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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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The Windows Phone Central staff covers all the big mobile events, such as Mobile World Congress and CES. But our gaming readers are probably most excited by gaming event coverage, such as last year’s Electronic Extertainment Expo and Casual Connect visits. Of course we’ll return to those shows again this year, but we’ve got a new one on the table too.

The Game Developers Conference - aka GDC 2013 - runs next week from March 25-29 in San Francisco, California. Your friendly neighborhood Gaming Editor and a handful of Mobile Nations staff will be there scouring for all the best Windows Phone and mobile gaming news.

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Was Gameloft’s The Amazing Spider-Man game too bright and cheery for you? Get ready to stalk villains from the shadows and do lots of brooding then, because there’s a Batman in town. The Dark Knight Rises for Xbox Windows Phone 8 is here! Not surprisingly, it requires phones with 1 GB of RAM, so lower memory devices like the Lumia 620 will have to remain crime-ridden for the time being.

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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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Xbox games for Windows Phone 8 were slim pickings until Gameloft’s highly anticipated Asphalt 7 rolled out a few weeks ago. That rad racer became the first of the publisher’s 12 announced games to actually see release, followed shortly thereafter by The Amazing Spider-Man and Real Soccer 2013. That still leaves 9 more games to go, including the hotly anticipated FPS titles N.O.V.A. 3 and Modern Combat 4.

We won’t be shooting enemies this week, at least not with bullets. Batarangs, however are a different story. This Wednesday, Gameloft will release The Dark Knight Rises and Shark Dash for Windows Phone 8.

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Babaroga’s Zombies!!! was an early Xbox Windows Phone exclusive that  still commands a loyal following from board game fans. I fondly remember buying it about a month before joining the Windows Phone Central staff, and subsequently advocating for an update to make one of the Achievements more easily attainable.

Jump ahead to the present, the Xbox Windows 8 and RT version of Zombies!!! has finally gone live. We previously covered some of the new version’s features and improvements, and now PC and tablet gamers can experience the enhanced game for themselves. To get everyone in a zombie killing mood, we present this interview with Andreja Djokovic, the CEO and founder of Babaroga.

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Last week, Gameloft kicked off their much anticipated wave of Xbox releases for Windows Phone 8 with Asphalt 7, a game I call the best racer on the platform in our review. They’ve followed up this week with the very strong The Amazing Spider-Man and the not-so-strong and highly skippable Real Soccer 2013. With at least 9 more games coming, including first-person shooters, action games, and even an MMORPG, it’s safe to say that Gameloft will keep Windows Phone gamers pretty busy this year.

Similarly, Electronics Arts and its subsidiaries Chillingo and PopCap have produced a ton of fine mobile Xbox games as Nokia exclusives within the past few months. All of the Nokia EA games are expected to become available to general Windows Phone audiences six months after release, so they really do benefit the platform as a whole.

However large and prolific they might be, publishers Gameloft and Electronic Arts can’t keep the Xbox Windows Phone lineup afloat all by themselves. The world of smartphone gaming is vast indeed. iOS and Android thrive thanks to many game developers and publishers, both great and small. Today we continue our ‘How Microsoft can save Xbox Games for Windows Phone’ editorial series with a look at the game makers that our platform needs in order to thrive.

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Last month we were excited to learn that Ubisoft’s Rayman Jungle Run would be coming to Windows Phone at some point in the future. The combination of endless runner with actual levels and the lovable Rayman is just what our favorite smartphone platform needs. What we didn’t know is that Jungle Run would also be coming to PC and tablet via Windows 8 and RT. Happy surprise - it’s out now and Xbox Live-enabled!  Plus it gives us a great idea of what to expect when the phone game comes along.

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The recent launch of Asphalt 7: Heat on Windows Phone 8 was just the shot of vitality that Microsoft’s newest mobile OS needed. Considering the rocky start that Xbox Live releases have had this year, we might have expected a puzzle game or no release at all. Well, we needn’t fear such a bleak scenario this week either. Hot off of Asphalt 7’s heels, Gameloft will follow up today with not one, but TWO new Xbox games for Windows Phone 8. And one of them is even free! Are your minds blown yet, mobile gamers?

Yes, two of the 12 Gameloft games announced last year have popped up today: The Amazing Spider-Man and Real Soccer 2013/Real Football 2013. We haven’t put them through their paces just yet, but we do have plenty of details, screens, and pricing! Note that both titles require 1GB of RAM, so they won’t work on the Lumia 620, HTC 8S, and other low-memory devices.

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As the first non-Angry Birds Xbox game running exclusively on Windows Phone 8, Asphalt 7: Heat understandably had a lot of interest from gamers and some rather lofty expectations to live up to. Now that the downloading issues that plagued last week’s launch have been resolved, we’ve been able to step into the driver’s seat and take it for a spin. Is Asphalt 7 the best arcade-style racing game since Outrun or another trip down a one-way road in the wrong direction like its Windows Phone 7 predecessor, Asphalt 5?

I’m pleased to tell you that Asphalt 7 is not only the best racing game in the Windows Phone library, it’s one of the best games period. Head past the break to find out just how it impressed its way into my icy heart.

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OMG: Our Manic Game didn’t exactly set the gaming world on fire, but it did hold the distinction of being the only shoot-em-up available when Windows Phone 7 launched back in 2010. Its best feature is its neon-colored vector art, a style later seen in games like geoDefense and BulletAsylum. OMG has two major strikes against it though. One is a control bug that prevents the player’s ship from staying at the bottom of the screen. Worst of all, it’s not compatible with Windows Phone 8.

Unfortunately, it looks like neither of those problems will ever be fixed. Arkedo Studio, the French studio behind Our Manic Game, has ceased game development. Read on to learn what the future has in store for both the developer and their Xbox Windows Phone game.

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One look at the comments section of our article announcing the release of Asphalt 7: Heat on Windows Phone 8 will tell you that the game is pretty popular. Hey Microsoft, we told you people wanted decent mobile Xbox games!

Ahem. With that gloating out of the way, we have more tasty Asphalt 7 tidbits to share with you now. Head past the break for a hands-on video, multiplayer walkthrough, and update news!

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AlphaJax is quite the popular Xbox game for Windows Phone. Much of that stems from its relatively smooth asynchronous online play, though the game being free certainly helps. Before AlphaJax graduated to Xbox Live status, it was originally a popular indie game. The transition to Xbox Live introduced a few bugs, which we’ve all been hoping would be fixed with a patch.

Good news, bad news time! The first update for AlphaJax has finally arrived. Now for the bad news: the developer recommends that you skip this update. Full details after the break.

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While Microsoft and its partners haven’t exactly announced a ton of Xbox games for Windows Phone 8 so far, the same can’t be said for Gameloft. Back in October, the mobile game publishing giant announced a whopping 12 games specifically for Windows Phone 8. These titles rely on the new mobile handsets’ extra horsepower and most would be impossible to port accurately on our beloved Windows Phone 7.

It’s been a long wait, but the first Gameloft Windows Phone 8 game is finally here: Asphalt 7, the arcade-style racing game. That’s right, a non-Angry Birds Windows Phone 8 game! Who’d have dared to imagine such a thing? In case that didn’t knock you right out of your office chair, it even has…. Real-time online multiplayer! I don’t mean asynchronous: this is the for-real deal. Ho-lee crap, I just had to fetch my socks from across the room. And did I mention Asphalt 7 is priced to sell?

Head past the break for details! We'll have a video soon too.

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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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Xbox for Windows Phone is a key selling point for gamers, but the implementation leaves much to be desired. This editorial series has covered a lot of ground so far, including the need for streamlining the Xbox Live certification process, Microsoft’s failure to appreciate the importance of Xbox to Windows Phone, the need for multiplatform game engine support, and the need for better PR and a download code system.

This week we tackle software and online features that Xbox Windows Phone badly needs.

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Here at Windows Phone Central, we are focused on Windows Phone and other Microsoft platforms. We also like to keep our eyes on the competition, such as the upcoming HTC One Android smartphone. To that extent, the Xbox 360 and its successor will have a new competing videogame console later this year in the form of the Playstation 4. Last night, Sony officially announced the console, which is due for a holiday 2013 release.

Read on for our impressions of the Playstation 4 and how it will affect Microsoft's next Xbox console!

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Xbox Windows Phone has absolutely no shortage of puzzle games and physics puzzlers. These types of games are easy to create and easy to port, plus they work well in short play sessions on the go. I don’t blame avid mobile gamers for tiring of puzzlers as a whole, as our platform certainly needs a wider variety of games. Still, puzzle games inarguably have their place on smartphones, so we can’t expect them to stop coming along.

Of course KooZac is a puzzle game, but it’s noteworthy for several reasons. First, it comes Square Enix, the prolific Japanese developer responsible or Final Fantasy and many other mobile RPGs. Square-Enix’s continued support can only be good for Windows Phone. Two: KooZac might look like a standard falling block puzzle game, but it actually plays unlike its brethren thanks to the inclusion of my most bitter enemy: math. Also, Facebook integration!

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