Skulls of the Shogun coming to Windows Phone, XBLA, and Windows 8 on January 30th

We’re still unsure about the next couple of weeks, but the drought of Xbox game releases for Windows Phone will definitely cease by the end of the month. Microsoft has made a rare advance release date announcement for a mobile game – and it’s a good one. At long last, Skulls of the Shogun from 17-Bit and Microsoft Studios will debut on January 30th for Windows Phone 7 and 8, Xbox Live Arcade, and Windows 8 and RT!

Watch out, Civilization

Skulls of the Shogun is a fast-paced, turn-based strategy game set in a feudal Japanese underworld. In the single-player campaign, players take on the role of a general who was betrayed in his former life. Awakening in the afterlife, he quickly builds an undead army and sets out on a mission of vengeance. The story’s writing is both interesting and hilarious thanks to excellent writing, some of which you can witness in our hands-on video below.

Strategy veterans and people who’ve never played a strategy game before will have no trouble learning Skulls’ gameplay. When a character’s turn comes up, his movement radius appears as a circle around him. Move him anywhere within that area and attack any nearby enemies. Eating the skulls of downed warriors buffs a unit. Each side has a General character with greater offensive power than the rest. But if your General dies, you lose, so part of the strategy is keeping him sufficiently protected.

Crossing platforms on cloud

One of the Skulls of the Shogun’s most exciting aspects for Microsoft enthusiasts is its cross-platform support. No, you can’t buy a single copy of the game and play it on all three platforms – we’re a few years off from Microsoft hopping onto that train. But users who purchase Skulls on more than one platform (and even some who don’t) will benefit from several awesome features.

First up, users can start a game on one version of Skulls and then resume on another version thanks to cloud saving. We’ve been clamoring for that feature in Windows Phone games for years, so it’s always great to see a game that uses it. The “Pause, Play, Resume” feature seems ideally suited for players who want to play on the big screen at home and then take the game with them on a phone or tablet when they leave the house.

Just as cool, Skulls supports cross-platform multiplayer for up to four players! That means Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and Windows 8/RT users will all be able to play against each other for the first time in any game. Skulls’ online multiplayer is asynchronous and competitive in nature. Each player will move his or her warriors and then wait for the next player to do the same as they battle for supremacy. Think AlphaJax but way more exciting and without the cheating! Also, all versions support local multiplayer.

Finally, players dedicated enough to buy each version will enjoy three times the Achievements. Yes, they are stackable.

Mark that calendar

Skulls of the Shogun for Windows Phone

Windows Phone version. For more shots, check out 17-Bit's website.

Great gameplay, beautiful art and music, sharp writing, and the best cross-platform features of any game on a Microsoft platform should make Skulls of the Shogun a game to remember. All three versions launch on Wednesday, January 30th. The XBLA and Windows 8/RT versions will cost $15 and the Windows Phone game $6.99/£5.49. A bit expensive for a phone game, but remember that it provides the full console/PC experience on the go.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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!

  • Can't wait to get this game, been looking forward to it for a while.
  • Same here. Gonna buy this as soon as it comes out
  • Love that 17-Bit is "all in" on Microsoft platforms for this release. Refreshing in this market.
  • This justifies Microsoft effort in porting Windows Phone from WinCE to WinRT core.
    Now devs can port pretty easily between Windows 8, Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8.
    Pretty stellar there is an Xbox version too.
    This is one of many to come I hope. Amazeballs.
  • This one ported kind of easily because the main XBLA version is written in XNA, which does translate well to WP7. Then the Windows 8 port uses a modified version of Monogame to make the XNA work.
  • I'm buy this game as soon as it hits the marketplace this kinda I want Microsoft to know this is the kind of functionality we want for our windows phones this is what can make us different from app andriod and even bb10 we need many more games and apps like this exclusives as well :)
  • Congrats to all of the gamers, looks like a great game!
  • Hyped about this one :).
  • Hope its free...but I guess its nit gonna happen..:(
  • Price is at the bottom of the article. Brace yourself. ;)
  • What's The iPhone version going to cost? We know MS can't help themselves and bring it over. Just like other games and office
  • I think I heard somewhere that it is going to be $15 on XBox and PC/surface, and $6.99 on Windows Phone. But I can't remember where. /s
  • People need to get over this "free" expectation for games/apps that are developed by name studios. These are products, with a long development cycle and costs that need to be covered. "Free" doesn't feed a family.
  • My father's name was Free and we ate quite well, thank you very much...
  • A great comment AND it's from a Lions fan. I think I'm in love.
  • Barring the one purchase/multi-platform approach, it would be nice to at least have a discount of some sort for purchasing multiple versions.
  • This!
  • Yeah that would be good marketing
  • This is where Microsoft is failing. At least allow it for those who own rt tablets and windows phones. That's where ios and android is kicking our butts. Having to pay twice is ridiculous, especially for the mobile platforms. Also the rt games are way to expensive.
  • What cross platform gaming does Android have? You mean between tablet and phone? Price reductions for multiple versions would have been a good call, but at least the game exists. Finally something to shout about.
  • Yes, between tablet and phone. Windows 8 and Xbox live is a different story but at least make the mobile variants competitive. Go for quantity in sales for mobile. Most people don't have a problem hitting the buy button when they see .99, but 4.99, hell no.
  • Until Microsoft merges the Windows Phone, Windows stores and the Xbox Live Marketplace, I wouldn't count on that happening anytime soon.  Sure, I'd love for all of the stores to be merged.  But that's not going to happen for a while.  Let's hope with the Xbox 720, that will begin to pave the way, especially if the Xbox 720 runs the same Windows 8 kernel (which is rumored not to be the case yet.)
  • As far as a comparison for 360 to mobile goes, PS3/Vita crossbuy is where they need to be looking for inspiration.  Actually, they had an opportunity to outdo Sony here by offering a crossbuy between 3 platforms rather than 2 - but sadly it looks like they are going to make us shell out the dough x3 if we want to play them on all of our MS devices.
    I remember somewhere (probably on wpcentral) reading that 17-Bit was interested in doing this for us, but Microsoft told them no (some BS about not having the infrastructure in place).
  • Agreed; Sony's crossbuy feature is very nice. Hopefully Microsoft adopts the same approach someday. And yeah, 17-bit would've been down for that if the publisher had allowed it.
  • Hmm... seems that strikethrough works in the editor, but not in the actual comment.  have was supposed to be a strikethrough on my comment above.  Also, smiley insertion is not working either.
  • **At least allow it for those who own rt tablets and windows phones.** I loved the comparison that said "MS gives us free cross platform apps from Tablet to PC..." With MS: PC = Tablet =/= Phone...with Apple: PC =/= Tablet = Phone. That is just the distinction we need to have right now.
  • Skulls baby! Looks awesome, hopefully the first of many cross-Microsoft Xbox titles.
  • Nice! Haven't bought a game in a long time. WIll get this day one!
  • Good lord, I remember this promise when I got my first Samsung Focus: "First up, users can start a game on one version of Skulls and then resume on another version .." The day has finally come!
  • Yep, finally. Now I just want the abililty to mess with my friends playing Kinect games by using my phone. :-) The price is a little steep, but I will be buying it just for the fact that the cross-platform functionality is included. i want other developers to take notice and bring more cross platform titles.
  • They couldn't make a Halo Wars game like this! Also, 37 for the whole experience...yikes...
    though it looks like it will satisfy my Advance Wars needs since Nintenwont, but what version...
  • A XBLA quality game on all these platforms cool
  • Looks like Armed will finally has some real competition.
  • Another reason i can't fully get into mobile gaming yet with MS. Can't see paying 2 -3 times for the same game. Really hope they realize their missing an opportunity. Unfortunately the money blinds them from this.
  • Didn't know this game was available on other platforms. But as far as pricing goes, I blame it on the recent 99 cents faze. I hate that it ever happened. This isn't some over night project. Pay the devs for their hard work. 
  • Should be get it all for 20. No code system on WP or W8 though.
  • Yep, I hate that lack of a review/download code system.
  • Definitely and interesting idea and a step in the right direction for MS.  Biggest downer in all of this is that I'm not a big fan of the genre at all, and so I'll definitely be waiting for a price drop.
  • And for those complaining about the price. Just sign up for bing rewards, use bing serch for bing points. Cash in for MS points. #Free
  • Yeah, sure. If you don't game the system with multiple accounts you can afford Skulls in just six short months. And only on the Xbox.
  • I get 15 points a day. MS points can be used for WP marketplace.
  • Looking forward to Paul's official review once the game is released.  Light at the end of the tunnel for games being released for WP...hopefully :)
  • This is a game that I won't wait for it to become the dotw! This is from a cheap ass! Cross platform sounds great!
  • My source tells that there will be a limited time sale if you buy all three versions. I don't know the exact price tag.
  • Oh man, he mentioned Shining Force in the video. Automatic day one purchase!
  • This will be my first game of this type,...I can't wait for it to be released.
  • Cloud saves should be *mandatory* for any Win Store purchase, with cross-platform saves as a killer bonus. While I really hope they'll eventually grant a buy once, install anywhere stance, I would be even happier if they would adopt a family account structure. That would allow us to install on multiple phones without having to use the same Live ID on each phone. This is a major negative for the WP ecosystem right now. Seriously, a family account, multi-platform store (with cloud saves) would be a HUGE selling point for customers. Critical, really.
  • I don't think they want you to buy 1 copy of a game and give it to 4 people. That's never been a popular digital distribution business model. The Windows Phone market is small enough as it is without allowing people to share their purchases with other people as well.
  • Personally, if I'm asked to buy the same app four times, I'll just walk away.  I look at iOS that already allows one purchase to spawn across multiple devices.  They've set the precedence and that should be the minimum target.
    But Microsoft can take it even farther.  They have an opportunity to converge all of our devices with universal apps.  That premise would be extremely attractive to potential customers.  I'd be much more likely to spend money if I knew I was getting a great service in return.
    Sadly, each of their consumption devices are fragmented.  There are consoles, laptops, tablets, phones (xbox, win8, winRT, WP) and none of them play very nice with the others.  Seriously?!?
    Customers!  Customers!  Customers!
  • Windows 8 and RT purchases are shared, AFAIK. Universal apps would indeed be rad, but people who only want a game for their phones probably wouldn't be happy about spending $15 or $20 on it.
  • Interesting.  Metro apps can be shared on both RT and W8 devices?  It would need to be two different apps (for ARM and x86) but it's at least a start.
    I'm sure they could fashion a pricing scheme that plays within the constraints of your example.  But really, the point I'm trying to make is the ecosystem Microsoft created isn't knit tight enough.  And that's killing me.
  • I'm gonna get it for each platform just to support the devs.
  • This is what I am talking about! Hopefully the start of what is to be expected from MicroSoft and everythign under one umbrella!
  • Nice trailer! This'll be a guy from no doubt!
  • A guy from No Doubt?
  • I think he meant buy*
  • seems that Microsoft is well aware of the situation. 20 days away...
  • Houdani, W8 & RT MODERN apps are the same apps. Also, I haven't downloaded one app, so far, that doesn't work on both x86 AND ARM. So, like someone said earlier, phone/tablet same, Mac different, is an Apple model. Microsoft's model, is PC/tablet same, phone different. I'd much rather my big screen-scaled apps match, than the crappy mess that is iPhone/Android apps, scaled up for a big screen. But just because Apple makes sure the devs are slaves, giving away their hard work for 70¢/download, or else, while Apple takes 30¢, for the dev's IP, & hard work, that doesn't make it THE Right Way.
  • This game looks awesome, but those prices are crazy. They are releasing it at the right time though, with such a lack of new games recently, more people will buy this, as opposed to if there were a weekly release like there used to be. I personally will wait for hopefully a sale at some point.
  • This looks like it's going to be awesome!