Game Room

Two weeks ago on November 28, AlphaJax missed its intended launch date. As such, there was no Xbox Windows Phone release that week. We sort of understood that the game had hit a last minute road bump, and then it popped up the next week, so little harm was done. I’m afraid I have similar news to report: there will be no Xbox release this week. Perhaps the sting is lessened since nobody announced a title in advance, though I’d argue the lack of even a delayed game to look forward to makes it worse.

The lack of an Xbox Windows Phone release is not unprecedented. Although it hasn’t been much of a problem this year, we suffered two dry weeks in a row in 2011. Whenever this happens, it’s my duty to point out the finished games that Microsoft could release if they felt like it. That list has long included Shaolin’s Road and Time Pilot, but we can now add Loondon as well.

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This week’s Xbox Live release is a repeat of August 24’s release. How can that be? Why, there simply won’t be a new Xbox Live game this week. For those keeping score, that marks the second time this year there hasn’t been a Live release, or the third if we count the week Twin Blades got re-released.

It shall now become my tradition whenever this happens to openly ask: where are Shao-Lin’s Road and Time Pilot? Both of Konami’s Game Room titles have been complete since the beginning of the year, which we know because they’re simple arcade ROMs that were demoed at CES and whose Achievements have long been public. Maybe Microsoft picked up on our Game Room fatigue when they pushed four such titles out in a month’s time, but that was then. This is now! And surely we can all agree that some game, even one that predates many of our readers’ births, is better than no new release.

Maybe next week's game will be extra special, just to make up for this week.

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Lunar Lander - review

The Game Room series is a great way to enjoy nostalgic gaming experiences as well as try classic video games for the first time. I happily did both things while preparing for my Centipede and Pitfall! reviews. Unfortunately though, not every game stands the test of time. Some games are pretty tough to get into if you didn’t play them when they were first released. Lunar Lander is like that. Sure, it’s historically important, but I doubt many Windows Phone gamers will actually care to play it.

Lunar Lander blasted off into arcades in 1979, the year of my birth. Its arcade competition that year consisted primarily of Space Invaders (1978) and Galaxian. While those two games feature science fiction themes and aliens to blast, Lunar Lander is grounded in reality. The player pilots a lunar landing module as it descends to Earth’s moon. Death comes not from unfriendly visitors but from crashing into the landscape or even just landing too quickly – again, a more realistic setup than the competition. This is still a video game though, so players do get more chances to play until they run out of fuel.

Rocket past the break for our fuel review.

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Lunar Lander is this week's Xbox Live game

Last week’s Xbox Live game, Enigmo, broke three straight weeks of Game Room releases. To be fair though, Harbor Master also came out alongside Centipede. Anyway, I hope you like retro games, Windows Phone gamers, because this week’s Xbox Live title is another Game Room entry: Lunar Lander.

Atari’s original Lunar Lander arcade game came out in 1979. Yes, this week’s release debuted the same year I was born. It’s 32 years young! Lunar Lander was the first Atari title to use vector graphics (just as Asteroids Deluxe did a few years later). Its graphics are composed entirely of white lines on a black background. The object is to safely land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon. The original arcade game used an actual lever to control the craft’s thrust and buttons for steering. It will be interesting to see how the game’s controls have been adapted for mobile touch screens.

See that? I didn’t say anything negative about Lunar Lander or how inexplicable it is that someone chose to release it on Windows Phone over so many other Game Room titles. That’s me, Captain Optimism!

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Pitfall! - Review

Many younger gamers’ first exposure to Pitfall! came from the console title Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which featured a Pitfall! minigame. But Pitfall! started its life way back in 1982 on the Atari 2600. The product of a single Activision developer, David Crane, it sold over 4 million copies and skyrocketed Activision to stardom. Now developer Krome and publisher Microsoft Game Studios bring the ‘Fall! To Windows Phone as both an Xbox Live and Game Room title. Is it better suited to mobile play than cranky ol’ Asteroids Deluxe? Yes!

Pitfall! stars the adventurer Pitfall Harry. His sprite was comprised of four separate colors on a platform in which most sprites were made of only one or two colors. Harry’s surplus of colors produced such a realistic effect at the time that many people thought an actual human being had somehow become trapped in their game cartridge. Thanks to modern computer technology we now know that this was not the case, but Harry still retains a certain visual charm after all these years.

Grab onto a vine and swing past the jump for our full review!

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Asteroids Deluxe - Review

Centipede, the first Game Room title for Windows Phone, impressed many with its faithful arcade emulation and stellar presentation. Asteroids Deluxe is the second portable Game Room entry. It’s still a very faithful port (perhaps even more so than the console/PC version), but the game itself is more of an acquired taste.

Asteroids Deluxe is the 1981 arcade sequel to the original Asteroids. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting space debris for points. Once a large asteroid is fired upon, it breaks into two smaller ones. Each of those splits into two really tiny, hard-to-hit rocks. Clear a wave of all asteroids and a new wave starts up with even more rocks to avoid and destroy.

Fly past the break and into hyperspace for our full review.

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We were originally told that two Game Room titles, Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall!, were coming to Xbox Live on April 20. The date rolled around and Pitfall! was nowhere to be seen, breaking my fragile gamer heart. I can stop crying man tears now as Pitfall is finally available on the Marketplace.

Pitfall! was originally an Atari 2600 game from Activision. It was a huge hit in 1982 thanks in large part to its groundbreaking graphics. The lead character, Pitfall Harry, is made up of 4 unique colors, a level of detail so amazing that - I believe - it used to give children nosebleeds. Harry must run, swing from vines, and jump on top of alligator’s mouths across 255 unique screens as he searches for 32 lost treasures. Pitfall! is an adventure so exciting that Activision legally had to include an exclamation mark in the title so as not to fatally surprise people with its awesomeness.

Being a Game Room title, Pitfall! includes a 3D recreation of an Atari 2600 console, historical data and detailed instructions, friends and global leaderboards, and 10 Achievements.

You can purchase this slice of platform gaming history for $2.99 or try the free trial. Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Earlier this week we reported that two Game Room titles, Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall, would be this week’s Xbox Live releases. Windows Phone retro gamers will have to wait a little longer for their Atari 2600 fix, as Pitfall didn’t come out today after all. I was jumping at the chance to play it, but I doubt legions of people will be disappointed at this news.

On the bright side, Asteroids Deluxe made it out the gate. The sequel to Asteroids, Deluxe is an arcade game that Atari published in 1980. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting both asteroids and aliens. It uses vector graphics in which everything is composed of lines, not unlike upcoming Must-Have game geoDefense. As part of the Game Room series, Asteroids Deluxe has a 3D arcade cabinet, seriously great Leaderboards, and 10 Achievements that are awfully similar to Centipede’s.

Asteroids Deluxe is $2.99, and like all Xbox Live games there is a free trial. Classic gaming fans can grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

Head past the jump for our CES video of Asteroids Deluxe and Shao-Lin's Road.

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Last week, Centipede - a very nice arcade port and Game Room title - hit Xbox Live. This week, Microsoft follows up with two more Game Room games: Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall.

Asteroids Deluxe, like Centipede, is an arcade game that Atari published in 1980. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting both asteroids and aliens. The arcade version of Asteroids Deluxe is unique for a couple of reasons. First, it featured vector graphics (instead of traditional sprites, everything is composed of lines) that were tinted blue by a transparent overlay. Behind the vector graphics, a printed backdrop added a bit more color. Second, unlike most arcade games, Asteroids Deluxe did not use a joystick for movement. Instead, individual buttons turned the ship left or right and cause it to accelerate. This control style should translate well to Windows Phone, though touch screen buttons will never provide the tactile feedback of real ones.

Pitfall is actually an Atari 2600 game, not an arcade game. Activision's bestseller featured multicolored, non-flickering sprites, a first for its home platform. Donkey Kong may be the first true platform game, but Pitfall pioneered many platform elements. Instead of being confined to a single screen, the game’s star, Pitfall Harry explored a level consisting of 256 different screens. The objective is to find 32 lost treasures within 20 minutes. Pitfall’s simple controls (run left, right, and jump) are a great match for mobile gaming.

As Game Room titles, both games will feature 3D arcade cabinet recreations (Pitfall has an Atari 2600 sitting on an arcade cabinet), historical data and detailed instructions, friends and global leaderboards, and 10 Achievements.

Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall will debut on Wednesday, April 20th for $2.99 (12 quarters) a piece.

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Centipede - Review

Gamers and critics alike panned the first two Xbox Live retro arcade games for Windows Phone, Pac-Man and Frogger, for several reasons. Both games have sub-par touch screen controls, shoddy presentation, and annoyingly difficult Achievements. Pac-Man even has an audacious $5 price tag. But those shoddy ports are Namco and Konami’s wrongdoing. How would big and powerful Microsoft handle bringing a classic arcade game to their mobile platform? Surprisingly well, as Centipede proves.

Centipede is not as fondly remembered or highly sequelized as its contemporaries Pac-man and Space Invaders. But when it debuted in arcades in 1980, there really was nothing like it. Instead of a joystick, players controlled the main character with a trackball. The hero, a tiny garden gnome, could move in any direction and at greatly varying speeds thanks to the analog control input.

The goal is to destroy the titular centipedes as they descend from the top of the screen. If the centipede hits one of the many randomly-placed mushrooms, it moves down a little faster. Each shot the player hits the centipede with destroys one of its segments, but also spawns a mushroom and usually splits the centipede in two. Destroying an entire centipede causes the screen’s color to change as a new, faster centipede begins its attack. As if death by centipede wasn’t enough, jumping spiders and mushroom-dropping fleas and scorpions also threaten the pitiably outnumbered gnome.

Squash a few bugs and head past the jump for our full review.

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An amazing two weeks ago, we brought you the news of this week’s Xbox Live releases and their prices, and now our prediction has come true. Harbor Master and Centipede are finally available on the Marketplace.

Harbor Master is a line-drawing game from Imangi Studios in which players direct incoming ships to port. Once the ships unload their cargo, they must also be sent safely on their way. It features seven levels with cool hazards like pirates and sea monsters. For more information, check out our exclusive preview.

Centipede is a faithful emulation of the hit 1980 arcade game from Atari (the Windows Phone port comes from Krome Studios). Players control a garden gnome who fends off invading centipedes and other vile bugs. Centipede is also the first Game Room title for Microsoft’s mobile platform. These arcade ports include bonus content like 3D recreations of the original arcade cabinets as well as historical data. WP7 Game Room games share Leaderboard data with the Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Live (PC) versions.

Both games costs $2.99 and have free trials. Grab Harbor Master here and Centipede here (Zune links) on the Marketplace.

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There was a time when we didn’t know what games were coming out on Xbox Live until the night before they launched. Those dark ages are behind us now, thank goodness. Lately we’ve been alerted to Xbox Live release dates more and more in advance. Now, it seems we may have learned about the release date of two Xbox Live titles more than two weeks before the fact!

Has my intensive course in astrology finally paid off? Venus isn’t in the right house to say for sure. Instead, the Xbox.com Windows Phone 7 page has provided a possible glimpse of the future. We’ve mentioned before that the page’s Too Many Games section lists a few unreleased games along with most current Xbox Live titles. The release dates of upcoming games are usually left blank. While pouring over each game’s product pages, however, we discovered two games with April 13 release dates listed. The date could be a placeholder or an error, but it’s tantalizing to think about.

What do we know about these April 13 maybes? Head past the jump and all your questions will be answered.

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First Look: Xbox Game Room

 

We mentioned the news of Game Room coming to Windows Phone 7 a few days ago and we were able to catch a demo of the games while at CES this week.

Game Room will bring classic, arcade style games to the Windows Phones. Initial titles will include Shao-Lin's Road, Asteroids, and Centipede with more to come. The games have been ported from the original and game play and controls seem to represent the original very good.  Games will have shared leader board and achievements that will add to the appeal of these classic games.

The games look good but does anyone else feel old when we're reminded that it's been thirty years since we've played these games in the arcade?

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We mentioned earlier about those Game Room titles coming to Windows Phone7 and here are a few others as well, all demoed very quickly on Channel 9. Some titles, like Pac Man (which is receiving some terrible reviews) and Pocket God are already out, others like Full House Poker and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 are coming down the road.

Overall, the titles look decent but nothing mind-blowing.

Source: Channel 9; via Pocketnow

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Classic gamers aka old people like us, have reason to celebrate. Game Room, the popular gaming service on Xbox 360 and PC that brings old school titles to today's devices, is coming to Windows Phone soon.

Game Room allows gamers to indulge in various arcade, Intellivision, and Atari 2600 titles, while competing in high score points on leaderboards, achievements and various other areas. The Xbox/PC version is promised to have over 1,000 titles over the next few years. So far, these titles are confirmed for Windows Phone: Centipede, Asteroids Deluxe, Shao-Lin's Road, Time Pilot, Lunar Lander and Pitfall. We dig those. In addition, we can expect "A shared "Game Room" profile and global leaderboards let you track your medals and top scores across the phone, PC and Xbox 360."

The real question for old school gamers is who will win out first: Game Room or the emulator? For the benefit of leaderboards, achievements plus games adapted for our phones, we're actually hoping Game Room pumps out titles very quickly. But we also know they can't just offer every NES game in the world, or any for that matter. Maybe the best of both worlds, eh? Now get off our lawn!

Source: PocketGamer

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