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Skulls of the Shogun has been an incredibly important game for Windows Phone and the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole. It’s the first Xbox Live game to cross platforms between the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. It was also the Xbox Windows Phone game that ended the game drought we faced earlier this year. After so many weeks without a new game, Skulls quenched many a Windows Phone gamer’s thirst.

We had the opportunity to speak with Skulls of the Shogun developer 17-BIT twice last year, first at E3 and later Casual Connect. Of course, that was all before the game launched. Now that Skulls of the Shogun is live and in players’ hands, Windows Phone Central jumped at the opportunity to ask 17-BIT’s lead programmer Borut Pfeifer about how the game performed and what players can expect in the future.

Head past the break for the full video interview!

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Does anybody remember the Xbox Deal of the Week for Windows Phone? It started quite humbly back in March 2nd, 2011 with a sale on Konami’s so-so port of Frogger. The sales rolled on in the weeks to come, typically discounting $5 games down to $3 and $3 games down to $2. Only holiday event sales would grant larger discounts, until the fateful day when Gameloft’s UNO HD became the first 99 cent Deal of the Week on November 14, 2012.

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 It’s been a while since we brought you Xbox Live Arcade news, other than announcing the Ascend: New Gods closed beta signups and that fun little Zombie Driver HD interview and contest we held last month. But XBLA games remain a passion of mine, and our Xbox 360-owning readers who have embraced digital downloads likely feel much the same.

Okay, GDC starts on Monday but a little consumer gaming event called PAX East is taking place right now. And on the first day of the show, a little publisher called Capcom made a couple of announcements that had pretty much the whole console gaming world abuzz. This summer, Capcom will release both a remake of NES platforming favorite Ducktales as well as a collection of the Dungeons & Dragons arcade games, both for XBLA and other digital platforms.

Read onto find out why folks in the know are so stoked for these titles!

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We’ve been anxiously following Signal Studios’ Ascend: New Gods since its announcement back at E3 last year. The XBLA/PC game looks like a vast action-RPG while the Windows Phone companion game is the closest thing to Infinity Blade that we can expect for some time. Both versions are free-to-play and connect to each other in satisfying ways, hence much excitement from Xbox 360 and Windows Phone owners alike.

The XBLA game features some innovative asynchronous components that will make the single-player game feel like part of a massive online world. Such a bold undertaking requires lots of testing. Luckily for us, Signal has just announced public signups for closed beta access!

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Seeing as how we don’t have a new Xbox Windows Phone release to talk about this week, it’s a perfect time for some Xbox 360 discussion. Zombie Driver HD - one of my personal favorite XBLA games of 2012 is on sale to Xbox Live Gold members for only 400 MS Points/$5 this week. It regularly sells for 800 Points, which is already a fair deal given the trend towards pricing XBLA titles at 1200.

To celebrate the sale, we’ve got Zombie Driver HD gameplay impressions and an interview with the game’s developer. Oh, and did I mention we’re giving away Zombie Driver avatar clothing and props as well? Find out how to win one after the break!

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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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We dished out praises like crazy to the original Full House Poker game for Windows Phone. It was the first Windows Phone 7 game to have proper avatar support and is still the only one, really. A picture of the user’s avatar on their stats screen like AlphaJax and Wordament have doesn’t really count; users want to play games as their avatars.

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We’re still unsure about the next couple of weeks, but the drought of Xbox game releases for Windows Phone will definitely cease by the end of the month. Microsoft has made a rare advance release date announcement for a mobile game – and it’s a good one. At long last, Skulls of the Shogun from 17-Bit and Microsoft Studios will debut on January 30th for Windows Phone 7 and 8, Xbox Live Arcade, and Windows 8 and RT!

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We recently discovered that Crimson Dragon: Side Story has become Windows Phone 8 compatible, but it’s been a while since we had a chance to talk about the upcoming Xbox 360 Crimson Dragon game. Over the weekend a playable demo leaked onto the Japanese Xbox 360 Marketplace before being quickly pulled down. Thankfully we now have YouTube footage of Crimson Dragon to dissect, plus DLC news for the upcoming Kinect game.

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Microsoft may have shelved the Xbox Windows Phone Deal of the Week program for the remainder of the year, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any more sales on Xbox games. Similar to the Black Friday week sales last month, the big MS has just kicked off a major sale on Xbox Live games for Windows Phone and Xbox 360. Yes, the Countdown to 2013 sale (sequel to last year’s Countdown to 2012 sale) has already begun! As a special treat for console owners, you'll be able to get two free XBLA games during the countdown.

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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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Xbox Live Arcade is heating up to a boiling point lately, with top-shelf titles coming out pretty much every week (sometimes more than once a week). We’ve just posted impressions of SEGA’s latest releases, and the quality train doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon.

So what’s in store for next week? Well, on Wednesday, October 10th Team 17’s Worms Revolutions comes along, continuing the awesomely addictive Worms series. Even more exciting, Happy Wars (the first freemium XBLA game) launches Friday the 12th for all Xbox Live Gold members. Head past the break for details of both titles!

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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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We’re back with another installment of our in-depth Xbox Live Developer Interview series. This time we probe the mind of Nathan Fouts, President of Mommy’s Best Games. MBG’s first Windows Phone game, Shoot 1UP came out a few weeks ago and I gave it a rave review.

Read on to learn more about Shoot 1UP’s development process, MBG’s upcoming XBLA game Serious Sam: Double D XXL, Nathan’s experiences working on the Postal and Resistance series, and lots more.

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Prepare for a bit of Xbox 360 news that will spill over to Windows 8 and likely Windows Phone in the future as well. PopCap and Zen Studios have partnered up to introduce ‘Plants vs. Zombies Pinball’ to Pinball FX 2 on Xbox Live Arcade. If you’ll recall, most or all existing tables will appear in the forthcoming Windows Phone port as well, so consider this a sneak preview if you don’t play the Xbox 360 version of Pinball FX 2. Zen kindly provided a review code for the table, and now we’ve got full impressions to share after the break.

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Freemium Xbox Live games have gotten off to a rocky start on Windows Phone. Bug Village is sort of ho-hum and Glu’s two follow-up titles Gun Bros and Contract Killer sadly released in extremely buggy states. Hopefully the low quality and/or bugginess of those three games hasn’t completely soured our audience from the freemium business model... After all, iOS and the PC overflow with high quality free-to-play games.

The reason I’m talking up the freemium model is because Microsoft has finally started allowing free-to-play games to come to Xbox 360. Several such titles are in the works (including one extremely promising action-RPG that I can’t name just yet), but the first will be an online multiplayer-oriented XBLA title called Happy Wars from Japanese developer ToyLogic.

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Windows Phone Central was at the recent WPDD event in Bournemouth on the Saturday just gone where a number of developers presented their apps and projects or gave advice to inspire attendees and showcase what they've been up to. Among the presenting developers were Ahmed Zaman and Henry Hoffman from Angry Mango, the team who brought us the Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone title Mush.

If you're not familiar with Mush, it's a charming puzzle game that is focused on alternating between moods, which can be drawn on-screen. The cute little character reflects whichever mood you decide, and each mood will bring unique abilities (for example: draw a smile and he'll float through being so elated). Mush is much like ilomilo in the sense the player can't die so the game focuses more on the gameplay and puzzle aspects.

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Paul Acevedo (left) and Ben Ahroni

I made no secret of my love for recent XBLA release Zuma’s Revenge in my review – after all, it’s a PopCap game. Those guys practically always knock it out of the park. As it happens, Casual Connect Seattle featured a panel on the connected experience (gaming on TV, tablet, smartphone: SmartGlass-type stuff).

Who should we find among the panelists but the producer of Zuma’s Revenge, Ben Ahroni. Naturally I snagged him for a video interview. See Ben discuss Zuma, a potential sequel to Plants vs. Zombies, and Windows Phone after the break!

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