Reviews

Earlier in the summer, we compiled a two-part list of freshly-released indie games for Windows Phone. Microsoft had helped a number of independent developers create a fine batch of games. One of those games, Pop! Food Factory from Blacksmith Software, suffered from performance issues though. I liked the core game but felt it needed more time in the oven.

A few months later, Blacksmith has updated Pop! on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT. With the technical issues mostly smoothed out and a few visual and UI improvements, Pop! has become a much better game. It's free and the Windows Phone version runs on 512 MB devices, so everybody can give this Pop a taste. Read on for our full review and fresh game play video.

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Gravity Badgers, a physics-based space adventure

Gravity Badgers is a physics-based arcade game that has you guiding a team of space badgers across 140 challenging levels of game play.

The story line has Captain T. Bayback traveling to the deadly depths of space to save his friends and family from the threat of the deadly Evil Honey Badgers. You duck and dodge asteroids and planet to eventually face pesky game bosses.

Available for low-memory devices, Gravity Badgers menus take a little getting used to but the game comes across as fun Windows Phone title to pass the time with.

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Viking: The Adventure is a Windows Phone platform game where you guide one of three Viking explorers to uncharted lands in a quest to find fortunes in gold.

Available for low-memory devices and Windows 8 devices, the game has over thirty gaming levels full of monsters to battle and gold to collect. On-screen controls aren't too shabby and overall, Viking: The Adventure isn't a bad Windows Phone game to pass the time with but a few bugs hold this game back.

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Spider-Man Unlimited is the latest endless runner from mobile gaming giant Gameloft. The game's premise involves Spider-Men and villains from various universes converging into a single universe. With slick production values and dozens of different Spider-Men to collect, Unlimited has a lot to offer for fans of the web-slinger.

Windows Phone Central has already published a Tips and Tricks guide to help players in their battle against the Green Goblin and his cohorts. Now we return with our comprehensive review.

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Incredible Toys is a Windows Phone action/adventure game where you help a collection of toy heroes survive a journey through Toy World. Game play is along the lines of an action runner game with some RPG features. Graphics are nice with a slight children's storybook feel. I will say while gaming controls are simple, they can be a little stubborn at times.

Incredible Toys is not available for low-memory devices (not sure why) and while Incredible Toys has appeal, I'm not sure if it's strong enough to be a go-to title for your gaming library.

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Covering your phone with a case is never an easy decision, nor is choosing one from the hundreds out there. One of the benefits of the HTC One for Windows is that it comes with a vast army of accessories due to the Android version paving a path. Now, Windows Phone users who grab the phone can benefit.

The Case-Mate Naked Tough case runs on the high-end for $27 (plus free shipping) from our Store.WPCentral.com site, and it falls into the mid-range category in terms of protection. The Naked Tough Case is no Otterbox, but it is much than just shell as well.

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Monochromatic joins the ranks of the many Windows Phone photo editors and hopes to garner some attention with its simple layout and core editing features. Editing tools include cropping, exposure controls, vignette application and a few tonal filters. You also have an in-house camera app just in case you need to snap a quick shot while in the editor.

Monochromatic is not a feature rich editor such as Photoshop Express but the Windows Phone photo editor does come across a nice option when you need to do a quick, simple edit of your images.

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The HTC One M8, previously loaded with Android and now with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, is considered the flagship Windows Phone device for the fall. Although it is currently only available on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are both on target to get the phone, likely in the coming weeks. Although no international plans have been announced, I have to believe that the One will go global as well. As a result, many of you may want to consider this phone as your next.

Before I jump into a full review, I want to touch upon what is likely the most controversial aspect of the HTC One: its Duo Ultrapixel camera. Lumia users are used to owning the imaging market when it comes to Windows Phone, and as a result, I have seen a reflexive negative reaction to the HTC One's camera, often without evidence.

Is the HTC One for Windows better than a Lumia 930 or a Lumia 1520? In many ways, it is an unfair question as it depends on what aspects of photography you are considering. The Lumia 1520/Lumia 930 have excellent cameras, but there are cons to it as well, likewise with the HTC One. Here is my experience so far and why I like using the Duo Camera on the HTC One.

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Earlier this week we published a list of must-have accessories for Xbox One. Among those is the Kinect TV Mount for Xbox One from PDP. The mount not only positions the Kinect motion control accessory above a television, it also offers a privacy cover for the Kinect camera. Maybe you do things in front of your TV that you don't want Microsoft to see; we're not here to judge.

Having already recommended the Kinect TV Mount, it's high time that we give the Xbox One accessory a proper review. Will the mount take your Kinect experience to the next level, or will it snap apart during the set-up process? Read on and check out our hands-on video for the full word!

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PhotoMic is a Windows Phone photo editor that gives you the ability to add text bubbles to your photos, creating a short story with your images. The app also has the option to create a collage from your photos that allows your images to take on a comic strip appearance.

PhotoMic has a wide range of templates, fonts and bubble callouts to help you customize your Windows Phone pics. You also have the ability to add an HDR or sketch effect filter to your final product before saving.

In using PhotoMic over the past couple of days, we found it to be a neat Windows Phone photography app for creating unique, fun photos.

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Pig Jump is yet another endless runner styled Windows Phone game that has you jumping a pig across a river that is full of hungry crocodiles, dangerous buzzards and other perils.

To help with the chances of survival, the pig is armed with a bazooka, with an unlimited supply of ammo, that he can use to blast away the dangers the river may offer. Graphics are decent, game controls simple and Pigs Jump is available for low-memory devices. While Pig Jump isn't a terrible game to pass the time with and has slight potential. I'm just not sure it is strong enough to be a "go to" game.

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Looking for a decent YouTube Windows Phone client? It's not impossible task with quality choices such as Metrotube and myTube available. Tubecast is another Windows Phone option that gets strong ratings in the Windows Phone Store and hopes to garner some attention as well.

Tubecast will not only let you watch YouTube videos, tap into your account, pin videos to your Start Screen and comment/rate videos but it will also let you cast your videos to you Smart TV, Chromecast or UPNP/DLNA device. In exploring Tubecast over the past few days, while there were some glitches experienced, overall it came across as an appealing app worth trying.

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Beaver Kickin' is an endless runner styled Windows Phone game where you are tasked with kicking a beaver and have him sail as far as possible before giving into gravity.

Each chapter of the game has a story line that is nicely illustrated with a comic book feature. For example, with the first chapter has aliens dumping a cosmic seed into the forest creating crazy mutations. It's the beaver's job to soar through the forest taking down the mutations and saving the day.

Story line aside, Beaver Kickin' has great graphics, challenging game play and is available for low-memory devices. In playing the game for a short time, Beaver Kickin' comes across as a fun time waster of a game.

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Portable power has become rather portable these days and the RAVPower Deluxe 15000mAh Portable Charger hopes to fill your emergency power needs.

The portable charger (model RP-PB19) has duel charging capabilities, an LED light to help you find your way in the dark and enough juice to recharge your Windows Phone several times over. The compact size helps make the RAVPower portable, even pocketable (jacket or back pocket that is).

If you are in the market for a portable charger that won't weigh your backpack or briefcase down, the RAVPower Deluxe isn't a bad option to consider.

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Warriors Orochi 3: Ultimate for Xbox One is the latest in Japanese publisher Koei Tecmo's long-running series of Warriors games. The Orochi sub-series in particular merges characters from Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, with this Ultimate release throwing in guest characters from Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur, and other games for good measure. You don't need to be familiar with any of these series to enjoy the game, but they instill it with both history and variety.

Throw in 2-player split-screen and online multi-player, hundreds of characters, dozens of original and user-tweaked levels, and you have a hack-and-slash game with incredible scope and nearly endless playtime. Read on for our comprehensive review with exclusive game play video and screenshots!

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Sticks is a relatively new Windows Phone puzzle game that has you building sets and runs of playing cards. The multi-level game is full of challenges and an annoying game clock that never has enough time on it.

Available for low-memory Windows Phones, Sticks is a fast pace, somewhat addictive time waster of a game. While the game could use a little fine-tuning with regards to the ad banner, we think it's a puzzle game worth a look.

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Puzzle games seem to be on the rise in the Windows Phone Store and Civiballs is hoping to make a name for itself with colorful graphics and challenging game play.

You play the role of a young scientist who travels back in time to rescue ancient artifacts from three historic civilizations. The game includes sixty gaming levels set to Roman, Viking and Incan themes. The levels are full of gadgets, gizmos and obstacles to use and overcome in solving each puzzle, challenging your skills at strategy, logic and to a degree, your imagination.

Available for low-memory devices, Civiballs comes across as an appealing game to pass the time with that may only be lacking by the number of gaming levels.

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Misfit Shine (misfitwearables.com) is a new and modern smart device used to measure daily activity, like running, walking, sleeping and more. Like Fitbit, your scores are synced to the cloud where your phone acts as a conduit for record keeping, goal setting, and social interaction.

Today, the official Misfit Shine app is available for Windows Phone 8.1, joining iOS and Android. Due to the availability of Bluetooth 4.0 LE and the new APIs for developers, Misfit can get their app on Microsoft's mobile OS.

I have been using both the hardware and software for a few days now and this is all you need to know.

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When the Xbox One launched last year with the Kinect peripheral included with every console, many gamers resisted the Kinect's inclusion. And why wouldn't they? The new Kinect had launched without what many consider the best Kinect game series on Xbox 360: Dance Central. That hole in the lineup has been filled now that Harmonix (maker of the upcoming Fantasia: Music Evolved) has unleashed Dance Central Spotlight exclusively as a downloadable Xbox One title.

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LYNE is a simple Windows Phone puzzle game that has been around the Store for some time. We were tipped on the game over the weekend and found LYNE to have a slick look, casual pace and an appealing gaming title.

LYNE has hundreds of puzzles that challenge you to connect the same colored shapes with a single line. Available for low-memory devices LYNE is a smooth puzzle game with only one glaring downside - no trial version.

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Earlier this week, we reported that BLU is selling their new Win JR Windows Phone direct through Amazon.com (direct link). The fully unlocked, dual-SIM device is the first Windows Phone from the fledgling company and at $89 and no contract, it seems too good to be true. At the time, we noted how ours was on the way and sure enough, Amazon delivered it on time today.

So, how good can a $90 Windows Phone be? Watch our video unboxing and hands on to find out. Spoiler alert: it gives Lumias a run for their money.

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Back when Xbox games for Windows Phone were more of a thing, Gameloft published a free to play city building game called Ice Age Village. That particular genre is mostly worthless, but many of us suffered through it any way for the Achievements. I do mean suffered, because Ice Age Village is a buggy game and the Windows Phone version was never updated with bug fixes or new content.

One year later, Gameloft brings a sequel called Ice Age Adventures to Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT. The new game is still technically a free to play city builder, but vastly improved production values (Hello, voice acting!) and several design changes make for a much more enjoyable experience. Will it hold gamers' attentions without Achievements, though? Yeah, if you can tolerate the IAP mechanics, you'll probably have a bit of fun with it.

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Last month we reviewed a custom Xbox One controller from UK-based service Controller Modz. That service offers a variety of sexy hydro-dipped artwork and chrome designs for Xbox One controllers, but nothing in the way of solid colors. For a controller customized with solid colors, we looked to ColorWare – located in Minnesota and recommended by some of our readers.

ColorWare allows customers to customize an Xbox One controller with one or two solid colors of their choice. The controller will then be painted with your design. In order to test the quality of the ColorWare service, I threw together a design of my own. The result is the world's first Windows Phone Central-colored Xbox One controller! Read on for full impressions of the ColorWare Xbox One controller design process and finished product, with video!

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Smart Games is a collection of challenging Windows Phone puzzle games designed to challenge your logic, memory, sensory and problem solving skills.

While the puzzle collection doesn't have many bells and whistles, it makes up for things by offering challenging, head-scratching puzzles. The game is initially free with plenty of puzzle levels and questions to solve. Once you're done with the free puzzles, additional questions and difficulties are available through in-app purchase.

Available for low-memory devices, while there is some room for improvement, Smart Games is a nice collection of puzzle games to pass the time with.

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Although there is no shortage of fine weather apps for Windows Phone, when it comes to Windows 8.1, things are a bit different. There is a selection of weather apps, but from my experience, there is a dearth of quality ones that highlight the Modern look of Windows for tablets and PCs. I know everyone cites Bing Weather as his or her go-to app, and with good reason. Assuming, however, you want something different– and the ability to ditch ads – Ambient Weather is my choice these days.

Ambient Weather is not a new app, in fact, I have been using for nearly a year now. However, Ambient Weather has been getting a nice amount of updates lately, and this mini-review is long overdue in highlighting this fantastic app.

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