Xbox on Windows Phone: Gerbil Physics update details and mini-interview

Way back in June, Windows Phone Central teased that Xbox game Gerbil Physics would be receiving a substantial update. In fact, we even suggested some of the changes that made it into the update, which is now live. Head past the break for update details and exclusive screenshots, plus a mini-interview with Pencel Games.

Gerbil Physics version 1.1 release notes:

  • Another 12 new levels and new artwork
  • Improved UI based on your feedback
  • Various minor gerbil tweaks

New levels: The game originally had 72 levels, so the new stages push it up to 84 total levels. Players must complete the previous levels in order to access them. The new ones feature a darker, fiery theme.

The good news is they actually make several Achievements easier to earn! See, several of the game’s Achievements are cumulative in nature: score 40,000 points; collect 16 Wipeouts; and several for earning specific numbers of gold chests (ratings) on levels. Previously, to get the toughest Achievement, ’72 Gold Chests,’ you had to beat every single level with a Gold rating. Now that the game has 84 levels, players have 12 extra opportunities for Gold chests.

Improved UI: Before the update, it was difficult to tell the requirements for earning a Gold chest during the level itself – the game only told you when you failed. Similarly, you could only tell which levels were eligible for ‘Wipeouts’ from the level select screen, not during the level. After completing a level, the game automatically moved on to the next level. This made retrying levels for better scores more of a chore than necessary.

All of these issues were fixed in the update. The pause screen now displays Gold chest and Wipeout requirements, so you can easily check how well you need to do. After completing a level, you’re given the option to retry it, return to the level select menu, or continue on to the next level. So nice!

The only improvement I really hoped or that didn’t make the cut is the addition of a Retry button during non-paused gameplay. Many physics puzzlers like iBlast Moki and Implode have such a button, making it fast and easy to restart a level. In Gerbil Physics, you have to pause a level by hitting the Back button and then choose to retry – an extra step. It’s a minor annoyance.

Developer Mini-Interview

Without further ado, here’s a quick interview with Kevin Small, head of Pencel Games.

Do you have any concrete plans for future updates that you'd like to share with our readers?

No concrete plans, no.  Speculative plans to do an avatar award (pending MS saying yes), and we'd still like to do the language translations (also subject to MS) but these I could not say are concrete.

One interesting thing is looking at the metrics coming in since the TU went live - the biggest market is the US of course, but the 2nd biggest market is Brazil, and only a few percentage smaller audience!  Very surprised by that; and kind of nice to see we have international appeal.  The voice actress who did all the gerbil voices is Brazilian, so she was pleased to see that too. (Perhaps releasing games in Brazil is worth the hassle after all. –ed.)

If you live in the US near a MS Retail Store, then you should be seeing large print versions of the Gerbil Physics game tile sometime soon. They are planning to promote it in their ‘Kids Corner’ section.

Cool! Looking to the future, have you made any Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 plans? An Xbox Live-enabled Windows 8 port of Gerbil Physics would be awesome.

We've been researching Windows 8 and very speculatively might do something, but… there is not as yet an easy way to port XNA games to it.  I went on one of those Windows 8 developer boot camps last week and their advice was to use MonoGame to allow XNA games to run on Windows 8, so there may be some potential there - but realistically I think we'll wait and see how many other games successfully release using MonoGame.  From experience it can be tough being too close to the "cutting edge" and waiting for things to stabilize makes development more fun!

[Gerbil Physics will] be available on Windows Phone 8 as a backwards-compatible title. No plans to release a Windows Phone 8-specific build.

Gerbil Physics costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Windows Phone Store. We’ll have a full review soon!

Paul Acevedo

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!