Windows Phone 7 Games Catch-All

I read that Nokia is trying to get their WP8 phone out in September to beat the competition, but it will probably be October along with Samsung and HTC.

Crimson Dragon: Side Story is a surprisingly competent sh'mup. The problem of virtual-Dpad controls has been solved by restricting the player's movement to a single axis. In most horizontally scrolling shooters, you tend to hug the left side of the screen anyway, so they've simply removed the option to move left-right. And it works really well. Left thumb moves the player up and down, right thumb shoots (3 different weapon styles offer three different control mechanisms for shooting).

It's got a neat levelling progression which encourages replay, looks really good for a phone game, and most importantly for a shmup, feels 'tight'. There's a novel (and slightly borked) GPS feature that awards you extra in-game goodies for distance travelled in the real world, but it really is pretty borked.

For a buck, it's well worth it.

A couple random impressions:

DoDonPachi Maximum is also a fun SHMUP, probably the best I've played on a touchscreen. Rather than attempting to emulate a d-pad or anything stupid like that, you drag your finger on the screen and your ship mirrors your movements. Thankfully, unlike OMG, you don't need to have your finger over your ship, so you can actually see where you're going. Firing is handled automatically, as is the optional use of screen-clearing bombs. It's fun, but it's really difficult.

Mush is a cute platformer where you control a little ball of fuzz called Mush and change its emotional state to make it float, sink, run, etc. You change emotions by drawing facial expressions like smiles and frowns with your finger. There aren't any lethal hazards, so the primary gameplay consists of using different emotions to explore areas and collect power-ups. It's a cute idea, but the there's a level of indirectness over the controls that makes the game both somewhat frustrating and detached. Mush runs forward all the time and you tilt your phone to determine which direction; it left me feeling like I was only sort of vaguely directing my character. It's cute, with a neat art style, but it didn't hold my interest for long.

Contre Jour is a really stylish version of Cut the Rope. Rather than cutting ropes, though, you attach a little monster to hanging tentacles and have him catch little bits of light instead of dropping candy to a frog. But it runs into all the same problems as Cut the Rope where there's a level of precision required in the problem solving that isn't always available with a touchscreen. I often found myself releasing the monster just a fraction of a second too early or too late in a swing in a way that threw off the rest of the puzzle. You might like it, but I didn't. (I also didn't like Cut the Rope, so your milage might vary.)

Skulls of the Shogun was released today. I have only played it about 15 minutes but it is fun so far.