Windows Phone 7 Xbox LIVE Roundup – Volume One
It’s coming up to the first year anniversary of the Windows Phone 7 platform and there’s no denying that it has made a few waves. With its crystal clear displays, fast processors and Xbox LIVE integration there have been quite a lot of gamers over that first year that have made the move from the iPhone as their major gaming device while on the move, to the Windows Phone 7. Is that move warranted however? Are there any games out there that you’ve missed? Well, we here at GodisaGeek.com are here to make sure that you’ll always have something new to whet your appetite with and, as such, we’re delighted to welcome you to the very first Windows Phone 7 Xbox LIVE Game Roundup.
All of the titles discussed in this roundup are available right now through the Windows Phone 7 marketplace. Just go to the ‘Marketplace’ app on your device, press the search button, type in the name of the game you want and enjoy yourself!
These games were reviewed on the HTC 7 Trophy, you can read the review over at our sister site Sporkings.com.
PUZZLE QUEST 2:
When the first Puzzle Quest game came out on the Nintendo DS I couldn’t put it down, the combination of fantasy RPG complete with all of the mechanics people are used to, together with a puzzle element similar to Bejeweled almost guaranteed from the moment I’d pressed the start button that it would be a game that I’d get a great deal of enjoyment from. When Puzzle Quest 2 came out I was there again, front and centre, ready to envelope my life in those multi coloured spheres and skulls. When it was released for the Windows Phone 7, complete with those shiny achievements, I knew that despite its relatively high price tag, I had to buy it all over again.
The main game mechanic of Puzzle Quest 2 consists of lining up 3 or more of the same coloured spheres, each of which consist of a different magic type. Lining them up causes the amount of that particular type of magic that the player currently has to increase. Once they’ve generated enough they will be able to cast a spell or attack that will either damage their opponent or defend themselves. On top of being able to cast defensive and offensive moves the player can also line up 3 or more skull symbols which will do direct damage to the opposing player every time. The skill comes from trying to decide whether you’ll be in a better position if you directly attack your opponent or try and save up all your magic to see if you can put together a bigger chain of attacks. The ability to touch the coloured spheres in order to swap them during the main puzzle portion of the game means that all of the actions always feel very intuitive and will be very easy to pick up by almost anyone that happens upon it. The only downside with the controls comes from the ‘Quest’ part of the title. With the Nintendo DS version of the game the player has a stylus, which makes it easy to tap on the tiny sprites of people that you’re supposed to talk to, but with the Windows Phone 7 however, the player will have to tap on them with their finger meaning that a lot of the time they will find themselves tapping on the wrong thing, or on nothing at all.
All of the characters and images in Puzzle Quest 2 look sharp and highly detailed and all look amazing on the high definition display of the Windows Phone 7 devices. It looks much better than it does on the Nintendo DS version of the game, which would be down to the quality of the screen, but considering that the Nintendo DS version of the game is significantly more expensive then you know you’re getting your moneys worth with this particular version. The puzzle part of the game looks a little bit better than the quest part in general but the difference in quality between the two in terms of quality is so slight that most people will never really notice.
If you’re a fan of the first game in the series, or even a fan of Bejeweled or Tetris and other puzzles games within that vein then you’re going to love Puzzle Quest 2. The addition of Achievements and the Xbox LIVE integration just gives what was already an amazing game an added layer of polish which will almost guarantee hours of fun for absolutely anyone who decides to lay down the cash for it.
FULL HOUSE POKER:
First and foremost, if you’re expecting the mobile version of Full House Poker to be exactly the same as the Xbox LIVE Arcade game of the same name then you’re going to be a little disappointed. The best way to explain the Windows Phone 7 version of Full House Poker is that it’s a nice little side project from the main game, you can use your own Xbox LIVE avatar and all the achievements that you gain while you’re playing add onto your main LIVE account and gamerscore, but you won’t get the complete Full House Poker experience until you download the Xbox LIVE Arcade version.
If you’ve ever played Texas Hold ‘Em poker before then you’ll already know how to play Full House Poker. If not however, there’s a full tutorial built into the game that will enable people who’ve never played before to put on their poker face within only a couple of minutes. All of the controls within the game are very intuitive consisting of flicking the cards into the middle of the table to fold, and the rest of the controls being simply clicking buttons that appear along the bottom of the screen. There’s also a little bit of interaction built into the game allowing players to tap on the avatars of their opponents in order to see some details about who they’re currently facing off against. This adds a nice little touch to what could otherwise be seen as a relatively bland game.
The visuals in Full House Poker do well with what they’re given, as there’s not much you can do with a poker game. As long as you’ve got the table and the people sat around it in there somewhere then there’s not much else to add. The game makes use of Xbox LIVE Avatars in order to fill out the table and this (especially when playing with friends) makes the game look much better than it could have done if it had gone down the route of using names only. Players also have the ability to customise their experience by changing what pattern their decks have along with what the pattern of the table is. This adds a nice little touch but it’s ultimately something that not many people will spend time doing, most people will want to get down to playing some poker and that’s about it.
If you’ve played the Full House Poker game that’s currently available for the Xbox LIVE Arcade and are looking for a companion while you’re on the move then this Windows Phone 7 version of the game is exactly what you’re looking for; but only if you’re looking for a companion version. If you’re looking for a port of the Xbox LIVE Arcade version brought into the mobile world then you’re going to be a little bit disappointed. The Windows Phone 7 version of Full House Poker is a stripped down, condensed and streamlined version of that Xbox LIVE Arcade experience, it’s poker at its most bare and for that, is an excellent game, but not as good as it could have been.
Most people will probably have played Bejeweled before, even if it’s only been for five minutes, it’s absolutely everywhere, so why should the Windows Phone 7 be any different? Well, it’s not! Bejeweled LIVE is the Xbox LIVE enable version of the popular gem popping game we all know and love, it comes complete with Xbox LIVE connectivity, Achievements and all the gameplay and addictive little nuances that almost all of us have grown to love.
The gameplay within Bejeweled LIVE, along with all the other versions of the title (as if you didn’t already know) revolve around matching 3 or more of the same type of gem within the same row, causing them to explode and give you points. Filling up the little bar to the left hand side of the screen with cause the level to end and you’ll move on to the next level, this continues ad infinitum. There are three modes available for play; ‘Classic’, ‘Action’ and ‘Endless’, all of which offer almost the same game with a slight twist on the proceedings, enough to keep most people interested. As with the puzzle portion of Puzzle Quest 2, all of the controls involve touching the screen in order to swap the gems in order to get rid of them and, as such, it’s a very intuitive game to play, more likely than not helping towards the success of the game on the whole. Even someone who’s never played a single game in their life could look at Bejeweled LIVE after being told the basics about what the game expects from them, and instantly be able to play it.
The visuals of Bejeweled LIVE are the same as what we’ve come to expect from the popular casual franchise. All of the images look crisp and clean on the high definition display and the little animation that’s played between each of the levels look as good as it has done on any other device that Bejeweled has appeared on, including the PC and Xbox 360. The sound can get a little bit frustrating after long periods of play, as the background music never really changes much and most players, after a little bit of practice, will be able to explode the gems at such a rate that the little explosion sound, which is rather satisfying at first, soon gets annoying.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games in general then you’ve probably already played Bejeweled, whether it’s as part of an add-on for other games or on its own almost everybody has played it. That being said a lot of people are migrating over to the brand new Windows Phone 7 operating system and they might not be aware that Bejeweled LIVE even exists. Well now you do know, and it’s one of the best versions of the game to date. The mobile aspect of the device that it will be played on means that you’re not tied to any one place and the addition of Achievements and all the other Xbox LIVE aspects that being on the Windows Phone 7 platforms allows, means that Bejeweled LIVE is the definitive version of the game for puzzle lovers with an addiction to their gamerscore.
PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES:
Everybody knows what Plants Vs. Zombies is and, if you’re like most of the staff here at God is a Geek then you’ve already bought it once or twice (or a lot more). There have been versions of it out for just about every device known to man and now it’s here for the Windows Phone 7 devices. What’s so special about that? I’ll give you one word to start things off; Achievements.
The main gameplay focuses on keeping the endless amount of zombies from entering your house, and in order to do that you must place down plants, often in a very specific order, so that they can help you to defend your humble abode. You will unlock a plethora of different plants, all with their own unique abilities. Some will be able to take down multiple zombies at once but will need to be replanted once they’ve served their use, while others will be difficult to kill but only do a small amount of damage. It’s up to you as the player to decide which plants are going to be the most useful on every level. The controls are all touch based and as such playing Plants Vs. Zombies feel very intuitive from the get go. The only real downside to playing on a phone, which can often be rather small, is that with the sheer amount of plants that are available some people may find it difficult to tap the plant they’re wanting accurately, especially those people with less dexterous fingertips. The most impressive aspect of Plants Vs. Zombies on the Windows Phone 7 is the integration with the Xbox LIVE network, meaning that you’re getting the added benefit of being able to unlock Xbox LIVE Achievements while you’re playing on your phone, adding points to your total gamerscore. Who wouldn’t love that?!?
The visuals of Plants Vs. Zombies are as stunning as we’ve come to expect from the title when it has been seen on other devices. The high definition display of all of the phones that have the Windows Phone 7 operating system certainly lends itself to the crisp and clear images that the game will present to you. All of the animations, for both the plants and zombies, look amazing despite them being smaller than most people are used to, depending on the size of your particular handset’s screen of course. All of the text in all of the menus are easy to read and are displayed with the same high definition graphics that the rest of the game enjoys which is something that could have easily been overlooked by the developers.
If you’ve read this article until this point and you’re not already on the Windows Phone Marketplace downloading Plants Vs. Zombies then go and do it now, you won’t be disappointed. People who have never played the game before, and people who have bought it on any device it’s been released on will all enjoy this new portable version of the title. If you’ve ever wanted to get some Xbox LIVE Achievements while you’re on the train to work, and having a massive amount of fun while you’re at it, then go and get Plants Vs. Zombies right now.