Reviews

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Blackjack Caribbean - Review

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.

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Star Ninja - Review

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.

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Perfect Scan - Review

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.

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Two more Pandas and Ninjas games hit the Marketplace

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.

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2

TextMixt - Review

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.

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27

Garmin StreetPilot - Review

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.

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Travelnapp - Review

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.

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2

Wizard of Words - Review

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.

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Flee - Review

Atabow is offering the Windows Phone game Flee over at the Marketplace. Flee reminds me a lot of the old board game Sorry and you can test your skills against the computer or an online community.

Simple, yet effective, graphics combined with an enjoyable gaming concept makes Flee a game worth trying. To find out more on this Windows Phone game, make the jump past the break.

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15

Plants vs. Zombies: Xbox Windows Phone Review

As a critic, it’s rare that I can unequivocally say that a game is the very best game in its genre. So many titles do different things well, and they usually have their minuses too. It’s even more uncommon for a game to transcend its own genre and become something that appeals to pretty much everybody. That’s why Plants vs. Zombies is such an amazing game. Not only is it hands-down the best tower defense game on Windows Phone, it also tweaks tower defense conventions and brings so much content that even tower defense naysayers will find a lot to enjoy.

What exactly is tower defense? It’s a type of real-time strategy game. Players build stationary towers which shoot at enemies as they try to reach the player’s base. To put that in Plants vs. Zombies terms, zombies attack the gamer’s yard, striving to get inside the house and eat the tasty brains inside. Weaponized plants with faces and personalities take the place of mechanical towers. In case it wasn’t immediately obvious, this game is loaded with charm and humor.

Watch out for potato mines as you head past the break for our full review.

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3

Alchemic Phone 7 - Review

Feeling up for an elemental challenge? Alchemic Phone 7 is a Windows Phone game that puts you in charge of building a universe by combining elements to create oceans, seas, volcanoes, islands, machines and a lot more.

There are 1400 elements to unlock ranging from machines, electricity, thunder, lightning, Atlantis, and the Great Wall.  To find out more on this unique Windows Phone game, slide on past the break.

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19

Angry Birds - Review

Angry Birds may have been one of the most anticipated Windows Phone games. Most are familiar with the game as it's been available for some time on other platforms.  While I've played my fair share of Angry Birds on other platforms, it was nice (almost refreshing) to see the popular game come to the Windows Phone platform.

For those not familiar with the game, evil pigs have stolen the birds eggs and have angered the feathered population. Negotiations fail and to arms (or wings) the birds go.  The pigs fortify their positions with sticks, rocks, and anything else they can get their hoofs on.  Your mission is to destroy the pigs by hurling an assortment of birds at them from a slingshot.  You work your way through the various levels to eventually take on the pig king.

Sounds easy, right? Shoot on past the break to see how the Windows Phone version of Angry Birds measures up.

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Licensed National Rail apps comparison

Britain's railway network is a love and hate relationship with us Brits, right? When it's working as it should and trains are on time it's arguably one of the most reliable railways in the world, but when there's a fault somewhere it turns into the worst within seconds. To help keep on top of timetable changes, delays and cancellations we've been using smartphones to aid us in our travels.

Windows Phone 7 has now two officially licensed apps in the Marketplace, which both share the same base functionality and high price (£4.99 – to be expected with licensing). The big question is what separates Rail Planner and Train Travel? Let's run through the nooks and crannies of both apps and see what functionality is missing in one that the other features and which is best worth the high price tag (please be aware that this article is intended for folk living in the UK, should you download these apps you may be disappointed if you abroad).

Head on past the break for the full two app comparison review (you can skip to the video at the end for a quick walk-through).

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8

Pokédex Mobile - Review

The stereotype of Xbox 360 gamers is that they’re only interested in first-person shooters and games with lots of violence. People like that wouldn’t give Nintendo’s Pokémon series a second thought. Stereotypes are often wrong though, as plenty of 360 gamers like me enjoy all kinds of games. Besides, while it’s very common for Windows Phone gamers to also own Xbox 360 consoles, that doesn’t mean they don’t also have a DSi or 3DS. What I’m trying to say is that while the crossover between Windows Phone owners and Pokémon fans may not be tremendous, such people do exist. Pokédex Mobile from indie developer Imaginary Pocket aims to be a useful tool for active Pokémon players.

The Pokémon series of games revolves around collecting a large variety of Pokémon (Pocket Monsters), training them to learn new abilities, and commanding them in battle against rival Pokémon teams. While the original GameBoy Pokémons contained 151 different monsters to catch, each generation of sequels adds to the pot. The current DS offerings have pushed the total number of monsters up to a whopping 649. That’s a lot of Pokémon to keep track of! When you consider that even the same monster may appear in different places and have different abilities in each sequel, the need for an all-encompassing resource becomes readily apparent.

Journey past the break for our full 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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9

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I - Review

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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15

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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9

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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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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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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In the second part of our Windows Phone voice navigation round-up, we set our sites on aSpass and Silver Navigator. In part one of the round-up we took a look at GPS Voice Navigation and Turn by Turn Navigation. Both were very good navigation apps but we gave the edge to Turn by Turn Navigation.

aSpass and Silver Navigator aren't as feature heavy as GPS Voice or Turn by Turn nor are they as expensive. aSpass is running $3.99 while Silver Navigator runs $2.99.

Over the past week we took both voice navigation apps on the road to see how they performed. We hit neighborhood streets, highways and by-ways. Areas where signal strength was strong and where it was dismal. Does the lack of features hurt these apps or is simpler better? We'll break things down after the break.

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