Reviews

Last year, the Xbox One launched with a graphical tour-de-force racing game known as Forza Motorsport 5. This year, Microsoft and developer and developer Playground Games (plus Sumo Digital, who handled the Xbox 360 version) have returned with the more approachable, open world spin-off Forza Horizon 2.

The new Horizon improves upon Forza 5's gorgeous graphics engine and photorealistic cars, creating the best looking racer yet. Players drive across southern Europe solo or online, exploring the countryside and participating in hundreds of events at their leisure. You won't find another racing game with Forza Horizon 2's sense of exploration and adventure. Learn about the game's wealth of races and social features in our comprehensive review with video, and be sure to join the WPCentral club!!

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Cops is a retro styled Windows Phone arcade game that has pixelated, monotone graphics and mildly challenging game play. You play the role of one of the most wanted criminals and have to navigate through the nine platform styled gaming levels.

You can run, jump and shoot your way through all the coppers who are determined to throw you in the big house. Along with the run of the mill street cops, you will also have to face off with two bosses.

Reminiscent of the old GameBoy, or maybe even the Commodore 64 video games, Cops does have a certain level of appeal and is available for low-memory devices.

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Run Down, a fast-paced survival game for Windows Phone

Run Down is a fast paced, arcade styled game of survival where you have to control a falling ball and make sure it never reaches the top of the screen. Call it a reverse jumper game for Windows Phone.

It's a game of survival with simple controls, three difficulty levels and a handful of ball styles to choose from. Run Down isn't an overly complicated game but has it's fair share of challenges. The game is available for low-memory devices and Run Down isn't a bad gaming option to have in your Windows Phone gaming library for the times you need a little help burning a few minutes.

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We're taking a look at the $179 dual-SIM Windows Phone from BLU!

BLU is starting to make waves here in the Americas with their Win line of Windows Phones. Both the Win JR and Win HD offer customers yet another viable option for jumping on to Microsoft's growing platform while on a budget.

Previously, we showed you the Win JR, an $89 Windows Phone that left us impressed. Today, it is the Win HD, its bigger and much cooler looking sibling. Running for $179 on Amazon and Microsoft Stores (soon), the Win HD is one lovely looking Windows Phone.

Let's see what it is all about!

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Bouncing Sheep is an arcade styled Windows Phone game where you drop sheep down on to a flock of birds to take them out. The storyline has your sheep peacefully enjoying the quiet of the pasture when a bunch of noisy birds invades the rolling hills.

The game includes dozens of levels to play that are spread across three landscapes (the Hills, Beach and Desert), plenty of power-ups to help you defeat the birds and decent graphics. Available for low-memory devices, Bouncing Sheep's game play reminds me of the old Pachinko games.

In playing Bouncing Sheep on and off for the past few days, I can see the appeal the game could have as an entertaining time waster of a game.

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As smartphone and tablet technology advances by leaps and bounds every year, battery technology unfortunately progresses at a much different pace. Even powerful phones like the Lumia 1520 will run out of power before long if you do much gaming and movie watching on them. Wall and car chargers can only help so much, as we often use mobile devices away from those life-sustaining outlets.

The solution for consumers, of course, is to grab an external battery (aka power bank). Lumsing (makers of the excellent Ultrathin Bluetooth keyboard) offers several different power banks to choose from. The Lumsing 10,400 mAh Harmonica Power Bank is one of their more robust options, with enough power to charge a tablet like the Dell Venue 8 Pro twice over. It's also shockingly affordable at only $19.99 on Amazon. Let's take a closer look at the big little power bank.

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We mentioned Trivia Crack being released in the Windows Phone Store last week and had the opportunity to spend some time with the game to see how well it shook out. Trivia Crack is an online trivia game, very similar in nature to the popular Trivial Pursuit games.

You have six categories of questions to test your knowledge against and a few power-ups (life lines) to help nudge you in the right direction. Answer three questions in a category to try to win a crown and win all six crowns you win the match.

Available for low-memory devices, Trivia Crack isn't a bad choice of games but it felt more like a work in progress than a polished final product.

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Canyon Capers is a retro styled arcade platform Windows Phone game that has you guiding your players across fifty levels of play, collecting gems and treasures while ducking and dodging dangerous creatures.

Graphics have that early 1990's feel and while some may find game play uneventful, the game does grow on you. Available for low-memory devices, Canyon Capers isn't a bad option to consider if you are looking for a throwback styled Windows Phone game.

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Flat Out, a fast paced time waster for Windows Phone

Got a few minutes to burn? Like fast-paced Windows Phone puzzle games? Then you need to check out Flat Out in the Windows Phone Store.

The game is simple to pick up but may drive you nuts trying to master it. Flat Out challenges you to trace a circle within a sequence of gems by connecting gems of the same color. Sounds easy on the surface but you are racing a clock and the circle patterns aren't always obvious.

Available for low-memory devices, Flat Out is an appealing, somewhat addictive Windows Phone game that can help you pass short bits of time. Heck, it might even stand up to longer gaming sessions.

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Zen Studios is best known for Pinball FX2, but this week they released two totally different games for Xbox One: CastleStorm: Definitive Edition and KickBeat: Special Edition. KickBeat started out on Playstation 3 and Vita, finally arriving on Xbox One today in this new edition.

If music games are usually too sterile or non-violent for you, prepare for a beating. KickBeat is a martial arts rhythm featuring an authentic Kung Fu movie-style story and plenty of hard-hitting music to fight to. This Special Edition shakes things up with an expanded soundtrack. Just prepare for a few beatdowns as you adjust to the game's fierce learning curve.

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Tigerball, a Windows Phone game with a little bounce

Tigerball is a fun time waster of a game where you have to toss a ball into a basket. While the game sounds simple, the challenge comes into play with the ball being a little on the hyperactive side. Much like you would find with a super ball.

You also have various obstacles to bounce your ball around, through and over that adds to the game's challenge. There are two gaming modes and fifty levels of play. Tigerball is available for low-memory and Windows 8 devices, gets a 5 Star rating in the Windows Phone Store and overall is an addictive, entertaining game to pass the time with.

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Gratitude Journal is a Windows Phone app that is designed to make it easy to record daily journal entries and in the traditional sense of the title, remind ourselves what we are grateful for. However, there is no rule you can use it as journal for just about anything.

Gratitude Journal takes advantage of gesture based controls and voice dictations to help you document your entries. Add OneDrive support along with location based weather information that is automatically added to your entries and I can see Gratitude Journal appealing to many Windows Phone users.

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Windows Phone games and apps that are designed for children can be a helpful tool for those times you need to keep your child occupied. Whether it's a long car drive, waiting for a meal to be served at a restaurant or for the times you just need a little quiet time. They can also be a subtle way to teach your child a thing or two.

110 Puzzles for Kids is one such Windows Phone game that hopes to land in your Kid's Corner.

The game, as you would guess, is a collection of puzzles designed for 3 to 4 year old toddler to tackle and will help develop their observation and visual memory skills. The game is available for low-memory devices and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, if you have younger children it's worth a try.

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In case you have not heard, the iPhone 6 and its larger cousin the iPhone 6 Plus launched over the weekend. Apple reportedly sold over 10 million of the new phones to consumers, breaking yet another record. Regardless of your opinion of the iPhone, any smartphone that can sell that much in three days sets the bar for the industry.

How does the iPhone 6 stack up against some of the top Windows Phones? It is a valid question, especially if you are in the market for a new phone, considering switching, or a just curious as to where Apple is still leading.

I managed to pick up the iPhone 6 this weekend, like millions of others. In the following video, I give my impressions of the phone as compared to the Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520, and HTC One for Windows (the Lumia 925 and Lumia 930 also appear).

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Rawer is an image editor for your Windows Phone. While many will shrug their shoulders and mutter, "Ugh, another photo editor!?" what sets this image editor apart from other editors is its ability to open and edit RAW image files.

Rawer will not only open and edit RAW (DNG) images captured by a Lumia 1020, 1520, 930 or Icon but the app can also open RAW files from several DSLR cameras. The app has OneDrive support and has the ability to check the image EXIF information.

Rawer is a Windows Phone photography app that definitely has a certain level of appeal for those who like to dabble with RAW image files.

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Earlier this year, Czech developer Alda Games (no relation to Alan Alda) released a couple of kid-friendly games for free on Windows Phone: Save the Snail and World of Cheese. At that time, the developer teased an upcoming tower defense game called Defend Your Life. Development on that one is nearing the finish line, but in the meantime Alda has published another new game: Eggies.

Eggies is a virtual pet simulator, sort of like Tamagotchi. It also offers nine minigames to play, some of which are pretty fun. Like Alda's previous games, Eggies is free and supported by ads. This one does have some in-app purchases, but they're totally optional and unobtrusive. It also works on 512 MB RAM devices – always a good thing for kids games. Continue reading for our full review and hands-on video!

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If you are in the mood to create custom Start Screen backgrounds and Lockscreen Wallpapers, there are plenty of Windows Phone 8.1 apps to choose from. Tile Backgrounds is one option that hopes to catch your attention and find its way onto your Windows Phone.

Tile Backgrounds has options to crop and edit your photos so they fit your needs. The layout is simple and the app does have the potential to create some fantastic looking backgrounds and wallpapers. However, there is one aspect of Tile Backgrounds that may not be very appealing to some.

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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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