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Next month will be a landmark time for horror games. Sega and the Creative Assembly have Alien: Isolation, a game inspired by the first Alien film, on the way on October 7. Just one week later, Bethesda and Tango Software will unleashed The Evil Within, the long-awaited return to horror from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. Both games are due out on Xbox One and 360, so our last-gen brothers need not miss out on the scares.

With both games drawing near, the publishers are keeping them in the spotlight with new information and trailers. Alien: Isolation will be getting post-launch DLC for six months in the form of challenging new Survivor mode missions, we recently found out. As for The Evil Within, I recently had the opportunity to play the game and experience its disturbing atmosphere. Continue reading for detailed impressions and a look at both games' new trailers!

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Last month, our own John Callaham posted his ten most anticipated Xbox One games for the fall and Holiday seasons. On that list was a little game called Alien: Isolation from SEGA and The Creative Assembly. You might see the name "Alien" and dismiss the game as another uninspired licensed game, but you'd be wrong to do so. Alien: Isolation looks like it will be not only the best-ever adaptation of the Alien universe, but also a standout horror game.

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As deal-savvy gamers might have noticed by now, the Xbox Windows Phone Deal of the Week is now technically a part of Microsoft’s Red Stripe Deals, which roll out every Thursday. Basically three Windows Phone apps or games go on Thor’s Day, one of which will be an Xbox Live title. Well, a rose by another name smells just as sweet, and we’ll continue reporting on the Xbox sale game prior to Thursday as we’ve always done.

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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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We’re not sure how Nokia does it (well, we guess money) but they’ve once again managed to give Lumia users something for nothing again. Sega’s Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition, or just SMB2:SE for you shorthand types, is now live in the Nokia Collection and is completely free.

Now the big difference here is this is a non-Xbox Live branded version. That’s good news and bad news as it means you can’t grab those precious Achievements if that’s your thing. Luckily for us, it’s not (though our games guru Paul is surely in another camp). The good news, as we’ve outlined before in our ongoing Xbox games critique is this game can potentially be updated now more frequently.

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In case you hadn’t noticed, your friendly neighborhood Windows Phone Central gaming editor is a big fan of SEGA. While the publisher only operates at a fraction of the size it once did, it continues to produce numerous quality digital titles, plus a fair quantity of worthwhile retail releases.

Last week, we gave the Xbox Windows Phone version of Sonic CD a well-deserved glowing review. This week, we’ve got two mini reviews of SEGA’s latest Xbox 360 offerings: the retail release of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Sega Vintage Collection: ToeJam & Earl for Xbox Live Arcade. Read on to learn about one of the best kart racers ever and a collection of unique Sega Genesis classics.

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Last year’s Windows Phone Xbox Live Black Friday Week Sale wasn’t terribly exciting, but it did put three games on sale at once, a quantity only equaled in the Countdown to 2012 Sale a month later. A lot has happened between then and now, and today Microsoft has really upped the ante. The 2012 Black Friday Week Sale is live and includes a whopping six discounted Xbox Windows Phone games!

Head past the break for sale details, game impressions, and Xbox 360 Black Friday news too.

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Sonic CD is quite a unique entry in the Sonic the hedgehog series. It’s got everything players loved about the Sega Genesis Sonic games, such as fast movement, deep backgrounds, great music, and plenty of personality. But it also adds new time travelling mechanics to learn, a strong focus on exploration and side goals, and another unique set of Bonus Stages. Check out our review for an in-depth discussion of these features.

Getting all of the Achievements could be hard for players new to the game, but we’re here to help! Head past the break for our Achievement Guide, complete with maps that actually label important locations. You’ll have the full 200 GamerScore in no time!

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Sonic CD: Xbox Windows Phone Review

A few years ago, an Australian Sonic fan named Christian Whitehead created a proof of concept of a reprogrammed version of Sonic CD for iOS. The demo video quickly vanished, but not due to a copyright claim from SEGA. Instead, the house that Sonic built actually displayed unprecedented coolness by hiring Christian to fully develop Sonic CD for multiple devices, including the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone. After interviewing SEGA about the game, we came away excited.

The WP7 version appeared 11 months later than the XBLA one, prompting many to wonder whether it had been discreetly canceled. Luckily, the Aussie dev continued plugging away on the XNA port of his Retro Engine, and now Windows Phone gamers can enjoy a virtually perfect port of Sonic CD.

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At last, Sonic CD arrives for Xbox on Windows Phone

It’s been a long time coming. SEGA first announced Sonic CD for Windows Phone way back in August 2011. We then interviewed Ken Balough, Sonic’s brand manager, shortly before the Xbox 360 version launched on December 14 of that year. At the time, there was no indication that the WP7 port would arrive dramatically later than the XBLA one… But here we are in November 2012, and the game is finally available. Good news: it was worth the wait!

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Many Windows Phone gamers are familiar with French developer Arkedo’s WP7 launch title, OMG: Our Manic Game. It’s not their best work, but still a pretty little shoot-em-up. Fast forward to this year and Arkedo has actually just released their best game yet (with the help of SEGA as publisher): Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit for Xbox Live Arcade.

We’ve got full impressions of both Hell Yeah! and Jet Set Radio after the break, plus more SEGA XBLA news!

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Let’s face it; there just aren’t enough monkeys in your life. That’s where SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition comes in. The Super Monkey Ball sequel is now available on the Marketplace and as expected, it’s packed with both monkeys and balls. How could you go wrong?

After the first game’s high levels of crapulence, I was concerned that Super Monkey Ball 2 might follow suit. Well, it's pretty much the same, for better or worse. The tilt controls are as finicky ever, often making it a challenge to slow the monkey ball or bring it to a stop. A new tilt meter at least shows how the game is reading your device’s tilt, slightly reducing the difficulty. Basically, the tilting is not as good as a virtual stick could have been, but you can get used to it after a level or two.

The secondary goal of earning crowns on every level (by picking up all 10 bananas without dying) is just as frustrating as before. If you fail to earn a crown on a level, you’ll have to play a batch of 10 levels in order to get return to it and have a shot at earning the crown again. Smart ideas like allowing players to pause and retry a level or pick a specific level and try for its crown have sadly remained in the waste bin, covered in discarded banana peels and (presumably) empty whisky bottles. Anyway, if you can put aside the desire to get all the crowns (hard as that is for Achievements lovers to do), the game will be a lot more enjoyable and less frustrating.

SMB 2 definitely one-ups its predecessor in one key area: minigames. All three minigames: Monkey Bowling, Monkey Target, and Monkey Golf work nicely and have easy Achievements. The minigames only support pass-and-play multiplayer though, unlike the iOS version, which had local Wi-Fi multiplayer. Perhaps this one got ported before Microsoft finally started allowing Wi-Fi multiplayer. You never really know with Microsoft; they don’t seem to have a coherent multiplayer game plan for Windows Phone.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to Zebrasqual for the tip!

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The new Monkey Target minigame

Back when we discovered Final Fantasy would be coming to Windows Phone, we also learned about another upcoming Live title: Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition from SEGA.  Well, Final Fantasy just launched two weeks ago to much acclaim, and now we’re due for some monkey business. Super Monkey Ball 2 arrives on June 27.

As you can see from our exclusive screenshots, Super Monkey Ball 2’s graphics are now fully 3D (the original used 2D sprites for the monkeys). It’s also said to have better controls and stage design. Let’s hope so, because the first game was far too frustrating. 125 stages, six themed worlds, and some tough Achievements will ensure a lengthy experience. One of those Achievements is tied to the game’s new 4-player mode. Hopefully said mode uses the internet rather than local Wi-Fi, but Microsoft wasn’t able to say either way at press time.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition rolls out on Wednesday, June 27 and will cost $2.99… We’re cautiously excited for it.

Update: Multiplayer will be pass-and-play only. Bummer. Good for Achievement hunters though!

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The illustrious club of 99 cent Xbox Live games on Windows Phone has a new member this weekend: Super Monkey Ball from SEGA. The game rolled out at $4.99 on April 6 last year; dropped to $2.99 only a month later; and has at last settled on the rock-bottom price of less than a dollar.

Should you buy the first Super Monkey Ball right now when a much-improved sequel is due later this summer? Sure, if you can tolerate some truly terrible tilt controls. The awful, non-customizable controls and sadistic stage design are really the only things holding SMB back. The core gameplay itself always makes for a good time. The graphics feature very appealing art and color design, and the music isn’t bad either.

On top of the general difficulty issues and nearly impossible final level, there is a ‘semi-broken’ Achievement which does not match its description. ‘Crowned Champion’ actually requires players to earn a crown on every single level rather than just one world - a super tough feat. For more details, check out our review.

Super Monkey Ball now costs 99 cents and there is a free trail. Get it here from the Marketplace. Follow this tag to see more 99 cent Xbox Live games.

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