Reviews

If light leak effects are your cup of tea, you may want to check out the Windows Phone 8 photography app Lights of Cali.

The app has over 230 light leak effects, a wide assortment of text overlays and the ability to add your signature to your photos. You can apply these effects to existing images or launch a camera app to capture new images to edit. Lights of Cali also has a social network where you can share your creations and view other member's use of light leaks.

In just tinkering with Lights of Cali over the past few days, it comes across as a capable photography app for your Windows Phone.

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Every week, I like to look into the “Newly discovered games” thread in our forums to discover new Windows Phone games to play. Our dedicated readers seek out new game releases and share their Store links. Often the games are great - such as Magic Realms, which also has its own forum thread. But other times somebody will share a game that’s not so hot; those are the breaks.

One such game I discovered there is Hockey Fight (available in Pro and Lite versions) from Ratrod Studio. Ratrod has released some very impressive games on Windows Phone like the Drift Mania series and the Skateboard Party series. They have also released Hockey Fight. The idea of a game dedicated to hockey fights is fairly promising, but Hockey Fight lacks some of the polish and features we’ve come to expect from Ratrod games (including Moga controller support, sadly).  Read on for our full review.

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With the release of Windows Phone 8.1, under the Preview for Developers program, we have seen a number of apps surface in the Windows Phone Store focused on creating custom Start Screen backgrounds. Each app seems to follow the same pattern of having a simple interface and plenty of creative styles.

Theme+ is one of the more recent additions to this genre of apps and falls in line with those that have come before. Theme+ has a simple interface that allows you to create custom designs that can add a dash of color to your Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen.

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OneLens is a Windows Phone 8 photography app that offers up over thirty film filters that can add a creative touch to your pictures. The app has an internal camera app that allows you to preview and then apply your creative filters to your photographs.

OneLens is a simple option for the times you need to snap a quick pic and apply a creative filter. The photo app also includes editing tools to adjust the intensity of the filter application, crop or change the filter choice all together. You can also import existing photos to edit and OneLens supports original image sizes of up to 38MP.

It may not be your daily driver for photography but OneLens isn't a bad option to consider as a supplemental app.

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One of the ideals of Microsoft’s connected ecosystem of Xbox consoles, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 and RT is easy portability between the various platforms. Make it easy for developers to write one game and release it to more than one Microsoft platform and consumers win too since they get more software to choose from.

Last December the Xbox One saw its first port from Windows 8: Microsoft’s Halo: Spartan Assault. Now NinjaBee/Wahoo Studios (nobody can say the difference between the two labels) has brought their own Windows 8 game over to Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox program: Nutjitsu. This one is basically the exact same tablet/PC game but with Achievements.

If playing a tiny retro-style game on your expensive new console doesn’t hurt your pride, you might want to give Nutjitsu a try. Read on for our full review with video!

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Blazin' Aces is a new air combat game for Windows Phone 8 that was released last week. The game is nicely drawn up, has its fair share of challenges but can also be a little on the frustrating side.

You play the role of a pilot in the golden era of aviation (World War I/II periods) and have to defeat the invading forces. Blazin' Aces has two gaming modes, a soundtrack that fits the action well and plenty of power-ups/boost to help you with your mission. The game is similar to Mini-Squadron (which is sadly no longer available), just a little more edgy.

Blazin' Aces will require a little patience until you get used to game play and the controls, but will begin to grow on you once you get a hang of things.

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Mini Motor Racing is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 arcade styled racing game with quality graphics and challenging racecourses. The cars remind me of those miniature RC cars and there are plenty racing car styles to unlock. Add over three-hundred races to win with two racing modes and Mini Motor Racing will not grow stale too quick.

The game has seen decent success over on iOS and based on what we've seen, Mini Motor Racing should see similar here on the Windows Phone 8 platform.

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AE Cap Mania is one of the more recent releases from AE Mobile for Windows Phone. The game is a match-3 styled game but instead of working horizontally or vertically to create the matches, you are moving puzzle pieces diagonally and vertically.

You have your customary bonus caps that will help you reach your gaming goal with bonus rounds scattered about to keep things interesting. AE Cap Mania is a well presented, casually paced Windows Phone game and not a bad option for your gaming library.

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Pigs Can't Fly is a light-hearted Windows Phone 8 game that has you helping a lost little pig who has crash landed in Hell. You will need to guide the pig through eighty levels filled with dangers and eventually escape the perilous underworld.

Pigs Can't Fly has nice graphics, straightforward gaming controls and plenty of challenging game play. It is a nice choice to have in your Windows Phone gaming library when you are in the mood for a game with a slightly more relaxed pace.

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Prognoza is an attractive Windows Phone 8 weather app that delivers the basic forecast information to your phone. The app recently won the Windows Phone Challenge in Bosnia/Herzegovina this year and while we have plenty of weather apps in the Windows Phone Store, Prognoza does have a certain level of eye-appeal.

If you're looking for a basic weather app for your Windows Phone, Prognoza is worth a look.

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Long ago, the gods of Olympus gave the world a dinosaur-themed fighting game called Primal Rage. Sadly, we lowly humans were not ready for its awesomeness, and so the creators never bestowed us with a sequel. There may have been a great flood in there somewhere too.

Still, humanity never forgot how cool it was to put two dinosaurs into a ring and make them duke it out. And so an indie developer named Gluten Free Games has taken up the torch to make a new dinosaur fighting game for Windows Phone called Jurassic Arena. It’s nowhere as good as Primal Rage, but it does have 10 dinosaurs, and it’s completely free (for now). Head past the break for our full review with video.

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CrazyMaze Lite is a challenging Windows Phone puzzle game that has you maneuvering a marble through a series of creative mazes. Mazes that are full of holes that will end your journey, portals that will send you across the maze and other pitfalls that you will have to negotiate around.

CrazyMaze Lite has a bit of a casual feel to game play but challenging enough to keep things interesting. If you are looking for a change of pace for you Windows Phone gaming needs, CrazyMaze Lite is worth a look.

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Another Case Solved is a challenging mystery game for Windows Phone 8 that is a collection of puzzles, riddles and matching games. You play the role of a detective working to get to the bottom of a curious candy conspiracy. Along the way you can pick up small jobs to generate experience and cash as well as tackling the mysteries of the main story line.

We highlighted Another Case Solved last week when it was released and have been able to spend a little time with the game sense. The game made a nice first impression and after playing the game for a few days, the impression hasn't faded by much.

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Raining Blobs is a relatively new Windows Phone arcade game that has a bit of a Tetris styled flair to it. You have to group blobs of color together as they fall from the top of the screen and clear them by adding two of the same colored blobs that have stars.

Raining Blobs has five gaming modes, plenty of challenges and is colorfully animated. The controls are a little cumbersome to begin with but you do get used to them the more you play. There is a slight addictive quality to the game and if you're looking for a casual game that has a little challenge to pass the time with, Raining Blobs is worth a try.

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SplitPic is a unique Windows Phone 8 photography app that allows you to divide your camera viewfinder into several sections and blend the photos you take into a single, creative image.

SplitPic will combine existing images in your Windows Phone Pictures Hub or let you capture new images to merge. Editing features include alignment, blending, filters and focusing tools to further expand SplitPic's creative potential. SplitPic is a very appealing app that further expands our Windows Phone photography.

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Bowling Western is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 game that puts an old west twist to the sport of bowling. From the cactus in the background to the wooden bowling pins, one can only imagine that your bowling shoes are fitted with spurs.

Bowling Western has nice graphics, decent animations and has single and multiplayer gaming options. The Windows Phone 8 game could use a little fine-tuning but as is, Bowling Western makes a decent first impression.

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Turret Commander is a fast-paced air combat game for Windows Phone 8 that places you behind the turret gun of a B-17 Flying Fortress.

You are tasked, as one can imagine, with defending the B-17 from enemy aircraft intent on ending your flight early. Graphics are well done, game play challenging and with an endless gaming mode on top of over twenty mission flights, Turret Commander makes a nice first impression.

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Lots of readers rely on Windows Phone Central to learn about new Windows Phone games, but how does our staff discover games to share with the folks at home? My favorite method is by checking the “Newly discovered games thread” in our forums. Dedicated readers like “John Lampard” and Mohamed Ashid post a never-ending stream of Store links for new games.

One of the games our forum boys recently shared actually surprised me quite a bit. Jelly Smash is a match-3 puzzle game from AceViral.com, makers of Angry Gran Run. At first glance, I pegged Jelly Smash as another Candy Crush Saga clone to throw on the pile. But the more I played this one, the more I realized how well it stands on its own. It also happens to be exclusive to Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT, which adds a few extra cool points in my book.

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Splemy is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 game that is wonderfully animated, full of challenging levels and a fun game to pass the time with. The story line has you helping Splemy, an odd little character, journey through seventy-five levels of play to find his creator.

Along the way you'll have to navigate through, around and over mysterious caves, mushroom forests and an abandoned factory. Splemy's journey isn't a cake walk by any stretch with plenty of dangers to avoid.  Each level has goals for the number of moves, number of critters you collect and the time it takes you to go from start to finish. Splemy will test your aim with a slingshot, your skills at strategy and speed.

Splemy is an odd little game for Windows Phone 8 but in a good way.

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WMW? XYY is the latest installment to the Where’s My Water? series of Windows Phone games from Disney Mobile. It features the Chinese TV cartoon character XYY who is on a medieval adventure through China. Game play has you solving puzzles to help XYY find his way through an underground city and save his friends.

The game also features the Big Bad Wolf, who has his own series of puzzles to solve. Where previous installments of the Where’s My Water series involved physic based puzzles featuring water mechanics, WMW? XYY adds oil and fire mechanics to the mix. While WMW? XYY is an appealing gaming title with nice graphics and mildly challenging puzzles, the game may come across as too easy for some.

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UbiShow is a slideshow maker for Windows Phone 8 where you can take your pictures, add background music and create a video slideshow that can be shared through OneDrive or uploaded to YouTube.

The interface does take a little time to get used to but in tinkering with UbiShow for a short while, it makes a nice first impression. UbiShow is an easy way to turn your Windows Phone 8 still images into a video slideshow.

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Several Windows 8 and RT tablets have excellent first-party keyboard options, namely the Type Cover for the Surface and Surface Pro and Nokia’s Power Keyboard for the Lumia 2520. But sometimes the official keyboard is expensive (see the two keyboards I just mentioned) and some tablets just don’t have first-party keyboard options.

That’s where MiniSuit (maker of my Lumia 1520 case) comes in. The MiniSuit BluBoard is a universal wireless Bluetooth keyboard that works with Windows 8 and RT, Windows 7, Android, and iOS. It won’t break the bank and you can keep using it even if you switch tablets. But does it do everything a Windows tablet user needs a keyboard to do? Find out in our full review.

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Sometimes, the most addicting apps are the simplest.

Today’s review of Laser Dodger in the Windows Store, truly adopts that motto and runs with it. This arcade style game comes in at a super small 5.8MB when downloaded and is completely free for all to play.  There is no reason that you should not at least give it a go and dodge some face-melting lasers.

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Race Illegal: High Speed 3D is one of the more recent racing games available for Windows Phone 8. The game offers nice 3D graphics, several gaming modes and hopes to fill your need for speed.

Along with the multiple gaming modes, Race Illegal: High Speed 3D offers twenty racetracks to conquer and nine cars to choose from and customize. The game has had its fair share of success over on iOS and Android platforms and in taking Race Illegal: High Speed 3D out for a test drive, the game comes across as having similar potential on the Windows Phone 8 platform.

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There isn’t much to the Windows Phone 8 game Rope Jump but it is enough to drive you crazy trying to master this game.

Rope Jump is simply a game of jump rope where timing and speed being the key to success. It may be surprising how difficult it is to get those two aspects in tune so you can any success at Rope Jump.

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