Xbox One indie games likely to launch early 2014

If you love indie games, you might be a bit disappointed by Microsoft’s latest statement at Games Industry International. The company’s corporate vice president, Phil Harrison, stated that indie titles for Xbox One are mostly likely to launch in early 2014.

Developer Camp Competition winner LiquidLab bumped to version 2.0 on Windows Phone Store

LiquidLab, a title that won the Developer Camp Competition in Macedonia earlier this year, is now available on the Windows Phone Store at version 2.0. It's an indie Windows Phone project that makes use of a simple concept - the aim of the puzzle game is to fill a beaker of liquid to reach the designated level. Not too exciting? In LiquidLab there are no measurements on the glass to guide the player, and one has to use other bottles and tubes to measure the volume. Sounds slightly challenging now, right?

Classic arcade game Jet Set Willy coming to Xbox 360 and Windows Phone this Friday

Although these are not Xbox LIVE games, the 1983 classic arcade and sequel to Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, is headed to the Xbox 360 as an Indie Arcade game this Friday. In addition, a version for Windows Phone is coming with it at or around the same time (we all know how hard it can be for timing).

The game Jet Set Willy should be a lot of fun for those who enjoy some retro gameplay on their modern devices as the port looks is official, being handled by Elite Systems Ltd. That company has also brought their previous ZX Spectrum games to iOS in the past. From the company’s press release...

Our favorite pinball wizard Dr. Pickaxe returns to the Windows Phone Marketplace

3D pinball at its finest

Last week we highlighted the new pinball game Dr. Pickaxe as one of our new favorite games for Windows Phone. Developed by Tainicom (who also made The Juggler), the game was on special for $0.99 during its first week and received our 'Editor's Choice' distinction.

Unfortunately that game had a tiny bug in it resulting in the first few games registered under ‘trial’ even after purchased. Even though it only had a limited effect the bug was quickly identified and a v1.01 was pushed out—but then Microsoft held up publication due to their own woes and so the game was hidden until fixed.

MonsterUp even more charming now that it's free this weekend

MonsterUp has long stood out as one the best indie competitors to Xbox Live jumping game Doodle Jump. With excellent controls, delightful graphics, and superior sound, many (including me) prefer Karios Games’ MonsterUp to the game that inspired it. Check out our review or this post about one of the game’s many substantial updates for more details.

As of today, the few Windows Phone players who haven’t tried it yet now have no excuse: the full version of MonsterUp is free this weekend. Whether you’ve never played an endless jumping game or you’re just looking for something a little different than Doodle Jump, this is a fantastic deal.

MonsterUp is free for a limited time only. Hop on over here to the Marketplace to get it.

Test your reflexes with ReactTime for Windows Phone

Do you believe you have quick reflexes and instant reaction? Prove it. Introducing ReactTime, by Sandak. This little game will test your reaction times by stopping cars as soon as they appear on screen before they crash into the vehicles on the right hand side. Your average reaction time will be displayed throughout with highscores being recorded.

While it's simple and doesn't have a thousand achievements to aim for, ReactTime will see you test your reactions and boast to your friends should you be faster.

You can download ReactTime from the Marketplace for absolutely nothing.

Portals 2D is a free download until February 7th

Should you enjoy Portal on the consoles and PC, then you'll love Portals 2D (by Weesals) on your Windows Phone. Taking an interesting 2D birds-eye route, this indie title feels like a unique game due to the different camera angle from 1st person to the clouds. The concept is exactly the same with cubes, portals, lasers, a portal gun and the requirement of a quick thinking mind.

The most intriguing feature of this Portals 2D is not the superb graphics (vaguely reminiscent of GTA China Town Wars?), but the price - it's available for absolutely nothing until February 7th. You can download Portals 2D from the Marketplace. Note that there are two entries for this app, be sure to download the one we link to.

Thanks gh8421 for the tip!

Armed! developer asks for user input on balance issues

Development screen

Armed! is an excellent turn-based strategy game from Dallas, TX-based indie developer Sickhead Games. The game’s standout feature has to be its online multiplayer, which offers both asynchronous and real-time options, plus ranked and unranked games... Basically everything gamers want from mobile Xbox Live titles but the big MS doesn’t want to give us for some reason.

Of course, with any complex competitive multiplayer game, balance issues are bound to pop up after release. If left unattended, poor game balance can cause players to lose interest and move on to other titles. Thankfully Sickhead has caught wind of a few such imbalances and is already working to correct them.

Balance issues:

  • Tanks are being used too much
  • HoverTanks and Strikers aren’t as useful and cost effective as intended
  • Some matches are lasting longer than intended. 20 minutes should be the maximum.

Sickhead have explained these issues and some possible solutions in great detail on their website. They’re also looking for community input, so make sure you stop by and offer your suggestions or hit them up from WPCentral’s Armed! forum thread.

Armed! costs $3.99 and there is a free trial, complete with multiplayer! Get it here on the Marketplace.

Square Off version 1.5 adds free ringtones, paid version goes on sale

Square Off is a fine twin-stick shooter from Australian indie developer Gnomic Studios. Just see our review if you don’t believe me (then again, I wrote that, too). Since their game’s release, Gnomic has shown the game a lot of support with multiple updates and the release of a free, ad-supported version. In fact, just recently they published a new update for paid and free versions alike.

Square Off version 1.5 release notes:

  • Choose any colour for your Square Avenger!
  • Downloadable ring-tones and wallpapers (the free version has 1 of each, the paid version has 4 ring-tones and 3 wallpapers)
  • Option to disable in-game vibration
  • Messages from the Developers
  • Stability and bug fixes

What’s more, the paid version is on sale for only $1 until the end of January. A perfect time to snag it and get those extra ringtones! Gnomic was also kind enough to provide a Square Off lockscreen wallpaper for our readers, which you can see to the right.

Square Off (paid) is on sale for $1 for a limited time only. Get it here on the Marketplace. The ad-supported FREE version can be found here.


XBLIG indie stunt racer OSR Unhinged coming to Windows Phone

Riddlersoft Games, the UK indie developer responsible for A Robot’s Conundrum and Abyss: The Great Ascent, will soon publish a new indie Windows Phone title: OSR: Unhinged.

OSR, aka Old School Racer, first debuted on consoles as an Xbox Live Indie Game. It’s basically a Trials HD-style physics-based stunt game. If you haven’t played Trials, think Jet Car Stunts but in 2D. Not my kind of game, but lots of people love ‘em. The mobile version adds some extra content, which is always welcome.

Here’s the feature list for the Windows Phone version:

  • 30 Unique levels with alternative roots and hidden tokens.
  • 6 mini games.
  • 200 tokens to collect
  • 10 bikes to unlock
  • Your own ghost to race against.
  • Leaderboards for every level and mini games
  • Elite Leaderboards that give your overall rank as well as interesting statistics.
  • Smooth performance and tight controls.
  • Lots of options to set the game up as you want.

OSR Unhinged should be available on Windows Phone later this month. If you can’t wait, the Xbox 360 version is now available for 80 Microsoft Points ($1). Grab it here from a PC or Mac.

Source: WP7Connect; Thanks, Dale, for the heads up!

Minecraft clone Survivalcraft coming to Windows Phone, looks good and blocky

Minecraft is a wildly successful sandbox building game for PCs. The game is best known for its distinctive retro 3D art style as well as the amazing constructions that people build with it. Minecraft is coming to Xbox 360 as a Kinect title in 2012, but unfortunately the Minecraft Pocket Edition is an Android exclusive. Is there no hope for Windows Phone Minecraft fans?

The answer to that question should be readily apparent to anyone familiar with the Xbox 360 indie gaming scene. The 360 is already home to a number of fully-featured Minecraft clones, including Total Miner (the best clone) and FortressCraft (the first clone). XBLIG games are relatively easy to port to Windows Phone, so one of those titles shouldn’t be far behind… Then again, we still don’t have any XBLIG RPG ports, so clearly somebody at Microsoft needs to get more XBLIG devs into the WP7 development scene.

Not to worry, though – we’re still getting a Minecraft clone, developed exclusively for Windows Phone. Dubbed Survivalcraft, it seems to have most of the things you’d expect from this type of game: large, randomly generated worlds, mining, crafting objects with mined materials, and building stuff. It’s coming from a small indie developer so I wouldn’t expect much more out of the gate, but even the ingredients I just listed should make for an enjoyable portable experience.

Survivalcraft is currently undergoing certification. In the meantime, check out the developer’s remarkably sparse blog for a few extra details. We’ll let you know when Survivalcraft comes out of the darkness and into the light of the Marketplace.

Source: WP7Connect

Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix and her Nightmare - Review

When I was a wee lad, I thought it would be cool to make a game with the world’s longest title… Something like 20 words long, that would get it noticed! Apparently the folks at indie developer Bad Pilcrow had the same idea, and thus Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix and Her Nightmare was born. The benefit to a giant title like that is that it really does get catch the eye. “That game has seven words in the title! Why, other game titles only have two or three words at most. Could Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix and Her Nightmare be thrice as good as them?” But the problem comes whenever you have to say or type the title and you can’t remember it or your fingers get too tired. Even for this review, I had to copy and paste the title from somewhere else, because my mind isn’t built to remember that mess of proper and common nouns.

Yep, that’s how I chose to establish context. Head past the break for the full review.

Square Off updated for Mango, aliens still need shooting

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that indie twin-stick shooter Square Off (see review) would soon receive a Mango update. It turns out I wasn’t lying; Square Off’s first Mango update is here.

Square Off version 1.4 Mango update release notes:

  • Fast App Switching
  • Improved frame rate

Developer Gnomic Studios has made good on the two most clear-cut advantages that Mango brings to the table. Both the paid and free versions of the game have been updated, so now everyone can enjoy square-shaped Mango-ey goodness. Oh, and more updates are on the way in the future…

Square Off costs $1.29 and you can grab it here from the Marketplace. Square Off Free costs even less – pick it up here

Indie game IonBall gets Xbox Live sequel with all the trimmings

Xbox Live isn’t exactly crawling with brick-breaking games at the moment. The only such game, 3D Brick Breaker Revolution (review), is ten kinds of terrible. Gamers looking for a Breakout-style fix have had to make do with indie games, such as IronSun StudiosIonBall, which we reviewed in December.

Great news for fans of that game and brick-breaking games in general – IonBall is getting a sequel, and it will be an Xbox Live title to boot.

Head past the break for more exclusive IonBall EX details and screens!

Pirate's Mind picks up online leaderboards at port

Indie developer M80 Games may be hard at work on their upcoming puzzler Buzzwords, but they haven’t forgotten about their first Windows Phone title, Pirate’s Mind either. The game recently saw two new updates in the span of a week. Let’s check ‘em out.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.6 release notes:

  • This was a hotfix for unsupported characters in the font set preventing the leaderboards from showing.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.5 release notes:

  • Leaderboards added!!
  • Players will need to choose a username the first time the game is launched.
  • Each game mode has its own leaderboard.

In our review of Pirate’s Mind, I wished for online leaderboards, and they’ve finally become a reality. We initially expected the leaderboards to utilize the third-party Scoreloop system, but M80 switched to the open-source Mogade system during development. The results do not disappoint. The game’s leaderboard now lists the top fifty daily, weekly, and all-time scores as well as the player’s position in each category. This adds a welcome competitive element to an already enjoyable game.

Not only is Pirate’s Mind free, it doesn’t even have  a single in-game ad to offend the eye. Puzzle game fans should give it a spin. You’ll find it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. 

Twin Blades - Review

For several months, Twin Blades from Press Start Studio reluctantly enjoyed the distinction of being the only Xbox Live game to be pulled from the Windows Phone Marketplace. During its absence, it earned something of a cult status as mobile gamers suddenly realized they were missing out on a hardcore action experience. Now the game is back with green zombie blood instead of the original red. Is Twin Blades’ return cause for celebration? Yes, unless you’re a zombie, in which case, stay out of Sister Angelika’s way.

Slice past the break for our full review.

Murphid - Review

We’ve heard from developers that the XNA framework makes it easy to port games between Xbox 360 and Windows Phone.  That’s a good thing as gamers who enjoy a game on the big screen may also want to play it on the go and vice-versa. One indie game that recently made the transition from 360 to Windows Phone is Murphid from Decapod Studios. While Murphid’s name might lead one to expect a connection to Robocop, it’s actually an unrelated but unique puzzle game.

Drop past the break for our full review.

Pirate's Mind updated to version 1.4 and still completely free

A while ago we reported that indie puzzle game Pirate’s Mind would be free for a limited time. Good news for gamers: developer M80 Games has decided to continue offering their game free definitely.

Pirates love free things, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like updates too. M80 has updated Pirate’s Mind a whopping three times in the month of June. Let’s look at what's changed.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.4 changelog:

  • Repositioned the Multiplier starburst to be more visible during play.
  • Adjusted particle effects for better presentation
  • Optimized graphics to consume less memory and increase performance.
  • Fixed bug where if all coins on the playfield were the same, the game couldn't continue.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.3 changelog:

  • Game now saves audio settings between play sessions
  • Fixed high score name entry to remember last used name
  • More bugfixes.
  • LG Phone users, we are still working on the issues some of you are experiencing. Please email us if you would like to help:

Pirate’s Mind version 1.2 changelog:

  • New game mode "Dash"
  • Adjusted the difficulty progression  to be more challenging
  • Added a "Rate This Game" button. PLEASE EVERYONE...USE THIS :)
  • Many bug-fixes and optimizations
  • HTC crash issues hopefully resolved

As you can see, the move to a completely free model (with no ads!) hasn’t diminished the developer’s desire to sharpen the game. In our review, I mentioned that games were too easy and went on a bit too long. The new 3-minute Dash mode and difficulty changes to the standard mode really make Pirate’s Mind work better as a mobile game.

You’ll find Pirate’s Mind here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. Get it now before scurvy gets you!

We’ve also learned that M80 is working on a new puzzle game, tentatively titled Buzzwords. WPCentral will bring you an exclusive first look soon.

Galaxium from Karios Games now available on the Marketplace

It’s been a while since we heard from Karios Games, makers of the indie hit MonsterUp. While that game continues to receive regular updates, Karios has recently released a new title to the Marketplace: Galaxium.

Galaxium is a vertically-scrolling 2D shooter, not unlike OMG and Impossible Shoota. Players can select from three different ships, each with its own speed and shield stats. Speed is crucial to dodging enemy fire, but shields are also important since you only have a single life per game. The ship fires automatically, so gamers can concentrate on lining up with enemies, dodging their fire, and collecting powerups.

Speaking of powerups, Galaxium’s powerup system is modeled after the Gradius series. A meter at the bottom of the screen displays a variety of potential ship upgrades, from speed to diagonal fire to firing rate. There is only one kind of powerup in the game – each time one is collected, the meter fills up a unit. When the upgrade you want to use is highlighted, tap the screen with two fingers to spend your powerups and activate it. The choice between various upgrades and spending or saving powerup units helps Galaxium stand out from other Windows Phone shooters.

Galaxium also features VortexLink, Karios Games’ online leaderboard system. If you already own MonsterUp, the game automatically detects your VortexLink profile, which is very convenient. Online leaderboards always bring welcome competition and replay value to score-based games like this.

Fans of shoot-em-ups won’t have to spend much to climb into Galaxium’s selection of ships. The game is available in either a paid version for 99 cents or a free ad-supported version. You can find the paid version here (Zune link) and the free version here on the Marketplace. We’ll have a full review soon.

Get ready for a throwdown. Square Off is 99 cents this weekend

We’d like to call your attention to Gnomic Studios’ indie game Square Off today. Not just because of the amazing papercraft shown above that I designed for WPCentral’s Square Off review, though it would seem I am happy to show it off again. No, the big news about Square Off is that’s it on sale this weekend. The sale price is 99 cents, a 66% discount off the regular price.

Square Off is a 2D arena-based shooter. Players take control of a Square Avenger – a human/alien hybrid with a jetpack – as he defends the earth from nefarious one-eyed aliens. The game’s got seven levels to blast through, each of which can be played in a never-ending survival mode.

Square Off’s 2.5D graphics (hand-drawn characters on 3D backgrounds) and tight controls really won us over. The full game is on sale for 99 cents until Monday and there is a free trial, so give it a try now while the getting’s good. You’ll find Square Off here on the Marketplace.