Reviews

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Corona - Review

While puzzles games may be the easiest genre of game to develop, resulting in hundreds of them clogging up the Marketplace, 2D shooters (aka shoot-em-ups or shmups) are pretty common as well. Simple shooters with procedurally-generated levels and generic, lifeless backgrounds are a dime a dozen. While these games are fun in small doses, it’s easy to become apathetic toward them given their sheer numbers, generic designs, and how little content they really contain. That makes Finnish developer Kajak Games’ Corona all the more impressive. It packs all the content and personality of a real arcade shoot-em-up into an exclusive Windows Phone game at a fraction of the cost.

Fly past the break to see exclusive Corona concept art and, of course, our full review.

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Fight Game: Rivals - Review

The last few years have seen a revival of the fighting game genre, thanks in no small part to Capcom’s Street Fighter IV. That game even made the trip to iPhone intact, with simplified touch screen controls keeping the portable version fun and playable. Since Street Fighter IV hasn’t been ported to Windows Phone yet, the platform is wide open for a fighter.

Enter Fight Game: Rivals from Dutch developer Khaeon GameStudio. Rivals takes an entirely different approach to touch-screen fighting, replacing a virtual stick and buttons with turn-based strategy and minigames. It’s a clever approach, though the gameplay itself lacks variety.

Jump kick past the break for our full review.

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IonBallEX - Review

The Atari classic Breakout may have started the brick-breaking genre, but Taito’s Arkanoid took it to the next level, adding enemies and powerups into the mix. Enter indie developer IronSun Studios, whose IonBallEX draws liberal inspiration from Arkanoid while adding a few unique twists.

Before we get to the nuts and bolts, a history lesson: IonBallEX (a title which could seriously use one or two spaces) is the Xbox Live sequel to the original IonBall, which debuted as an indie game on Windows Phone (see our review). It then migrated to Xbox 360, also as an indie game. The only Xbox Live brick-breaking competition on Windows Phone is the abysmal 3D Brick Breaker Revolution (review), so IonBallEX is automatically the best game of its type by default. Thankfully it’s actually pretty good.

Slide past the break for our full review.

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Sudoku - Review

Sudoku, which comes from developer Babaroga and publisher Microsoft, is one of the first two free ad-supported games for Xbox Live. It’s currently available in the US only, though it will likely debut in lands afar eventually as well. There are a ton of different sudoku games on Windows Phone already. This version is certainly not definitive, but it’s a pretty good way to get some free Achievements.

Head past the break for our full review.

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More Brain Exercise - Review

When Nintendo’s Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! debuted on the DS in 2006, it jump started the brain training sub-genre. Based on the theories of neuroscientist Dr. Ryūta Kawashima and featuring his image, Brain Age contained a variety of minigames and puzzles aimed at ‘exercising’ the brain and thus (supposedly) improving mental functions. It also included the single best videogame version of sudoku that I’ve ever played. Brain Age’s runaway sales success inspired many imitators, including mobile Xbox Live titles Brain Challenge from Gameloft and More Brain Exercise from Namco Bandai Games. More Brain Exercise is the closer of the two to Brain Age’s fantastic design, but unfortunately it’s a pretty poor copy.

Head past the break for our full review, brainy readers.

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Enigmo - Review

iBlast Moki may have been the first Xbox Live physics puzzler on Windows Phone, but the genre itself goes much farther back. Take, for example, Enigmo, a game that Austin-based Pangaea Software originally published on personal computers in 2003. The puzzler met with huge success at the time, and has since been ported to a variety of platforms as well as spawning a sequel. The Windows Phone port of Enigmo comes from fellow Austin developer Chaotic Moon Studios. It’s a no-frills port, but the cerebral gameplay holds up quite well.

Splash past the break for our full review.

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Snake - Review

XIMAD is offering Snake over at the Windows Phone Marketplace with is yet another variation of the classic snake game. The game of snake has gone a long way since the days of the monochrome version that was on so many Nokia bar phones.

The game premise hasn't changed a bit. You guide your snake around the screen collecting gems and artifacts while avoiding obstacles. The game has two modes, Arcade and Challenge. The Arcade Mode has you score points to work your way through multiple levels.  Each level has a required number of gems to collect in order to advance to the next level.  The further you advance, the more challenging the levels become.

The Challenge Mode is more of a free-style game that has you competing for a high score.  The more gems you collect, the longer the snake becomes.  The longer your snake becomes, the more challenging maneuvers become.

More after the break.

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Trail Buddy - Review

Trail Buddy is a location tracking application for your Windows Phone that can be used for hiking, biking, geocaching and other activities that require GPS and/or mapping. Trail Buddy's features include:

  • Create multiple trails with waypoints (aka points of interest) and tracks
  • Start, pause, stop track recording and view current location information on one easy-to-read page
  • View your location, waypoints and track on a map (accessing maps requires a good quality connection)
  • View accumulated stats at any time for the current trail
  • Pre-define waypoints or capture your current position along a trail - you can even set a waypoint from the map
  • Take pictures directly from the waypoint page

To see how well these features work out for Trail Buddy, take the jump past the break.

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Tap Shot - Review

Here's a fun game to pass the time with. Tap Shot is a finger tap shooting gallery for your Windows Phone that will test your reaction time and powers of observations. 

The goal of the game is simple. Tap the screen to shoot as many targets as they appear on the screen within thirty seconds, avoid tapping friendly targets and don't miss. The game has three levels of play to keep you challenged.  Take the jump past the break to read more about Tap Shot and catch our hands-on video.

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Steambirds - Review

Steambirds has come to the Windows Phone Marketplace and if you like air combat games, you're going to want to check it out. Steambirds is a turn based, multi-level aerial combat game.

The combat view is from above and game play has a methodical touch by taking on the enemy planes one move at a time. There are multiple weapons at your disposal and a handful of aerial maneuvers that can help you take out the enemy planes.

To learn more on Steambirds, fly on past the break.

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WordMix - Review

While it may make some groan, WordMix is another word game for your Windows Phone. Described as a "fun, free and challenging word puzzle game for all ages", WordMix isn't too shabby.

The goal is to create as many words as you can from six letters before the timer strikes zero. To advance to the next round of letters, you have to discover 75% of the words.

More after the break.

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Tanks are rolling into the Marketplace

Windows Phone games such as Alphajax and Words by Post are turn by turn word games that you play online. But what if you want a little more action in your online gaming? Say, a need to blow things up? Tanks might do the trick.

Tanks is a turn by turn combat game that you play online with the goal of capturing cities and wiping out your opponent. You'll need to register your email address with the game's server and once that's done, you're off to battle.

More after the break.

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Case-Mate Pop - Case Review

One of the challenges of using the Samsung Focus is finding a decent case for the Windows Phone. The smartphone case industry seems to be hesitant to flood the market with cases but every now and then you run across something decent.

Case Mate has been in the smartphone case business for some time now and is offering the Pop case for the Samsung Focus. The Pop is part rubber case and part hard shell case. It get's its name because it "pops" into place but how much pop does the Pop have? Follow the break to find out.

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Gelaskins - Review

We mentioned the Gelaskins last week, liked what we saw and ordered a pair. Gelaskins are adhesive, protective skins for your Windows Phones that comes in a wide assortment of patterns. You also have the ability to order custom skins using your images.

First, the ordering experience went smooth. We ordered a stock skin and a custom skin for the Samsung Focus. Creating the custom skin was simple using Gelaskin's online wizard. The order shipped within twenty-four hours of placing it and, shipping UPS ground, the full turn around was six days. Not too shabby considering the order involved a custom skin.

The order arrived packaged with the skins in cardboard envelope that was inside another cardboard envelope. Sturdy enough to significantly reduce the chances of the skins being bent or folded in transit.

To read about the fit and feel of Gelaskins, slide on past the break.

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IAGWH2 - Review

Every now and again we run across rather unique games for your Windows Phone. IAGWH2 is not only a unique game but it also has an equally unique title. It stands for "I am great with headlines 2" and is part puzzle game and part trivia game based on the news headlines of the day.

It reminded me of a game show you'd fine on NPR such as "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" IAGWH2 is a simple, yet entertaining game and to find out more, you've gotta make the jump past the break.

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