Games

Disney's Hidden Worlds hit the Windows Phone Store late last month and challenges you to find objects hidden in plain sight. A game of I Spy of sorts that takes you to three different worlds based on three Disney stories.

The story behind the game has you protecting the worlds of Beauty and the Beast, Tangled and Aladdin from a mysterious villain who is threatened these worlds' existence. You team up with Chrona and the Inklings to keep these worlds safe and restore their story lines.

While the game is fun with Hidden Worlds, I couldn't help but feel navigation could have been a little less busy. Nonetheless, Disney's Hidden Worlds has plenty of picture puzzles to solve and, overall, is a fun title to add to your Windows Phone gaming library.

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Last week the Xbox One received a barrage of no less than four downloadable ID@Xbox releases: Another World, Contrast, R.B.I. Baseball 14, and Zombie Driver. The ID@Xbox program allows indie game developers to publish their games directly to the Xbox One marketplace without most of the interference they would face on the Xbox 360. This week seems to have only one indie title in store for Xbox One gamers, but it's a good one: Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition from Drinkbox Studios.

The availability of Guacamelee, a Metroidvania-style action platformer with 2-player local co-op would be good enough news on its own, but getting the Xbox One version for free is even better. Guacamelee! is this July's Games with Gold title, so all Xbox Live Gold members can get it for free this month. Read on for impressions, hands on video, and details about how the Games with Gold program works for Xbox One users.

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Blitz Brigade is a first-person shooter (FPS) from Gameloft, which has just been released for Windows Phone. It's not entirely new since Android and iOS already have the game, but it's an official title nonetheless. Essentially, players are tasked with selecting from a range of five classes to team up with other players from around the world and break some bones. Fan of Unreal Tournament, Team Fortress and other classic shooters? You'll want to check out Blitz Brigade on your Windows Phone.

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Pool Live Tour is a popular multi-player game over on Facebook and is now available on our Windows Phone. As you would guess, the game is an online multi-player billiards game that has you competing against your Facebook friends (or random Facebook members) to see who the best pool shark is.

Along with the online games, Pool Live Tour also has a daily challenge to tackle and practice games. Graphics are nice, gaming mechanics simple and overall, Pool Live Tour is an attractive billiards game for Windows Phone.

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Rival Knights has just launched on Windows 8, bringing with it medieval jousting. The game was recently released for Windows Phone and is well-presented with immersive 3D graphics and dynamic camera angles to create a breathtaking environment where players battle ruthless foes and rival clans across 5 leagues to seize their castle and thrones. It's as good as it sounds.

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Gameloft is on a tear lately with Windows Phone, publishing many new titles in the last few months. Unfortunately, they have also seemingly ditched any ideas of Xbox LIVE certification, opting instead for direct releases to the Store.

Today, they have a new game on the market dubbed Order & Chaos Duels. The game is a massive 449 MB in size, but it runs on a 512 MB devices like the Lumia 520. The reason it has low memory requirements is because it is not an action game per se, but rather a turn taking card game based off of the ongoing Order & Chaos series, including O&C Online and the new Heroes of Order and Chaos.

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The Witcher is a popular series of PC and console games based on the novels of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. In the medieval fantasy world of The Witcher, powerful humans with mutant traits called Witchers seek out and destroy the monsters that threaten humanity's survival. Polish gaming studio CD Projekt RED is currently hard at work developing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.

As the Witcher console games become more well-known and poised to take on the Elder Scrolls series in a fight for role-playing gamers' hearts, the series will also be venturing onto smartphones for the first time. CD Projekt RED has just announced that The Witcher Battle Arena will be coming to iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone and Windows 8 in the fourth quarter of this year. Battle Arena will be a free-to-play MOBA with emphasis on RPG-style progression and fairness to players.

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Back in May we reviewed Cloud Raiders as a viable alternative to not having Clash of Clans on Windows Phone. Developed by Game Insight, Cloud Raiders is a "competitive raiding game set within a Skylanders-like world of floating islands" with "casual strategic battles, base building, clan support, and unrivaled cross-platform support." The game has nearly 22,000 reviews and a 4.6 average (out of 5) rating on the Store, making it one of the most popular titles available today.

Today, version 0.3.0.401 has gone live on the Store, bringing with a small army of changes and improvements.

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Last week, Microsoft announced that Xbox One users would finally be able to manage their profiles, friends, and more at Xbox.com. As I lamented in our Xbox One console review last year, many basic Xbox Live features such as the ability to view Achievements and view Xbox One-specific profiles have been unavailable through Xbox.com. The omission has always seemed strange because the website has never had trouble supporting the Xbox 360 side of things.

As of this week, Xbox.com now almost fully supports the Xbox One's profile and social features! Users can view their Xbox One profiles, Xbox One friends and favorites, and even their personal game clips through the website. Xbox One Achievements have also been fully viewable since last week. As welcome as the website improvements are, a few basic features remain unsupported. Read on to find out what has improved at Xbox.com and what still needs to be tweaked.

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Windows Phone is a unique operating system, both in terms of function and the community. One undervalued aspect not found on other competing platforms it 'trial mode' for apps and games. Microsoft has even made the process relatively easy for developers in apps (although games can be trickier). Intrinsically, trial modes are commonplace on Windows Phone, and it befits developers to implement the feature if they want good ratings.

Recently at Windows Phone Central when we covered the new game Lost Echo from KickBack studio (www.kickback-studios.com), our audience rebuked the $2.99 game due to the lack of a trial. The highly regarded game had come from iOS before it made the jump from to Windows Phone.

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Rival Knights is a new jousting game released for Windows Phone that brings jousting and immersive graphics to the small screen. The game is well done with 3D graphics and dynamic camera angles in a breathtaking environment where players "battle ruthless foes and rival clans across 5 leagues to seize their castle and thrones."

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Toca Boca is gaming studio that makes digital toys for kids that are designed to let the kids play, have fun and learn a little along the way. Toys in the sense that you can play the game without worrying about scores or time limits. The only restriction is with your child's imagination.

Toca Boca has released two of their toys in the Windows Phone and Windows Stores that allow your children to tap into their creativity and imagination in the kitchen and beauty salon. Both games or toys have plenty of features, child friendly interfaces and nice graphics.

Toca Boca has seen plenty of success over on iOS and Android platforms and Toca Kitchen was a Parents Choice Awards Gold Winner in 2012. These two titles may not land on everyone's Windows Phone or Windows 8 device but they are two good titles to add to your Windows Phone Kid's Corner.

Plus being Hidden Gems, if you leave a comment below you will automatically qualify to win a new Windows Phone or tablet.

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One of our favorite games right now on Windows Phone is Pako. We've shown you the initial version just a few days ago, and now an update has just been released. The latest version 1.0.1.5 adds a new level and a new car, while fixing the annoying bug that covers up your name when typing it for recording high scores. Check out the short video after the break showing the new level, Suburbia.

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Microsoft and Nokia do a lot to inspire indie game development for Windows Phone and Windows 8. Most notably, Nokia's AppCampus program helps train indie developers and fund game development in exchange for timed exclusivity for Windows platforms. As for Microsoft, the big tech giant recently held a Unity Porting Lab in Switzerland that aimed to help Unity developers bring their games from iOS and Android over to brighter shores.

Both programs helped contribute to the lineup of indie games that arrived on Windows Phone and Windows 8 in June. For part two of our indie games roundup, we played Mind: Brain Training, Pigs Can't Fly (newly available on Windows 8!), Pop! Food Factory, and The Quest: Anniversary Edition. Some indie games are better than others, as you'll find out from our impressions and hands-on video!

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If you're into traditional tower defense games, then you'll be excited to see Total Defense 3D by DaSuppa is now available for Windows Phone users. Sure, the game came out two years ago on iOS and Android, but the important thing here is the developer is now taking on Windows Phone (they've also brought over Tetdraw, a new twist on the classic Tetris).

Total Defense 3D is what it sounds like, a 3D game where you spend your time placing weapons on a map, taking on the hordes of enemies that come in waves. What makes Total Defense 3D a lot of fun are those 3D graphics, as they're outstanding. Players can also use two-fingers to pinch to zoom, rotate and pan the screen, giving a whole new view of the classic style gameplay.

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Best indie game of June for Windows Phone and Windows 8

The Xbox One received a ton of new indie game releases this week, including a variety of genres like adventure, sports, and driving. But you know, Windows Phone and Windows 8 have quite an active indie scene as well. This weekend, we're taking a two part look at the indie games of June.

For part one of our indie games roundup, I played a word game called Alpha Pop, puzzle game Dino Tribes, memory skill game Ditto, endless running game Firefly Runner, and a 3D racing game known as Formula Force. Which games belong on your Windows Phone or tablet? Let our impressions and hands-on video help you decide!

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The Ingenious Machine is a Windows Phone puzzle game that is very reminiscent of the old board game Mouse Trap. Instead of designing a contraption from assorted gadgets to capture a mouse, with The Ingenious Machine you are building a device that will guide a ball across the screen to trigger a light switch.

The game has strong potential but is hindered by a difficult user-interface. The minimal graphics and animations have appeal, the concept is challenging but tiny gaming controls and odd game piece selection can be very frustrating. It is best to take advantage of the trial version before taking the plunge with The Ingenious Machine.

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Alpha Wave, a great time killer game for Windows Phone

Alpha Wave is an arcade styled Windows Phone game that reminds me of a cross between Galaga and Asteroids. Think of it as a version of Impossible Shoota that has less movement and more graphic punch.

Alpha Wave has three levels of difficulty, three gaming arenas and over sixty-five waves of enemies and dangers to destroy. Add twenty-four gaming achievements and there is plenty of gaming involved to help you kill time. Alpha Wave is a fast paced, eye appealing, fun game to add to your Windows Phone gaming library.

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Recently, we've been pointing out games and apps from iOS and Android that have been making their way to Windows Phone Store. It's not often that we see things first on our favorite platform. Here's a promising title that Windows Phone users get to try out first.

The Veil (theveilgame.com) is an episodic adventure game that has just been released. You control a submarine and navigate through icy caverns. There are voiceovers that help you to understand the underlying story and mystery. Head past the break to watch the official game trailer.

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It's not an easy being an Xbox game for Windows platforms. First you have to go through a difficult pitching process just to make it into the portfolio. If by some miracle Microsoft actually approves you for Xbox status, you then enter the equally unpleasant certification process. And once you finally make it to market, you'll probably just get pulled from the Store by Microsoft at some point. You're an endangered species, son.

That's what happened to Zombies!!! for Windows Phone back in September of last year. The game was delisted for having in-app purchases, and then returned in November without Xbox features. The Windows 8 version managed to keep its Xbox features for a time… But now that time has ended. Microsoft recently chose to stop publishing the Xbox Windows 8 version of Zombies. And so developer Babaroga has republished the game as a universal app (but without Xbox features). Zombies!!! has come back to life, you might say.

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ID@Xbox is Microsoft's indie publishing program for Xbox One. Participating independent developers can publish their games directly to Xbox One with a greater degree of freedom than they would be afforded on Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. ID@Xbox is great for gamers too because it allows a steady stream of downloadable games to be released across a variety of genres.

Yesterday we published a full review of Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition, but that's only one of four ID@Xbox games released this week! Zombie Driver: Ultimate Edition from Exor Studios, R.B.I. Baseball 14 from MLB and Majesco, and Contrast from Compulsion Games have all been freshly released as well. The number of new games is overwhelming, but we've got detailed impressions and hands on videos to help you decide what to play.

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Blues Bowling is a Windows Phone bowling game that was released a few months ago and caught our attention with its 3D graphics and blues soundtrack. Plus I'm a fan of bowling games.

Blues Bowling has single and multi-player games, simple controls and an online leaderboard to let you brag about your high scores (so far nobody has bowled a perfect score). If bowling games are your cup of tea, Blues Bowling is a Windows Phone game worth a try.

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Disney Checkout Challenge is a game that tests how fast you can checkout grocery items. It's a fast-paced game where you will climb from "Checker-in-Training" to "Checkout Chairman" based on your barcode scanning skills. The game will also allow you to compete for the highest scores.

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I'm a fan of traditional stick shooter + wave games. There's something with anticipating what's coming next, and the classic arcade feel of enemy hordes attacking you that I find satisfying. RED. is a new game from Knife Media in Cape Town, South Africa. It runs for $2.99 with a free trial, but that $2.99 is for both the Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 versions. Buy once, buy everywhere. Shout-out for Windows universal apps!

RED. has some impressive 2D/3D graphics, comic book design and one hell of a sense of humor. Toss in some gratuitous gore, and I'll buy it.

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