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beards & beaks

Beards & Beaks is one of WPCentral’s favorite games to talk about – it’s got a couple of affordable paid DLC levels, it’s been updated for Mango, and our own Rich Edmonds has long-wished to grow a gnome-like beard. It’s also the Xbox Live Deal of the Week this week, on sale for the low price of $1.99.

Beards & Beaks is a casual real-time strategy game in which players control an army of gnomes by flicking the guys around the screen. With lots of different types of levels, gnomes, and enemy crows, the gameplay is surprisingly diverse. Plus it has easy Achievements, which some folks like even better than ice cream. Since I’ve already earned them all, I think I’ll go get some ice cream now. Oh, but if you want to know more about the game, check out our full review and our interview with the game’s producer.

The Beards & Beaks sale starts this Wednesday and lasts for one week only. Get the game here on the Marketplace.

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Beards & Beaks, Microsoft Game Studios’ lighthearted real-time strategy game, just got updated to version 1.1 a few weeks ago. That update was for Nodo devices, but it didn’t add Mango features. Now that Mango is available to the masses, MGS has wasted no time in pushing another update with proper Mango support.

Beards & Beaks version 1.2 release notes

  • Fully Mango Supported!
  • Fast App Switching
  • Live Tile: Switches back and forth from Gnomes to Crows when pinned to the Start Menu.
  • All the updates from version 1.1

Fast app switching is the most important feature, but enhanced Live Tiles are always welcome. To learn more about Beards & Beaks, check out our developer interview, review, and downloadable content impressions. That’s a lot of info! Many more Xbox Live titles will receive Mango updates in the weeks to come. Stay tuned to WPCentral for all the details.

Beards & Beaks costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Pick it up here (Zune link) from the Marketplace and help the Gnomes stop the Crows!

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The rash of Xbox Live game updates continues, with Windows Phone-exclusive strategy title Beards & Beaks (review) receiving a nice little update today. It’s good to see the game being supported on top of its post-release DLC.

Beards & Beaks version 1.1 release notes:

  • We’re listening to our users- the biggest issue reported is people not understanding how to swipe the map. The fix: we added a finger icon, indicating [where to] swipe [in order to scroll the map]
  • Added support to always show tutorials when restarting
  • Minor bug fixes associated with edge cases
  • Preparation for Mango title update

If you enjoy the game’s look inside the battle between gnomes and crows, be sure to read our interview with Adam Isgreen of Microsoft Game Studios.

Speaking of Mango updates, Parachute Panic (review) from FDG Entertainment has now been properly Mango-fied. The recent update (which is only visible to Mango users) adds fast resuming support and increases the frame rate to 60 FPS. That should ease the doomed parachutists’ lives a bit.

Beards & Beaks and Parachute Panic both cost $2.99. Pick up the former here (Zune link) and the later here on the Marketplace.

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WPCentral’s Xbox Live Developer Interview series continues as we converse with Adam Isgreen of Microsoft Game Studios. Adam’s team developed Beards & Beaks, a Windows Phone-exclusive real-time strategy game. Check out our full review here. In the following interview, we’ll delve into a few of the game’s mysteries and reveal exclusive, never-before-seen concept art.

Step over the gnomes and head past the break for the full interview.

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Beards and Beaks Cave DLC now available

Beards and Beaks is the only mobile Xbox Live title so far to feature downloadable content. The game launched with both a free set of levels (Forest) and a paid set (Mountains). And now, the fifth and presumably final set of levels, Cave, is available for purchase.

In our Beards and Beaks review, I noticed that a ninja gnome appears in some of the between-level screens but not as a controllable unit. The Cave DLC rectifies that, as it introduces both the Ninja gnome and Sorcerer gnome to Beards’ gameplay. The Ninja is fast and kills enemies with extreme precision, though he can’t take as much damage as other gnomes. Yep, he’s easily my favorite unit. The Sorcerer is no slouch either, launching fireballs over long distances. Neither of the new guys can be used in older levels, but they do make the Cave levels feel fresh.

Adding units to one side but not the other wouldn’t be fair. To keep things balanced, the Cave also introduces new enemies – a super strong Football crow and another crow that’s extra fast on its feet.

As for the levels themselves, I encountered a new environmental hazard – a gate that players can manually open to let the gnomes through. But the gate closes after a few seconds, treasure-carrying gnomes can’t pathfind through it correctly, and when it raises back up, it kills any gnomes who were attempting to passing through. You tell me if it’s a good addition or not. The overall difficulty of the Cave levels is harder than previous levels, which makes sense as players will have already honed their strategic flicking skills on previous levels before taking on the Cave.

The Beards and Beaks Cave DLC costs 80 Microsoft Points ($1). While it sadly doesn’t add any Achievements, the new units, enemies, and overall challenge represent a great value for the money. Anyone who really likes Microsoft’s gnome versus crow game should not hesitate to give the Cave a download. 

Beards and Beaks can be purchased here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Beards and Beaks - Review

Real-time strategy games can be tough to get right on platforms other than computers. Console controllers can’t match the speed and accuracy of a mouse, so most developers don’t even try. Smartphones are much better at recreating mouse-style controls thanks to their touchscreens, but the lower screen resolution compared to PCs still complicates things. Thus, non-PC strategy games tend to be of the less click-intensive tower defense variety. But Microsoft Game Studios has bravely crafted a casual RTS experience with Beards & Beaks, the Windows Phone-exclusive Xbox Live title.

Beards & Beaks (which I always want to type as ‘Birds & Beaks’ for some reason) revolves around two warring tribes: gnomes and crows. Each side competes to collect treasure before the other, inflicting as much harm as possible along the way. Strangely, the game is completely devoid of an actual story - a missed opportunity given the unique and adorable character designs. Even Angry Birds (whose ‘birds versus pigs’ premise is similar enough) has story sequences, after all!

Flick past the break for our full review.

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Here's quite the surprise: Beards & Beaks ($2.99) features downloadable content (DLC) i.e. extra levels and add ons that can be purchased from within the game itself.

Up to now, our games have been fairly limited, requiring a whole new download to bring new levels, like IloMilo. Now, developers evidently can start offering extra levels, new mini-games, etc. as an extension of the main game (as well as charge for it, hello!).

Luckily the "Forest Map" add on here for Beards & Beaks is completely free. What's more, it's mean this game can get extended life out of it since MSG can keep creating new levels and features.

Ah, the future of Windows Phone gaming is looking good. Grab the game here in the Marketplace.

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