Reviews

Lies of Astaroth is a fantasy card based battle game that has seen a bit of success over on iOS and now is available for Windows Phone 8. 

Game play has you dealing your characters from a deck of cards to do battle against a wide assortment of creatures.  The strategy battle game reminds me of the card games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh

While card based battle games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Lies of Astaroth does have a certain level of appeal.  Graphics are attractive, game play is fairly simple and challenging and we suspect the game will find its fair share of success on the Windows Phone platform.

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A follow up on the Lumia 1520 review and using it as my daily driver

It has been a few weeks since the colossal Lumia 1520 from Nokia was released here in the U.S. on AT&T. Since then, I have repeatedly been asked one question from people on Twitter and elsewhere: “Do you use it as your daily driver?” (inevitably followed by “Should I get one?”).

I previously reviewed the device after spending a few days with it, giving it high marks for its display and camera. But now it’s a few weeks on and some of you are wondering if I still use it. After all, I do have access to every Windows Phone 8 device out there, so why not opt for the Lumia 1020 or the Lumia 925 or even the elegant looking ATIV S Neo instead?

That’s where this article comes into play as I’ll try to answer some questions about the king of all Lumias.

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1Alarm, a no-frills alarm for Windows Phone 8

1Alarm is a simple, easy to use alarm app for Windows Phone 8.  It is a single alarm without many bells and whistles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The app makes use of gesture controls and a unique time setting interface to help the app stand out a bit.

While there are some functionality restrictions do to the Windows Phone OS, 1Alarm is not a bad option to consider if you are looking for a clean, easy to use alarm app for your Windows Phone 8 device.

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We have seen a wide range of games hit the Windows Phone Store shelves and Cliff Diving may be the first and only diving game available for Windows Phone 8.  It may not be your typical Windows Phone sports game but the game has potential.

Cliff Diving 3D has two levels of difficulty and a healthy range of dives to perform.  Graphics aren’t terrible but could use a little polishing and game play is fairly easy but not without challenge.  You will find your diver performing plenty gut-busters or belly flops until you get the game's timing down just right.

If you are looking for a unique game for Windows Phone 8 or just a change of pace from the puzzle games, Cliff Diving is worth trying.

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Slowly but surely, the upcoming Windows Phone 8 games we previewed from Casual Connect a few months ago have started to appear on the Store. First came Babel Rising 3D, then Yeti on Furry (awful name!) and Nightmares from the Deep: the Siren’s Call. Now Puzzle Retreat, the first game we covered from the show, has finally become available on Windows Phone 8.

Puzzle Retreat (from Australian developer Voxel Agents) is quite clearly a puzzle game. Windows Phone owners can enjoy the first 60 levels for free, and then opt to purchase additional level packs if they like. The developers took great pains to ensure Puzzle Retreat runs on devices with 512 MB of RAM, so everyone rocking a Windows Phone 8 device can play it.

We’ve got impressions, hands on video, and new behind the scenes info from the developer – all after the break!

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Word Soup is a relatively new word game for Windows Phone 8 that has had a fair amount of success over on iOS and Android platforms.  Word Soup is a puzzle game where you are given a sea of letters and have to find hidden words within.  The game does have a bit of a "find-a-word" puzzle game feel to it but with more pep.

Word Soup includes three single player modes, two two-player modes and comes across as an entertaining, challenging word game for Windows Phone 8.

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The Xbox One includes a free fitness and exercise game called Xbox Fitness for Xbox Live gold subscribers – see our console review for a detailed description. Not to look a gift mouth in the horse, but Xbox Fitness has a lot of room for improvement. Where’s the personality – the verve? A player serious about working out might want something more.

Luckily, Majesco Entertainment (publisher of Double Dragon: Neon for Xbox 360) and British developer Zoë Mode (makers of fellow Xbox One launch title Powerstar Golf) have a fitness game of their own for early Xbox One adopters. Zumba Fitness World Party is the latest game in the Zumba series. Combining dozens of workouts with surprisingly good music from around the globe, World Party is a title that fitness-focused Xbox One gamers should not overlook.

Head past the break for more details, exclusive screenshots, and our first-ever Xbox One video review!

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Anodia is a Windows Phone 8 game that has the feel of a brick breaker styled game but loses the traditional feel with the variety of targets you are called upon to destroy.  You do not have a series of bricks to destroy but instead you have to take out light bulbs, hanging lamps, groups of bouncy balls, and more.

The game has over one hundred gaming levels, over twenty different power-ups, and if you are a fan of the brick-breaker styled games Anodia is worth a try.

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Earlier this week, the big news for Windows Phone users was the refresh for Update 3. More specifically, if you’re participating in the Preview for Developers program, you not only get the latest access to the Windows Phone 8 OS, but you also get updates.

That update was fascinating only because it was speculated that Update 3 preview was the final release. Technically, this is true as the Lumia 1520 shipped with OS 10517. But Microsoft had some OEM fixes and minor tweaks to add for other phones, so the latest version is 10521. No new features are present, so you can stop looking yesterday.

This news means Microsoft may on occasion push out patches for the OS, although we’re not expecting that to happen too often. Still, if you want to keep abreast of the latest info, you just head to Windows Phone Central, right? The one problem is, we tend to publish a lot of articles, and many of you may miss that post (by the amount of tips we received after our story, that’s more than obvious).

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If you are yearning for a tennis game for Windows Phone 8, you need to check out Cross Court Tennis 2.  It is a relatively new sports game for Windows Phone and once you get used to the controls, it is an entertaining game to pass the time with.

Graphics are top notch, game play challenging but the screen does feel a little cramped.  Nonetheless, overall, Cross Court Tennis 2 is a welcomed addition to the Windows Phone gaming library.

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Catch is a casual game for Windows Phone 8 that calls upon you to connect like symbols together without getting your lines crossed.  The game is simply drawn-up but challenging enough to keep you interested.

The game has forty levels of game play with the free version with additional levels available through in-app purchase.  Catch also has a colorblind mode that adds a letter to the colored stars to make them distinguishable.

If you are looking for a challenging game to help you pass a few minutes with, Catch is worth a try.

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I’ve seen quite a few cases for the Nokia Lumia 1020 and other phones that generally look the same. Today though, I’m taking gander at a natural cork wood case, which is certainly one of the more unique ones I’ve come across.

Fetching for $15 to $20 on eBay, this case is the “designer splatter” design although there are plenty of other colors and layouts to choose from. The case itself is a hard plastic shell but what makes it different from other shell cases is the velvet like lining on the inside and the wood corking layer on the outside. Head past the break for some high resolution photos and a quick-video tour!

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After taking last week off to review Microsoft’s Xbox One console, I’m back with a look at a just-released indie game for Windows Phone 7 and 8. BigBot Audio Drop comes from Wisconsin-based indie developer BigBot Systems. Not only is it their first game, it’s also exclusive to Windows Phone.

BigBot Audio Drop blends traditional falling block gameplay with thumping electronic music and slick visuals. The gameplay and design are closely modeled after Lumines, an early PSP hit that later came to XBLA and other platforms. But Lumines never came to Windows Phone, so Audio Drop fills a nice gap in our favorite smartphone’s software lineup. It also comes in both paid and free versions, so it won’t break the bank.

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Alcometer is a Windows Phone app that will provide you with a rough estimate of your Blood Alcohol Content.  The results are not guaranteed and should not be used to determine your ability to drive.

Alcometer is a Windows Phone app that will help you monitor your adult beverage intake and give you a general idea on how it is affecting your body.  The app will provide an estimated blood alcohol content based on your alcoholic intake and physical characteristics, along with an approximation for how long it could take you to sober up after indulging in the adult beverages.

The app shouldn't be used to justify sobriety (or roadworthiness as the disclaimer notes) but is an interesting way to keep tabs on your adult beverage intake and the effects it could bring. 

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Tank Arena is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 game that has you piloting a tank through various combat courses.  The story line has the Dromedians, an alien invader, establishing military bases on the outer planets of our solar system.  It is your mission to guide your tank to the various planets and destroy the Dromedian invaders.

Tank Arena currently has thirty training missions that are based from the Earth’s moon.  Additional levels of play are under development and based on the training missions, Tank Arena makes a nice first impression.

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8-Rotate is a handy Windows Phone 8 app that will help straighten out slanted photos.  We all take crooked photos from time to time and 8-Rotate will not only help you straighten things out but also will let you crop the corrected images.

There isn’t much to 8 Rotate and while the app can come in handy to adjust those tilted photos, the photography app could use a little fine-tuning.

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Sky Cups is a matching game for Windows Phone 8 that calls upon you to create three of a kind matches from a stack of teacups where a tiny hippo sits at top of.  You create the matches by strategically adding cups  that are sitting at the bottom corners of the screen to the stack and when matched, the cups are crushed and the hippo slowly makes his way to the ground.

The game sounds simple but you are racing against the clock and cups are added to the stack every few seconds.  Overall, graphics are nice, game play challenging and Sky Cups is a fun time-killer of a Windows Phone game.

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SweetNRoll is an odd sort of game for Windows Phone 8 that has you solving puzzles to feed a little creature, Pete.  Graphics have a Candy Land feel to it and Pete has a loose resemblance to Om Nom of Cut the Rope fame.

Regardless of the similarities, SweetNRoll is a decent game on its own and has over one hundred challenging puzzle levels to conquer.  Game play is not difficult, but without a help section, you will go through a trial and error period to get a handle on things.

All totaled, if you are looking for a casual, puzzle game for Windows Phone 8 SweetNRoll is worth trying.

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A quick look at Toshiba's Windows 8.1 8-inch tablet

When it comes to 8-inch tablets with Windows 8.1, consumers have quite a few choices this holiday season. The good news here is that so far, almost all of them have been really good in terms of performance due to the similarity in specs. Still, from Dell Venue 8 Pro to Lenvo’s Mixx2 to the Toshiba Encore, each brings a little something to the table.

Which one is the best? I’ll answer that later, but for now, I’m taking a look at the Toshiba Encore.

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I’m sure many remember making paper snowflakes in an Arts and Crafts class during their Elementary School years.  Paper Snow is a creativity app that brings the art of creating paper snowflakes, which so many school kids are creating this time of year, to our Windows Phones.

Your creations can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as saved locally to your Pictures Hub.  Paper Snow is a simple, fun app available for Windows Phone 8 and 7.x devices but oddly addictive.

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Xbox One: Comprehensive launch review

Eight long years after the Xbox 360 debuted in 2005, its successor console the Xbox One has finally arrived. The new console brings more than just increased horsepower to the table; it also sports an assortment of unique multimedia features and a new Kinect camera/microphone array that kind of works properly this time.

Before we got to this point, the Xbox One suffered through limp reveal events and E3 presentations as well as widespread controversy revolving around initial plans for the console to require an internet connection to function. Since then, Microsoft wisely reversed course on the online requirement and brought its messaging more in line with gamer tastes.

How does the Xbox One stack up to those tastes, the Xbox 360, and its direct competitor the Playstation 4? Find out all that and more in our lengthy and all-encompassing launch review!

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My Movies is a movie collection management app for Windows Phone that allows you to catalog the movie titles you own or have rented.  The app also lets you track movies you have loaned out, list titles you are looking to add to your collection and those titles you are looking to get rid of.

My Movies database has more than 750,000 DVD, Blu-ray and DVD titles that you can build your collection from and if you find a title missing, you can easily request it to be added.

If you need a Windows Phone app to help catalog your DVD collections, My Movies not a bad choice to consider.

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7 Little Words is a relatively new word game for Windows Phone 8 that has had decent success over on the iOS and Android platforms.  In the short time we have spent with the game, 7 Little Words should have similar success here on the Windows Phone platform.

The game is simple.  Each puzzle has seven clues used to solve seven words and twenty letter groups that will be used to build those seven words. 

7 Little Words is a fun, entertaining, simply laid out game for Windows Phone 8 that makes a very good first impression and is nice option to consider if you are looking for a challenging word game.

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Windows Phone Central Camera Showdown: AT&T Nokia Lumia 1520 vs. Lumia 1020

Nokia has released two eye-catching Lumia Windows Phones this year.  The Nokia Lumia 1020 turns heads with its 41 MP PureView camera and the Nokia Lumia 1520 turns heads with its massive six-inch screen.  The Lumia 1520 also sports a respectable 20 MP PureView camera.

While the six-inch screen of the Lumia 1520 dwarfs the Lumia 1020’s 4.5” screen, but how does the Lumia 1520’s 20 MP camera stack up?  The Lumia 1020 is easily one of (if not the) best smartphone cameras on the market.  If camera performance is key, are you sacrificing too much with the Lumia 1520 for the sake of a larger screen?

We took the two Lumia Windows Phones out this past weekend to see how well they compared.

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Tower defense games can be an entertaining gaming option from our Windows Phone.  Zero Defense hopes to join the ranks of the quality tower defense games available in the Windows Phone Store.

Zero Defense makes a good first impression with a wide variety of defensive weapons and alien invaders you have to defend against.  The game has over thirty hours of campaign mode gaming that spans across three worlds.

If tower defense games are your cup of tea, Zero Defense is worth a try.

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