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Microsoft Studios

Microsoft's SmartGlass took center stage at E3 2012 and was rather impressive. SmartGlass aims to bridge entertainment and productivity from the Xbox console to computers, tablets and smartphones. A connection that will go beyond simply pausing a video on your Xbox console and picking it up on your Windows Phone. While we aren't sure how far reaching SmartGlass will be with developers, according to Phil Spencer, Corporate VP of Microsoft Studios, we should expect SmartGlass support to be a constant feature in all of Microsoft Studios games going forward.

"It just makes so much sense for a developer who wants to supply, maybe not time-critical information, like 'that enemy is getting ready to shoot you,' but information that augments what's happening on screen."

"'re even going to see situations like with Ascend, where there's actually gameplay that happens on the phone, even when you're away from your television and that interacts back with the online game that's happening."

We may see supplemental information appear on your Windows Phone while playing a game on the Xbox console or the game completely transfer to your Windows Phone when you walk away from the console. SmartGlass has the potential to seamlessly connect the three screens. Or is it four screens with tablets on the horizon?

Source: joystiq

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Wordament Goes Dutch on Windows Phone

Microsoft could probably leave Wordament exactly as-is and it would still keep many of us busy for, like, ever. But what if you don’t speak English, the language that yours truly wields like swords? Hey, the developers have got your covered. The Xbox Live version launched with English and Spanish, allowing muchas personas to enjoy the game.

Now Wordament’s Dutch language support has gone live as well. Not to be confused with the movie Dutch, the Dutch language is spoken in Holland and the Netherlands, of which Holland is a region. Microsoft plans to add several more European languages to the game in the future: French, Italian, German, and Swedish – sorry Portugal!

Wordament is free and supported by ads. Get it here on the Marketplace. We'll have a full review soon.

Update: Even Portugese could be in the cards.

Source:; via TrueAchievements

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Lately we’ve been fortunate enough to receive release dates for new Xbox Live games a week or two in advance – including this week’s release, Monster Island. Naturally Windows Phone gamers are already anxious to know about next week’s new game, and we can now put those anxieties to rest. Microsoft Studios has officially announced that the Xbox Live version of Wordament launches on April 25. The game prematurely appeared on the Marketplace’s list of Xbox Live games last week, but was not Live-enabled.

Wordament is already available as an indie game. The gameplay involves trying to find as many words as possible from a field of 16 letters, all within a time limit. The hook? You’re competing against hundreds of others in real-time over the internet. Visually it’s quite plain, but the multiplayer/leaderboard aspect is compelling.

Head past the break for the full story and an update from the game's developer.

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Last year, this writer paid a visit to Twisted Pixel Studios in Austin, TX to discuss their Kinect title The Gunstringer. Twisted Pixel is best known for their creative and irreverent Xbox Live Arcade titles, including The Maw, Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, and Ms. Splosion Man. Shortly after the visit, Microsoft acquired Twisted Pixel. I dared to hope that the move to first-party status would bring Twisted Pixel titles to Windows Phone, and what do you know…

Ms. Splosion Man, the larger-than-life sequel to Splosion Man, has now been announced for Windows Phone! In MSM (as I’ll now shorten it), players control the titular antihero. Like her male predecessor, she’s the result of scientific experimentation gone awry. MSM is a platformer, but unlike other games, the lead character doesn’t just jump, she ‘splodes to reach new heights. She’ll also ‘splode the hapless scientists and any other contraptions they’ve built that get in her way. It’s bright, cheerful, and extremely silly fun.  The XBLA game also provides quite a challenge, but I’m sure Windows Phone gamers are up to it.

Ms. Splosion Man gets around, as she’ll also be appearing on Windows Phone in her own themed table in the upcoming Windows Phone port of Pinball FX 2. The same table is already available in the XBLA original.

Twisted Pixel’s support of Windows Phone is terrific news, though not without a few caveats. They’re still calling the platform Windows Phone 7 in the trailer, which will look a bit dated as soon as Windows Phone 8 rolls around. More to the point, Ms. Splosion Man is also coming to PC, iPhone, and iPad. We’ve seen this happen with Kinectimals, Halo Waypoint, and several other Microsoft apps. Microsoft publishing titles for competing platforms sends mixed signals to consumers and nullifies a potential advantage of the Windows Phone platform. Exclusives help drive sales, after all. Why not just bring Halo 4 to Playstation 3 while they're at it? Oh well - we won’t spoil a new Windows Phone title reveal with further complaining.

Thanks to Dark Synopsis for the tip!

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BulletAsylum: Xbox Windows Phone Review

Does anybody remember the 1980 arcade game Missile Command? It was quite a hit back at the dawn of the vidja game phenomenon, though we haven’t seen too many modern sequels beyond the updated XBLA and iPhone versions. Indie developer UberGeekGames (one word) certainly seems familiar with Missile Command, and the tiny team has created a modern tribute in the form of BulletAsylum (also one word). Microsoft considers this a ‘Must Have Game,’ but sadly you won’t find much depth beneath its flashy exterior.

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Signal Studios’ XBLA Toy Soldiers games provide an inspired twist on the tower defense formula. The setting involves a conflict between two factions of army men, making for fun use of scale and nostalgia. The gameplay is unique because players not only purchase turrets to thwart incoming waves of attackers; they actually get to take control of said turrets and other vehicles, infusing the strategy with some much-appreciated action. The most recent entry, Toy Soldiers: Cold War also introduced a variety of minigames to keep players entertained between campaign missions. Now Krome Studios has shrunk some of those pint-sized minigames down into an even more compact package in Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp for Windows Phone.

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The Must Have Games 2012 promotion comes to a close with the highly anticipated Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp from Krome and Microsoft Studios.

Boot Camp is the mobile companion to Toy Soldiers: Cold War, an excellent XBLA game featuring a war between rival toy factions. The mobile version simply consists of three minigames taken from its big brother: ‘Fly Swatter’ (by far the most fun), ‘Cardboard Theater,’ and ‘Thread the Needle.’ All of them sport 3D graphics that closely match those of the original. Control options include swiping, tilting, or a virtual d-pad. The game also has a built-in screenshot function and global Leaderboards – two features we’d love to see used more often. You can check out our developer interview to learn more about both Cold War and Boot Camp.

Having earned all of Boot Camp’s Achievements already, I am a bit concerned about the game’s controls. While the variety of options is nice, none of them felt right to me. I highly advise trying the demo and judging for yourself. That said, the Achievements are almost entirely easy; you can get them all in an hour if you’re good enough.

Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

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Splinter Cell: Conviction may not be showing up on the Marketplace just yet, but the Xbox Live Deal of the Week has at least gone live. Orbital from BiteForge and Microsoft Studios is now on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

Orbital is all about shooting orbs into other orbs, destroying them and causing chain reactions. It’s got 3 modes of play, each of which changes the rules and aiming around a bit. The neon graphics are pretty enough. As I stated in our review, I really wanted to like Orbital, but it just never clicked for me. The aiming needs work, the game is unforgiving, and there’s no metagame tying it together. But a lot of people enjoy the game anyway, so you may want to give it a shot too.

Orbital is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Shoot on over here to the Marketplace to get it.

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Bullet Asylum is safe on the Xbox Live Marketplace

Following Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, the second Must Have Game of 2012 is now upon us. Bullet Asylum from UberGeekGames and Microsoft Studios has hit the Marketplace.

Bullet Asylum, which WPCentral previewed earlier this week, is a modern update to the classic Missile Defense formula. Aliens rain down from the sky and it’s up to your turrets to stop them. You can use a single finger to fire all your weapons at one area or two fingers to split the fire. Game modes include the extremely easy Arcade, an endless Survival mode that has no Achievements for some reason, and the frustratingly hard Architect mode. Seriously, what were they thinking with Architect?

That one mode notwithstanding, Bullet Asylum is a mostly easy shooter to zone out to. Plus it has the flashy neon graphics that we all love and a fair upgrade unlocking system... Just wait till you see the Peace Mode modifier; it’s a trip.

Bullet Asylum costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace and help stop those aliens!


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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: Breeze

While it’s tough for indie games to get noticed on Xbox 360, several of them have found new life as Xbox Live titles on Windows Phone. Breeze is the latest game to make the jump. Developed almost entirely by one person – Rob Hutchinson of Null City Software, Breeze doesn't quite share the scale of most other Xbox Live games. Thankfully it’s a free (and ad-supported) game, and should go over well with a wide variety of gamers.

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Today Microsoft and Arkadium, a developer of casual and social games (as well as socially casual games), announced a multi-year, multi-game publishing agreement. Microsoft Studios will bring several of Arkadium’s titles to multiple unnamed platforms over the next few years. Truth be told, the platforms have names, but the two companies just aren't sharing them yet.

Arkadium’s expertise is with highly casual Facebook and Flash games – they haven’t made of an impression in the mobile arena yet. Still, this agreement could be extremely promising. Arkadium’s best known title, Mahjongg Dimensions, is their single iPhone game of note (pictured below) and an extremely good candidate for a Windows Phone port. Dimensions basically brings the classic game of mahjong solitaire (AKA Shanghai) to the third dimension, allowing players to rotate the field of mahjong tiles as they search for matching pairs. Mahjongg Dimensions would also translate easily to Xbox Live Arcade, maybe even with Kinect support.

As for Arkadium’s hefty library of Flash games, Dethtris (pictured at top) would most appeal to the mainstream crowd. It mixes platforming with the falling block genre – kind of a reverse take on Tetris Plus. Here, players take on the role of a hapless young explorer as he runs, jumps, and climbs through bite-sized jungle-themed levels, collecting treasure and dodging giant falling blocks along the way. Dethtris could work on mobile phones thanks to its simple controls and short levels, but an Xbox Live Arcade release is even more likely. We’ve seen such a transition before with last year’s XBLA port of Fancy Pants Adventures, another Flash platformer from Armor Games and EA.

Of course, Arkadium’s press release does not mention actual titles, so that’s my own speculation. But the release does spell out the reasoning for both parties behind the deal. Arkadium wants to expand their development to new platforms, while Microsoft hungers for a piece of the social games pie. Hey, maybe the partnership will motivate the big MS to finally bring some actual social features to Windows Phone games! We can only dream…

Source: Arkadium via Joystiq. Thanks Mike to the Peck for the tip!

Head past the break for the full press release.

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Xbox Live: Zombies are now on teh Phone

One thing is for sure – Xbox Live absolutely does not have enough grungy top-down zombie shooters. The situation just got a whole lot better though, as Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) has crawled onto the Marketplace.

Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) (a title that absolutely begs to be copy and pasted rather than typed) is the Windows Phone port of popular-‘cause-it’s-cheap Xbox 360 indie game I MAED A GAEM W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1. Thankfully it includes a new game mode, 'Endless Zombies,' as well as the entirely new side-view shooter 'Time Viking.' It’s like two or three games for the price of one! Look past the intentionally basic yet chaotic visuals and you’ll find a challenging shooter with a nice sense of humor; just listen to the horrid but silly lyrical theme songs for proof. To learn more about the concept, check out our Xbox Live Developer Interview with the totally friendly and not indifferent creators at Ska Studios.

Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Pick it up here on the Marketplace and help stop those zombies!

Also, don’t forget the Xbox Live Deal of the Week, Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition, is now on sale for $2.99.

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The series of free, ad-supported Xbox Live games that began with Minesweeper and Sudoku now continues with Breeze. The new game comes from the same Microsoft producer as previous titles (Kirby Leung) and developer Rob Hutchinson at Null City Software. For more details about the game’s development (and original Xbox 360 version), check out our exclusive preview.

Breeze is basically a maze navigation name. In each level, players must blow the flower from the start to the goal, sometimes collecting Sunshine orbs in order to unlock the goal. Touch anything – a wall or moving obstacle – and you’ll have to retry the level. As such, managing the flower’s momentum plays an important role in keeping it safe.

I’ve enjoyed my short playtime with Breeze so far. Its 50 GamerScore of Achievements are seriously easy as they don’t even require playing on the Hardcore difficulty. I found the tilt controls actually work much better than touch. The problem with touch is that the flower moves in the opposite direction of where you touch the screen, making you have to think in reverse. Thankfully tilt just moves the flower in the direction of the phone’s tilt – not sure why touch couldn’t have worked the same way.

Breeze is now available in English speaking countries and will come to other regions at a later date worldwide. You can grab it here on the Marketplace.

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Xbox 360 version trailer

Last week we said that two Xbox Live games would hit the Marketplace this Wednesday the 14th. It turns out that wasn’t quite accurate… But don’t worry, it’s good news! Joining Battlewagon and Doodle God will be Breeze, for a total of three Xbox Live releases in one week!

What’s Breeze, you ask? We’ve got exclusive early details. The goal of Breeze is to navigate a flower through 60 maze-like outdoor levels. Each level has a goal that must be unlocked by collecting Sunshine orbs, plus dangerous obstacles like tree branches that can snag the fragile flower.

Instead of directly moving the flower around those hazards, you’ll control the wind that blows the flower – hence the name.  The game offers two control types: Touch and Tilt. Touch mode uses multi-touch controls; whatever points you touch acting as the source of the breeze. Tilt controls work as you’d expect, allowing players to control the breeze by moving their phones to and fro.

Breeze is a relaxing game, with lovely backdrops and a soothing soundtrack consisting of four songs (one for each in-game season). For those keeping score, that makes Breeze the first free, ad-supported mobile Xbox Live title with music. Getting back to the gameplay, the game also offers a Hardcore difficulty for players who like a challenge. Hardcore makes the flower larger, takes away the Air-Brake ability, and reduces the time limit of each level.


Breeze is the brainchild of Rob Hutchinson of Null City Software and will be published by Microsoft. Rob created the concept while university, and went on to publish the game as an Xbox Live Indie Game on Xbox 360 in August. While other Xbox Live Indie Games have graduated to Xbox Live games on Windows Phone, Breeze is the first to be distributed as a free, ad-supported game.

Almost here

The Windows Phone version of Breeze comes to English-speaking territories this Wednesday, December 14. It will require the Mango update. The Xbox 360 version is available right now for 240 Microsoft Points ($3). You can purchase it here.

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Remember Mini Squadron? It’s one of those Xbox Live games that was announced back in 2010 that still hasn't come out yet. We ran an exclusive preview of the Windows Phone version all the way back in April and yet the title never materialized. We’re proud to announce that changes this month, as Mini Squadron will finally launch on December 21!

A quick Mini Squadron refresher: the original game came from Supermono Studios. Fat Pebble handled the Windows Phone port, with Microsoft Studios acting as the publisher. Mini Squadron is a 2-dimensional aerial combat game. With over 60 unlockable aircraft (7 exclusive to Windows Phone) and 9 different maps (one exclusive), Mini Squadron will provide tons of plane-shooting fun.

Since we’ve already gone into detail about the gameplay and features, let’s check out the game’s soundtrack. Mini Squadron features ten midi remakes of classical tunes:

  • 'Canon in D' - Pachelbel
  • 'Fur Elise' - Beethoven
  • 'La Toupie from Jeux D’Enfants' – Bizet
  • 'Minuet' - Boccherini
  • 'Moonlight Sonata, 1st Movement' - Beethoven
  • 'Musette' – Bach
  • 'Ride of the Valkyries' – Wagner
  • 'Sugar Plum Fairy' - Tchaikovsky
  • 'Symphony No. 40' - Mozart
  • 'Waltz No. 8' – Tchaikovsky

Mini Squadron soars to Windows Phone on Wednesday, December 21 at the ground-level price of $2.99. It will not require Mango at launch, though a future update is likely.

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Not long ago, WPCentral broke the news that Shuffle Party, a new game from Babaroga and Microsoft Studios, would be released as a free download in the US this week. As promised, Shuffle Party is now available on Xbox Live. Even better? It appears to be available outside of the US too!

Shuffle Party is a shuffleboard/bowling game. Players aim the puck with the touch screen and then send it flying down the lane. The game has several modes of play, with the overall goal of earning money to purchase items from the Pro Shop.

What we didn’t mention last week was Shuffle Party’s sweet Xbox Live Avatar support. Between shots, the camera cuts to your Avatar, showing how he or she reacts to the game. It gives the game a great personal touch – nobody will accuse this one of being too sterile.


Shuffle Party is a free download and includes Achievements worth 50 GamerScore. We can confirm that the game is available in France as well as the US. Foreign readers, let us know if you’re able to grab it too. Here’s the download link.

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Microsoft is really starting to make true on the promises of connectivity between Xbox 360 and Windows Phone titles. This week’s Xbox Live release, Kinectimals allows gamers to transfer their personalized kitties to the console version and vice-versa. Next week we’re getting another ‘connected’ title in the form of Fusion: Sentient from developer Wahoo Studios (aka NinjaBee) and Microsoft Studios.

Fusion: Sentient is the portable companion to Xbox 360 title Fusion: Genesis (developed by Starfire Studios). Both titles release on the same day, but unlike Full House Poker, the Fusion games are much more distinct from each other. Sentient is a third-person strategy game. Visually, it closely resembles The Harvest but the gameplay is closer to BioWare RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic thanks to the turn-based nature of the combat.

Head past the break for more details on connectivity between Fusion: Sentient and Fusion: Genesis, screenshots, a trailer, and a free MP3 soundtrack.

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It’s been a while since we’ve published an Xbox Live Developer Interview. We haven’t been resting on our laurels though, and today we present another exciting look behind the creation of an upcoming game. The title in question is Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp, a Windows Phone-exclusive companion to the Toy Soldiers Xbox Live Arcade games. Both Signal Studios and Krome Studios contributed to Boot Camp’s development, and we had the pleasure of speaking with a member of each studio.

Head past the break for the full interview and exclusive screenshots of Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp’s gameplay.

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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.

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