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Which XNA game do you want for Zune?

CNET Senior Editor Donald Bell combs through today's XNA game announcements from GDC to find the best game for Microsoft's Zune.

Screen capture of The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai game.
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai game, developed in XNA Studio for XBox and potentially...Zune. Ska Studios

Microsoft's announcement at today's Game Developer's Conference made some waves in the gaming community, but for the growing faction of Zune owners, it felt like an exciting glimpse into the product's future.

While Microsoft hasn't made any formal announcements regarding games coming to the Zune, they dropped a big hint today when they demonstrated a game developed using XNA Studio running on a Zune 80. Its a move that makes plenty of sense, considering that Apple has been slowly and steadily releasing games for the Zune's competitor, the iPod. Gaming on the Zune also capitalizes on a theme Microsoft already has some credibility with, by way of XBox 360.

We might not know when Microsoft will start releasing games for the Zune, or how much they will cost, but we have some idea of what types of games will be released. The following list of XNA games and descriptions is quoted from Microsoft's XBox 360 site (videos via YouTube):

Little Gamers: This game is a 2D high-definition action side-scroller based on the famous Web comic Little Gamers ( 

ProximityHD: Proximity takes the essence of strategy games--battles for control of territory and armies--and distills it down to a simple, easy to understand set of rules that makes the genre more accessible to casual players than ever before.

Rocketball: A neighborhood game of dodgeball explodes onto the street with fast-paced multiplayer action, power-ups galore, and Rocketball strikes that will tear your opponents apart.

TriLinea: TriLinea is a puzzle game that mixes fast-paced action with strategy.

The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai: The Dishwasher is an intense 2D action platforming game with a unique, highly stylized look and fast and fluid action. The game's hero is a lowly dishwasher (the occupation, not the appliance) who has lost everything, including his heart, at the hands of the deceptive and evil cyborg movement and is seeking revenge. 

JellyCar: JellyCar puts you behind the wheel of a squishy car driving through squishy worlds, trying to reach the exit.

Culture: Culture is a set of beautifully inviting games based on creative uses of flowers to combat weeds, paint-by-numbers, and breed new varieties.  

Photo of Zune 80 used as game controller.
The Zune has some advantages and drawbacks as a game controller. Donald Bell/CNET Networks

On their own, the games look like fun. But how will gameplay work on the Zune? The multidirection ZunePad is a no-brainer as far as control goes, but using both of the buttons on either side of the pad seems difficult. If we're talking two-handed play with one thumb on the pad, and the other on whichever one of the two buttons feels natural, then you've got a usable, but rather antique (Atari 2600, anybody?) game control. No matter how you slice it, the Zune's promise as a game control has to be better than using Apple's scroll wheel.

What's more interesting, is considering just how Microsoft plans to use the Zune's built-in wireless connection for multiplayer gaming. After working out a few bugs, Microsoft has shown that the latest crop of Zunes can reliably connect to each other and to networked PCs over Wi-Fi, transferring relatively large amounts of data. Will Zune-sters soon be able to vent their iPod alienation in Zune vs. Zune Street Fighter battles? Let's hope so.

Out of the games listed above, which do you think has the best chance of being a hit for the Zune? My opening picture might be a giveaway, but I'm pulling for Dishwasher.