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3 years ago

Harbor Master - Review

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Harbor Master - Review

Touch-screen gaming has its advantages and disadvantages. We’ve all played games like Earthworm Jim that try to replicate traditional console controls on the touch screen with limited success. But building a game around the advantages of a touch screen can produce wonderful results and even new genres. Such was the case with Firemint’s Flight Control – the first line drawing game. It played like nothing else and sold like crazy on numerous platforms, including Windows Phone. Every good idea can be improved upon, as developer Imangi shows with Harbor Master. Its nautical theme and new mechanics will keep Flight Control fans and new players alike enthralled for quite some time.

Chart a course past the break for our full review.

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3 years ago

Pikchur snaps its way into the Marketplace

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Pikchur has found its way to Windows Phone 7, designed by IQ, and it's a stunning example of Metro UI implementation. Pikchur for Windows Phone is their first mobile application (minus integration with other apps on competitor platforms) and this bold move will pay off with the app proving to be very popular already.

The visual look and feel of the app is superb, responsiveness is instant and supported networks (which you can actively enable/disable per photo upload) is impressive. A quick run down of some intriguing features supported in Pikchur:

  • Live Tile shows your most recent photo as a Pikchur branded tile on the start screen
  • Picture Hub integration allows you to quickly send a photo to the Pikchur application
  • Bing Map Integration allows you to visualize photo geo-tag information
  • Pivot controls organize photo detail information and comments for easy viewing
  • Picture and location privacy options provide you with control over your photos and information
  • Facebook and Twitter integration allows you to start connecting with services
  • Toggle controls allow you to turn on and off social network/micro-blogging accounts to share a photo with particular services only
  • Available in 5 different languages

We will be bringing a full review sometime soon. For now, check out the video after the break and download the app from the Martketplace (Zune link). 

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3 years ago

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I - Review

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The Sonic the Hedgehog series has endured a tumultuous existence. Sonic debuted as a mascot character for the Sega Genesis and starred in several classic platformers for that console and the Sega CD. After basically shelving Sonic during the 32-bit Sega Saturn era, Sega finally decided to bring him back in a launch title for the Sega Dreamcast. Sonic Adventure received a warm reception, and yet it was the beginning of a dark time for Sonic.

You see, Adventure was the first fully 3D Sonic platformer and it introduced a host of problems that would only grow worse in follow-up titles: poor collision detection, largely on-rails game play (during the actual Sonic levels anyway), pointless town sections and side quests, terrible music, general glitchiness, numerous annoying furry pals for Sonic, and equally annoying voice work and storytelling. Each 3D Sonic sequel became progressively more heinous, culminating in 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog, which remains the worst game I’ve ever played in my life.

Despite numerous missteps, Sonic’s popularity never fully disappeared. His fan base split into two camps though: one consists of furries and children who basically just don't know any better. The other camp remembers Sonic’s glory days and pleads for a return to the character’s roots. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I was made just for them.

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3 years ago

Twin Blades - Review

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Twin Blades - Review

For several months, Twin Blades from Press Start Studio reluctantly enjoyed the distinction of being the only Xbox Live game to be pulled from the Windows Phone Marketplace. During its absence, it earned something of a cult status as mobile gamers suddenly realized they were missing out on a hardcore action experience. Now the game is back with green zombie blood instead of the original red. Is Twin Blades’ return cause for celebration? Yes, unless you’re a zombie, in which case, stay out of Sister Angelika’s way.

Slice past the break for our full review.

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3 years ago

geoDefense - Review

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geoDefense - Review

As the plethora of tower defense games on the Windows Phone marketplace proves, tower defense games aren’t hard to make. But they are hard to do well. Just look at the first two tower defense games on Xbox Live: Zombie Attack! 2 is an undercooked snooze-fest and Battle for Hoth is too difficult to be much fun. Both games stray unsuccessfully from tower defense conventions, whereas geoDefense from Critical Thought Games is the exact opposite. It’s as traditional as they come, but also tremendously fun.

geoDefense’s claim to fame is its Geometry Wars-inspired look. Every tower and enemy is composed of neon outlines, harkening back to the days of vector graphics. It’s an extremely simple but charming look, even if one enemy type resembles Pac-Man a bit too closely. The background, no matter the level, is always made up of black space with a pattern of graph paper-like lines, further enhancing the geometric feel. Explosions create a cool warping effect on the background, adding a clever modern contrast to the retro visuals.

Follow the path past the jump for our full review.

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3 years ago

Murphid - Review

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Murphid - Review

We’ve heard from developers that the XNA framework makes it easy to port games between Xbox 360 and Windows Phone.  That’s a good thing as gamers who enjoy a game on the big screen may also want to play it on the go and vice-versa. One indie game that recently made the transition from 360 to Windows Phone is Murphid from Decapod Studios. While Murphid’s name might lead one to expect a connection to Robocop, it’s actually an unrelated but unique puzzle game.

Drop past the break for our full review.

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3 years ago

Official Foursquare app is back, hits v2.0

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First is was Facebook hitting v2.0 and now the official Foursquare is back (after being pulled). Now with a new look and complete overhaul, the app has a vibrant, more Metro feel to it including nicer graphics. New features included check in history (by date), tips, to-dos, shout button, most explored, recommend places and probably more (we're still figuring it out).

Over all the app is a solid effort by Foursquare, but we're still giving 4th & Mayor (which is hitting 2.1 today) the edge here for speed. Sound off in comments with your thoughts and observations.

Update: And yes, indeed there is a Live Tile. It shows the current rankings of you and your friends, giving a nice extra bonus to the app.

Grab it here in the Marketplace. (Thanks, Tahiti Bob, for the tip!)

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3 years ago

Developers using Mango under NDA? Yes, kind of. [Updated]

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Non-disclosure agreements are always an interesting an fickle requirement and sometimes seem, well unnecessary. Such is the case with the Windows Phone Mango developer preview, which notes that devs are forbidden from publishing or talking to the press about things they find in the OS--an odd requirement since it's the same version that the press received a week ago. Nonetheless, it's there:

ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley has contacted Microsoft to get their side on the matter, specifically why is it there. As it turns out, it's pretty standard stuff and not as draconian as it sounds:

“This is a standard practice when pre-release code is distributed to a mass audience. Permission to publish content, screenshots or comments based on this pre-release code can be obtained from Microsoft on a case-by-case basis.”

Of course, permission is still required and should be sought but all in all, this is normal protocol for a software company when distributing pre-release software. In essence, Microsoft would like to control the story, like any company would, so having thousands of devs under NDA is one one way to accomplish this. So odd in this case, yes, unusual in the industry, not really.

Update: Cliff Simpkins, Product Manager for WP7 at Microsoft, has revised the language and apologized for the confusion. The intent was meant for developers to not share the actual code with others. However, developers can post information, screen shots and more without repercussion.  [via WP7Dev Podcast]

Source: All Things Microsoft

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3 years ago

WP7 Marketplace Developer satisfaction survey

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Redmond has been interested in feedback from both users and developers since launching Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft is at it again.  This time with a survey for developers to fill in covering satisfaction of the Marketplace. This is specifically for developers as it covers the App Hub and developer process on Windows Phone platform.

You can check out and fill in the survey here to provide Microsoft with invaluable feedback.

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3 years ago

DC Comics official app now in the Marketplace

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It just won't end, will it? Yes folks, DC Comics now also has an official app for Windows Phone and it looks pretty awesome to these eyes:

"DC Comics is the biggest and best North American comics publisher, featuring a wide variety of characters and genres. Renowned for the World's Greatest Super Heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and many many more. DC has thrilled readers with fantastic tales from the DC UNIVERSE in dozens of languages around the world for decades.

Publishing more than 80 comic format titles monthly and over 1,000 comic books and graphic novels annually, DC also presents different flavors of graphic storytelling through its diverse imprints."

We're sure there's a few comic readers our there who will be exceptionally pleased with this app, which is of course free. Most comics are $1.99 and even have an option to buy in print right from the app. Sounds good? It's live here in the Marketplace. Go, go go! (Thanks, Larry B.!)

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3 years ago

Spinballs Special Edition - Review

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Spinballs Special Edition - Review

If you're looking for a bubble buster type game with a twist (or in this case spin), check out the Windows Phone game Spinballs Special Edition. Spinballs SE is very similar to the original Spinballs game but adds an additional gaming mode (more on this in a bit).

The object of the game is simple, line up three or more of the same colored balls to have them explode off the screen. The twist or spin in this case is that the balls are placed on seven spinning wheels.

Throw in two game modes, four bonus items, a pesky timer and you've got a decent game on your hands. Spin on past the break to read more about Spinballs SE.

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3 years ago

Reminder App - App Spotlight

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Reminder App - App Spotlight

Here's a simple way to use your Windows Phone to keep track of special events related to your Facebook friends. The Reminder App pulls in all the important dates from your Facebook friends and lays it all out nicely in a multi-page hub.

Key features include:

  • Ability to see who has a birthday today, next week, next month, etc.
  • Ability to easily see whose birthday you've just missed
  • List and thumbnails views
  • Live Tile displays all of your friends that have a birthday today
  • Wish a happy birthday via friend's facebook wall-syncs with your Facebook account.

Future updates are in the works to bring integration with your Windows Phone contact list as well as integration with other social networks such as LinkedIn.

The Reminder App is a free app over at the Marketplace and you can find it here (opens Zune).

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3 years ago

Vevo heads to the Windows Phone Marketplace

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Continuing the trend of official apps for Windows Phone 7 (see here and here), the popular video service Vevo has launched their official app today:

"The shiny, fun new app lets you watch and share music videos wherever you are, whenever you want, and allows you to peek in on exclusive video premieres and catch live streaming concerts on the go.

Between Live on Letterman sets with exclusive, intimate performances by artists like Katy Perry and Adele, push notifications to give you a holler when a sweet video premiere or live stream is going down and fun bits of trivia while you wait for items to quickly load, VEVO’s bringing you the latest in music videos in the best way we know how."

The app even features HD video playback and the ability to share your finds via Facebook or Twitter, which should make many folks happy. Vevo is of course free in the Marketplace right here [Update: app is now live]

Source: Vevo Blog; (Thanks, Damien H., for the heads up!)

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3 years ago

Microsoft's Zune Pass Survey (Updated)

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Microsoft's Zune Pass Survey (Updated)

In the Redmond, WA Area? Have two hours to kill? If so, Microsoft User Research is looking for Zune Pass users to participate in a two hour study. The study will take place on Microsoft’s Redmond campus with participants offered a choice of new Microsoft software, hardware or games from a list of our current most popular titles.

Sound interesting? To sign up for the survey just send the following information to uccoord@microsoft.com with “Zune” in the title:

  • Name/Phone Number
  • Job/Company
  • Are you a monthly subscriber to Zune Pass?
  • How frequently do you watch movies online on your computer/console (Hulu, Netflix, Zune, etc.)?
  • How often do you make online purchases with a debit or credit card?

The study is between 3:30-6:30pm. Microsoft hopes to use the feedback and opinions for what they are describing as the next generation of Microsoft services and products.

UPDATE: Microsoft has pushed the date of the survey back and extended the hours.  The new date and time for the Zune Pass Survey is July 8th from 8:00am until 6:30pm PDT.  You still need to be in Redmond to participate but at least now you've got a little time to make the trek.  Thanks Eli for the update!

Source: Facebook

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3 years ago

One day later: Two ways to put Mango on your non-dev phone

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Yesterday we saw the developer release of "Mango" for Windows Phone 7. The method requires a $99 AppHub subscription and for you to make a backup of your phone before the flash. It also voids your warranty.

Today, of course, people have already figured out ways around having a developer unlocked phone to flash Mango to it. We want to stress a couple of things first though:

  • This voids your warranty
  • You can't upgrade to the final Mango from this build, so you MUST back up
  • If you loose your backup, your phone is permanently in preview-Mango mode--no going back, no going forward
  • If this flash doesn't work and you brick your phone, it's your fault. Remember, even the offiical method has some issues (see here).

The first method comes by way of WPSauce. In essence, it requires three steps:

  1. Reverting back to 7004 or 7008 (aka pre-NoDo) by using your backup in Zune
  2. Using ChevronWP7 to unlock your phone
  3. Downloading and installing the official Mango update tools

We won't link to the files here, but safe to say you can do a little sleuthing around to find them yourself. This method at least will create a backup of your device (which you should also backup) and allow you to go forward once the real Mango update comes out this fall. Of all the ways, this is the safest (though still risky).

The second method comes via Windows Phone Hacker. It does not require you to revert back nor have a developer unlocked device. It basically will "...provision your device to receive beta updates. It requires the Windows Phone Support Tools to be installed, and your device needs to be updated to NoDo or beyond". Note: it does not create a backup, but you can do it yourself.

Once again, we caution you to hold off on doing this, at least for a few days. Wait till others have tried it, wait till Microsoft responds, wait till we know more about what is happening here. The second method is certainly the most risky and no one wants to hear your story about how your phone broke because you did this, so patience is a virtue here.

Source: WPSauce, Windows Phone Hacker

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