nokia exclusives

Dream Track Nation and Tiny Plane (two games from Canadian indie developer PowPow Games) arrived on Xbox Windows Phone simultaneously a few months back. Electronic Arts’ indie label Chillingo publishes both games, which originated as Nokia exclusives but are now available to all users.

Seeing as how we reviewed Tiny Plane last week, I thought it only fitting that we take a critical lens to its brother Dream Track Nation as well. Is this physics-based racer really a dream or more of a nightmare? Read on to find out.

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We’re currently undergoing the second nasty Xbox Windows Phone release drought of the year (though really it’s not so bad if you have joy in your heart). During the first drought back in December and January, Nokia and EA came to the rescue by releasing Xbox games like Flight Control Rocket and iBomber Defense as Nokia exclusives. It didn’t help non-Nokia owners, but at least some of us had new games to play, and eventually those same games should be available to everybody.

Today Nokia and EA once again light one of Xbox Windows Phone’s darkest hours by publishing another highly anticipated exclusive: FIFA 13. Considering that the only other soccer titles available are the buggy Real Soccer and overtly greedy Real Soccer 2013, FIFA 13 should be a breath of fresh air for footy fans. Just keep in mind you’ll need a Windows Phone 8 Nokia device with 1 GB of RAM to play it.

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When Vampire Rush debuted as a Nokia-exclusive Xbox Windows Phone game at the beginning of April, it won my heart with its mixture of action and tower defense gameplay, humor, and a distinct lack of sparkles. But it did suffer from a couple of broken Achievements as well as a conspicuous lack of the iOS version’s Survival mode. The developers promised a patch, and so I didn’t stress over those issues too harshly in our review.

Not two months later, that patch has arrived. Unfortunately though, applying the update seems to break the game. It crashes on start-up and becomes unplayable. There is a workaround, however: delete the game and reinstall it. You’ll get the updated version, properly working and with some choice improvements.

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According to our source at Microsoft, there won’t be a general Xbox Windows Phone release this week. That could be because N.O.V.A. 3 still hasn’t passed certification yet (as Gameloft has informed us) and neither has anything else, or maybe Microsoft just wants Xbox fans focused on the Xbox One this week instead of their phones.

Don’t fret, though! Non-Nokia owners just got two new Xbox Windows Phone titles to choose from: Spy Mouse and Trivial Pursuit. And Nokia owners, boy is this a good week for you…

Nokia and Electronic Arts have just released not one, two, or even three new games. That’s right, FOUR new Nokia exclusives rolled in overnight: Mass Effect: Infiltrator (requires Windows Phone 8), NBA Jam, Real Racing 2, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12. In other words, most of the big games we’ve been looking forward to since EA and Nokia first announced their partnership!

The only bad news: Windows Phone 8 users with 512 MB RAM devices can't play any of these games, while Nokia WP7 users can. Weirdness...

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Nokia unveiled DaVinci Pinball on April 23rd for Nokia Windows Phones and now the game is on sale for consumers. The game is themed around Leonardo DaVinci’s inventions and sketches. The wooden table is chock full of levers, pulleys, and other era-appropriate gadgets. The inventor himself also provides vocal narration, but it's essentially a pinball game.

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It’s been a few weeks since Nokia published a batch of exclusive Xbox Windows Phone games: the fine Vampire Rush and much less fine Storm in a Teacup. Since then, former Nokia exclusives Risk and Connect 4 became available to all Windows Phone users, knocking the number of Nokia exclusives down by two.

Clearly Nokia believes we Lumia owners need lots of stuff to brag about beyond the generally beautiful looks of our phones, and so they’ve just thrown a couple more exclusives our way in order to balance things out. Today we get DaVinci Pinball from Chillingo and Monopoly Millionaire from EA.

Both games are interesting in their own ways, but Monopoly Millionaire especially so because it’s the first Nokia exclusive Xbox game that requires Windows Phone 8 (and 1 GB of RAM). Could this mean we’ll start seeing more EA games that take advantage of Windows Phone 8’s increased horsepower? I hope so! Check out our impressions of both titles after the break.

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Tower defense is one of my favorite genres because of its versatility. There are so many variations between TD games, from the wholesome simplicity geoDefense to the undying awesomeness of Plants vs. Zombies. Sometimes developers even combine tower defense with action games, allowing players to run around the field attacking enemies in addition to the strategic planting of towers. Zombie Attack 2 did just that a couple of years ago, although somehow the game still ended up a big, stinking pile of boring.

Vampire Rush, a former Nokia exclusive Xbox game for Windows Phone comes from Chillingo and Lithuanian developer A-Steroids. While it doesn’t quite achieve its full potential, Vampire Rush does manage to provide the right blend of strategy and excitement that Zombie Attack 2 so woefully lacked. Read on for our full review!

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Ah, Chillingo. Where would Lumia owning gamers be without you? Just a couple of weeks ago, the indie-focused arm of Electronic Arts published a pair of new Nokia exclusive Xbox games: Dream Track Nation and Tiny Plane.  Those ports are a little rough, but the developer PowPowGames already has patches on the way. Besides, more Xbox games is always a good thing, especially after that drought we suffered at the beginning of the year.

Now Chillingo is back with two new Nokia exclusives for Windows Phone 7 and 8, each coming from a different developer. First up is the creatively named Storm in a Teacup from Cobra (makers of iBomber Defense), followed by Vampire Rush from Lithuanian developer A-Steroids. One game will be a hit, while the other seriously needs some work. Make your guesses about which is which and then head past the break to find out the answer!

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Windows Phone 8 has received so much Xbox game love this week (in the form of The Dark Knight Rises and Shark Dash) that Windows Phone 7 owners were surely feeling left out. I mean, they should all be busy with Galactic Reign, but that’s another story.

Apparently someone at Nokia saw the lack of releases for the legacy OS and said, “No! This should not be.” To that end, Nokia and Chillingo have just published two Nokia-exclusive Xbox Windows Phone 7 games: Dream Track Nation and Tiny Plane. Both games look like great casual titles to keep Nokia owners busy.

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Casual and hardcore (or ‘core’) games often appeal to one group of players while excluding the other. Aiming at just one slice of the gaming audience is well and good, but the holy grail of game development is bridging the gap by appealing to both audiences. Only one game developer has consistently managed to reach that lofty goal: PopCap. Now owned by EA, PopCap has finally returned to Windows Phone (7 and 8) with a port of its accessible yet challenging puzzle masterpiece Zuma’s Revenge.

As a Nokia exclusive, non-Nokia owners will have to wait six months to play Zuma’s Revenge. Read on to find out why it’s worth the wait.

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While some of us face the possibility that there might not be a new Xbox Windows Phone game release this week, Nokia owners should have no such complaints. Not only did Nokia and PopCap/EA just publish the vastly improved sequel Bejeweled Live+, two more Nokia Xbox exclusives just popped up! From the license lovers at Electronic Arts comes the board game adaptation Yahtzee, while PopCap has blessed Windows Phone at last with their fast-paced puzzler Zuma’s Revenge.

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We’re hard at work on our Skulls of the Shogun review, but it’s a long game and also features an extensive multiplayer component. As such, we’ll hold our judgment of that title until next week. In the meantime, let’s look at one of those formerly Nokia exclusive Xbox games that half of us loved to love while the other half loved to grumble about:  Risk.

The Nokia-Electronic Arts partnership has produced games in a variety of genres so far. The mostly highly represented game type is actually board games, with The Game of Life, Connect 4, Trivial Pursuit, and Risk among its numbers. Risk recently gained Windows Phone 8 compatibility, making it a prime target for review. It’s also one of the stronger board game adaptations to appear on Microsoft’s mobile platform.

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Earlier today we discovered that a non-Xbox version of SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball 2 has become available for free to Nokia handset owners. Distributing an ‘indie’ version of an already existent Xbox game is pretty much without precedent. Sure, Angry Birds Space and Star Wars for Windows Phone 7 don’t have Xbox Live features like their Windows Phone 8 brothers, but those are at least completely different versions of the same games. The free version of Super Monkey Ball 2 has simply had its Xbox Live features stripped.

It looks like free games from SEGA for Nokia users may be a trend, because a second game has just showed up as part of the Nokia Collection. SEGA’s phenomenal Sonic CD is now available for free for Nokia owners, once again without the Xbox Live features of the general version. (Somebody forgot to remove the Xbox banner from the game's Live tile though.) The lack of Achievements might just kill much of the replay value of this particular game but people who just want to experience the game will still have loads of fun.

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It’s long been rumored that Nokia exclusive games and apps are just timed exclusives and will eventually become available to all Windows Phone users. We’ve been working behind the scenes to get the exact details behind the exclusivity window, but today a happy occurrence has answered one question for us. Former Nokia-exclusive Xbox game Mirror’s Edge is now available to all Windows Phone 7 and 8 users, just over six months after its original release!

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The original Flight Control from Australian developer Firemint created the line drawing genre. It plays to smartphones’ strengths, allowing players to craft flight paths for incoming aircraft by drawing smooth lines on the touch screen. But the gameplay boils down to endless score runs, limiting its appeal to goal-oriented gamers.

Thankfully Firemint and EA took that consideration to heart when developing their sequel Flight Control Rocket (aka FC Rocket). It improves on the original game in pretty much every way, although the new focus on grinding goes a little too far. Still, FC Rocket is my pick for the most addictive Nokia exclusive Xbox Windows Phone game yet.

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You might have noticed that yesterday’s editorial/news piece about the extended Xbox release drought Windows Phone is currently experiencing made no mention of Nokia exclusives. After all, those exclusives don’t do people who own non-Nokia devices any good. Not one Nokia Xbox game has become available for all Windows Phone devices so far, even six months after the debut of Mirror’s Edge.

Still, in times of release famine, Nokia really does seem to come through for its customers. First they published iBomber Defense back in December, and now they’ve surprised us with another new Xbox game. Picnic Wars from Chillingo is now available for all Lumia devices running Windows Phone 7 or 8. As if that news wasn’t good enough, Nokia exclusive Spy Mouse is now available on Windows Phone 8 devices.

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Every time we report on Windows Phone 8 compatibility, it’s a good news/bad news situation. The Oregon Trail gained compatibility while Shoot 1 UP lost it… Babel Rising 3D sort of became compatible (which was a mistake), and KenKen lost it for no apparent reason…  Which brings us to this weekend.

Good news: Risk from Nokia and Electronic Arts is now available for Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8! On the other hand, two more games – both Nokia exclusives – have jumped ship from Windows Phon 8. Can’t win, can we?

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Slowly but surely, Nokia and Electronic Arts continue to pump out Nokia-exclusive Xbox Windows Phone games. These titles also include games from Chillingo, a popular mobile publisher owned by EA. The latest Chillingo-published exclusive iBomber Defense comes from Scottish developer Cobra.

Originally an iOS game, Cobra’s tower defense title has since branched out to other platforms like Steam and Windows Phone. Fans of the genre should be thankful for that, because other than some performance issues and rough Achievements, iBomber Defense is the best traditional tower defense game in the Xbox lineup.

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This one has just appeared for us in the Nokia Collection for Windows Phone 7, essentially a central place to get news, tips and apps for your Lumia devices.

The app seems to have hit the Marketplace a few days ago but could possibly have been released earlier if reviews for the app are anything to go by. We have reached out to Nokia for confirmation but in the meantime we take a look at what this seemingly new addition to the collection has to offer. Step inside, step inside.

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Calling itself a ‘content discovery’ app in the Windows Phone Store, Nokia Xpress seems to sell itself a little short. At the core it’s designed to help save your data plan by reducing the size of webpages before sending them to you but there is much more here.

They have also built in the ability to create a slick looking personalised “magazine” from your favourite websites which are then made available to read offline. All this and more and has been rolled into one powerful app, its now left beta and is available to download today. We take a closer look at the final version.

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