Reviews

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Candy Bird, an uncomplicated time waster of a game

There isn't much to the Windows Phone game Candy Bird. You are tasked with keeping your bird in flight for as long as possible, collecting candy that will randomly appear on the screen. Along the way you will also need to avoid spikes that are at the bottom and sides of the screen that will ground your bird and end the game.

Available for low-memory devices, Candy Bird has simple gaming controls and nice, minimalistic graphics. After spending a little time with the game, we can't say CandyBird will hold up to marathon gaming sessions but for shorter bits of time, Candy Bird isn't a bad time waster of a game.

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The Nokia Lumia 530 is the newest entry-level Windows Phone device to grace the markets in 2014. As the global rollout begins, we are diving deeper into seeing what the phone can do. Although technically speaking the Lumia 530 is a follow up to the Lumia 520, in some ways it is a step down in specs in an attempt to drive the price even lower. This difference is why many consider the Lumia 630 to be a better upgrade for current Lumia 520 owners.

How does the new Quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 200 chipset in the Lumia 530 compare to the older, Dual-core 1.0 GHz Snapdragon S4 found in the Lumia 520? Let's find out!

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Age of Wind 3 is an action/adventure game for your Windows Phone that reminds me of a scaled back version of Sid Meier's Pirates! The game has more cartoonish graphics, lacks some of the side games (sword play, dancing, land battles, etc.) than Pirates! but the gaming concept comes close.

With Age of Wind 3 you sail the Caribbean traveling to over 35 ports of call, take on hundreds of quests, buy and trade goods, recruit sailors, build up your fleet and, as you would guess, battle pirates. Age of Wind 3 also includes Facebook integration where you can battle your Facebook friends on the high seas.

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Box It is a Windows Phone arcade styled puzzle game that has addictive quality and not a shabby way to waste a little time with. The multi-level game has you drawing lines to capture portions of the playing field. It sounds easy but there are evil dots lurking about that will test not only your timing but also your patience.

Box It reminds me of an old arcade game that you'd find at the local Aladdin's Castle or convenience store in the early '80s. It's not a terribly complicated game with a simple gaming concept but just enough challenge about it to keep things interesting.

Available for low-memory devices, Box It has experienced decent success over on iOS and Android platforms and should see similar here on the Windows Phone platform.

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Appy Weather has joined the ranks of the numerous weather apps available in the Windows Phone Store. It hopes to stand out from the pack by offering a more personal approach to the weather forecast and a simple interface.

While Appy Weather lacks weather radar and weather alerts (catch the update at the end for this has changed), its minimal design does look good and the app does deliver a healthy amount of forecast information to your Windows Phone. Appy Weather makes a nice first impression and while there is room for improvement, the app comes across as a solid weather source for your Windows Phone.

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Match It, a Windows Phone game with promise

We are seeing a string of simple, yet challenging, Windows Phone games landing in the Windows Phone Store. Most of these games aren't very complicated but a fun way to pass the time. You will also find some of these titles to be fun to play for a short time but lack staying power.

Match It is a relatively new gaming title that hopes to fall into the 'fun way to pass the time' category. The game tests your reflexes and speed by requiring you to tap the screen as two balls that change color match.

Available for low-memory devices, Match It has potential and worth trying. However, you may find that the game needs a little more chutzpah to keep you pulled into the game.

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Last week, a downloadable Xbox One game called Fibbage popped up as part of the ID@Xbox program. Fibbage is a multiplayer trivia game from Jackbox Games, makers of the popular You Don't Know Jack series of trivia games. Besides being the only trivia title in town for the Xbox One, Fibbage stands out for its unique control method: everyone uses a phone or tablet as a controller!

That probably sounds crazy, and in fact it can be hard to understand Fibbage from a cursory description. But Fibbage manages to combine console gaming with mobile device controls in an extremely natural way. Gamers and non-gamers alike to can play and laugh together without the learning curve that a controller would bring. See exactly how it works in our exclusive gameplay video with both Xbox One and phone footage!

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Battle of Airway is an arcade styled space shooter for Windows Phone that has you piloting a rocket ship across worlds infested with deadly alien creatures.

Graphics are nicely drawn up in bright, colorful fashion that is somewhat reminiscent of the Beatle's Yellow Submarine styled animations (or at least to my eye). Game play has a swift pace and full of challenges. Not only do you face alien creatures and ships but you also have to dodge dangers such as giant snowballs, flamethrowers, buzz saws and more.

While Battle of Airway makes a nice first impression it has one, maybe two, strikes going against it. No trail version and no 512MB device support. Battle of Airway isn't a bad game but while 512MB support would be nice, the lack of a trial version may sink this game.

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Which is represented more in the Windows Phone Store, Match-three games or endless runners? My money is on the match-three styled games and you can add Fruit Heroes Saga to the genre of games available in the Windows Phone Store.

Fruit Heroes Saga is a colorful, multi-level styled match-three game where, as you might guess, work towards creating matches of the same type of fruit. Each level has a scoring goal that has to be met in a set number of moves or before time runs out. Fruit Heroes Saga also includes bonus items that can be purchased with your winnings to improve your chances of success.

Available for low-memory devices, Fruit Heroes Saga isn't a bad game to consider adding to your Windows Phone gaming library but it lacks that "zippity doo da" to let this game stand out in the crowded field of match-three games.

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The Lumia 520 is going to go down as the phone that drove Windows Phone in emerging markets and for those who want a budget phone. Therefore, it should be no surprise to see Microsoft pick up Nokia's reins with the Lumia 530, which is just now launching globally.

I managed to get my hands on a brand new bright green Lumia 530 and in the following video, I talk about the features, specs and my first impressions. As it turns out, it very much reminds me of the Lumia 620 in terms of design, and the OS is surprisingly zippy considering the price range for this phone.

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If you're looking for an action/arcade game for your Windows Phone that is a tough nut to crack, take a look at Couplinked.

The game has you controlling two nodes (or dots) that are connected by an electrical field. Your job is to collect colored rings that are flying across the screen with the corresponding node you control. You also have a red ball that flies through from time to time that will ruin your day.

Available for low-memory devices, Couplinked may not appeal to everyone but there's little doubt that this is a Windows Phone game that is frustratingly challenging.

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Woody Infinity is an endless runner that is played out on a wakeboard. Towed by a jet ski, you are tasked with helping Woody navigate an endless obstacle course full of islands, docks, ski jumps and other objects bent on ruining Woody's day.

Game play is timed and you'll need to make it to various check points to keep the game going. There are bonus items along the course that will help Woody survive the courses and to keep the game interesting, there are a handful of missions to complete.

Unfortunately the game is not available for low-memory devices. However, for those with 1GB+ devices Woody Infinity isn't a bad option to consider if you're looking for a time waster of a game for your Windows Phone.

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TouchRetouch is a handy Windows Phone photography app designed to help you remove unwanted content from your photographs. Whether it's a blemish on someone's portrait or an annoying tree limb that has snuck into the frame, TouchRetouch can get rid of them.

The photo editor lacks any additional editing tools (crop, exposure adjustments, filters, etc.) but does a decent job of automatically cloning out unwanted content or objects from your photos. The controls are simple and straightforward and for the most part, TouchRetouch makes a nice first impression.

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Red Herring is a new Windows Phone word game from the developers behind 7 Little Words. It's more of a casual game with no timer or score to achieve.

The goal is to group a collection of words into the correct category. The game has three levels of difficulty and daily challenges. Red Herring comes loaded with fifty puzzles with additional puzzle packs available through in-app purchase.

Available for low-memory devices, Red Herring makes a nice first impression and with three difficulty levels, the game has appeal for Windows Phone gamers of all ages.

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Table Tennis 3D hit the Windows Phone Store recently and offers a fantastic gaming option for those who like to smack the little white ball around the table.

Available for 512MB devices, Table Tennis 3D offers twenty unique table tennis players to challenge, online multi-player gaming and career or single game play.

Table Tennis 3D has had a fair amount of success over on iOS and Android platforms and, based on the short time we've had with the game, is bound to have similar achievements here on the Windows Phone platform.

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Quick review of the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station

Starting on Friday, Microsoft began to sell the new Surface Pro 3 Docking Station at various retail locations. So besides being a laptop and tablet replacement, your Surface Pro 3 can do triple duty as a full desktop replacement too.

The $199 accessory is by no means 'cheap' – in terms of either price or quality – but it is awesome. I managed to grab one from my local Microsoft Store in Natick, MA. Here are my initial thoughts, including a hands on video.

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Plight of the Zombie is one of the latest zombie genre games to land in the Windows Phone Store. It has seen a fair amount of success over on iOS and Android with the developer hoping for similar results here on the Windows Phone platform.

Plight of the Zombie isn't a tower defense game or a game where you get to hunt down and wipe out the zombie hordes. Instead, the game offers over 50 puzzles that you have to help your zombie solve. Of course, in the process there is plenty of brains to indulge upon.

Available for low-memory devices, Plight of the Zombie comes across as a fun, casual paced game for Windows Phone. The biggest downside to the game is the lack of a trial version (but we've got a trick to work around that).

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Last month we reported on a new Xbox One controller design from Controller Modz, a UK-based controller modding specialist. The company basically allows users to buy authentic first-party controllers for a variety of consoles and choose to have them decorated with a variety of custom paint jobs and designs. The service doesn't come cheap, but Controller Modz promises professional-quality results.

Reading about the Controller Modz service via press release is one thing, but as a controller enthusiast I was eager to get my hands on a custom controller for review. Controller Modz offers 19 unique Xbox One designs to choose from, as well as a "Build Your Own" feature for greater customization. For this review, I went with the "Sticker Bomb" design that features a colorful combination of racing-style livery across the front of the controller.

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Qais Quest is a nicely animated Windows Phone platform game where you play the role of Qais, a lost knight trying to find his way home.

The graphics remind me a little of the Rayman series of games and the game play is your traditional platformer style with plenty of obstacles to jump, enemies to slay and gems to collect.

Qais Quest is a fun game to pass the time with and is available for low-memory devices. If you are a fan of platformers or just looking for a nice title to add to your gaming library, Qais Quest is worth a try.

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We've got endless runner games, endless jumper games and now an endless surfer game. Soaper Coaster takes you to the world's longest bathtub for a challenging game where you must provide a steady supply of waves to guide a rubber duck over, under and past various bathtub hazards. You've got your common hazards such as hair dryers, frayed wires, soap dishes and then you have the not so common hazards such as enemy rubber ducks armed with laser canons.

Available for low-memory devices, the game includes upgrades for your duck to increase its awesomeness and an online leaderboard. It may take you a few tries to get used to the controls but overall Soaper Coaster isn't a bad time waster of a game.

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EmojiHunt is a match-three styled game for Windows Phone that, as you would guess, calls on you to find matches of three or more of the same styled emoji.

The game has forty-eight levels of play, each requiring you to hunt down particular sets of emoji before time runs out. While the game premise sounds easy, you might be surprised how hard it is to identify matching emoji.

Available for 512MB devices, EmojiHunt is a colorful, challenging match-three styled game that isn't a bad time waster.

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Iaculator is an arcade space-shooter Windows Phone game that takes elements from classic games such as Asteroids and Galaga to create a mildly entertaining time waster of a game where you are tasked with destroying everything in sight.

The game has potential but the pace of the game drags at times to the point of being too easy. Iaculator isn't a total wash with nice graphics, the ability to use points earned to upgrade your ship and a decent range of weapons to deploy.

Available for low-memory devices, Iaculator Free Space Shooter isn't a bad gaming option to have in your Windows Phone library. It just could use a little fine-tuning.

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We mentioned the release of the new Windows Phone game World of Rabbit - The Crossing over the weekend and it made a nice first impression. The game is the sequel to the popular World of Rabbit - The Dig that landed in the Windows Phone Store a couple of years ago and shares the same entertaining game play, colorful graphics and animations as the original.

Where The Dig was more of a time management game, The Crossing takes on more of an arcade style of game play. The rabbits will take to the high seas to visit the ancient rabbit islands to collect forgotten artifacts. Sounds easy enough but the seas are infested with annoying robots that are dead set on destroying the rabbits and their ship.

Available for low memory devices, World of Rabbit - The Crossing is a nice follow-up game to the original. Plus you have the bonus features of unlockable 3D printable toys (for those with a 3D printer lying around) and World of Rabbit wallpapers.

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Shiny The Firefly is a wonderfully drawn up arcade styled game that is available for Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices (low-memory included). The game's backstory has you playing the role of Shiny, a firefly who has lost all his babies.

To gather all the children, Shiny must navigate a colorful garden maze and avoid mosquitos, toads, wasps, centipedes and other dangers. The arcade has simple mechanics and at times a puzzle game approach.

Shiny The Firefly has a casual pace, plenty of challenges and is a nice gaming option for your Windows Phone library. The biggest hurdle this game will have to overcome is the lack of a trial version.

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Last Friday, AT&T and Microsoft finally set the green Lumia 1520 loose as inventory went out to AT&T stores across the country. The green Lumia 1520 is no different from the currently available ones except for the bold, green color, and it is bold. I do not hesitate to label this green as nearly fluorescent because it is very audacious.

Although static promo shots tell one story, hands on video and some high-quality real photos tell another. Therefore, with that introduction, here is a quick look at the 'Hulk' Lumia 1520, one of the boldest Windows Phones to date.

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