Internal company support for its apps and games is at an all-time low, and Microsoft seems to be doing all it can to scrub the memory of Windows on phones from our collective consciousness. Depressing, no?
Now that I set the mood, let's reminisce about a time when Microsoft did care about Windows on phones, to the point of making exclusive games and apps, including the cartoony action city-builder hybrid Eden Falls, which we recently took a look at following its cancellation.
Microsoft has also thrown Age of Empires and Halo spinoffs at Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, in the form of Age of Empires: Castle Siege and Halo: Spartan Strike. Did you know they were also working on a Killer Instinct spinoff for phones too?
Say hello to Killer Instinct: TJ Combo Boxing
Killer Instinct: TJ Combo Boxing was a wholly unfinished prototype boxing game for Windows Phone 8. Killer Instinct, of course, is Microsoft's flagship fighting game for Windows 10 and Xbox One, revolving around combos (and breaking them). TJ Combo is a boxer character from Killer Instinct, and he's been a staple of the franchise since the 90s. As you might expect from a game called "TJ Combo Boxing," you played as TJ Combo.
In its unfinished form, TJ Combo Boxing is a fairly simple touch-based fighting game where swipes, taps, and long-press blocks make up the basis of combat. The game has a full story mode, with several different types of boxers. Our version of the game has a debug mode that allowed me to skip through the story, which seemed fairly finished, albeit without fully implemented visuals. Most of the graphics are simply placeholders and hitboxes.
The story mode goes over the origin story of TJ Combo, and how Killer Instinct's antagonistic UltraTech company was somehow involved in manipulating the boxing industry and its combatants. The cutscenes sport cartoony art and text-based dialogue and can be skipped.
TJ Combo Boxing would have also had leaderboards and an arcade mode, allowing you to challenge the campaign's various boxers at will. Beyond that, there's not a lot to the game, which appears to have been killed off shortly after entering development.
TJ Combo Boxing looks like something that could have evolved into a decent time-waster for Windows Phone users. The light graphics would've allowed the game to run on lower-end hardware like the Lumia 640s of the world, handsets that to this day make up the bulk of remaining Lumia users.
Exclusive games like this might not have saved Windows Phone, but they certainly wouldn't have hurt it. TJ Combo Boxing simply harkens back to a time when Xbox was tasked with helping prop up Windows Phone in addition to PC and console games. Those days are far behind us now, sadly.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!