Xbox Live

We may not have received an Xbox Windows Phone release last week, but thankfully the drought did not continue this week. What’s more, the latest release is either both good news and bad news, or just plain good news, depending on how you look at it. The very good news: console and arcade giant Capcom is now making Windows Phone games. The kinda-sorta bad news: it’s a somewhat expensive puzzle game. Still, fans of brain puzzles will absolutely eat up KenKen (akso known as KenKen Pro).

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Just over a year ago, Nokia and Electronic Arts announced an agreement to publish over 20 EA games exclusively for Nokia Lumia Windows Phones. Shortly thereafter, they revealed the full list of planned titles. The list contained some compelling brands like Dead Space, Madden, and FIFA. It also included more casual and less exciting titles such as The Game of Life and Connect 4.

We didn’t know whether they would all be Xbox-branded titles or not, but as it turns out, each game released so far has indeed been Xbox Live-enabled. I’d have loved to review The Game of Life and Connect 4 together, but the latter unfortunately doesn’t work on Windows Phone 8 right now and I won’t have a WP7 Lumia phone. So let’s look at LIFE (as I’ll shorten it) on its own merits.

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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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Push notifications (also called toast notifications) are those pop-up messages you get from certain apps – the ones that say you’ve got a game invite, a weather alert, a new tweet, etc. Even if you don’t have an app that supports them, you’ve probably seen them appear whenever you get a text message or voice mail.

Windows Phone 7 always had issues with push notifications though. Not the hardwired SMS alerts and such, but pushes from games and apps. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t, and everyone’s experience seemed to differ.

When Windows Phone 8 rolled around, we hoped that would change. Unfortunately, at first glance it did not (for games, at least). While the pushes from recent Xbox WP release AlphaJax have driven some WP7 users crazy, some Lumia 920 owners like me simply haven’t seen those notifications (and yet others have). Thankfully, pushes aren’t completely broken on WP8. They’re just bugged, and there is a way around it.

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Two weeks ago on November 28, AlphaJax missed its intended launch date. As such, there was no Xbox Windows Phone release that week. We sort of understood that the game had hit a last minute road bump, and then it popped up the next week, so little harm was done. I’m afraid I have similar news to report: there will be no Xbox release this week. Perhaps the sting is lessened since nobody announced a title in advance, though I’d argue the lack of even a delayed game to look forward to makes it worse.

The lack of an Xbox Windows Phone release is not unprecedented. Although it hasn’t been much of a problem this year, we suffered two dry weeks in a row in 2011. Whenever this happens, it’s my duty to point out the finished games that Microsoft could release if they felt like it. That list has long included Shaolin’s Road and Time Pilot, but we can now add Loondon as well.

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48

AlphaJax Review: Spell it like you mean it

New Zealish developer Marker Metro hopped onboard the WP7 bandwagon prior to that platform’s launch; their indie project AlphaJax followed the platform’s debut a few months later. We’ve long considered it one of the most polished crossword games available, despite the lack of cross-platform support. Perhaps that polish and Windows Phone exclusivity are what caused Microsoft to pick up full publishing rights from the developer this year.

AlphaJax is now a free ad-supported Xbox title, with the previous free and paid versions set to go defunct at the end of the year. We’ve spent ample time with the new version in order to give you this extremely thorough review.

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Jet Set Go Review: Leaving on a jet plane...

The Xbox Windows Phone lineup has a spotty track record with time management games. Sally’s Salon was fantastic, but then it was followed up by the less impressive (and more bug-filled) Sally’s Spa. Both titles wore their feminine themes on their sleeves, making them less appealing to certain insecure male gamers. The only male-targeted genre entry, Star Wars Cantina got itself delisted last year, depriving WP gamers of the precious Star Wars license and lots of grinding.

Thankfully Nokia, along with developer Big Stack Studios and publisher Chillingo have come along with a more gender neutral time management title: Jet Set Go (not to be confused with SEGA’s Jet Set Radio). Not only can both guys and gals appreciate the game’s travel industry theme, but it even outdoes all the previously mentioned games in variety.

Jet Set Go started out as a timed Nokia exclusive before becoming available to all Windows Phone users in June 2013. Read on to see whether it’s worth a buy.

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File this Xbox Windows Phone game release under "better late than never."

Yes, the highly anticipated Xbox-enabled version of AlphaJax is now available at last.

AlphaJax is a Windows Phone-exclusive online Scrabble clone that has made quite a name for itself since its debut in December 2010. The New Zealand-based developer Marker Metro got excited about the platform prior to its release that year, and they’ve never looked back since. Thanks to a beautiful UI and consistent updates, AlphaJax remains one of the most popular online word games for Windows Phone – despite lacking cross-platform multiplayer like many of its competitors.

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If you're on the fence about signing up for an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership, this weekend you can give the Gold Membership a try for free.

From Thursday, November 29th through December 2nd Microsoft is unlocking Xbox LIVE Gold in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chili, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States.

Xbox owners in these regions will have access to online multiplayer gaming, video Kinect, and the entire collection of entertainment apps for the weekend. You can find a complete listing of the Xbox LIVE Gold Membership features here at Xbox.com.

Source: Major Nelson

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Last week’s Xbox Windows Phone Black Friday sale was the largest sale the platform has ever seen, with no less than six Xbox titles discounted. And in fact, the Windows Phone Store hasn’t updated yet, so you can still get those games on sale as of this writing. I have to bear some bad news though… Microsoft has revealed to us that the popular Xbox Deal of the Week program will be taking a break for the remainder of the year. Presumably it will restart sometime around January 2nd.

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Turn N Run: Xbox Windows Phone Review

Russian developer MaxNick really impressed us with its Xbox Windows Phone release of Spider Jack. For a year, it was the closest thing on our platform to Cut the Rope, and remains a quality game. MaxNick has also released a handful of indie titles such as Doodle Invasion, a quirky little game about evil aliens attacking the Earth. Now the developer returns to Xbox Live with Turn N Run, which stars a nicer alien this time. The Windows Phone port arrives only a couple of months after the iOS original – a breath of fresh air after having to wait so long for Sonic CD to show up!

Both of the previous games I enjoyed from MaxNick featured charming 2D art. Does the transition to 3D graphics and a new gameplay style result in another quirky hit? Read on to find out.

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A couple of weeks ago, Windows Phone Central published a dual review of Cut the Rope and Spider Jack. Both games stem from Russian developers, star cute and hungry little critters, and feature gameplay that involves the cutting of ropes (or spider webs). Cut the Rope may be better known (all of my Windows Phone friends bought it), but I actually found Spider Jack a bit more enjoyable. Despite its quality however, Spider Jack suffered one major disadvantage compared to Cut the Rope: its $2.99 price.

Last week, Spider Jack developer MaxNick’s second Xbox Windows Phone title Turn N Run launched at the 99 cent price point (after briefly appearing at $2.99 due to a mistake). That prompted us to wonder whether Spider Jack might soon drop to the same price. Well, that’s exactly what happened today! You can now grab Spider Jack for just a buck.

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As bargain hunting Xbox Windows Phone gamers are surely aware, the fairly new Carcassonne is part of Microsoft’s Black Friday week sale which ends today. Until now, we’ve had mixed feelings about Carcassonne due to its ridiculously grindy Achievements and broken online multiplayer. Thankfully, one of those issues is now fixed at last. Carcassonne’s online multiplayer now works!

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Back in September, we reported that indie word game and Windows Phone exclusive AlphaJax would be upgraded to Xbox Live status (or is that Xbox Windows Phone status?) at long last. The game’s developer, Marker Metro has been a Windows Phone supporter since before the platform launched. That support finally paid off when they got Microsoft to pick up publishing rights for the Xbox Windows Phone version this year. Gamers will also reap the benefits of the upgrade quite soon, as the new version launches this Wednesday!

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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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As we exclusively revealed over the weekend, this week’s Xbox Windows Phone release is Turn N Run, from Russian developer MaxNick (makers of Spider Jack) and Chillingo/EA. The lighthearted puzzle game is now available on the Windows Phone Store. Turn N Run plays great and definitely has easy Achievements, but Windows Phone 8 gamers will have to wait to enjoy it...

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Wow, Nokia is aggressively aiming to attract Xbox gamers to their Lumia Windows Phones lately. Two weeks ago they published exclusives The Game of Life; Jet Set Go, and Parking Mania out of the blue; their exclusive port of Connect 4 dropped to 99 cents over the weekend; and Mirror’s Edge just became free for all Lumia owners. Chalk another point up to Nokia as two new exclusive Xbox games debut today: Spy Mouse and Trivial Pursuit, both from Electronic Arts.

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Windows Phone Central recently compared the popular puzzle game Cut the Rope to Spider Jack, a competing Xbox Windows Phone title. Spider Jack comes from a small developer called MaxNick and publisher Electronic Arts. Now we’re pleased to announce that MaxNick and EA have another Xbox game in store for us this Wednesday: Turn N Run. Also pleasing: it will run on both Windows Phone 7 and 8.

Head past the break for exclusive Turn N Run details, a list of the game’s Achievements, and a trailer!

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It might seem like only yesterday for some of us, but Microsoft’s Xbox Live service launched 10 years ago this month – a year after the original Xbox debuted. Xbox live was a major differentiator between the Xbox and the Playstation 2 and GameCube. Some PS2 games could connect to the internet via optional modem, but Sony’s console lacked a proper online system. Nintendo’s GameCube had only a handful of online games, something the big N did little (virtually nothing) to rectify with the GameCube’s successor, the Wii. Only the Xbox had a fairly standardized online system with each game required to support voice chat.

Ten years later, the Xbox 360 is the world’s most popular console (especially in North America) and the Xbox Live service extends to Windows Phone and Windows 8 games. Read on to discover Microsoft’s plans to celebrate the anniversary, including giving everyone a free XBLA game!

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