E310: Hands-on With Xbox Live On Windows Phone 7

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On the last day of E3, the Windows Phone 7 team decided to show off their upcoming ‘wares. Behind closed doors, I got a sneak peek at a small portion of the functionality that the Xbox Live team has implemented in Microsoft’s upcoming mobile OS relaunch. Samsung built the dev sled for my demo and I’m told the hardware is not final.

What I saw wasn’t much, but the team promises more news at Gamescom. I was, however, privy to four titles that were built in XNA: Illo and Milo, GamesChest, The Hunted (or something like that. I’ll update when I hear back from MS) and Level. Whether or not these titles will be available at launch is a different story.

Illo and Milo is a simple turn-based puzzle game that requires you to reunite two little Oompa Loompa looking characters that are located on opposite ends of any given maze. With gaps along the way, you’ll have to switch between characters to move blocks using the D-pad (located in the lower left corner) to fill the gaps. Graphics were vibrant and looked stunning on the Samsung sled.

GamesChest has your standard Solitaire type games. Nothing to write home about.

The Hunted is a straightforward shooter that puts you in control of a mech warrior type character. You can swipe or tap to move the shooter along. The targeting system is simple – tap on the spider bots to fire away. A double tap on your mech warrior initiates a power slam that obliterates any enemy within a given radius. I encountered a level boss that looked liked Jabba but wasn’t able to put him away due to time constraints.

Level puts your Xbox avatar in a box and using the built-in accelerometer, he/she/it moves to remain level and not fall over. You can switch from landscape to portrait mode and he/she/it will jump to the other side. Pretty dumb.

None of the titles were mutli-touch enabled but the team tells me that there will be titles at launch that do.

Push notifications will alert you to turn-based game challenges from friends in the Xbox Live hub. They weren’t able to demo how notifications worked because each sled was running a different build of WP7. It seems as though you’ll only see a notification in the hub, which means there won’t be an obtrusive pop ups.

The team was a little coy about the social networking aspect of XBL on WP7 but I think it’s safe to say that you’ll get notifications when an XBL pal beats your high score.

That’s it for now, we’ll have more info once Gamescom rolls around.

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