Games

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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5

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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6

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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61

Want really good graphics? Check out ARMED!

Just caught wind of a new Windows Phone game that simply looks fantastic. ARMED! is a sci-fi turn-based, multiplayer strategy game. You are in command of a fleet of sci-fi tanks, turrets and robots with one goal in mind...crush your enemy.

Key features includes:

  • Five maps with unique artwork and tactical terrain features
  • Twelve offensive and defensive units to command into battle
  • Over fifty unit upgrades and special attacks to help turn the tide
  • Simultaneous turn online multiplayer with ratings and matchmaking
  • Live Tile updates with turn notifications
  • Track your rankings on the real time leaderboards
  • Scoreloop integration with photo profiles

While the main attraction of ARMED! is the mult-player mode, you also have a single player option to do battle with the CPU. The game is fantastically animated with the ability to zoom out and have a two-dimensional view or zoom in for the 3D table top view.

ARMED! for the Windows Phone

There's a lot to ARMED! and luckily there is a really good tutorial to walk you through the mechanics of the game. In just tinkering with ARMED! for a few minutes, the graphics are impressive and the game play not too shabby either.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Sleigh

Keeping with our Holiday Theme, Sleigh is a Windows Phone game that has you guiding Santa's sleigh through hill and dale to see how much hang time you can generate. Apparently, Santa's reindeers have gone missing and gifts have been scattered across the land.  You need to guide Santa up and down hills, catching air along the way and snatching up as many wayward gifts as possible.

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Bug Village Title

As the Windows Phone game library continues to grow, a few types of games remain conspicuously absent: role-playing games, first-person shooters, and freemium games. The first two are well-established genres (on other platforms), but the term freemium is a bit different. It’s not really a genre, but a business model. Freemium games are free to play but also have optional (or semi-optional) premium content for users to purchase. There hasn’t been a proper freemium Xbox 360 game yet, but they’re quite common on PC and iOS: Farmville, Smurf Village, and even many MMO games utilize the freemium business model.

Windows Phone kinda-sorta has a freemium game already: Haypi Kingdom. However, Microsoft shot down its in-game transaction model, forcing players to email the developer outside of the game in order to purchase coins. The neutering of Haypi Kingdom raised the question: when, if ever would the big MS officially allow games with microtransactions on Windows Phone? That’s surely the number one thing keeping Zynga away from the platform, after all.

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WP Central

Since its announcement, we at WPCentral have been eagerly anticipating the release of MiniSquadron on Xbox Live. Imagine my disappointment then when I booted the game up on Wednesday only to discover that the virtual stick simply did not work. As a result, I couldn’t steer the plane or do much of anything besides get an Achievement for bouncing into the walls. A quick check of the comments section on Wednesday’s announcement article and other gaming forums reveals the problem is fairly widespread, though it doesn’t affect everyone.

Thankfully there is a fix for MiniSquadron’s control problem. If your game’s virtual stick isn’t working, simply restart your phone. The next time you boot up the game, the controls should be fixed. You’re then set to enjoy some 2D aerial combat!

Fat Pebble, the developer responsible for the Windows Phone port of MiniSquadron, is aware of the control bug. They have promised to fix it as soon as possible. While the inconvenience of the bug seems like a total downer, it’s actually a boon for gamers. You see, MiniSquadron was developed prior to the Windows Phone Mango update and therefore doesn’t support Fast App Switching. Now that the devs have to update the game to fix the bug, it will be easy for them to throw in Fast App Switching at the same time. Let’s just hope Microsoft allows the update to pass quickly (as they seldom do).

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Trine's Hangman updated and going on sale

Trine's Hangman for Windows Phone

Gydar Industries is at it again. They have released another update to the popular Windows Phone game Trine's Hangman and will also be offering it at half price for the Holidays. Version 1.14 adds more words into the mix, fixes a few bugs, and adds two Christmas themed wallpapers to the game.

The half off sale will drop the price of Trines Hangman Pro from $1.99 to $.99. The Holiday sale will run from December 25, 2011 to January 1, 2012. You still have Trine's Hangman available which is a free, ad-supported version but at $.99, the Pro version is a real steal of a deal.

Trine's Hangman Christmas wallpapers

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Ring Ball Christmas Edition hits the Marketplace

There are a handful of Holiday themed games hitting the Windows Marketplace and you can add Ring Ball to the growing list.

Ring Ball is a simple game where you have a ball that changes colors that you use to collect matching colored rings. Ring Ball makes use of your Windows Phone accelerometer and you roll the ball around the screen by tilting your Windows Phone this way and that.  You collect rings of matching color to earn points, while avoiding non-matching colored rings.

Ring Ball Christmas Edition

Once you collect a ring, the color of the ball changes. Should you make contact with a non-matching color ring, you lose one of your three lives. There are bonus items that pop up from time to time such as the psychedelic rainbow that allows you to collect any ring, regardless of the color.

In tinkering with Ring Ball it comes across as an entertaining game that will test your skills of balance. My only nit after spending a short time with the game is that the ball movement seemed a little sluggish.  Unfortunately, there isn't any settings to adjust the accelerometer's sensitivity.

There is a free trial available with the full version of Ring Ball running $.99. You can grab it here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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5

Deal Alert: Line Birds now free in the Marketplace

Line Birds!

There are a free killer-games out there that we like to highlight around these parts and Line Birds is one of them (see our review here). The game is very popular on the iPhone with over 3 million users and now that studio, Djinnworks, has decided to try their hand on Windows Phone 7. The game was released weeks ago for $1.99 and we happily paid it because it's just well done.

But the real news is now the game is completely free. We're not sure how long it will last as it just happened a few days ago (when it received it's v1.2 update) so we think you should jump on board now. The game is in the vein of Rainbow Rapture e.g. a distance game. Basically you're a bird who has to vertically dodge lines while trying to get power-ups:

"Guide these cute birds through a world full of danger. Unlock new birds as you progress through the game. Each bird has its own special ability from getting invisible or using time warp to a powerful explosion ability.

From the makers of Stick Stunt Biker, Stickman Cliff Diving, Line Runner, Line Jumper, Line Surfer, RunStickRun, Rope'n'Fly and more... "

Going from $1.99 to free is a heck of a Christmas gift for such a great game. Go get this now as you won't be disappointed. Thanks, Ben H., for the tip!

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Nokia's Snake dresses up for the holidays

Play Fessstive Snake on Nokia's Facebook page

Nokia is at it again with their brilliant adver-tainment campaign.  They have added the classic Snake game that they had used to advertise on MSN UK to their Facebook page.  This time around, they have thrown a Christmas sweater on it, using wrapped gifts as the snake's snack.  As you slither around gobbling up presents, the snake grows longer, making it tougher to navigate the tiny confines of the page. 

With the tie-in to Facebook, players can share their scores (mine were too low to be proud of) or even challenge their friends.  If you want to kill some time, check it out using the source link below.  Beware the ultra-catchy midi soundtrack.

Source: Nokia (Facebook)

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