Following up on the promise of more free games for the Zune HD, Microsoft has released six new titles that are now available for your downloading pleasure. We’ve got a blurb on each game here, but we’ve gotta just say, after playing with PGR Ferrari Edition, we are thankful for that Tegra processor that the Zune HD is packing. Sure, it’s no App Store equivalent, but hey, it’s free content that is actually more fun than a flashlight or tip calculator:
- Audiosurf Tilt: Audiosurf creates a rollercoaster ride from any song. Choose any song from your music collection and watch Audiosurf turn it into a unique roller coaster track for you to ride. The song you choose determines the shape, the speed, and the mood of each track. Tilt your Zune like a steering wheel to collect colored blocks and avoid speedbumps. Unlock more than 30 designs, each with its own special theme and color palette.
- Checkers: Enjoy the classic game of Checkers in a beautiful outdoor park setting. Play against the computer or against a friend.
- Lucky Lanes Bowling: Bowl in different game modes: exhibition, blackjack, golf. Play in five different bowling alleys with unique themes, all with the swipe of a finger. Choose from twenty different bowlers and twenty two different ball styles. You can play against the computer or play with up to four friends.
- Piano: Play your own tune, or play along with your favorite music on this electronic piano.
- Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition: Tear through the streets of London, Tokyo, and New York in the Ferrari of your choice using multi touch controls and the built in accelerometer.
- Vans Sk8: Pool Service: From the Admiral to the old abandoned rec center pool, Bucky Lasek and Omar Hassan know a good bowl to skate. Hit the pools and put these Vans skaters to the test with all the tricks in their bag and achieve hero status once you unlock their pro model skateboards.
Despite the weird word association photo, Excalibur’s Phantom Chess seems intriguing. Not only will it set up the pieces, its electro-magnetic system moves your men and those of your computerized opponent. Taken pieces are taken to the edge of the board. Add some battle sounds or keep track of the time on its LCD display. The game has 136 levels, 120 for play and 16 for analysis. It will even let you take back your last move, several of them, or the entire game. You can also switch sides or replay a game to check your mistakes. Our favorite part? The “Are you sure?” mode. Phantom Chess can run on AC or 6 C batteries and carries a MSRP of £155 (~$226.00.)
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Yasmin Sethi’s Chess Set was inspired by the classic novel “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” In the novel, the heroine becomes a human chess piece. Yasmin’s pieces are opaque until they are placed on the surface of the board. Then they become transparent. They are made of LightPoints, a glass material with LEDs. The designer says that his creation has a point.
“This is a comment on how a chess piece has no value unless it is in play on the board. If removed from the board, a pawn and a queen are equal, in that neither have any value.”
Hmmm. Very deep stuff. Fans of the Lewis Carroll novel will also appreciate the White Knights that only function when they are upside down.
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For whatever reasons, dogs and cats just don’t dig each other. Fortunately, they’ve found a way to hash out their differences in a calm, cerebral, setting: the chess board. The animals even decided to dress in medieval costumes, we’re assuming to class things up after decades of back alley fights. After checkmate is declared, the carved, poly-resin pets retire to the chess board’s drawer, where they await their next battle. The chess board measures 15” by 15” and weighs 16 lbs. The King piece is 3.5” high. Truly for the chess enthusiast, the set is currently on sale for $129 USD.
For those of you that play chess into the wee hours of the morning, Dutch designer Daan Van Tuldur has created a set that is lit by LEDs that are located in the 4 corners of the board. Black and white are replaced by matte and transparent squares, and all the pieces basically have the same shape. Besides this prototype, Van Tuldur has worked on many designs, including HotSpots, arcade-size retro systems geared for the next generation of Atari gamers.
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Judging from all the wacky USB gadgets we’ve featured from their website, we suspect the folks at Brando are a fun, if slightly nutty, bunch. But lo and behold they clearly have a cerebral side, too, as evidenced by their USB Chess Set, allowing you to play against your computer with real live chess pieces (you can also play against a friend). Ideal for both beginners and seasoned chess pros, as you can track (and record) your moves, obtain hints, and email results to your friends. Plus, the set is portable: just roll up the board and you’re good to go. The Brando website states the USB Chess Set is compatible with Windows XP, so we don’t know if Vista (and pre-XP) users can join in the fun. Available for $42 USD.
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