Date: April 8, 2011
App type: Game
Publisher:  Microsoft Game Studios
Release date: March 9, 2011
Price: $4.99
Phone features used: Xbox LIVE, media library, data connection

Download Fable: Coin Golf for Windows Phone 7

One of the tough things about Windows Phone coming to market when it did is that the best "new" apps on this platform are often last year's great iPhone and Android apps, simply ported over. This is fine, and expected, and of course the best such Windows Phone apps at least make a nod to Metro user interface conventions, and as such, Windows Phone versions of popular iPhone and Android apps are often superior as a result.

With games, of course, it's harder to make such a splash. The Windows Phone version of Need for Speed: Undercover, for example, is excellent, and deserves a spot on any game-lover's phone. But it's also a very straight port of the iPhone original and, aside from Xbox LIVE achievements, doesn't really stand out in any way. Another approach is for game makers to create Windows Phone-specific titles, like the excellent Flowerz, where the combination of Windows exclusivity and great gameplay make the underlying platform more valuable as a result.

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Such is the case with Fable: Coin Golf, a game I thought I'd have no interest in at all. But this game has captivated me like no other Windows Phone game so far, and it is addicting, fun, and yes, exclusive to Microsoft's new mobile platform. So far at least, this is the single best game I've played so far on Windows Phone.

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Fable: Coin Golf is a classic physics-based, touch-oriented phone game in that you will be able to pick it up very quickly if you've spent any time at all playing games on the phone. What sets it apart, however, are the amazing 3D graphics and the game play, both of which are top notch. The setup is simple: You're in a fantasy world (that of the Xbox game "Fable", of course) and wander into a pub, where they have the Tolkien version of a magical pinball game, made of wood, and populated by little creatures, coins, and puzzles. It makes more sense when you play it.

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The goal of each level is to get a puck past the various obstacles and into a hole that is hidden behind an increasingly complex and difficult series of obstacles, and to do so in the fewest possible shots. You start off each level with a score; that score goes down with each shot, but certain bonuses in each level can make the score go up as well. So as the levels get harder, you may find yourself able to complete a level, but not do so with a high enough possible score to continue.

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Most levels also include gold coins, and as you collect these they're applied against your Xbox LIVE Gamertag, and if you're a Fable player on the Xbox 360, that gold will go into your character's purse in that game. (I'm not.) Furthermore, the various sections of the game, each made up of several levels, apparently mimic the worlds and storyline of Fable, so there's some crossover there as well.

Crossover or not, Fable: Coin Golf is a fantastic game, one that I'll be turning to again and again in the weeks ahead. Yes, it's $5, but at least give it a Try: It's highly recommended.