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Xbox Live Countdown to 2012 Sale is live and fairly festive

The annual Xbox Live sale (aka The Countdown to 2012 Campaign) is now live. On Xbox 360, a variety of Xbox Live Arcade games and avatar items are on sale. But Windows Phone gamers haven’t been entirely left out of the festivities, as three mobile Xbox Live games just went on sale as well.

The sale games:

Naturally I already own them all (jeez my phone is drowning in games). Still need to go back and finish off Fable Coin Golf, but the others are in the bag. Will you guys be picking any of these titles up, and how do you like them?

The Countdown to 2012 Campaign runs from December 20, 2011 to January 2, 2012. May these cheap games help keep you warm during the holidays.

Xbox Live Countdown to 2012 Sale to include 3 Windows Phone games, starts next week

Not the official Microsoft image, but it should be

Black Friday and Christmas holiday sales are regular yearly occurrences on Xbox 360, which means we’re about due for another sale. This year, the Countdown to 2012 Campaign begins on Tuesday, December 20 and lasts until Monday, January 2. Every day during that time, one or more pieces of content (XBLA games, avatar items, etc.) will go on sale.

Xbox 360 sales are great, but what about Windows Phone? Yes, there will be mobile Xbox Live games on sale during the Countdown to 2012. Just like this year's Black Friday week sale, the Windows Phone sale will include three games (in addition to the standard Deal of the Week game). The holiday sale games include Fruit Ninja, Fable: Coin Golf and Hydro Thunder Go. All three are great titles that any mobile gamer would be happy to own.

The Countdown to 2012 Campaign runs from December 20, 2011 to January 2, 2012. We’ll let you know as soon as the sale goes live.

Hydro Thunder GO has gone all Mango on us

Hydro Thunder GO (see review), the super fun race-boat game, received it's last update (v1.3) at the end of August. Now, just a few short weeks later, they've pushed out their long awaited Mango update.

As far as we can tell, it looks like it got the 60 FPS update, as our game play is smooth and stutter free (and this game certainly could use all the graphic improvements in can get). In addition, it of course has the requisite fast-app resume feature, which we're really starting to dig now that all of the Mango apps are coming out.

You can pick up v1.4 now in the Marketplace. As usual, we'll update when we get a full changelog if there's more to add. Thanks, Lerimer S., for the heads up via our app!

Hydro Thunder GO update and Venice Canals map cross the finish line

Hydro Thunder GO is one of the best-looking 3D games on Windows Phone, and it’s an exclusive to boot. Still, some readers reportedly experienced frame rate issues (which seemed to be handset dependent). When we interviewed Pixelbite, the game’s developer, they promised to look into it. Fast forward a few months and a major Hydro Thunder GO update has just been released.

Hydro Thunder GO version 1.3 release notes:

  • Performance improvements: [Pixelbite] did some performance profiling with the newly released Mango tools and managed to improve the game performance between 10-20% depending on the device and the in-game situation.
  • Minor bug fixes for the new OS releases, such as the music was not looping properly

The game always ran great on my Samsung Focus; now other handsets can better share in the visual splendor. Check out our review for more impressions.

But that’s not all! WPCentral is pleased to present this exclusive map of Hydro Thunder GO’s Venice Canals track. See, the game’s secret "Reckless Yachting" Achievement requires racers to destroy all seven gondolas in the Venice track. This map should make finding them much easier. For more maps, check out our Pixelbite interview.

Hydro Thunder GO costs $4.99 and there is a free trial. Swing by here (Zune link) to pick it up from the Marketplace.

Developer Interview: Pixelbite Studios, makers of Hydro Thunder GO

Hydro Thunder GO recently headlined Microsoft’s 6 Weeks of Must Have Games promotion. As the only Windows Phone-exclusive game in the promotion’s lineup, it had some big shoes to fill. Luckily the game’s 3D graphics are some of the best on the platform and it controls like a dream.

When Microsoft offered to let WPCentral interview Mattias Olsson - CEO of Pixelbite, the game’s developer, we jumped at the chance. We grilled him on the challenges Pixelbite faced in bringing the fan-favorite boat racing series to Windows Phone and even got to peak at some of the game’s maps.

Zoom past the break for our first Xbox Live Developer Interview, complete with plenty of images.

Hydro Thunder GO - Review

One of the latest XBox Live games to hit the Windows Phone Marketplace is Hydro Thunder Go from PixelBite. The racing game has sentimental value to me in that I can remember playing it in arcades and eagerly waiting for its release on the Nintendo 64 platform over a decade ago.

It has since been released in some shape, form or fashion on multiple gaming systems and has now landed on your Windows Phone. It's a pricey game but if you like racing games, especially boat racing games, it's well worth the price of admission.

We've spent some time with the PixelBite developers and after the break you can find out more on Hydro Thunder Go.

Hydro Thunder GO is now available on Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone

In all the hub-bub yesterday, we forgot to mention that Hydro Thunder GO is now available for $4.99 in the Marketplace. This is the beginning of six-weeks of must have games...

From the app description:

Blast through 12 ferocious courses with the powerboat of your choice and compete against 15 devious opponents with strategic use of your Hydro Boost power, Mighty Hull and Hydro Jump abilities. In addition to visually stunning environments and insane track layouts, the ever-changing water conditions keep the races varied and interesting.

First thoughts? Yeah, it rocks. It's a bit tricky and there's lots to master, but it's blast when you hit that ramp and fly through the air. We had no problems forking our $5 over for the game after playing it for a few minutes, that and the replay value looks high on this one, making it a decent investment.  Let us know in comments your thoughts: good, underwhelming, worth the money, etc.

And here's your complimentary lnk to the Marketplace for Hydro Thunder GO! And full trailer after the break

Hydro Thunder Go coming on May 25. Full 6 Weeks of Must-Have Games schedule revealed

Windows Phone gamers have been anxiously awaiting the start of the 6 Weeks of Must Have Games promotion. It was initially thought to begin in April, but then we learned it had been pushed back to an unspecified date. Shortly thereafter at MIX 2011, Joe Belfiore announced that Angry Birds would come out on May 25, so everyone assumed that the Must-haves would roll out then.

As it turns out, May 25 does indeed mark the start of the 6 Weeks of Must Have Games. But Angry Birds won’t be next week’s Xbox Live release after all. Instead, that honor goes to Hydro Thunder Go, the only Windows Phone-exclusive title in the Must-Have lineup. Leading with the strongest title is a smart idea, as Hydro Thunder Go has some great buzz surrounding it. Hydro Thunder Go will launch on May 25 at the very fair price of $4.99.

But that’s not all! We’ve got the full Xbox Live release schedule for the next 6 weeks, including prices and screenshots. Head past the jump for the exciting details.

Xbox Live: Must Have Games not starting on April 6

Back in February, WPCentral reported on the Xbox Live 6 weeks of Must Have Games promotion. Basically, every Wednesday for 6 weeks, a high-profile game will come to Xbox Live.

We expected the promotion to begin on April 6, but it turns out that won’t be the case. This week’s Xbox Live title is Super Monkey Ball, which will cost $4.99. Read our impressions here. Who Wants to be a Millionaire also comes out that day, but only in territories outside of North America.

April 13 will see the release of Harbor Master and Centipede. Thus the earliest the Must Have Games promotion could start is April 20, but it might be even later. Update: When contacted, Microsoft would only confirm Spring as the promotion's launch date. We'll surely hear from them again in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

For now, let’s look at the Must Have Games themselves:

  • Hydro Thunder Go – The only Windows Phone-exclusive of the bunch. Go is the mobile adaptation of Hydro Thunder Hurricane, the latest entry in the popular boat-racing series. Go’s 3D graphics and water effects are probably the best Windows Phone 7 has seen. Follow this link for a video trailer and our first impressions.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I – Sonic 4 marks the return to side-scrolling gameplay for everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog. The series has been marred by lackluster 3D titles in recent years. Sonic 4 doesn’t quite match the quality of the 16-bit Sonic games, but it’s still a worthwhile platformer. The mobile version of Sonic 4 was developed concurrently with the console title and features different stage layouts.  Follow this link for our first impressions.
  • Plants vs Zombies – From the makers of Bejeweled comes a unique tower defense game in which players place plants in strategic locations across lawns, swimming pools, and rooftops in order to fend off an army of cartoonish zombies. The PC version of Plants vs Zombies is one of my all-time favorite games.
  • geoDefense – A challenging tower defense game that features neon-colored vector graphics, much like the Geometry Wars series of shooters. geoDefense is a pretty game, but is it really that popular?
  • Doodle Jump – The original jumping game makes its way to Xbox Live. Tilt the phone to steer Doodle Jumper up a never-ending series of platforms, much like MonsterUp. Knock out enemies by furiously tapping on them. Windows Phone gamers may already know Doodle Jumper from his Parachute Panic cameo.
  • Angry Birds – One of the most popular mobile games of all-time rounds out the Must Have Games promotion. Launch birds out of a slingshot in order to collapse structures and eliminate the pigs who’ve stolen the birds’ eggs. The Windows Phone version of Angry Birds has a whopping 195 levels.

'Hydro Thunder GO' on Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone looks good, real good

No secret around here that's we're a bit underwhelmed by the Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone offerings of late. That's about to change in April with Angry Birds and six other "blockbuster" titles coming our way.

One game that was listed but not seen though was 'Hydro Thunder GO', a pretty sweet looking boat racing game that finally brings some arcade action our way. We're actually excited over this title. Just watch the video, pick your jaw up and let us know what you think.

Source: Windows Phone Italy; via wmpoweruser