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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!

The cheapest coin pack costs 80 MSP ($1), so users would need to spend a minimum of $5.99 ($2.99 for the base game plus $3 for three coin packs) in order to earn Monster Island’s full 200 GamerScore. Of course, larger packs actually offer more coins per dollar than smaller packs, so why couldn’t the Achievement just be for buying a single pack? More importantly, this is the first Windows Phone title to actually require players to spend additional money in order to get all of the base game’s Xbox Live Achievements. Even among Xbox 360 games that practice is extremely rare (if not prohibited outright), so it’s startling that Microsoft allowed it here.

Perhaps it’s natural for publishers to test the limits of what they can sell to users as PDLC, but many would agree Miniclip has gone too far on this one. It’s a shame too, as without the annoying PDLC component (and multiple in-game pop-ups encouraging players to spend their coins), Monster Island is probably the most robust Angry Birds-type game on Windows Phone. The massive quantity of levels and variety of playable characters and bombs, not to mention some clever level design, certainly makes it worth a look. Could 'Big Spender' have simply slipped through the certification process by mistake? We've contacted Microsoft and will report back if they reply.

Monster Island costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace. Alternately, you can check out the Flash version at

Update: Currently the game is only available in the US. We'll let you know when this changes.

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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.

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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The first 'Not Dead yet!' image reveals the new Meat Cleaver item.

Babaroga’s been hard at work updating their mobile Xbox Live titles, as evidenced by the recent Minesweeper and Sudoku updates. Now Zombies!!! -  the developer’s only self-published Windows Phone game so far – has received a new update as well.

Zombies!!! version 1.2 release notes

  • Added a free ringtone (found under Options)

Free ringtones are always nice, but the really exciting news is what the next update will bring. The first Zombies!!! PDLC expansion pack should debut within the next month or so. ‘Zombies!!! 3.5: Not Dead Yet!’ adds 18 new cards, new animations, five new Achievements worth 50 GamerScore, and more. Yes, this officially makes Zombies!!! the first Windows Phone game to break the 200 GamerScore barrier.

All five new Achievements are worth 10 GamerScore each:

  • Blunt Force Trauma: Player unlocks this Achievement by killing 3 zombies while the card “No Guts. No Glory.” is in play.
  • It’s Me! Let Me In!: Player unlocks this Achievement by playing the “There You Are” card to move their pawn from an outdoor square into any building. Zombies update adds ringtones - PDLC with 50 GamerScore of Xbox Live Achievements on the way
  • Shop Smart: Player unlocks this Achievement by using the “Hey, I Got One of Those” card to gain a Shotgun.
  • Night Drive: Player unlocks this Achievement by playing the card “The Keys Are Still In It” while the card “Too…Tired…To…Run” is in play.
  • Fresh Meat: Player unlocks this Achievement by killing 50 zombies with the Meat Cleaver.

We don’t have pricing details for the expansion yet, but 240 Microsoft Points ($3) seems likely. More expansion packs are planned for the future, each of which can be toggled on or off after purchase.

Asynchronous multiplayer (announced in WPCentral’s developer interview last year) will not debut with the ‘Zombies!!! 3.5’ expansion, though it should come along in the next update. Will Carcassonne beat Zombies!!! to the punch as the first mobile Xbox Live game with online multiplayer? Only time will tell.

Zombies!!! is a faithful adaptation of the horror-themed board game of the same name. See our review for more details. The game costs $4.99 and there is a free trial. Pick it up here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us about the Achievements.

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IronSun Studios’ second Xbox Live title, Battlewagon, suffered from a bad case of broken Achievements when it launched last year. Like any responsible developer, IronSun quickly set out to fix those Achievements – but they didn’t stop there. The Battlewagon version 1.1 update includes a few additional tweaks that make for a more enjoyable game – fancy that!

Battlewagon version 1.1 release notes

  • All Achievements are now attainable
  • Added a restart button to the Pause menu
  • Changed the wagon launching mechanism
  • Added a power and angle indicator for lobbing

The new restart button should make replaying levels for higher ratings far more pleasant – no more suffering through additional tries when you’ve blown your first life or two. The wagon launching is much less finicky now, thank goodness. The shot power and angle indicator (displayed numerically at the top of the screen) also improve the gameplay. I still find aiming to be kind of awkward, but at least now you can replicate effective shots by paying attention to the numbers.

Battlewagon is a unique and very British game that takes place during medieval times. The object is to retake your lands from four evil barons, Robin Hood-style. Battlewagon’s 68 levels encompass a variety of gameplay styles, and the colorful Amiga-like artwork is quite appealing. We’ll have a full review soon.

Battlewagon costs $2.99 and you can get it here on the Marketplace.

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We mentioned Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone just over a month ago. The pet project by developer Den Delimarsky picks up where Microsoft's Channel 9 left off. In short, these are achievements...but for developers! And now you can track them easily on your Windows Phone, thanks to Den's app.

Nerd alert!

Having said that, the app itself is pretty awesome with the ability to track your achievements as well as sharing and comparing your scores to others for ultimate bragging rights.

Read more on Channel 9's Visual Studio Achievements here and read more at Den's blog over yonder.

Grab the free app here and now in the Marketplace.

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In case you didn't get the memo, the world now runs on achievements. I would say that it's rather superficial, but honestly that magic little sound my XBOX makes when it thinks I'm awesome is just plain addictive. Yip, most of us have this weird compulsion - whether it's beating that final boss in some ridiculously hard kill-em-all, or serving 20 customers in one level in Sally's Salon.

So why is it just for games? Well, a little while ago the great minds at Channel 9 decided that us developers deserved a piece of the pie too, and launched Visual Studio Achievements.

What more could we need?

Personally I think there needs to be a lot more achievements added, but besides that Den Delimarsky seems to have hit the nail on the head. He has just released the beta of Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone which you can use to track achievements plus compare yourself to others (for modern-day bragging rights of course). There is also Live Tile integration plus a load of other features he has planned. And quite frankly, it's beautiful:

So if you didn't have enough reason to be using VS Achievements before, you do now.

Den is currently running the beta for all who are interested, so I would jump on the band-wagon quickly before all the space fills up. As with all beta's run through the marketplace you will need to provide him with you LiveID and your phone does not have to be unlocked.

Hit up the link below for more details.

Source: Den by default

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Full House Poker updated to Mango

Good news for players and especially those who managed to grab this title when it was the Xbox Live Deal of the Week not so long ago. Full House Poker has been updated to Mango, which brings the usual goodness with fast-app switching and more. But the interesting feature that's now included is unlockable ringtone achievements, which is something we haven't seen yet in a game on Windows Phone.

You can download Full House Poker from the Marketplace for $2.99, be sure to check out our full review!

Thanks Will for the heads up!

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I Dig It update stuck in certification limbo

I Dig It (review) from InMotion Software is a fun little Xbox Live game. Unfortunately, since its release it has been plagued by severely glitched Achievements. In our Broken Achievements article, I stated:

“As of April 11, InMotion had submitted an update that corrected all of I Dig It’s known issues. Two months later, Microsoft has not chosen to publish the update. I feel for your plight, I Dig It players.”

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Broken Xbox Live Achievements on Windows Phone

For many gamers, Xbox Live Achievements are the Windows Phone platform’s main selling point. They provide primary and secondary goals to strive for in games. They also make it easy for other people to see what you’ve accomplished. Earning Achievements contributes to GamerScore – an overall score that quantifies a person’s accomplishments across Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Games for Windows Live games. It’s a brilliant and addictive system.

Except when something goes wrong. Despite the apparently rigorous testing that games undergo during the Xbox Live certification process, sometimes a game is released with one or more with unobtainable Achievements. We call an Achievement broken or glitched when it is impossible for gamers to unlock through any means.

Why are glitched Achievements a big deal? As I said, people get addicted to earning Achievements. Obsessive compulsive types eat them up. People who really buy into the Achievement system sort of calculate the full 200 GamerScore into a game’s purchase price. They feel ripped off if they can’t get the full 200 no matter what they do. Even for less compulsive gamers, it can be frustrating to go through the effort to satisfy an Achievement’s unlock conditions and find that it didn’t unlock.

Head past the jump for the full list of broken Xbox Live Achievements and what’s being done to fix them.

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In February, Scoreloop announced that they are bringing their cross-platform social gaming system to Windows Phone. We recently interviewed Scoreloop Product Marketing manager Raphael Weiner about the Windows Phone version’s status.

What is the current status of WP7 Scoreloop development?

Since we announced the Beta of our WP7 SDK back in February there's been a lot of interest from many developers using Scoreloop already who want to add WP7 to their roadmap. As it's a Beta there are some aspects of the Scoreloop platform that we haven't yet integrated, but developers can already use Scoreloop for leader boards, player profiles, challenges and achievements, all of which are cross-platform between WP7 versions and other platforms. So really, it's been a very positive start to our support for the WP7 OS.

What is the target launch date? 

We expect to launch the full SDK soon - most likely within a couple of months. Right now we are building as much feedback into the SDK and tools as we can.

Head past the jump for the full interview. 

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This week’s Xbox Live title is Enigmo, a physics-based puzzle game. Enigmo sort of blind-sided us as we hadn’t heard about it coming to Windows Phone until recently, but now we’ve got some concrete details to share with you.

Enigmo was originally developed by Austin-based developer Pangea Software. It debuted on the strange and foreign Mac platform before making a successful run on iPhone. It’s also been released on the Windows Mobile platform – anybody remember that one?

We’ve already seen a physics-based puzzler on Xbox Live in the form of iBlast Moki. Enigmo is a little bit like that, but the goal is to direct streams of liquids into the appropriate receptacles using various gadgets. The Windows Phone version of Enigmo features sharp 3D graphics and 50 puzzles to solve. It was developed by Chaotic Moon Studios, also located in Austin, and will cost $2.99.

Head past the break for our exclusive reveal of Enigmo’s Xbox Live Achievements and the game’s debut trailer.

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Pac-Man - Review

Pac-Man is one of the most-ported games ever, and now Namco brings it to Windows Phone 7 as an Xbox Live title. This version is faithful to the arcade original, but lacks any bells-and-whistles to get excited over and introduces a few new problems.

Everybody knows how Pac-Man works, so let’s focus on what’s changed for Windows Phone 7. The game is played from a vertical orientation. The actual play field takes up the top two-thirds of the screen, with a virtual joystick on a plain blue background at the bottom. Super bland menus that use an ugly font further contribute to a mediocre presentation.

To find out whether our circular arcade hero gets the ghosts or if they get him instead, chomp a power pellet and head past the break.

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