It's Christmas morning. You're excited about that one gift you've been begging for since June. You want an iPhone, but you have a pleased faux-smile waiting in the wings if you discover you've received an Android, just in case. You rip into your gift, and it is a phone, but it's a Windows Phone 7. Don't worry! No need to to be disappointed. There's plenty here for a gamer.

With the stranglehold Android and iPhone have on the mobile market, it’s convenient to forget that Microsoft has a totally viable alternative that has some pretty cool features, especially for gamers. From the beginning, Windows Phone 7 has been built with gamers in mind, including Xbox Live and Live Arcade functionality. iPhone users were recently treated to a surprise Xbox Live app that has a lot of great features, but Windows phone user have been enjoying the functionality of that app for more than a year.

There are two reasons to play games on a Windows phone that the others simply cannot or won’t deliver. For one, every game with Live functionality is required to have a playable demo. This is how games are delivered on Xbox Live Arcade, and Microsoft wants this to be a mobile version of Arcade. The other great reason is one that some will totally dismiss, and others will become very excited about: Achievements. Not every single game available to download on Windows phone offers achievements, but the ones with Live functionality all do. These achievements add to your total gamer score, and will appear on the list of games on your Xbox 360 console. That’s something you will never be able to do on an iPhone.

Some of the games below are Windows phone exclusives, while others are games you may not have known are available for Windows phone, but all of them have achievements.

Windows Phone exclusives

Ilomilo, the charming puzzle game that came out for Xbox Live Arcade awhile ago (that we gave an 8.75) has a completely separate mobile version with comparable graphics and identical gameplay. The puzzles are all different making this an entirely different game from its big brother counterpart. The game also takes advantage of the phones tilt capabilities in an unobtrusive way by shifting the camera slightly when you move the phone. It’s a totally cosmetic effect, but it’s a cool one.

Hexic Rush
Hexic, for a short period of time, was the reason to own an Xbox 360. None of the retail games available the day the Xbox 360 launched were system sellers, but Hexic was on your HDD for free, and it was great. The core gameplay comes from the mind of Alexey Pajitnov, the man who created Tetris, and the man knows how to make a puzzle game. Hexic is a Microsoft property, so it’s unlikely that you will see this ever show up anywhere else.

Bejeweled LIVE
Admittedly, Bejeweled is not really an exclusive. Every mobile device has some kind of version of the casual gamer classic, but none of them have this particular version. You see, this version has the word ‘Live’ in the title, so it’s completely different.

Fable: Coin Golf
You’ve heard of Fable, right? With all the RPGing and the decision making? This isn’t actually anything like that, but it’s still fun. It’s a little bit like miniature golf, with players launching a sliding coin through a course of enemies and assorted obstacles. You win by getting the coin in the hole in the end. Along the way you can earn money and unlock items to be used in your Fable III game, and it all syncs automatically. Play Fable Coin golf for a bit, log into your Fable III game, and there will be a gift waiting for you.

It’s your standard Minesweeper but it looks nicer, and it’s free.


Another fairly standard experience, but it’s free and you get achievements for all your number organizing efforts.

Shuffle Party
Shuffle Party is being offered for free, and it’s fun. It’s nothing particular special, but you can use your avatar to play shuffleboard, and you can earn some achievements without spending money.

Flowerz only offers a decent puzzle experience (and it has a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s’ which is always a bad sign), but it’s free and it offers 200 Gamerscore, which is more than most of the free games.

There is a similar game on other devices, even made by the same developers, but this version has different puzzled and different assets. Fair warning though, it is impossible to get all the achievements on this game. There is one puzzle that cannot be completed correctly and despite releasing over a year ago, Microsoft has not been able to offer an update to the game. You guys should call them up and complain.

CarneyVale: Showtime
CarneyVale: Showtime began its life as an Xbox Live Indie title, but the Windows phone version is a faithful adaption with the added bonus of achievements. You basically fling your character around an environment grabbing collectibles as you move about. The character flings himself by swinging around at great velocity and letting go at the right moment.

This is another freebie. The game tasks players with moving a flower through a series of obstacles using the wind. You can use the touch screen, or the tilt controls. It’s entirely up to you.



Games you probably didn’t know were on Windows Phone

Plants vs. Zombies
Plant vs. Zombies is another mobile staple. If you’ve already gotten some achievements from the console Xbox Live Arcade version of the game, here’s an opportunity to get some more. People will be confused and wonder how you have multiple achievements for the same game.

Angry Birds
If you want some Xbox Live achievements for Angry Birds, this is the only way to get them. Also, it’s angry Birds, so you know it’s fun.

Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night
It’s a bit like Puzzle Quest in that you are playing an RPG disguised as a puzzle game, but this one is themed to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which makes it awesome, especially if you are nostalgic for the PlayStation classic. You can explore the castle, listen to the great music, relive the story, and even find some of the iconic armor.

Fruit Ninja
Another game with a console counterpart. If you’re tired of waving your arms around, you can waggole your finger. Also, if you love Fruit Ninja you can earn a whole set of additional achievements for the same game.

Tiki Towers
Tiki Towers is reminiscent of World of Goo, the excellent gooey bridge building sim. It’s good company to be in for Tiki Towers. You basically construct a bridge that monkey’s have to make their way across while collecting bananas.

iBlast Moki
iBlast Moki made a small splash on the iPhone when it released a few years ago. It didn’t knock down any pig-filled poorly built structures, but it made an impression. The game is a series of puzzles about getting a little exploding creature from point A to point B. It’s straightforward,

Uno is Uno. You can’t go wrong with Uno. It’s pretty much always fun, and it’s fun here, too. And you get achievements!