Strategy

This week, Microsoft entered the health and fitness wearables business with the Band. The Microsoft Band is meant to crush the competition, take on Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple, and Android Wear. Therefore, it makes sense that Microsoft wants limited supplies so that they can garner 'sold out' headlines everywhere, creating the appearance of high demand.

The only problem with everything I just wrote is it is entirely wrong. Let me squelch some myths here about the Microsoft Band and what Microsoft is trying to do.

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There are basically two German developers we can count on to make great Windows Phone games: Flare Games (makers of Royal Revolt 2) and Handy Games. The latter entered the scene with Epic Battle Dude and Aces of the Luftwaffe, two fine free to play games.

This year, Handy Games finally has more Windows Phone games in store for us. A short while ago they released 1941: Frozen Front, a serious turn-based strategy game. We interviewed them about it at Casual Connect a while back. Today Handy follows up with SPS: Football, a very pretty and fun 2D soccer/football game. Both games are free, 512 MB RAM-compatible, and a whole lot of fun. Don't miss our impressions and hands-on videos!

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Leaks are always fun, at least if you’re on the outside. It gives you a peek as to what’s coming next.  While there have been many on the Windows Phone 8.1 front, it looks like Microsoft’s advertising arm is not immune from them either.

Long story short is that Microsoft is shopping around its global advertising account to interested parties. The company wants to refocus from “product-specific ads to broader consumer and business-oriented campaigns”. That news comes from Adweek, who are the go-to leaders in advertising culture and news. It significant because it reveals how aware – and concerned – Microsoft is with its image, especially with the new ‘One Microsoft’ business ideology. Reports suggest that this account could handle up to 80% of their advertising, making this a significant land for any agency.

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So the big headline late last night was that the new Nokia X, a low-end smartphone running Android 4.1, was “rooted”. That’s geek talk for getting access to the bootloader so that you can load other things on to the phone, after all, all smartphones are just mini-computers.

Immediately sites jumped on it as proof that Nokia’s strategy would never work, because you know, you can now flash the Google Play store and even an updated version of the Android onto the darn thing.

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The Viking's Revenge is an interesting Windows Phone battle game.  Instead of relying on combat sequences and action packed graphics, the game relies on your powers of concentration and speed.

The Viking's Revenge is a game of conquest where you are called upon to defeat your enemy strongholds and occupying all the islands on the gaming screen.  At the same time, your enemy is trying to do the same.

Battle is done solely by numbers in that you need more attacking forces than your enemy has defending forces.  Game play is rather simple but the pace of the game creates the challenge.  It may not be everyone's cup of tea but The Viking's Revenge makes a decent first impression and isn't a bad gaming option to consider.

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Galactic Reign is a Microsoft game that was co-developed with Canadian developer Slant Six Games that pretty much came out of nowhere when it appeared on Xbox Windows Phone 7 and 8 and Windows 8 and RT last week. For gamers who have yet to upgrade to Windows Phone 8, another Xbox game that runs on the previous OS is always a blessing. And cross-platform multiplayer is something we can all appreciate, regardless of which Windows Phone we carry.

Last week, we posted an extensive impressions piece about the Windows 8 version of Galactic Reign. This week, I’m back with a full review that covers both versions. Read on to find out whether or not this sci-fi strategy game has universal staying power.

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Microsoft has never released a portable console like the Playstation Vita or 3DS, instead opting to publish Xbox-branded games for Windows Phone and Windows 8… A wise choice given the modern trend towards smartphone and tablet gaming over handheld game systems. With the Xbox 360’s excellent lineup of downloadable games, Windows Phone users rightfully expected the chance to play many of their XBLA favorites on their mobile phones.

Unfortunately, the number of robust, XBLA-quality titles released for Xbox Windows Phone to date is incredibly small. I count only Final Fantasy, Puzzle Quest 2, Castlevania Puzzle, ilomilo, Plants vs. Zombies, Sonic 4: Episode I, and Sonic CD as games with full console-level production values and quantity of content. Crimson Dragon Side Story, Hydro Thunder GO, and Civilization Revolution would be on there too if not for their Playstation One-era graphics. Maybe 11 games out of Xbox Windows Phone’s over 150 titles feel like full XBLA games and not just smartphone/casual titles.

Well, add another game to the top-tier pile because Skulls of the Shogun from 17-BIT and Microsoft Studios fits right alongside the XBLA and Windows 8 versions that released alongside it.

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Robotek is a fun, robot battle strategy game for your Windows Phone 8 device. The game is a nice mixture of strategy and action with a dash of role playing game features.

You battle your robots through over two hundred levels of game play, earning experience and coins that can be used to upgrade and advance your robot combatants. And that's just the campaign mode. You also have an online multi-player mode where you battle other Robotek players and the option to unlock a Duel Mode where you can practice battles against the computer or a friend.

Robotek is a entertaining, feature rich, challenging battle bot game for your Windows Phone 8 device. It's a great addition to your Windows Phone gaming library.

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Pirate's Plunder is Flight Control styled game where you direct trade ships to the appropriate port, avoid high seas collisions, pirates, sea monsters and other dangers along the way.

Along with the main objective of docking your ships, there are a handful of side games with Pirate's Plunder that crop up to keep things interesting. Animations are nice, game play challenging, but the game has a cluttered feel to it. Still Pirate's Plunder has a bit of appeal to it and is worth a try.

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The Windows Phone game Rum Run is now available in at the Windows Phone Store. We took an early look at the game a few weeks ago and found it to be a challenging time management/strategy game set on the high seas.

You play the role of a ship captain who is tasked to deliver food to a starving village. You buy/sell rum and food at various ports to finance the operation while dodging storms and pirate raids.  You need to feed 100% of the village before they run out of the food.  If they run out, the game's over.

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Electronic Arts’ UK-based Chillingo label has been a terrific supporter of the Windows Phone platform. They’re primarily known for their puzzle games – including Cut the Rope, which remains conspicuously absent from WP7. Chillingo makes other kinds of games too, such as Extraction: Project Outbreak. It looks like an action game but plays like a strategy title, making for a unique experience. An excessive number of bugs and technical issues threaten to drag the Windows Phone port down like so many zombies, but the fun mostly manages to come out unscathed.

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Last week’s Xbox release, Extraction: Project Outbreak (review coming tomorrow!) was a surprising strategy title mixed with elements of action. This week, we get another strategy title, but otherwise it couldn’t be more different. Babel Rising 3D will soon be on the Windows Phone Store, courtesy of developer Mando Productions with Ubisoft publishing. Yes, this is Ubisoft’s first Windows Phone title (Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell came from Gameloft under license from Ubisoft).

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As the fallout from the Apple v Samsung case is being realized, there is a lot speculation as to what that decision will mean for the likes of Microsoft and Windows Phone. Opinions range from it will big big for Microsoft to it won’t matter for them at all.

The Korea Times, a paper with a mixed reputation on these matters, has gone on record in saying that Samsung is looking to form a stronger relationship with Microsoft as a result of the Apple decision. But is it accurate?

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Although Windows Phone 8 is not quite yet here, the ever-dynamic smartphone industry is once again churning and there are some big changes coming.

Today we’ve seen two stories that will both have an impact on Windows Phone--one about Samsung, the other about HTC--and we’ll see what that will mean for consumers this fall.

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Does the name HexaLines ring any bells to veteran Windows Mobile owners? It should if you are crazy for competitive mobile games. HexaLines was a strategy game that saw players filling up as many paths as possible. Starting from the centre Hexagon, players are tasked with adding more hexagons to expand the available path for his or her colour.

Playing against either AI or friends, the game can get relatively busy on-screen with a number of ways to attack (or be attacked by) the enemy. Rotating the next available hexagon and strategically placing it to either cut off an enemy's flow or pour your own colour into their line is key to survival.

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Our recent visit to 17-BIT, Seattle-based makers of upcoming Xbox Live strategy title Skulls of the Shogun included a studio tour and interview with founder Jake Kazdal. As much as I enjoyed those parts of the visit, I was still dying to get my hands on the game itself once again. We had a few minutes with the Windows Phone game at E3, but that wasn’t much time to get a grasp on the story mode. Luckily, this time I got to play through the entire first campaign level as well as set up a Skulls Anywhere online game. See our latest hands-on video after the break!

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When it comes to games on Windows Phone we have quite a few puzzlers, lots of zombies and a plethora of tower games. But one area we sometimes overlook is the class strategy game—the one where every move counts and requires some thought akin to chess.

Nova by Jeffrey A. Voigt fits the bill nicely and for $0.99, it’s well worth the investment.

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Just before summer started, Dallas-based Sickhead Games announced they would be porting their popular indie strategy title ARMED! to Windows 8 and iOS. They weren’t lying, as ARMED! Preview is now available on the Windows 8 store.

Why the ‘Preview’ moniker? As most PC users know, Windows 8 hasn’t been officially released yet. Lots of people are running preview builds in the wild though, and ARMED! Preview is meant for them. The build is free and basically functions as a public beta; you can submit feedback through the Sickhead website. Not a bad move, as it’s best to test online multiplayer games as much as possible before you start charging for them. Also note that the promised cross-platform multiplayer between ARMED! on Windows 8 and Windows Phone has not gone live yet, but it’s still in the works.

In other ARMED! news, Tom Spilman from Sickhead (pictured with a goatee that puts my own to shame!) recently guest-starred on episode 074 of The Metro Developer Show podcast.
Tom shares tons of great development details about the game, widely considered to be the most technically impressive game on Windows Phone. The podcast also has lots of general Windows Phone discussion, so it's definitely worth a listen.

Windows 8 users: get ARMED! Preview here. As for Windows Phone gamers (the finest folks around), the mobile version of ARMED! costs $3.99 and offers a free trial with full multiplayer support. Grab it here on the Marketplace.

             

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