All Articles by Paul Acevedo | Windows Central

All Articles by Paul Acevedo

The last Xbox Live title we saw drop in price on Windows Phone 7 was Glow Artisan (Review) way back on February 10. I’m pleased to report that this week an astonishing three games have been reduced in price!

  • Max and the Magic Marker dropped from $6.99 to $4.99.
  • Rocket Riot is back to $4.99 again, down from $6.99.
  • Frogger was $2.99, but now it’s just $1.99. Frogger is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week.

Max and the Magic Marker is a puzzle-platformer in which the player draws objects directly into the game world via the touch screen. Our review found it to be extremely creative, though a tad overpriced at $6.99. The new price should be just right.

Rocket Riot is a side-view shooter with retro-inspired graphics. It controls exceptionally well for a touch-screen game and is just plain fun. At $6.99 I would have recommended that readers try before they buy, but $4.99 makes it a much more compelling purchase.

Frogger is a classic arcade game that, like Pac-Man, just doesn’t control well on a touch screen. But hey, it’s cheap! And we haven’t seen the $1.99 price point on Xbox Live titles before. Maybe other $3 games will become $2 games in the future too.

Every Xbox Live game for Windows Phone 7 has a free trial (not to mention delicious Achievements). You can get Max and the Magic Marker here (opens a link to your Zune software), Rocket Riot here, and Frogger h-e-r-e on the Marketplace. These price drops may not last forever, so don’t hesitate if you’re interested!

Update: We've learned that Frogger is on sale for one week, while Max and the Magic Marker and Rocket Riot's price drops are permanent.

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Two weeks ago, Castlevania graced Windows Phone 7 as an Xbox Live game. This Wednesday, another popular console franchise makes its mobile Xbox Live debut: I Love Katamari from Namco Bandai.

I Love Katamari is part of the Katamari Damacy series. In these games, the player is tasked with rolling up various objects, animals, and even people into a giant, sticky ball called a Katamari. This version of the game uses tilt controls to steer the ball. It also has a single Achievement worth a whopping 110 GamerScore, which has to be a Windows Phone 7 record. Just don’t expect that one to be easy: it’s awarded for rolling up every single item in the game, which will surely take a while.

Did I mention the graphics, sound, and pretty much everything about the Katamari series are completely wacky? Find out if you love Katamari too when it releases on Xbox Live this Wednesday.

Source: @KarlStricker

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Since we initially mentioned Haypi Kingdom, the first Massively Multi-player Online game for Windows Phone 7, the game has been updated twice. These updates come as no surprise - MMOs are huge, constantly evolving games. Let's look at what's been added or tweaked. Note that we've edited these a little for clarity and inserted our own comments.

Haypi Kingdom version change log:

  • Enhancement system added: You can improve your current equipment with enhancement stones, which can be attained via hunting, daily gift, competition or purchased from NPC. The enhancements can be made to create additional attribute points to your current equipment, enhancing your prowess on the battlefield.
  • Two new chest types (Gold and Silver) added: These special chests can be gained from war or as daily gifts. They need to be unlocked by coins and there are many alluring surprises in them including coins or valuable treasure. You can also choose to sell the chest to get money.

There's a lot more after the jump...

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The Harvest version 1.2 changelog

The Harvest, an Xbox Live action-RPG from Luma Arcade, received an update recently. Hey, when it rains, it pours. How has Luma's Windows Phone 7-exclusive title improved?

The Harvest v1.2.0.0 change log:

  • Fixed a bug that could cause a random crash to hub when loading save games due to non-thread safe access of Leaderboards
  • Fixed a bug in the French language version that would cause specific breakable objects to not be visible
  • Fixed a bug introduced in version 1.1 where players would start at the level entrance when loading a save game, if it was a game saved during game dialog
  • Fixes to the Teleporters in The Ancient City and The Catacombs to allow them to not cause players to be blocked if they had been affected by the level start save load bug from v1.1
  • Fixed a bug with game music not always starting properly after the Intro movie

As you can see, this update consists of numerous bug fixes. Luma Arcade actually submitted the update a month ago, but Microsoft’s slow approval process kept it from releasing until now. Shame on the big MS for the heel dragging, but kudos to Luma Arcade for further perfecting an already very impressive game.

The Harvest is an action-RPG set in a distant future in which aliens have conquered humanity. Thanks to the development of armored mech suits, the remaining pockets of humans finally have a chance to fight back. Our review praises the game’s beautiful 3D graphics, easy controls, multiple playable characters, and diversity of upgrade options.

The Harvest carries the lofty $6.99 price tag, but it’s definitely a top-tier Windows Phone 7 game. Buy it or try the demo here (Zune link) at the Marketplace.

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iBlast Moki version 1.1 changelog

iBlast Moki , the Xbox Live puzzle game from Godzilabs, received an update today. We thought you might like to know about what’s been changed.

iBlast Moki v1.1.0.0 changelog:

  • The controls are much better in the world and level list on HTC HD7.
  • Gold medal for Mountainland/Balance can be obtained with a time less than 3 secs instead of 1.4 secs
  • You can get the Achievement "Finished all levels ... " with the bronze medals
  • Fixed the purple screen of confusion that you could get on some phones.
  • Fixed the slowdown when unlocking the "Speed of …" Achievements
  • Also added a few instructions tutorial to guide the player in the levels Pond, Bounce and Wait Hills
  • Added a failed screen if the Moki falls below a certain limit

Previously, one level’s gold medal time was unattainable in the Windows Phone 7 version of the game, making an Achievement impossible to acquire. Thankfully that’s been fixed, along with the “Finish All Levels” Achievement’s requirements. The extra help text should be appreciated as the game’s puzzles eventually get quite devious. And of course, HTC HD7 owners will finally be able to run the game properly, so Samsung Focus users like me will have one less thing to gloat about.

iBlast Moki is a physics-based puzzle game for Windows Phone 7. Players are challenged with knocking one or more round ‘Mokis’ into goals using nothing but well-timed bombs to guide them. With over 70 levels and a bright, endearing art style, fans of puzzle games and Angry Birds should definitely give it a look. We’ll have a full review soon.

You can get iBlast Moki for $2.99 or try the free trial here (Zune Link) on the Marketplace.

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Twin Blades, an Xbox Live game from Press Start Studio, recently disappeared from the Marketplace. We contacted the developer to find out what happened, and the news is not great.

A PSP Minis port of Twin Blades was recently rated 'M' (Mature) by the ESRB. The Windows Phone 7 version of the game never received an ESRB rating. Microsoft has a 'no mature content' policy for Xbox Live games on Windows Phone 7. Because the ESRB decided the PSP version of Twin Blades is too gory for teens (it is fairly bloody, with the zombie decapitations and such), Microsoft pulled the game from the WP7 Marketplace. Twin Blades was never available on the Marketplace in Germany, where more violent games are almost universally banned.

Will Twin Blades return to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace? Press Start Studios is working on a solution with Microsoft to bring the game back, but no decision has been made yet so they can't say when it will come back.

We're disappointed at Twin Blades' loss as it was one of the meatier Xbox Live launch titles on Windows Phone 7. It featured lots of levels, weapons, a lovely gothic visual theme, and a surprisingly mature story. Oh, and plenty of violence against cartoonish zombies.

Will the tale of a gun and scythe-toting nun waging war against the undead return in watered down form? One has to question why mature Xbox Live titles are prohibited on Windows Phone 7 when a child would be incapable of even purchasing a Windows Phone 7 device. It seems Microsoft is trying to protect children from a platform that is almost exclusively available to adults. The iPhone version of Twin Blades, meanwhile, is still available for purchase.

We'll update when Twin Blades' final fate has been decided. In the meantime, people who already bought the game should absolutely not delete it from their mobile devices as it can't be redownloaded.

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Remember when we discussed the debut of Haypi Kingdom, the first MMO for Windows Phone 7? We were surprised to see a free to play game that is supported by microtransactions make it onto Microsoft’s mobile platform. After all, doesn’t Microsoft prohibit microtransactions in Windows Phone 7 games?

Developer Haypi Inc. kindly straightened out the matter for us. As it turns out, microtransactions are indeed forbidden on the platform. That’s why games like The Sims 3 that have lots of optional purchasable content on iPhone don’t offer the same downloadable content on WP7.

So how does Haypi Kingdom manage to sell players in-game coins for real life money? PayPal! You see, coins aren’t purchased through the client itself. When a player decides to make an optional coin purchase, the game launches an external web browser. Purchases are made through PayPal’s site, not the actual game, so Haypi Kingdom isn’t breaking any rules. UPDATE: The workaround has been removed - currently there's no in-game method for purchasing coins.

Haypi Kingdom’s payment model works the same way on Google’s Android platform, where microtransactions are also prohibited. Before coming to Windows Phone 7, Haypi Kingdom had already made a name for itself on Android and iPhone.

To read more on this ground breaking game and the Press Release from Haypi, follow the break.

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While Xbox Live games for Windows Phone 7 continue to remain online-only affairs, that hasn’t stopped indie developers from creating games with online play. Lately we saw Broiled Earth, a competitive artillery game, and now thanks to Haypi Kingdom, Microsoft’s mobile platform has its first MMO (Massively-Multiplayer Online game).

The game's description, according to Haypi Kingdom’s official website:

Haypi Kingdom is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). You will be a general directing an ancient kingdom in a strategic game - boosting resource production, adventuring in extensive wild land, reaping legendary treasures, equipping your troops with advanced abilities and fighting against enemies - with the ultimate goal of becoming the strongest kingdom in the ancient world. Your general can get higher title and more advanced attributes as he joins more and more battles. His attributes will be shared among his troops as well.

You won't play alone. In this massive multiplayer online game you will be able to interact with thousands of players from all over the world in a competition for fame, power, wealth and glory. What's more, there are plenty of possibilities to interact with others - Not only offense and defense, but also trade, alliance, mail system, chat system, etc.

Of special note is Haypi Kingdom’s revenue model. The game is free to play, but players can purchase in-game coins through optional microtransactions.

Coins can be used to speed up upgrades, enhance resource production, buy VIP time to add upgrading slots, buy resource or treasures, call back troops, and enhance your city loyalty immediately, etc. Coins can only [be] purchased with real money at "SHOP". Each player is awarded 30 coins when they first play the game.

Basically, coins allow impatient players to speed up various processes in the game. Smurf Village on iPhone and of course Farmville use similar payment models.

We previously heard from another developer that microtransactions were prohibited on Microsoft's mobile platform, so it’s surprising to see that may not be the case. Micro payments would certainly open up the door for more popular online games to come to WP7.

Gamers who are interested in a social role-playing experience on Windows Phone 7 can get Haypi Kingdom for free here (opens a link to your Zune software) on the Marketplace. We’ll have a full review of the game soon.

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Price Drop: Glow Artisan just $2.99

It’s been a while since we saw a price drop on an Xbox Live game for Windows Phone 7 (the last one was a temporary price drop for Rocket Riot). Now Glow Artisan has dropped from $4.99 to $2.99. The ~$3 price point is the most popular price for Xbox Live games, so Glow Artisan may see a significant jump in sales.

Glow Artisan is a unique puzzle game that centers on the use of colors. Players must recreate a pattern at the top of the screen by mixing colors on a grid of squares. Our review praises its simplicity, underlying depth, and range of gameplay options. Glow Artisan was developed by Powerhead Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios. Grab it for the new low price of $2.99 or give the free trial a spin here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

The last Xbox Live price drop didn’t last forever, so don’t drag your heels!

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Star Wars: Battle for Hoth (review) and Rocket Riot (review), two Xbox Live games for Windows Phone 7, both received updates this week, but no release notes in their store descriptions or anywhere else. So we contacted their developers, Fluffy Logic and Code Glue, for details.

Star Wars: Battle for Hoth v1.3.0.0 changelog:

  • Minor tweaks to difficulty of some levels based on user feedback
  • Fix for rare crash bug affecting players resuming paused games
  • Fix for trial version bug

Which levels got tweaked? The boss waves in the last five or so levels now have less health. It may not sound like much, but Battle for Hoth is a very challenging game. Every little bit helps!

Rocket Riot v1.1.0.0 changelog:

  • Controls improved

Rocket Riot controlled pretty well to begin with, but it’s nice to see Code Glue continuing to support the game after release. Now if only Namco would fix up the Windows Phone 7 version of Puzzle Quest 2…

Star Wars: Battle for Hoth is a tower defense game based on the iconic Hoth battle from The Empire Strikes Back film. It costs $4.99. Rocket Riot is a side-view shooter with retro-inspired graphics (full review soon). Though Rocket Riot had previously dropped to $4.99, its price is back up to $6.99. Both titles have free trials. You can grab Battle for Hoth here (opens a link to your Zune software) and Rocket Riot here in the Marketplace.

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