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Real-time strategy games can be tough to get right on platforms other than computers. Console controllers can’t match the speed and accuracy of a mouse, so most developers don’t even try. Smartphones are much better at recreating mouse-style controls thanks to their touchscreens, but the lower screen resolution compared to PCs still complicates things. Thus, non-PC strategy games tend to be of the less click-intensive tower defense variety. But Microsoft Game Studios has bravely crafted a casual RTS experience with Beards & Beaks, the Windows Phone-exclusive Xbox Live title.
Beards & Beaks (which I always want to type as ‘Birds & Beaks’ for some reason) revolves around two warring tribes: gnomes and crows. Each side competes to collect treasure before the other, inflicting as much harm as possible along the way. Strangely, the game is completely devoid of an actual story - a missed opportunity given the unique and adorable character designs. Even Angry Birds (whose ‘birds versus pigs’ premise is similar enough) has story sequences, after all!
Flick past the break for our full review.
Updating a classic game for modern audiences is tricky business. Change it too much and you’ll turn off people who liked the original. But stick too closely to the original and it might not appeal to today’s gamers. For examples of perfectly accurate classic ports that are unlikely to gel with people living in the now, see Asteroids Deluxe and Lunar Lander. The Windows Phone port of Frogger, oddly enough, is simultaneously too similar and too different to make much of an impression. It’s not as bad as getting hit by a car, but Konami could have done a lot better.
What qualifies Frogger as a classic? The game made quite a splash when it debuted in arcades in 1981. Its premise and game play are fairly unique: help a group of frogs cross the highway, one at a time, and make it safely to their homes. Most importantly, it inspired a terrific early Bad Religion song.
Jump across the street and past the break for our full review.
TNT is a forward-thinking network. First they picked up the sci-fi series Falling Skies, which comes from executive producer Stephen Spielberg. Science fiction can be expensive to produce so we don’t see nearly enough of it on television. Only a few episodes of the show have aired so far, but it’s already been picked up for a second season. Further showing support for the show, TNT has also released a companion app for Windows Phone. It comes to us from Chaotic Moon Studios, the developers of numerous official apps like Best Buy and FlightAware.
Before we talk about the app, let’s touch on the show itself. Falling Skies takes place six months after a malevolent alien race has conquered the earth, killing most of the human population. A group of freedom fighters, the Second Massachusetts, struggles to push back the invaders while protecting as many civilians as possible. These defenders include the protagonist Tom Mason, a former history professor (played by Noah Wyle); his teenage son Hal Mason (Drew Roy); Captain Weaver (Will Patton) – the military leader of the group; and Anne Glass (the always attractive Moon Bloodgood), a pediatrician-turned-medic. The show features plenty of action and intrigue. Occasional sappy moments, mostly involving Tom’s youngest son Matt (Maxim Knight) may induce groans, but they’re largely overshadowed by the better bits.
Head past the jump for our full review.
Windows Phone is just crawling with puzzle games, both of the indie and Xbox Live varieties. Puzzlers are probably the single easiest type of game to develop and they’re well-suited to playing on the go, so it makes sense. Bubble Town 2 from I-Play is one such game, released early on for Xbox Live. It’s an adaptation of a once-popular Facebook game that since been pulled by the publisher. Bubble Town may be a ghost town on Facebook, but is it worth visiting on Windows Phone? Perhaps…
Bubble Town’s got something of a story, aimed at the young‘uns. A bunch of evil aliens called Lumps are invading Bubble Town, and it’s up to the Borbs to stop them. See, even though Bubble Town has the word bubble in its name and is a clone of a spin-off of Bubble Bobble - Bust-a-Move/Puzzle Bobble, the game doesn’t technically contain any bubbles. They’re Borbs. The writing in the pre-level story sequences is about what you’d expect from a cut-rate kids’ cartoon show, though it does at least inject some personality into the proceedings. Impatient gamers can always skip past them anyway.
Shoot past the break for our full review.
Cattle Rustlin' has hit the Windows Phone. Where Crazy Horses calls for you to lasso and corral horses, Bandit: Rustler has you lassoing and collecting stampeding cattle.
The game is well presented with colorful, cartoon animations. But good graphics is but one aspect of a quality game. To find out more on Bandit:Rustler, mosey on past the break.
Looking for a game for your Windows Phone that's challenging, entertaining and unique? Check out Apple Bin from Escape Development.
The goal is to toss an apple into the bin in the fewest throws possible. Much like the paper toss games but as you progress through the levels, the game throws obstacles in your way to hinder your shots.
More after the break.
When you think of puzzle games, falling-block games like Tetris and match-three games such as Bejeweled probably spring to mind. But there is another type of puzzler that differs greatly from those games. I speak, of course, of the physics-based puzzle game. These games challenge players to place items throughout a level, using their interaction with the level and the game’s physics to accomplish a goal. Tiki Towers from Game House falls into this cerebral sub-genre.
The premise of Tiki Towers involves an airplane dropping numerous boxes of monkeys onto several different islands. All five of a box’s monkeys must make it from their box to the goal in order to complete a level. The monkeys have their own AI and will walk and jump short distances. But each level contains peaks, pits, and other hazards that the simians can’t surmount on their own. That’s where the player comes in.
Grab a banana and swing past the break for our full review.
Sally’s Salon is cut from the same cloth as other time management games like Diner Dash. The goal in each level is to please as many customers as possible without keeping anyone waiting longer than necessary. Customers enter the establishment with five hearts floating over their heads – some empty and some filled. If they are made to wait too long at any point in the visit, the hearts will start to empty. Once they run out, the customer leaves in frustration. Performing services that please the customers will fill up their hearts. Different kinds of customers have different patience levels and tipping habits; learning which ones to prioritize is part of the fun.
The Windows Phone Marketplace has Angry Birds where you toss birds from a slingshot, Twitter Hunter where you try to shoot at the birds and now you have Banzai Birds where you aid birds parachute safely to the ground.
Game play is simple, birds begin a free fall to the ground and at some point you tap the screen to deploy their parachute. Sounds simple, right?
Drop on past the break to see how simple Banzai Birds can be.
Brain games are a great way to pass the time with on your Windows Phone. They can be entertaining, educational and good exercise for your noggin'. Brain App is a four challenge brain game from Chris Meyer that is challenging enough to keep you interested but not too difficult to get you frustrated.
The Windows Phone game includes math, sequencing, and identification challenges that have both easy and advanced levels. If you like brain stimulating games, slide on past the break to see how Brain App measures up.
Dell made a shaky entrance into the Windows Phone 7 market. You had supply issues, quality control issues and software headaches. Slowly but surely these problems are getting ironed out with the Venue Pro but does it leave consumers with a quality Windows Phone?
While some may see this as being late to the table (Dell isn't that generous with review units), we decided to take advantage of the $299.99 sale and ordered a few on our own. Out of the box, the Venue Pro makes a nice first impression. The 4.1" AMOLED Screen has a good bit of pop to it with vibrant colors and sharp contrast. But does the positive first impression last?
Just make the jump past the break to see if the Dell Venue Pro continued to shine or dulled a little after several days of use.
The most useful data that's looked at includes visits/visitors, bounce rate, time-on-site and sources. As mentioned above, it's vital for marketing, reports and optimization of software or pages. Visits and visitors are counted and recorded to calculate the ratio for new visits against returning visitors. Bounce rate determines how relevant or effective your site is to captured audience. Time-on-site is pretty self-explanatory, while sources covers where visitors came from (be it search engines, direct or referring sites).
Unfortunately, since Google Analytics makes use of Flash for graph rendering, the service is less-than available on smartphone platforms that do not support Flash. How would a Windows Phone user keep up with site statistics while on the go? Allow me to introduce Phonealytics, by Luke Lowrey.
The Windows Phone Marketplace has its fair share of word games and in the coming days, its numbers will grow by at least one. Z Games, the developers of Bubble Burst and Pandemic, have submitted Word Arena to the Marketplace. Word Arena reminds me of Wordrix and Wordament but with a few more features. We had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at Word Arena and found it to be an enjoyable Windows Phone game.
To find out more about this new word game for your Windows Phone, slide on past the break.
Looking for a simple game of blackjack? One with a pirate feel to it? Blackjack Caribbean from XIMAD is being offered over at the Windows Phone Marketplace that might fit the bill.
Blackjack Caribbean is a simply, yet entertaining, version of blackjack. The game's graphics are nice and the game ran smoothly with no bumps, glitches or crashes experienced. Blackjack Caribbean is a free, ad-supported game and to read more on the game, hit the break.
Star Ninja has been available at the Windows Phone Marketplace for some time now and pits ninjas against pirates. Not exactly your classic conflict but entertaining nonetheless.
The game includes four game modes and fifty levels of play. It does have a Shuriken Ninja feel to it but challenging enough to stand on its own. To find out more about Star Ninja, skip on past the break.
Choices are limited with regards to document scanners for your Windows Phones. You've got HandyScan/Handyscan Lite and DocMe was around for some time but has apparently been pulled. To help fill the void, we can add Perfect Scan to the mix. Developed by Katana Labs, Perfect Scan offers multi-page document scans that can be edited, emailed, and searched.
There's really not much to Perfect Scan but what's there works nicely. To read more on Perfect Scan, slide on past the break.
Those pesky Pandas and Ninjas are still going at it. First we had Pandas vs. Ninjas and now XIMAD has released two additional Windows Phone games that carry this conflict further.
Kung Fu Tic Tac Toe and Ninja Breakout are both free, ad supported games available over at the Marketplace. Will the ninjas finally get the upper hand over the panda? Or will the panda continue to take center stage?
Ease on past the break to catch to short takes on both games.
Persephonae Labs has released TextMixt, a sequel to their popular Windows Phone game Anag7ams. TextMixt follows the same basic format of Anag7ams but, as with other sequels, adds a little more to the mix.
The game premise remains the same. You are given five letters and your mission is to identify all the words those five letters can spell. The developers have also added a new game mode, Internet Battle. This gives you the opportunity to test your skills against other TextMixt players.
Anag7ams was one of the early releases for Windows Phone 7 and we found it to be an entertaining, somewhat addictive game. To see if TextMixt follows suit, ease on past the break.
Garmin recently released StreetPilot over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. StreetPilot looks really good, is feature rich but carries a healthy price tag ($39.99). While the high price might be justified, Garmin doesn't provide a trial version to StreetPilot to allow Windows Phone users a chance to try it out first before investing the non-refundable $40.
Over the past few days we've taken StreetPilot out for a test drive and after tinkering with StreetPilot, it appears the navigation app is worth the $40 based on the number of features. But, is it worth the $40 with regards to performance? Well...that may be a different story.
Ease on past the break to read more on StreetPilot and see how it measures up to the sticker price.
I'm sure I wouldn't be the only commuter to admit that after a few drinks at work sometimes my sense of location (on trains between stations) would be slightly inaccurate, by about twenty or so miles. I would continuously fall to sleep then wake up after a few minutes thinking I'm somewhere I'm not. Luckily, when I used to commute to London, my station (Shoeburyness) is at the end of the c2c line and the security guards used to wake me should I be out of it.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same luxury as myself and whether under the influence of an adult beverage or not, sleep can often be the cause of missing a desired stop. This is a real pain should you be on a long distance line - for example London Kings Cross to Glasgow in Scotland and the distance between stops is massive. So what can your Windows Phone 7 do to help you out? Allow me to introduce Travelnapp by Mendzapp.
Read on past the break for the full walkthrough and review of Travelnapp.
We did a round-up on the various word games available for your Windows Phone a while back. While we didn't cover all the word games available for your Windows Phone, we did receive several suggestions to add to the list. One such game is Wizards of Words.
Wizards of Words is a Boggle-type word game in which you are presented with nine letters and your job is to find all the words these nine letters can create. To help make things interesting, there are four gaming modes.
And to find out more, follow the break.