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The best (and worst) Xbox Live games for Windows Phone

Xbox Live titles for Windows Phone are some of the most expensive games on phones. We dip into the collection to find the best and worst games available on Microsoft's mobile platform.

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Joseph Hanlon
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While iPhone users tend to get all of the high-profile game exclusives on the iOS platform, and Android users glow green with envy, those using Windows Phone are treated to a range of games that you won't find on either of the dominant systems.

With thanks to the Microsoft Game Studio, the list of top games on Windows Phone looks completely different to the same lists on iOS and Android, featuring titles developed alongside Xbox Live Arcade titles, and offering the unique benefit of bolstering your Xbox Live profile with the same achievement points that you'd earn if you were playing on your console rather than on your phone.

If there's a downside to this gaming nirvana, it's that you'll tend to pay a few bucks extra per game on Windows Phone, with most of the Xbox Live-compatible games fetching between AU$3.50 and AU$8 per title. This ups the ante from the one or two dollars that you'll likely play on iOS, but you could argue that some of these games are worth the extra coin — and, then again, some of them definitely are not.

To help you spend your game time and money wisely, we've put together a list of our Windows Phone gaming must haves and the ones to avoid, plus a group in the middle that we've enjoyed, but that might only appeal to a niche audience.

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Revolution

Our top 10

A physics puzzler with unique twists and turns (you'll get the pun when you play it). Not only is Revolution worth the money, but it's also unique to the Windows Phone platform, making it a talking point for your iPhone-carrying mates at the next BBQ.

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Plants vs. Zombies

Our top 10

PopCap's now-classic tower-defence game is as awesome as ever on Windows Phone. Stop the hordes of shambling zombies with an army of seed-spitting saplings and mushrooms.

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geoDefense

Our top 10

Yes, it's another tower-defence game, but it's one with a unique visual style, and gameplay that requires constant vigilance.

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Tentacles

Our top 10

A very slick mobile game, it relies on momentum as the core gameplay mechanic, and it impresses with a unique visual style. You play as a microscopic version of Frankenstein's monster, swinging within the innards of your creator, which is more fun than it sounds.

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Orbital

Our top 10

Yet another Windows Phone title with its own unique design, Orbital's gameplay harks back to the classic arcade game Bubble Bobble, with a colourful neon look driving this game's aesthetics.

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Puzzle Quest 2

Our top 10

You may have played Puzzle Quest before; it's been available on a number of gaming platform in the past, but if you haven't seen it and you're a lover of the Bejewelled-style "match three" gameplay, you'll love the RPG twist that Puzzle Quest adds to the formula.

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ilomilo

Our top 10

Although its gameplay isn't the most engaging aspect of this title, the adorable presentation of ilomilo is worth the price of admission alone.

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Rocket Riot

Our top 10

One of the first games we played on Windows Phone, and still one of our favourites. Perfect touchscreen controls and an awesome visual style make Rocket Riot worth every penny.

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Fruit Ninja

Our top 10

We've played Fruit Ninja on every mobile platform it's available on, and the formula never tires. Slick controls and flawless animation make Fruit Ninja a modern mobile classic, and well worth your time and money.

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Let's Golf 2

Our top 10

Mobile gaming giants Gameloft add an arcade-iness to the otherwise subdued game of golf, with colourful courses and characters, and more control of the ball than you'll find in other similar games.

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Flight Control

Honourable mentions

Another well-known and well-loved mobile game, Flight Control will thrill newcomers, but there is nothing new here for veteran finger pilots.

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Burn it all

Honourable mentions

The rules of this puzzler could be better explained, but it is an intriguing concept nonetheless. Your task is to burn all the wood and ropes as your flames climb through a volcano. It's a trickier undertaking than it may first appear.

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Collapse

Honourable mentions

Don't be fooled by the slow pace of the first few levels; Collapse is a puzzle game with a furious tempo, which builds after its short introduction.

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Full House Poker

Honourable mentions

A great poker sim with a great look, but the thrill of challenging the computer only lasts so long, and there are no multiplayer modes to compete with strangers online.

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Bejewelled Live

Honourable mentions

The original "match three" gems collector is here on Windows Phone, but it lacks some of the great modes available online and on iOS.

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Kinectimals

The miss list

Probably the best-looking game in this list, but a game in which its charm wears off quickly. We'll admit that we didn't give Kinectimals too much time to warm up, but there was so little to do that we found ourselves quickly bored.

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Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles HD

The miss list

Ignore the HD badge this game wears; the first thing you'll notice about this poor Assassin's Creed title is the lousy graphics.

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Ghostspace

The miss list

Although Ghostspace sets the mood well, the puzzles are way too easy, and the game is too short as a result.

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James Patterson Women's Murder Club

The miss list

We ordinarily like point-and-click-style hidden-object games, but there's something about Women's Murder Club that doesn't work. It may be all the text dialogue that you have to read, or the fact that the game insists on walking you through each stage of the mystery.

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Sonic 4 Episode 1

The miss list

This Sonic port from Sega looks right, and impressively maintains its frenetic framerate, but the controls are hair-pullingly bad, leaving this port on the miss list rather than our hit list.

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