Pac-Man Championship Edition DX finally scores a discount

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is that rarest of things: an exclusive Xbox Windows Phone game... Well, exclusive among the smartphone market, as it’s a port of the popular XBLA game. And man, what a good one! I even included it in my Five Must-Have Xbox Games list back in May.

But one thing has long kept the wider WP market from embracing the finest Pac-Man mobile game of all time: its steep price. Despite the fact that Pac-man CE DX contains just under a third of the XBLA game’s content, it has always cost only one third less - $6.99, as compared to the beefier $10 console version. In a market in which seemingly everyone (somewhat unwisely) values everything at one dollar no matter what, the $7 price tag just doesn’t fly.

Today that changes because Pac-man CE DX has finally had its first price drop/sale since launching in May 2011. What’s more, it’s now only 99 cents!

Get cheap kitties on your Windows Phone with Kinectimals, the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

You know what calms me down after a game charges me for one of its basic Achievements? Seeing a game get discounted that has never been on sale before. The new Xbox Live Deal of the Week certainly fits the bill. Kinectimals is now on sale for $1.99 for the first time, down from $2.99.

Kinectimals is the portable version of Frontier Software and Microsoft’s feline-themed Kinect game. Players can choose one of five kitties or import an existing cat from the 360 version using the phone’s camera. Then it’s time to teach your kitty tricks by performing swiping motions, play catch, complete challenges, and buy lots of accessories. There’s not much depth here, but the kitties are cute and the Achievements are super easy. Check out our review for more details.

Kinectimals is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Get it here on the Marketplace.

Xbox Live: Kinectimals update brings Mango support and new Live tile to the kitties

Most of us were pleased as punch when Kinect exclusive Kinectimals made the trip to Windows Phone – see my review, for instance. Then it got ported to iPhone for some reason, sending some nasty mixed signals about Microsoft’s faith in their own mobile platform. That aside, we can at least be glad that Kinectimals on Windows Phone received a nice little update last week.

Kinectimals version 1.1 release notes:

  • Fast app switching
  • Enhanced/interactive game tile:
  • Pin on your start screen to always know your how your cub is doing.
  • LIVE tile will tell you if your cub is hungry, happy, thirsty or needs a bath.
  • Additional in-game language support (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Brazil Portuguese)

It’s good to see Fast App Switching support at last – Kinectimals launched at a time when some users didn’t have Mango yet, so they wouldn’t have been able to play it before upgrading. And more languages means the game can be sold in more markets – a smart move.

On the downside, when this new update first became available, some users have reported difficulty in downloading and installing the update. This seems to be a random Windows Phone/Marketplace glitch rather than a Kinectimals-specific problem though.  If you experience something like this in the future, turning your phone off and then back on should take care of it.

Kinectimals costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace and start petting your kitties. They need love!

Kinectimals using Unity engine? Not likely.

Earlier this week, various blogs picked up on a tweet alluding to the use of the Unity game engine in the cute and fuzzy Kinectimals title for Windows Phone. This comes after Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason came out and said, in November, that the company was “skipping” Windows Phone 7, looking forward instead to its successor – Windows Phone 8.

The rumor floating around has two main components to it:

  • The Kinectimals XAP contains a library (UnityEngine.dll) that contains the word Unity.
  • The UnityEngine.dll has classes that look like Unity code.

While the Kinectimals XAP does contain a library named UnityEngine, we couldn’t verify this library was in any way related to Unity Technologies’ game engine. In fact, we found evidence to the contrary:

  • The library contains .NET metadata indicating copyright belongs to the development shop Frontier Developments Ltd., not Unity Technologies as expected.
  • Frontier Developments Ltd. specializes in cross-platform technology. We believe the UnityEngine references are merely artifacts from recycling their code targeting iOS and other platforms.
  • The game doesn’t use any native code. As we’ve seen from a number of applications on the Marketplace, Windows Phone can run native code. It doesn’t make sense that Unity’s game engine would be ported in whole to a pure XNA solution for cost and performance reasons.

Regardless, we simply don’t have enough information to say one way or the other. We'll follow up when we hear more from the developers next week.

Windows Phone exclusive Kinectimals now available for iOS

Just like they did with the Xbox Live and Halo ATLAS apps, Microsoft has brought over Kinectimals to iOS, where players can enjoy interacting with their cute, cuddly e-animals. The title was only released a few months ago on Windows Phone, but features Xbox Live achievements and connectivity with the Xbox 360 version. The question on many minds is -- of course -- why is Microsoft releasing these apps on other platforms?

For the Xbox Live app, Microsoft provided iPhone/iPad/iPod owners with limited functionality for the online gaming service. It still comes nowhere close to what Windows Phone provides with achievements and true integration. As well as this, the app gives iPad users an insight as to how a Windows 8 tablet app could look like, with the Metro UI being implemented. For ATLAS and Kinectimals, the former is again providing functionality to other platforms (so the software giant doesn't come across as creating a monopoly) at a fee while the WP version is free, while the latter is to not only earn revenue from the fairly large iOS market, but it could be that Microsoft is almost attempting to re-brand itself. The only downer is Kinectimals was supposed to be exclusive for us Windows Phone owners. What do Apple followers think of the big M? Excel, Word and Powerpoint.

Perhaps we are seeing the company attempting to change that perception? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Kinectimals can be downloaded from the AppStore for $2.99 for those with iDevices.

Thanks to everyone who sent in the tip!

Kinectimals - Review

Is there much crossover between Kinect-toting Xbox 360 owners and Windows Phone gamers? Sure, lots of people buy into more than one of Microsoft’s gaming platforms. And even smartphone users without a console could still have a heart, and thus love kitties. Surely developer Frontier Software and publisher Microsoft Studios banked on both of those points when deciding to bring Kinectimals to Windows Phone. It squeezes much of the console game’s fun into much smaller mobile devices.

Dash past the break for our full review.

Kinectimals for Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone roars back into the Marketplace

For those who missed the connected Kinectimals last week, which made a "teaser" appearance, you'll be happy to know it's back for your enjoyment. Priced at $2.99, the game has garnered mostly positive reviews with comparisons to Nintendogs but with the further bonus of having some iteration with your Xbox/Kinect setup.

As Paul wrote last week:

"Kinectimals is the portable version of Frontier Software and Microsoft’s feline-themed Kinect game. Players can choose one of five kitties or import an existing cat from the 360 version (which we haven’t tried just yet). Then it’s time to teach your kitty tricks by performing swiping motions, play catch, complete challenges, and buy lots of accessories. So far Kinectimals is a surprisingly faithful port of the retail Xbox 360 version, and it doesn’t even have the original’s obnoxious announcer, always a plus. The Achievements are also super easy. And last but not least, it’s Nodo compatible!"

You can grab the game right here in the Marketplace. Check our hands on vid with the game from Nokia World after the break...

Kinectimals catnapped, Microsoft to rescue on November 2

We’ve received a lot of questions and comments about the Xbox Live title Kinectimals disappearing from the Marketplace. Many of you have been worried about the missing kitties, so it’s time to set the record straight.

First off, the Windows Phone version of Kinectimals appeared on the Marketplace Wednesday morning alongside the regularly-scheduled Xbox Live release, Orbital. It was a pleasant surprise, as we only expected a single Live release. Later that day, Kinectimals dropped off the Marketplace.

As it turns out, Kinectimals’ release was a ‘soft launch’ according to a Microsoft representative we spoke with. They released it as a tease to build hype for the game’s official release, which comes next week on November 2. Anyone who already purchased the game can enjoy it as normal, but those who didn’t will need to wait till Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy the above picture of my kitty, MouseCat, getting into trouble at the CiCi's Pizza buffet. We also have this demonstration video from Nokia World.

We actually updated out original story yesterday, but many readers may have missed it with everything going on. For the record, you can always find gaming-related news by jumping to the Games section of our site.

Keep the tips and questions coming.  We love hearing from you guys and gals.

Nokia World: Kinectimals demonstration video

One of the nice things about attending industry events is that we get to meet Microsoft representatives and have them demo Xbox Live games for us. Case in point: at Nokia World today, this nice lady was kind enough to show us the mobile version of Kinectimals. Watch the video to see her selecting a kitten, exporting the little fellow to the Xbox 360 game, and playing a jump rope minigame with it.

Speaking of which, the advanced jump rope Challenges get annoyingly tough, don’t they? The rope speeds up and slows down erratically, which often leads to my cat tripping over the rope when my concentration lapses. He sort of deserves it because he is a bad kitty, but that’s beside the point. Thankfully, you don’t have to beat every challenge to advance in Kinectimals – even the Achievements only require 25 gold medals, which isn’t that many.

Kinectimals will cost $2.99 when it officially launches on November 2. At that time you'll be able to pick up the kitty simulator here on the Marketplace. 

Kinectimals to feature kinect-kitty, I mean connectivity

When gamers learned that Xbox 360 Kinect game Kinectimals is coming to Windows Phone, undoubtedly many of us wondered whether there would be connectivity between the two versions. Wouldn’t it be cool to take your existing Kinect kitty on the go?

A Microsoft representative shared these details with us:

“The answer is yes, Kinectimals for Windows Phone does share connectivity with the Kinectimals for Xbox 360 version. You can import your favorite pet to your Windows Phone from your Xbox 360 by simply holding the phone up to the TV screen and capturing the QR code from the pet. The phone will recognize the code and add the pet to the mobile experience. Players can export their favorite mobile pets into their Kinect for Xbox 360 Kinectimals game by holding their Windows Phone up to their Kinect sensor which will read the QR code assigned to their pet and add it to their console experience. If players are logged onto their WP and Xbox 360 consoles with the same Xbox LIVE credentials, this process will happen automatically.”

That’s great news for Kinect owners. Kinectimals’ connectivity isn’t exactly using your Windows Phone and a Kinect simultaneously to control an Xbox 360 game, but it is the first interaction between the two devices. The last time we saw Xbox 360 connectivity of any sort was in Microsoft Game Studios’ Full House Poker.

Kinectimals on Xbox 360 is a combination adventure title/mini-game collection/pet simulator in which players adopt an exotic kitten on a mysterious island. It’s targeted towards kids, but I enjoy most of the mini-games and the overall sense of progression as new areas of the island, items, and animals are unlocked. I do wish harm on the narrator though, as his voice should be illegal in civilized countries. Thankfully his blithering can be turned off! Anyway, the Windows Phone version retains just about everything the console version is known for and adds a few new elements into the mix too. We’ll have more details soon.

Video highlights 9 upcoming Xbox Live games for Windows Phone

Today at Gamescom, Microsoft announced a ton of upcoming Xbox Live games. They have since provided a video that shows many of these games in action.

In the video:

  • Chickens Can’t Fly from Amused Sloth
  • Mush from Angry Mango
  • Fight Game Rivals from Khaeon Studios
  • Kinectimals from Frontier Studios
  • Toy Soldiers Boot Camp from Signal Studios
  • Orbital from BitForge
  • Shoot1UP from Mommy’s Best Games
  • Cro-Mag Rally from Pangea Software
  • Burn the Rope from Big Blue Bubble
  • Farm Frenzy 2 from Alawar Entertainment

You’ll notice that Shoot1UP wasn’t actually included in today’s announcement. But we do know it’s a 2D shooter and a port of an Xbox 360 indie game. We’ll have more details about the game soon.

Thanks Colin for the tip!