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Monkey Labour comes to Windows Phone and tablets thanks to the magic of Automagical

Last year we looked at a Windows Phone development tool called Automagical that assists with porting iOS code to Windows Phone. In short, the PC software translates Objective-C (iOS and Mac) code into C# (Windows Phone) code. Automagical comes from Slovenian developers Dawn of Play, who released the beautiful Windows Phone puzzle game Dream of Pixels in 2014 as well.

Automagical sounds great in theory, but what about application? We can now see the results firsthand, because Dawn of Pixels has used it to convert their iOS game Monkey Labour to Windows Phone and Windows 8. Monkey Labour is a classic LCD-style game starring a robot laborer who battles a mean monkey. In celebration of its launch, the game is free this weekend!

Read on for our Monkey Labour impressions and hands on video, plus details of how Automagical helped port the game to Windows Phone.

Bringing Monkey Labour to Windows

Unlike Dream of Pixels, Monkey Labour was ported to mobile Windows platforms using Automagical. This game is the first real world proof of Automagical's benefits.

Using Automagical, the developer ported the alpha version of Monkey Labour from iOS to Windows Phone in less than a day. After that, it took less than eight hours (over the course of a week) of manual code fixes to polish the game and make it ready for players.

Check out our original Automagical story to learn more about pricing and how the application works.

Monkey Labour

He works hard for the monkey

Starting in 1980, Nintendo produced a series of standalone LCD games under the Game & Watch banner. Other manufacturers like Tiger and Konami would go on to produce a variety of handheld LCD games through the early 1990s. Monkey Labour is designed to emulate the original Game & Watch style, with the same two input buttons (left and right) and three setting buttons surrounding a simulated LCD screen.

Players control a robot worker named Mobot as he picks up blocks dropped by a conveyor belt on the right side of the screen and places them in a furnace on the left side. Each time he delivers a block, you get a point.

The job would be easy, if not for the crazed monkey who has infiltrated the factory. He tosses blocks of his own down at our worker. Mobot mostly has to dodge the blocks, but he can also block an attack if he holds a block above his head. Take a hit without a block in-hand and you lose a life.

As blocks get delivered into the furnace, fires occasionally light up in the pipe above the money. Should a fire fully ignite directly above the bad guy, he takes a hit and sits things out for a few seconds. Then he comes back angry! The player scores a bunch of extra points as well. The position of the fire when it ignites seems random; it would be better if players could predict and plan for the ignition.

Monkey Labour

Classic LCD screens had some distinctive traits. For instance, the screen could only "light up" and produce shapes in specific places as designed by the developer. Characters don't so much animated as move between preprogrammed positions on the screen. When a "sprite" was not "lit up," you could still see a ghostly shape in its place. Monkey Labour simulates this effect.

Also, pressing down on an LCD game screen will cause some LCD distortion. Monkey Labour simulates that effect too!

The only thing Monkey Labour lacks (other than an easy way to know when the fire will hit the monkey) is audio flourishes. It does have some (kind of annoying) main menu music created in a modern style. During gameplay, you get basic sound effects in the classic LCD gaming style. However, the game badly needs startup and game over jingles. Not every LCD game had those musical snippets, but newer ones did. The experience is too dry without a touch of music.

If you've ever played a classic LCD game, or simply have an appreciation for retro gaming, you'll want to give Monkey Labour a try. The game is free during launch weekend, and then the price will go up to $1.99. Get it down and start burning those blocks!

QR: Monkey Labour

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

57 Comments
  • Great!
  • There have good games in recent months for windows phone. Still warner bros, kabam needs to make their way. Maybe not now, with windows 10 later.
  • Don't forget Rockstar Games......
  • GTA san Andreas is there and btw GTA isn't a proper phone game. That's y I haven't downloaded San Andreas on my phone.
  • It plays great on the phone though.
  • I look forward to the day one of these developers port iOS's Nintendo 64 emulator. I'm sure many people would be happy to pay £5 for it.
  • Not gonna happen. These kind of emulators needs DRC (Dynamic ReCompilation), which MS does not allow on Windows Phone (DRC can cause some major security holes in your device).
  • Do you know if this DRC issue will be again on WP10 again? Maybe now with a new OS it could be possible to get this emulator
  • I have no reason to believe Microsoft changed its policy about this matter - it's not a matter of OS limitations (as the OS is most probably quite able to handle DRC), but a matter of policy. If you could, say, root your device - you could probably successfully side-load such emulators...
  • Ms should add support for openGL in windows phone.
  • Ok, thanks for the replay. I didn't know anything about it.
  • Well it works flawless :)
  • Downloading .... Thanks to porting ! And I'm gonna support our supporters !
  • Monkey!
  • Okay. Question (and please, don't ask me to go to the forums): Can we code in C++ for Windows (Phone and PC mainly).
  • Nope. Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps are written only using C#. For the desktop applications, however, C++ can be used.
  • Where do you get your information from? You've been able to code for Windows Phone in C++ since 8.0; that's why we started getting more cross-platform games and better support from engines like Unity.
  • Wrong. Windows Phone apps can be written in C++, along with XAML, HTML and CSS in libraries. Of course, C# is the main language here but it supports others nonetheless. Please don't misinform something you're not sure about.
  • You can also just use JavaScript, html, and CSS. Many popular apps such as tweetium do this.
  • Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.
  • Check out the universal app for the Microsoft ecosystem. You will find it is better and more rewarding.
  • You can use C++ to create universal apps if you want. I think you could even mix languages if you use them in separate libraries.
  • You can certainly write windows apps in c++. C# is is probably preferred but you can also use html and css. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yes. There's even two C++ options. ISO C++ or C++/CX. We even compile assembler in some projects (part of 3rd party libs, but we had to tweak it a bit), but that gets heavy, as there's x86 (most Windows PCs) and there's ARM (all Windows Phones). Anyway, this link explains the C++ part quite well: http://www.drdobbs.com/windows/using-c-and-com-with-winrt/240168150
  • since 8.0  
  • Thanks to all. :)
  • I like the code conversion!
  • There you go... Next time you guys get mad because windows phone have the same games as ios and android through this development tool to the developer and ask for a nice app port. It might just happen. Just saying. Us developers like tools to play with.
  • Wasn't candy crush saga the first real world application of using this tool??
  • I can't find any evidence of Candy Crush Saga using Automagical. Do you have a link?
  • As I understand it Candy Crash used a solution from Microsoft. This is a different tool.
  • Candy crush used something Microsoft calls "project islandwood", not Automagical.
  • You got it.
  • Again wrong with facts!
  • You sure showed us!
  • Haha the sarcasm is strong Paul
  • This looks really fun. I like the screen distortion effect. Hope they bring more games.
  • It isn't exactly random for the flames. You build up the flame on the left and time the position of the flame on top and the monkey to the placement of the last block to cause the flame to hit him.
  • Ah, thanks for the tip!
  • Thanks for sharing the app, it's fun!
  • @wpnoob, yup that's how you do it.
  • Let me give back some to monkey manager :D
  • Coool
  • Yay
  • This is strangely addictive!
  • Wow nice this is so retro!
  • This looks like so much nostalgia. I went and bought it instantly....on iOS. Sorry, just don't have a WP daily driver anymore.
  • Just port CoC in wp or w10 mobile.
  • Already added to my collection. Thanks for share it!
  • I love the retro look .... Remind me of old classic game .... LCD feel in the screen looks cooler .... Please bring similar games like Donkey Kong .... ^_^
  • Its repetitive and makes me bored. Sorry to say.
  • I hope they do the super Mario one...cant remember the name but he had three conveyor belts and had to load the stuff into a van.
  • This one - Mario Bros. ?
  • That's the one!! But the linked page is devoid of information
  • Got it...that the one...wasted so much time playing this
  • I know what you mean, I "wasted" a lot of time on Mickey and Donald G&W. ;) I wish we could get in touch with Nintendo, and port all their original G&Ws.
  • Boring game.... Uninstalled it after playing it for a few times...