Zune HD finally gets its 3D games

Audiosurf, Vans SK8, Project Gotham Racing, and more...but not Facebook or Twitter just yet

The Microsoft Zune HD

The Microsoft Zune HD

When the Zune HD launched, it swept the gadget world in a flurry of very positive reviews. It's a fantastic device for music, video, and podcasts, but the app selection could be charitably described as "weak." The Zune team said more, and better, apps were coming this fall. Today, hot on the heels of a 4.3 Firmware update that improves browser performance (among other small tweaks), the Zune team has released half a dozen new games.

The Zune PR team sent me a mail detailing the six new games released today:

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.

We'll call that "five games and a Piano app", really. As with the games available upon launch, these are all free, but you have to sit through a short ad when you launch the game (except for the Piano app, which loads right up directly).

You may recall that Facebook and Twitter apps were promised for this Fall as well. These are still on the way, but not delivered in this update.

The games look pretty good, and show off the power of the tiny device pretty well. I gave them a quick playtest and of the games, it seems Audiosurf is best suited to the Zune HD. It's the most "playable" and the very gameplay makes use of your music. It's about the equivalent of a good $US5 iPhone app. Others, like Project Gotham Racing, are impressive enough from a technical standpoint but a little hard to control.

These free ad-supported apps are great and all, but the world really needs a full SDK and app store as with the iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows Mobile 6.5, or Android.

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Jason Cross

PC World (US online)
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