Games

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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You've probably heard of the puzzle matching game 'Threes!' from your friends with Android or iOS devices. There's no official version for Windows Phone, but we've stumbled upon something similar called Hues. Don't worry; it's not a rip-off copy. Head past the break to watch the official game trailer.

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Free Microsoft Sudoku game released for Windows 8.1

Microsoft has released a new and free Sudoku game for Windows 8.1 titled, without a lot of imagination, Microsoft Sudoku, offering gamers a chance to play a new version of the classic numbers-based puzzle game.

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Dhoom:3 The Game was launched last year around the time of Dhoom:3 release, the third movie in the popular Bollywood franchise. The endless runner game involved a thrilling high speed bike race through the streets of Chicago where the movie was set.

The Game became quite popular, and crossed the 1 million downloads mark on the Windows Phone Store in quick time becoming the first app/game from India to do so. The game saw over 12 million downloads worldwide across platforms. 99games, the publisher of the game, and Yash Raj Films, the producer of the movie, have got together again to bring a sequel to the blockbuster game – Dhoom:3 Jet Speed.

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On Sunday I predicted that Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition would arrive on Xbox One this week. And what do you know? The Another World Anniversary Edition has just been released as part of Microsoft's ID@Xbox program. It comes from French publisher The Digital Lounge and is available to download for the low price of $7.99.

Another World is a classic sci-fi adventure game/platformer set on a perilous alien world. Players will forge a friendship with a kindly alien while doing their best to escape from the planet's more hostile residents. The 20th Anniversary Edition brings the story to life with new high resolution graphics, multiple soundtracks, and easy Achievements. Adventure fans and Achievement hunters won't want to miss it.

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The Xbox One is overflowing with downloadable games lately thanks to the ID@Xbox program. Last week we got Outlast and Sixty Second Shooter Prime, and today Zombie Driver Ultimate Edition had a surprise launch. But when the new console launched last year, players only had a few downloadable games to choose from. The first such title to qualify as a hit was undoubtedly Peggle 2 from Electronic Arts and PopCap. The game later arrived on Xbox 360 as well.

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Games that make us rage quit are usually the ones that make us keep coming back. Here's another one of those games. Pako is a one player car chasing game developed by the same team who brought us Picnic Rumble. Cops are on your tail and there's no escape. How long would you last?

Head past the break to watch our hands-on and gameplay video with the Nokia Lumia Icon.

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Popular Facebook game Pool Live Tour is now available as an app for Windows Phone, bringing with it live pool competition with real players. The game boasts 2.5 million players every day so you'll always find a worthy opponent. And with Facebook integration, you can even invite friends for an instant tournament with someone you know.

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