It's not an easy being an Xbox game for Windows platforms. First you have to go through a difficult pitching process just to make it into the portfolio. If by some miracle Microsoft actually approves you for Xbox status, you then enter the equally unpleasant certification process. And once you finally make it to market, you'll probably just get pulled from the Store by Microsoft at some point. You're an endangered species, son.
That's what happened to Zombies!!! for Windows Phone back in September of last year. The game was delisted for having in-app purchases, and then returned in November without Xbox features. The Windows 8 version managed to keep its Xbox features for a time… But now that time has ended. Microsoft recently chose to stop publishing the Xbox Windows 8 version of Zombies. And so developer Babaroga has republished the game as a universal app (but without Xbox features). Zombies!!! has come back to life, you might say.
Getting to know your Zombies!!!
Zombies!!! (now called Zombies!!! Board Game on Windows 8 and RT) is a faithful adaptation of the original board game. In the default game mode, 2-5 human or AI players take turns placing board tiles that will form the zombie-infested city. Each player must then try to escape with his or her life while simultaneously doing whatever it takes to slow down the other players. They'll also have to kill their share of the walking dead.
Whenever a player runs into a zombie (controlled by the AI or other players), a battle ensues. Players must roll a four or higher in order to avoid taking damage. Carrying a weapon (which you mostly get from playing weapon cards inside of specific buildings) adds one or more points to your roll, increasing the chance of coming away unscathed. You can also elect to use one of your precious bullets to boost your roll, though ammunition tends to come in scarce quantities. All told, combat provides an enjoyable mix of chance and strategy.
The Windows Phone and Windows 8 Zombies!!! games support single-player and pass-and-play multi-player. Single-player is more fun than you might expect thanks to the Survival Horror mode, which pits a sole human survivor against the entire city of zombies. Kill them with extreme prejudice (everyone knows they deserve it) or reach the helicopter to win. Winning a Survival Horror game can be quite challenging since so many zombies infest the town (over 100!) and bullets can be spent awfully quickly.
It's a total drag that Xbox-enabled versions of Zombies!!! no longer exist. The Windows 8 and RT version was one of the very few Windows games with Xbox avatar support. Players could choose to play as their avatars instead of the standard Zombies!!! survivors. Zombies!!! was also pretty much the only avatar game with actual killing, as Microsoft usually restricted the level of violence in avatar-enabled games.
The republished versions of Zombies!!! for Windows Phone and Windows 8 lack avatars (never present on the phone game) and Xbox Live Achievements. But they do bring some cool bonuses to the table. They're a little gorier (I believe) like the iOS version now that avatar restrictions are gone. And Zombies!!! is now a universal app, so you can buy it on your phone or tablet/PC and get the other version for no additional charge.
Zombies!!! is one of the most interesting board games available on Windows platforms, and we still recommend it – Xbox Achievements or no. Maybe Microsoft doesn't want you to earn Achievements from playing Zombies!!!, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't play it.
The delisting of the Xbox Windows 8 version of Zombies!!! is part of recent trend. Other Xbox Windows 8 games have been disappearing too. We're still checking into the specifics with our sources and will update you guys if things pan out.
- Zombies!!! – Windows Phone 7 and 8 (universal app) – 19 MB – $4.99 – Store Link
- Zombies!!! Board Game – Windows 8 and RT (universal app) – 244 MB – $4.99 – Store Link