Reviews

Game Insight knows a thing or two about city building games. The Russian publisher has already brought two My City titles and Airport City over to Windows Phone and Windows 8. Each of these genre entries does things a little differently from the rest. 2020 My Country, for example, takes place in a near future setting. Airport City focuses on building a thriving airport and its urban surroundings.

Big Business Deluxe is Game Insight's latest city builder for Windows Phone (Windows 8 and RT versions will come later). As you might expect, this one goes into much more depth on the business side of things. Players will start new businesses and factories, developing goods into new products and using the profits to further expand their burgeoning metropolises. It works with phones with 512 MB of RAM right out of the gate and is a relatively small download, so all Windows Phone 8 users can have a chance at starting their own business empires.

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Amazed is a Windows Phone game for those who like a little action in their games - action in the literal sense of the word.

Amazed is a virtual maze that requires you to physically walk your way out of it. The game uses your Windows Phone GPS to plot your location in the maze and you walk around as needed to escape the maze and avoid various pitfalls. As you would guess, this isn't a game to be played from the couch or the living room for that matter. You'll need a large space to accommodate all the twists and turns the maze will present. There is a time element involved so don't be surprised if you work up a sweat while escaping the maze.

While not available for low-memory Windows Phones, Amazed has the potential to be an entertaining fitness game for your Windows Phone. The game reminds me of Zombies Run! but without story line. I like the concept but there is a few performance issues present that need to be ironed out to let the game shine brighter.

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If you are looking for a casual puzzle game, that has plenty of challenging levels to tackle, take a look at Plumber Reloaded for Windows Phone 8.

Available for Windows Phone 8 devices, including low-memory models, Plumber Reloaded calls on you to connect various elemental symbols together with pipes. The challenge comes into play in that you cannot cross the pipes.

Plumber Reloaded isn't an overly complicated Windows Phone game but six levels of difficulty, 430 puzzle levels and three game modes it'll keep you busy for a while.

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I don't have any kids (yet), but if I did I'd be all over Children's books for Windows Phone. It's a free app in the Windows Phone Store for youngsters and parents of said youngsters. WIth it you get interactive books for kids, a coloring book and a memory game. Scroll down for a hands-on video of the app.

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Although our #MobileFit campaign ended in June, it does not mean we cannot still talk about apps. A new one on the Store worth checking out is FitnessCompanion made by dotcompt. Some of you may know dotcompt from the good old ROM days, but he also has a few apps on the Windows Phone Store.

FitnessCompanion is an all in one app for those looking to get or stay in shape. The app has numerous things going for it including a really gorgeous design, sensor support (not SensorCore) and even a personal assistant.

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Microsoft fans dream of a connected ecosystem in which we can buy a game once and play it on phone, tablet, PC, and console. We're not quite there yet, but at least some game developers are supporting all of those platforms. Take London-based indie developer Mudvark Limited. Mudvark's debut title Mortar Melon is already available on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT. And soon it will come to Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox program.

Mortar Melon is a physics-based puzzle game in which players try to fire watermelons through obstacle-filled levels and safely into a basket. The game is free to play on both Windows Phone and Windows 8, with an extra batch of levels available as an in-app purchase. It runs on Windows Phones with 512 MB of RAM, so everybody can have fun breaking, I mean saving watermelons.

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Tap Tap Glider is a nicely drawn up endless runner styled game that has you piloting a paper airplane through a maze of obstacles.

Controls are minimal and game play has its moments. Tap Tap Glider plays out like Line Birds or, dare I say, Flappy Bird and is an enjoyable time killer of a game. Available for low-memory devices, Tap Tap Glider could use a few more features but as is, the game is an appealing addition to the Windows Phone gaming library.

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Along with the Lumia 930 starting to become available, globally Nokia also has a new case for it and the Lumia Icon.

Dubbed the CP-637 the flip cover is similar to the CP-623 for the Lumia 1520. The case offers some nice reinforcement of the back, a rather large hole for the camera, and a reinforced flip cover to protect your 5-inch display. Check out our hands on video with it to get an idea of what it is like!

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Death Drop isn't your typical Windows Phone game in that you are tasked with jumping your gaming character from a perfectly good airplane and guide him to a target on the ground.

The gaming concept doesn't sound too off-beat until you realize there are no parachutes involved in this game. Each jump destination has multiple targets to strike that range from park benches to garden gnomes to moving vehicles. It's your mission to slam your daredevil into these targets with little regard to safety.

Available for 512MB devices, Death Drop may not hold up to marathon gaming sessions but if you are looking for something off the beaten path, it may be worth a try.

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Some time ago, we ran across a decent endless runner styled Windows Phone game from Loon Apps, Covy Rush, where you guide a rabbit through an obstacle course full of dangers. Covy Land is the follow-up to Covy Rush that has similar dangers but is presented as more of a platform styled game.

Covy Land has you guiding the rabbit, Covy, across thirty levels of play and help Covy find all her children. You will have traps and blocks to avoid along with secret passages to discover.

Available for 512MB devices, Covy Land does have a certain amount of appeal. Graphic are nicely drawn-up, game play is challenging with a fast pace but the game does have a Kid's Corner feel about it, which may not be attractive to everyone.

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Rival Knights is a new action game from Gameloft for both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. The game puts you in the saddle of a horse, jousting your way through medieval knight after knight.

The fast-paced game has tons of equipment upgrades and horses to purchase with your winnings and the 3D graphics are rather spot on. Game play reminds me a bit of the drag racing games where you tap to shift gears in order to pick up speed. However with Rival Knights you have the opportunity to knock your opponent on their keister at the end of the race.

The game is available for 512MB devices and is a fantastic way to pass the time.

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Gotya is an interesting app that hopes to turn your Windows Phone camera into a remote controlled, motion activated surveillance camera. You can set your front or rear camera to take pictures when a motion area is breached. Images can be saved locally or to Gotya's Cloud Service.

There are a few additional bells and whistles with Gotya that add to the app's appeal but the motion detection can be a little on the sensitive side. The app, which is available for 512MB devices, has potential and a little fine-tuning will help Gotya shine a little brighter in the Windows Phone Store.

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Readiy, a no frills Feedly client for Windows 8

Readiy is a simple Feedly client for Windows 8. The app doesn't have very many bells and whistles and covers the basics rather nicely.

Readiy has a clean appearance, swift synchronization with all your subscriptions and if you aren't happy with your current RSS reader, Readiy might be just what the doctor ordered.

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Sound Meditation is one of the many health and fitness apps in the Windows Phone Store designed generate relaxing sounds. Sounds to help you chill out or fall asleep easier.

Compared to other sound generators, Sound Meditation stands out a little with the ability to create sound compilations that meet your likes or moods. The app has over thirty five sounds that can be mixed to create a sound compilation that will help you relax.

It may not be the most glamorous health and fitness app but Sound Meditation isn't a bad option to consider if you need a little help relaxing while pursuing your MobileFit goals. Moreover, it's available for low-memory Windows Phones and Windows 8 devices.

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Spell-O-Mania is a Windows Phone game that will test your spelling bee skills in simple fashion. The game offers a wide range of words with helpful hints such as word length, meaning and origin.

A Cortana-like voice guides you through game play, delivering not only the word to be spelled but also your hints. Spell-O-Mania doesn't have many bells and whistles but does a nice job of challenging your spelling skills. The game could use a little polishing up but, all-in-all, Spell-O-Mania isn't a bad Windows Phone educational game.

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Gun Club 3: Virtual Weapon Sim is a feature rich shooting range game for your Windows Phone. It not only has a weapon simulator for dozens of weapons but you also have a firearms range experience that has you battling Zombies, tossed in the middle of a World War II battle and trying your hand at long distance shooting with sniper rifles.

Gun Club 3 has rather nice graphics, the weapons handle with a good amount of realism and the range courses are challenging. Navigation can be a little overwhelming with the many options available but if you like shooting galleries, Gun Club 3 is a Windows Phone app worth trying.

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Weather apps. Windows Phone has no shortage of them, possibly due to their frequency of use as well as the ability to work with specific data. Regardless, I am always excited to see new ones join the flock, especially if they embrace the Modern design language from Microsoft.

Atmosphere is a wonderfully designed weather app for Windows Phone 8 that has enough features to keep most forecast fans content. The design of Atmosphere is probably its main feature, as it is bold, clean and easy to read. Likewise with the Live Tile, which has one of the better layouts I have seen.

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Microsoft's Surface tablets have multiple great first-party keyboards to choose from. Several other Windows 8 and RT tablets have fine official keyboards as well, such as the Nokia Lumia 2520 with its Power Keyboard. These keyboards have a couple of things in common. They're typically a bit expensive, and probably can't be used with other tablets. Universal keyboards, on the other hand, don't suffer from either of those issues…

A few months ago we reviewed one such keyboard for tablets, the MiniSuit BluBoard. Now we're back with a look at the Lumsing Ultrathin Wireless Keyboard, which works with Windows 8 and RT, Android, and iOS devices. Lumsing's peripheral doesn't come with its own case and tablet stand, but it makes up for that by being more portable and offering better Windows support. It's also really affordable! We'll walk you through its ins and outs as well as the unwieldy Windows 8 Bluetooth setup process.

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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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The Surface Pro 3 is one powerful tablet. Or a computer. Regardless of how you use it, the Surface Pro 3 can do a lot, especially with that single USB 3.0 port on the side. Recently, we took a look at a 4-in-1 adapter for the Surface series, but today we have a new one that is also highly affordable.

The HooToo HT-UE01 3-Port USB 3.0 HUB with 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Converter costs less than $30, and it greatly enhances what you can do on the Surface Pro series (all three generations). RT users have to sit on the side as Ethernet support non-functioning with this adapter.

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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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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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Car Check is a nifty Windows Phone app that lets you track and manage your automotive expenses. Car Check has the ability to track your gasoline costs, maintenance costs, set reminders for scheduled maintenance and back all the data up to your OneDrive or Dropbox accounts.

The Windows Phone app also has the ability to chart your fuel consumption, distribution of automotive costs and fuel prices. Add Live Tile support and Car Check isn't a bad option to consider to help you monitor your automotive costs.

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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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Juiced Systems USB 3 Surface 4-in-1 Adapter review

Last summer we reviewed an accessory for the Microsoft Surface and Surface Pro called the Microsoft Surface 5-in-1 Adapter. The tiny device plugged into a Surface tablet and gave it extra USB and SD card ports. As someone who occasionally needs to use his Surface for desktop-style work, I found the extra ports very handy. But the Surface 5-in-1 Adapter did suffer from a few design issues that limited its usefulness a bit, most notably the lack of USB 3.0 support.

Juiced Systems has taken our feedback to heart, recently releasing a new and improved model called the USB 3.0 Surface 4-in-1 Adapter. It plugs into any Surface tablet's USB port and adds a total of 4 ports (USB 3.0, SD, and microSD) without the need for a separate power supply. Despite "4-in-1" being a smaller number than "5-in-1," the new accessory is actually a better and more useful device for most Surface models. Find out how well the new Adapter fits every model of Surface tablet in our detailed review.

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