All Articles by Paul Acevedo | Windows Central

All Articles by Paul Acevedo

Square Off isn’t the only Xbox 360 indie game launching on Windows Phone today. Decapod Studios’ Murphid has just debuted as well.

Murphid is a match-3 puzzle game with a twist. In games like Castlevania Puzzle, pieces fall from the top and players must quickly rotate and drop them into place. But in Murphid, the player’s piece is fixed at the top of the screen and doesn’t drop on its own. Players can either aim and send the piece straight down or swap it out with the next piece – no rotating here. Lining up three pieces of the same color causes them to disappear, often creating satisfying chean reactions. Since pieces don’t fall automatically, pressure in Murphid comes from the stack of blocks at the bottom of the screen’s constant rise.

Decapod’s puzzler boasts several modes - including a full campaign, as well as in-game Awards that function like Achievements. I’ve spent some time with the Xbox 360 version and look forward to taking the mobile version for a swing.

Murphid only costs $.99 and there is a free trial. Grab it here on the Marketplace.

Head past the jump for Murphid’s full announcement press release and feature list.

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Last week, super tough Earthworm Jim was the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. This week’s sale game is much easier. It’s Guitar Hero 5 from Glu Mobile and Activison.

On consoles, Guitar Hero has long been outdone by the excellent Rock Band series. Activision, Guitar Hero’s publisher, even made it a point to run the ‘Hero series into the ground by releasing numerous sequels and spin-offs every year. Bad mistakes, Activision’s made a few. But hey, Guitar Hero 5 is the only Xbox Live music game on Windows Phone. It’s committed no crimes. Plus it’s actually decent, with 32 songs from artists like Blink 182, David Bowie, and Garbage, and easy Achievements.

Guitar Hero 5 is on sale for $4.99 (the price it always should have been), down from $6.99. There is of course a free trial. Get your rock on here (Zune link) in the Marketplace.

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After three weeks of Game Room releases, we finally have a modern game for this week’s Xbox Live title. Enigmo, from Austin-based developers Pangea Soft and Chaotic Moon Studios (makers of The Revenants, see review), has now made the jump from iPhone and Windows Mobile to Windows Phone 7.

Enigmo features 50 levels of physics-based puzzles. The goal is always to force one or more liquids (water, etc.) into their matching receptacles. Players have a limited number of gadgets at their disposal to reflect and filter fluids in the right direction. Enigmo’s realistic physics are brought to life with some very clean 3D graphics. You’ll find more details and a list of Enigmo’s Xbox Live Achievements here.

Enigmo costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Grab the enigmatic puzzler here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve also learned that Pangea Software’s Cro-Mag Rally is coming to Xbox Live for Windows Phone. Indie developer Citizen 12 is very secretively handling the port. Yet we do know that Cro-Mag Rally is a caveman-themed kart racing game with 9 tracks and 11 drivable vehicles. Windows Phone needs a kart racer, so let’s hope it races to market soon.

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Square Off is now On... the Marketplace

Back in March we announced that Square Off, Gnomic Studios' popular indie game for Xbox 360, was coming to Windows Phone. We wouldn't lie to you. Just two months later, the game is now available on the Marketplace.

Square Off is a twin-stick shooter (now without physical sticks). Players take control of a Square Avenger who straps on a jetpack, a gun, and a smile in order to save the earth from alien invasion. Square Off has seven levels and a tutorial level. After each stage ends, the player can choose to Fight On and tackle endless waves of enemies until the Square Avenger is finally overwhelmed. The game features impressive 2.5D graphics in which 2D cartoon characters battle in front of detailed 3D backgrounds.

We’ve already put both console and mobile versions of Square Off through their paces. Check back this afternoon for our full Windows Phone review.

Square Off costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. If you agree it’s hip to be square, grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

Note: Daniel Rubino here, been playing this for a week--you'll definitely want to try it. Soo cool.

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This week’s Xbox Live title is Enigmo, a physics-based puzzle game. Enigmo sort of blind-sided us as we hadn’t heard about it coming to Windows Phone until recently, but now we’ve got some concrete details to share with you.

Enigmo was originally developed by Austin-based developer Pangea Software. It debuted on the strange and foreign Mac platform before making a successful run on iPhone. It’s also been released on the Windows Mobile platform – anybody remember that one?

We’ve already seen a physics-based puzzler on Xbox Live in the form of iBlast Moki. Enigmo is a little bit like that, but the goal is to direct streams of liquids into the appropriate receptacles using various gadgets. The Windows Phone version of Enigmo features sharp 3D graphics and 50 puzzles to solve. It was developed by Chaotic Moon Studios, also located in Austin, and will cost $2.99.

Head past the break for our exclusive reveal of Enigmo’s Xbox Live Achievements and the game’s debut trailer.

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It’s Xbox Live game updates day at WPCentral. First we covered the news of Full House Poker and Hexic Rush’s updates, and now we’re revealing the recent update contents of Pocket God (review) and Puzzle Quest 2.

Pocket God version 1.1 changelog:

  • Added the Double Rainbow All The Way Across The Sky episode
  • Miscellaneous bug fixing and optimization tweaks

The iOS version of Pocket God receives regular updates, called Episodes. It has 38 episodes so far. Prior to the version 1.1 update, the Windows Phone version only included the first 32 episodes. Double Rainbow is actually episode 35, which means two episodes have been skipped. The missing episodes both involve a new area, Ape Mountain, that hasn’t made it to WP7 yet.

What changes does Double Rainbow All The Way Across The Sky bring? According to Wikipedia, it "adds the ability to draw a double rainbow in the sky (referring to the internet meme). The Pygmies will react to the rainbow. This is the first update where the Pygmies can actually talk, when showing reactions from the double rainbow.”

Pocket God’s Achievements are notoriously difficult, which is surprisingly given the game’s utterly casual nature. NGMOCO, the developer who handles the Windows Phone port of Pocket God, assures us that Achievement difficulty will be addressed in a future update. Hopefully Ape Island makes it into the next update too. At any rate, Pocket God fans should be glad to know that NGMOCO hasn’t forgotten them.

Puzzle Quest 2 version 1.1 update includes:

  • The Cheating AI and PWNT! Achievements are now attainable.

Nobody likes glitched Achievements, so it’s good to see Namco has fixed Puzzle Quest 2’s. Now if they’d only fix the game’s lofty price… Puzzle Quest 2 is a puzzle RPG, not unlike Castlevania Puzzle. The original console Puzzle Quest is one of my all-time favorite games. We’ll review the slightly less impressive Windows Phone sequel sometime soon.

You can find Pocket God for $2.99 here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. Puzzle Quest 2 is a much steeper $6.99 here. Both games have free trials. God save the Prince, gov'nah. Cheerio!

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Two Microsoft Game Studios titles recently received software updates – Full House Poker (review) and Hexic Rush (review). We’ve worked tirelessly from the moment they were updated to find out just what was changed, and it has finally paid off. Don’t say we never did anything for you!

The following issues were fixed in the Full House Poker version 1.1 update:

If listening to Zune music while playing the game, and you turned the game music volume all the way down (in the game settings), after exiting the game, you could no longer turn up the volume on your Zune music without rebooting the phone.  The game music slider no longer controls the Zune music volume as that’s what the phone volume buttons control.

If you tombstoned during a tournament at the right time, when you went to continue your game the blinds would reset to 5/10.  This was very frustrating in a high buy in game or late in a tournament where they should be much higher.

It’s great to have both of these issues fixed. However, Our own George Ponder has recently experienced a separate problem with his temporary save game (not the permanent one) disappearing, so we hope to see that tackled in the future.

Hexic Rush version 2.3 update:

The Hexic update was to fix a NoDo media playback change in XNA. 

What’s that, you want more details? It’s pretty technical … Microsoft XNA developer Nick Gravelyn’s blog explains that post NoDo update, Windows Phone applications and games are no longer able to mute or alter the volume of the Zune media player, should audio files be presently active. Not a very exciting title update, but it’s nice to see that Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about Hexic Rush.

There you have it! You can get Full House Poker here and Hexic Rush here. Both games cost $2.99 and have free trials.

Thanks to WPCentral’s Richard Edmonds for help in deciphering the XNA blog post.

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We were originally told that two Game Room titles, Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall!, were coming to Xbox Live on April 20. The date rolled around and Pitfall! was nowhere to be seen, breaking my fragile gamer heart. I can stop crying man tears now as Pitfall is finally available on the Marketplace.

Pitfall! was originally an Atari 2600 game from Activision. It was a huge hit in 1982 thanks in large part to its groundbreaking graphics. The lead character, Pitfall Harry, is made up of 4 unique colors, a level of detail so amazing that - I believe - it used to give children nosebleeds. Harry must run, swing from vines, and jump on top of alligator’s mouths across 255 unique screens as he searches for 32 lost treasures. Pitfall! is an adventure so exciting that Activision legally had to include an exclamation mark in the title so as not to fatally surprise people with its awesomeness.

Being a Game Room title, Pitfall! includes a 3D recreation of an Atari 2600 console, historical data and detailed instructions, friends and global leaderboards, and 10 Achievements.

You can purchase this slice of platform gaming history for $2.99 or try the free trial. Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Last week, a game that’s meant to multiplayer but isn’t went on sale and the Xbox Live gaming public collectively yawned. This week, we get something a little more interesting…

Earthworm Jim HD is on sale for $2.99, down from the regular price of $4.99.

Earthworm Jim is a faithful port of the classic Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo platforming game that was originally developed by Shiny Entertainment. It stars an earthworm who has been given super powers by an alien space suit. EWJ (as his friends call him) thwarts enemies both with a pistol and by whipping them with his own earthworm body. The creative cast of bosses includes Bob the Killer Goldfish, Evil the Cat, and Queen Slug-for-a-butt. In addition to lovely hand-drawn art, Earthworm Jim also features a stellar soundtrack. Just be warned that the touch-screen controls aren’t the best and the Achievements are fairly hard.

Earthworm Jim is $2.99 for one week only, and there is a free trial. Snap it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. 

Update: Also, Assassin's Creed - Altaïr's Chronicles HD (see our review) has also dropped from $6.99 to $4.99. That's here in the Marketplace.

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Avatar Gadgets now free as a bird

Avatar Gadgets has always been an odd piece of software. It’s lumped in with the Xbox Live games, but it’s not a game. It’s just a collection of utilities. If you buy it, it sits there at the top of your games list, mocking you with its non-gameness and lack of Achievements. It does use your Xbox Live avatar though, so there is a tenuous Xbox Live connection.

Avatar-Inspector-Gadgets is also the only Xbox Live product on Windows Phone that regularly sells at the 99 cent price point (everything else starts at $2.99). At least, it used to be 99 cents… Avatar Gadgets is now free!  Our review praises the Zippo lighter gadget and the product’s overall novelty. Now that it’s free, you have no excuse not to try it for yourself - other than the aforementioned space it takes up at the top of the games list, natch.

Grab Avatar Gadgets here on the Marketplace for the low price of zero cents. Will it be free forever? Probably, but we have contacted Microsoft just in case and will update this article when we know for sure.

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Seesmic, the free Twitter/Facebook app, received a major update today. Watch out! With all these new features, it's only a matter of time before the app outgrows its human oppressors.

Seesmic version 1.5 changelog:

Improved user experience: We worked hard to improve the user experience with the context menus, and we hope you'll agree that the experience is slicker than ever before.
Saleforce Chatter: We improved the UI to make navigation more intuitive.
Speak a tweet: Yes, tweets read outloud to you! We are not kidding!
Trend integration: Check out "What The Trend".
SMS Integration: Send a tweet via SMS.
Hyperlinks: You choose how you would like to open hyperlinks, either in-app browser or Internet Explorer.
Spring cleaning: Yes, we got rid of a few pesky issues in Facebook timelines and complications with Twitter logins.

The Speak a tweet option is the most promising new feature. You just click on a tweet, expand the menu at the bottom of the screen, and choose ‘Speak.’ Seesmic then reads your tweets back in a frightening robotic voice, but it’s still a great idea. I’d like a Speak button to join the Reply, Retweet, and Favorite buttons at the bottom of the screen instead of having to expand the menu first. The feature seems like it would be most useful while on the road or when your hands are otherwise full, so less clicks is better.

Seesmic is a great way to tweet and check your Facebook feed and messages. Pick it up here in the Marketplace.

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Earlier this week we reported that two Game Room titles, Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall, would be this week’s Xbox Live releases. Windows Phone retro gamers will have to wait a little longer for their Atari 2600 fix, as Pitfall didn’t come out today after all. I was jumping at the chance to play it, but I doubt legions of people will be disappointed at this news.

On the bright side, Asteroids Deluxe made it out the gate. The sequel to Asteroids, Deluxe is an arcade game that Atari published in 1980. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting both asteroids and aliens. It uses vector graphics in which everything is composed of lines, not unlike upcoming Must-Have game geoDefense. As part of the Game Room series, Asteroids Deluxe has a 3D arcade cabinet, seriously great Leaderboards, and 10 Achievements that are awfully similar to Centipede’s.

Asteroids Deluxe is $2.99, and like all Xbox Live games there is a free trial. Classic gaming fans can grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

Head past the jump for our CES video of Asteroids Deluxe and Shao-Lin's Road.

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The Xbox Live Deal of the Week program has featured a few high-quality games so far – Rocket Riot and last week’s Carneyvale come to mind. They can’t all be winners though, as this week’s deal proves…

Uno HD is now on sale for $2.99, down from the regular, crazy price of $4.99.

Our Uno HD review praises the game’s interface, features, and gameplay experience. However it does criticize the game’s price, so $2.99 seems fairer. But I have to wonder, how many gamers are dying to play a single-player version of Uno for any price? Anyone???

Uno HD is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. There’s also a free trial, which you might want to try before buying… Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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Last week, Centipede - a very nice arcade port and Game Room title - hit Xbox Live. This week, Microsoft follows up with two more Game Room games: Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall.

Asteroids Deluxe, like Centipede, is an arcade game that Atari published in 1980. Players pilot a ship through an asteroid field, blasting both asteroids and aliens. The arcade version of Asteroids Deluxe is unique for a couple of reasons. First, it featured vector graphics (instead of traditional sprites, everything is composed of lines) that were tinted blue by a transparent overlay. Behind the vector graphics, a printed backdrop added a bit more color. Second, unlike most arcade games, Asteroids Deluxe did not use a joystick for movement. Instead, individual buttons turned the ship left or right and cause it to accelerate. This control style should translate well to Windows Phone, though touch screen buttons will never provide the tactile feedback of real ones.

Pitfall is actually an Atari 2600 game, not an arcade game. Activision's bestseller featured multicolored, non-flickering sprites, a first for its home platform. Donkey Kong may be the first true platform game, but Pitfall pioneered many platform elements. Instead of being confined to a single screen, the game’s star, Pitfall Harry explored a level consisting of 256 different screens. The objective is to find 32 lost treasures within 20 minutes. Pitfall’s simple controls (run left, right, and jump) are a great match for mobile gaming.

As Game Room titles, both games will feature 3D arcade cabinet recreations (Pitfall has an Atari 2600 sitting on an arcade cabinet), historical data and detailed instructions, friends and global leaderboards, and 10 Achievements.

Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall will debut on Wednesday, April 20th for $2.99 (12 quarters) a piece.

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MonsterUp weekend sale

We’ve lavished plenty of praise on Karios Games’ MonsterUp in our review and coverage of its frequent updates. MonsterUp is a Doodle Jump-clone that surpasses the original in many ways. It’s also that very rare thing, a truly high-quality indie game for Windows Phone.

MonsterUp is already a great value at its standard price of $1.99. That’s why it’s exciting to announce that the game is on sale for half off this weekend, April 16-17. Grab it now and start unlocking a variety of lovable jumping monsters!

Grab MonsterUp here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. There is a free trial, but for 99 cents, what have you got to lose?  Not familiar with MonsterUp?  Follow the break for a video demo.

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An amazing two weeks ago, we brought you the news of this week’s Xbox Live releases and their prices, and now our prediction has come true. Harbor Master and Centipede are finally available on the Marketplace.

Harbor Master is a line-drawing game from Imangi Studios in which players direct incoming ships to port. Once the ships unload their cargo, they must also be sent safely on their way. It features seven levels with cool hazards like pirates and sea monsters. For more information, check out our exclusive preview.

Centipede is a faithful emulation of the hit 1980 arcade game from Atari (the Windows Phone port comes from Krome Studios). Players control a garden gnome who fends off invading centipedes and other vile bugs. Centipede is also the first Game Room title for Microsoft’s mobile platform. These arcade ports include bonus content like 3D recreations of the original arcade cabinets as well as historical data. WP7 Game Room games share Leaderboard data with the Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Live (PC) versions.

Both games costs $2.99 and have free trials. Grab Harbor Master here and Centipede here (Zune links) on the Marketplace.

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It’s time for the Meal of the Week! What’s that, you already ate? Let’s do the Deal of the Week then. This week’s deal is Carneyvale: Showtime from Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. Man, that’s a mouthful. Anyway, the game is on sale for $1.99, down from the regular price of $2.99.

In Carneyvale, players launch a clown into the air, dodging obstacles and trying to send him through a flaming hoop. Prior to debuting on Windows Phone 7, it won all kinds of indie awards. Our review praises the level design and replay value of the game. Be warned that it’s got some tough Achievements, but they should be attainable with practice.

Carneyvale Showtime costs $1.99 on the marketplace, but just for one week. There is a free trial, though it doesn’t show the more interesting levels that come later in the game. Try your hand and win a prize by grabbing it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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When WPCentral reviewed Women’s Murder Club, a launch Xbox Live title from I-play, we lamented the title’s general bugginess and its requiring a Wi-Fi internet connection in order to view and unlock Xbox Live Achievements. Imagine this reviewer's surprise then to find these problems rectified in a software update this week. Not only that, but I-play’s other Xbox Live games, Bubble Town 2 and Fast & Furious Adrenaline have just been updated as well.

All three titles are now version 1.1 and share identical release notes:

General Bug Fixes and Achievement Updates

We don’t know exactly which bugs got squashed, but the Achievements improvement is readily apparent: users can now view and receive Xbox Live Achievements without being online. The online requirement was never really a deal breaker, but it’s still terrific to see it go.

Women’s Murder Club is a hidden-object game with mild puzzles. Read our review here. Bubble Town 2 is a Bust-a-Move/Puzzle Bobble clone - in other words, a fast-paced puzzle game. Fast & Furious Adrenaline is a 3D racing game that is overshadowed by the superior Need for Speed Undercover.

Grab Women’s Murder Club for $2.99 here, Bubble Town 2 for $2.99 here, and Fast & Furious Adrenaline for $4.99 here on the Marketplace. All three games have free trials.

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Mini Squadron - Exclusive preview

MiniSquadron is already a hit on iOS and Android devices. Microsoft approached the game’s creator, UK-based Supermono Studios, and asked them to bring the game to Xbox Live. Supermono promptly teamed up with Fat Pebble to do the conversion. We spoke to Fat Pebble about the game, and now we’re bringing you this exclusive preview.

MiniSquadron, as you might expect, involves planes. Lots of ‘em. Players battles hoards of aerial opponents in a two-dimensional space. Controlling the plane is as simple as changing the pitch (the angle of its nose) with a virtual analog stick. This lets you pull off a variety of loops and other maneuvers as you chase down enemy planes and dodge oncoming attacks. Just don’t fly too high or the plane will stall and nosedive; hit the ground and you’ll crash and burn. Horizontal level boundaries just bounce planes safely away.

Incoming fire won’t bounce off so safely, though players and enemies alike can take a few shots before going down. Every aircraft comes equipped with one of seven weapon types, including cannons, missiles, fireballs, lasers, and more. Each type has its own variations, with different damage, firing speed, and range. Blasting enemies without getting hit yourself increases a combo multiplier, so skillful players will earn higher scores.

Fly past the jump for screenshots and details about MiniSquadron’s new Windows Phone features.

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It’s time for another Xbox Live Deal of the Week! Get ready to roll around the town with Uncle Pennybags, because this week’s sale title is Monopoly, down from $4.99 to the sale price of $2.99.

The Windows Phone 7 version of Monopoly was developed by Babaroga Interactive (makers of Zombies!!!) and published by Electronic Arts.  Our Monopoly review praises its faithfulness to the original board game and support of customizing the game rules. We would have liked to see online multiplayer, but it does at least support local multiplayer. The Deal of the Week price should make offline-only Monopoly a lot more palatable. This also raises hopes that we may see other Electronic Arts titles go on sale eventually – I’m looking at you, Sims 3!

Monopoly goes on sale sometimes after midnight tonight, and the sale lasts for one week. It will cost $2.99, and there is a free trial. Grab it here on the Marketplace.

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