to the mobile game) and touch screen controls. While the retro remake of Sonic CD is still due to arrive sometime (having already hit consoles and iOS), many fans have been left wondering about the fate of Sonic 4: Episode II.

Good news today then, as Sega has finally released a teaser trailer for Episode II. The trailer is devoid of gameplay footage, but it does at least promise the return of two popular characters: Tails the fox, Sonic’s young sidekick, and Metal Sonic, one of the main enemies in Sonic CD.

Head past the break for another video and more gameplay details!

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Windows Phone Game Review: MagicBalls

MagicBalls is a fast paced Windows Phone game that will test your powers of observation and reaction time. It's a fun game to pass the time with but does take a few tries to get the hang of.

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High traffic crashes Trine's Hangman server

Trine's Hangman

If you've been having trouble playing Trine's Hangman or creating a player account, you aren't alone. The server behind the popular Windows Phone game has crashed. The silver lining in all of this is that it appears the problem is due to high traffic from Windows Phone users playing the game.

We have been contacted by the developer who wants to assure everyone that he is working diligently on getting things back up as quickly as possible. With the server down, you won't be able to update or check on your world rankings, create a new player account or log in with an existing account. But you will be able to continue to play the game and once the server is back up your score and ranking will be kept.

Trine's Hangman is an enjoyable word game for your Windows Phone and hopefully things will be fixed soon. You can find Trine's Hangman Pro (currently on sale for $.99) here and a free, ad-supported version of Trine's Hangman here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Word Mints

Word Mints for Windows Phone

For those who are longing for more Windows Phone word games, we've got a dandy for you. Word Mints is a "find a word" type game that is integrated with your Facebook account. Word Mints is a tournament oriented game where you race the clock and play against other players to see who can create the most words from a six random letters. There is a lot to Word Mints including daily contests, achievements, and your own Facebook styled wall.

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Orb is free to download...for now

Orb Screenshot

For a two-day stint, Palladium Power has made their game Orb available for free in the Marketplace.  Orb is a tilt-based game where you navigate your sphere through a series of tiled obstacle courses.  Along the way you must use your skill, along with specialized tiles, to avoid holes and traps.

This isn't the first time Palladium power has offered up this deal.  We saw the free download back in June as well.  If you are interested (which you should be because, if nothing else, it's free!), you can click here, or use the tag below.

Cheers, TheWeeBear, for the tip!

Get Orb for free

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NCIS The TV Game

Back in August, Game House, the makers of Doodle Jump and Tiki Towers, informed WPCentral that they had five mobile Xbox Live titles in the works. These included Collapse!, Delicious!, TextTwist 2, Cake Mania Main Street, and NCIS: The TV Game. And now, for better or worse, three of those titles won’t be attaining Xbox Live status.

Collapse! is already available (with super easy Achievements to boot) and TextTwist 2 is still coming to Xbox Live, so it’s the other three titles that Game House will publish as indie games. In fact, NCIS: The TV Game recently arrived in the Marketplace at the lower-than-Xbox Live cost of $1.99.

Many developers either publish Xbox Live games or indie games, but not both. In this case, Game House basically looked at the three games and decided that retooling them as Xbox Live titles would be more trouble than it’s worth. They have also decided to publish their indie games under the Real Networks label rather than Game House Live like their Xbox Live titles.

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Spider Jack

While iOS hit Cut the Rope has yet to migrate to Windows Phone, today we get the next best thing with Spider Jack, an Xbox Live title from developer MaxNick and EA Games. Yes, EA is still apparently making Windows Phone games (that aren’t exclusive to Nokia handsets).

Spider Jack

The goal in Spider Jack is to get the titular arachnid to his food. To do this, you attach the spider’s thread to a knob. He’ll then swing around, collecting anything he touches. You’ll also need to cut the rope, err, thread in order to drop Jack onto items. With 75 levels (many with multiple possible solutions), this should be a fun physics-based puzzler that stands out from other games on the platform - if not the title that inspired it.

Spider Jack costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Swing over here on the Marketplace to get it.

Spider

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Cro-Mag Rally Title

How much do you like Achievements? That may very well be the factor that helps many people to decide whether or not to purchase the latest Xbox Live Deal of the Week game, Cro-Mag Rally. It’s now on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

Cro-Mag Rally is a prehistoric-themed kart racer from Pangaea Software and Citizen 12 Studio. Kart racers are usually pretty fun, but I just didn’t enjoy my time with CMR. As our review indicates, the two primary problems are visuals and track design. CMR originated as a Mac game in 1998, and it shows its age with heinous character designs and terrible 3D graphics. Plus the tracks are just randomly littered with way too many obstacles and tight turns that don’t match the style of game or controls at all. On the other hand, CMR’s Achievements are quite easy, and two bucks isn’t a bad price for another 200 GamerScore.

Cro-Mag Rally is $1.99 for one week only and there is a free trial. Pick it up here on the Marketplace, Achievement hunters.

CroMag

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Buzzwords now available, doesn't sting the wallet

Buzzwords

I’ve never been crazy about bees. Ever since one of the little honey-makers stung me on the leg without warning inside a convenience store, I’ve made it a point not to make conversation with them or invite them to social gatherings. Bee that as it may, I’m still psyched that M80 Games’ Buzzwords finally reached the Marketplace today.

The object of Buzzwords is to find as many words as possible in a field of random letters. After completing a word, you have a brief window to build another word using one or more of the previous one’s letters, thus starting a combo and eventually catching the letters on fire. Spelling words also empties honey into your pot, which provides a score or time bonus, depending on the mode. On top of the timer, you’ll need to watch out for the blue beetles that periodically pop up and threaten to end the game if not vanquished.

Buzzwords is a highly polished game right out of the gate. Not only is the gameplay fun for word-fans, but it looks and sounds fantastic. The list of all the words you found at the end of a game is a nice touch. Online leaderboards courtesy of Mogade as well as unlockable Boosters provide a good deal of replay value. Even if you hate bees like me (I was more of an ‘A’ student anyway), Buzzwords is worth a try.

Buzzwords costs 99 cents and there is a free trial. Scoop it up here on the Marketplace.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Rummycomb

RummyComb for Windows Phone

Rummycomb is a Bejeweled inspired game for your Windows Phone that was recently updated to version 1.2. The update brings a Christmas theme to the game and resolved a few issues the game was experiencing.

You face a hexagonal grid of various objects and your job is to find matching suits of these objects based on suit or color. You build connections of three or more objects to earn points.  Rummycomb has three game modes and a handful of themes to keep things interesting.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Running Dude

Running Dude

Here's a challenging run, jump and shoot type game that will keep you on your toes. Running Dude is a retro styled game that has you running across a series of platforms to see how far you can make it before falling to your fate.

Running Dude is controlled by two buttons at the bottom sides of the screen. The right button controls your jump, the left controls your weapon. No need to worry about your running speed. It's automatic and set to fast.

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PES 2012 Avatar Awards

Avatar awards have been a popular feature in Xbox 360 titles for some time now. Basically, some console titles include unlockable items for player’s Xbox Live avatars. It’s a nice way to deck out your avatar without specifically buying avatar goods.

Of course, one of the hopes of Xbox fans who buy into Windows Phone is that mobile Xbox Live titles will eventually match their console big brother’s games feature for feature. Toward that end,  Microsoft teased the addition of avatar awards to Windows Phone games back in August (if not sooner). Yet no specific games or time frame has been mentioned… until now.

Avatar Awards, a little site run by our own reader DarkSynopsis, has happened across the first tangible evidence of a Windows Phone title with avatar awards. Pro Evolution Soccer 2012, sequel to this year’s PES 2011, looks to have both a shirt (in both male and female varieties) and a soccer ball prop for players to adorn their avatars. The ball will be easy to unlock (win a single match), while the shirt’s requirement of 50 wins sounds a bit more grueling.

We don’t know when PES 2012 is coming or whether other mobile games will include avatar awards before Konami’s soccer sequel debuts. At any rate, gamers who dig avatars (like me!) now at least know the feature is really happening in the near future.

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