Hands-on with Windows Phone 7's games

CNET's Ina Fried has been using Windows Phone 7 for about a month now and gets a chance to try out some of the games that will arrive with the first phones later this year.

SAN FRANCISCO--After about a month of using a Windows Phone 7 device with no extra apps at all, it was fun to get my hands on some games.

On Tuesday I had a chance to play with a handful of the titles that Microsoft just announced would be coming to Windows Phone 7 when it launches later this year.

Though just a small sample, the quick look showed that Windows Phone 7 is quite a capable platform for games. That's important, because games in general--and the phone's Xbox Live tie-in specifically--will have to be a key selling point if Microsoft is to make a dent in the ultra-competitive smartphone business.

There's some neat stuff, like a version of Crackdown that lets you defend your tower against freaks, using any location from Bing Maps as the setting. Microsoft seems to have a range of styles from hard-core games, to phone staples like Bejeweled to kid-friendly games like Max and the Magic Marker.

Plus, Microsoft said the list of around 60 titles released this week is not all the Xbox Live fare that will be available at launch. And the pipeline is sufficient enough that the company will be able to release a couple new games each week post-launch, much as the company does on the console side.

Microsoft has also done some neat things with the Xbox Live avatars. Not only can users create, outfit, and manipulate their mini-me, but the avatars also show up on other applications, such as a flashlight, coin-flip program, and a level.

One of my concerns, though, is around battery life. Although the Samsung Taylor device I am using is not a final phone, nor is the software fully done, I only get several hours of battery life on the phone I am using--and that is without doing any gaming or much in the way of music streaming. That's unfortunate because gaming and music are two of the areas where Windows Phone shines and places where it has something rivals don't (Xbox Live and Zune Pass).

But, assuming the final devices have enough battery life to do so, it looks like there will be plenty of gaming fun on the phone.

The best way to experience the games is to see them in action, so included in this post are a slideshow and two videos.

Here's a video that shows some of the games:

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This video, meanwhile, shows the role that Xbox Live avatars play on the phone:

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