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December 31, 2013

Our 13 favourite Windows Phone Games of 2013

When comes to gaming on our Nokia Lumias, 2013 has been a winning year. We’ve unsheathed our swords, put our sports cars’ pedals to the metal and netted some cracking goals.

Needless to say, we’ve loved testing and besting all the new games 2013 has brought to the Windows Phone Store. It’s always hard to whittle down such a vast selection to just 13 favourites, but we’re never ones to shirk a challenge. So, get your fingers and thumbs ready for action and game on!

Modern Combat 4

What is it? A single – or multi-player action thriller shoot-em-up.

Why we love it? The gameplay’s just superb. Modern Combat 4 uses the Havoc Engine, which means it’s got real-time collision detection – which, in turn, makes for a very realistic gaming experience. With kick-ass graphics and Hollywood-style voice acting, it nails the big-screen experience on the smaller screen of a Windows smartphone. Want more? You get to play as both the hero and the villain. Score!

Who it’s perfect for: Hardcore gamers – though it’s definitely one for the grown-ups rather than gaming kids.

modern combat

Toy Story: Smash It!

What is it? A puzzle game based on the Toy Story film franchise

Why we love it? Guide Buzz Lightyear through ninety levels of gameplay, where he must use bouncing balls to known down his alien enemies – Emperor Zurg and his minions! It’s not unlike Angry Birds, as a target-based game, but the 3D aspect is nice and the graphics and soundtrack are just as good as you’d hope from the Toy Story team. To Infinity and beyond!

Who it’s perfect for: Gamers of all ages


Despicable Me: Minion Rush

What is it? A spin-off game from the movie Despicable Me

Why we love it? Another movie spin-off, but another super-cute one; it’s funny, the characters are customizable, and it stars Gru, one of our very favourite super-villains. What’s not to love? It’s free, the graphics are snazzy and the gameplay is super-addictive. Big thumbs up.

Who it’s perfect for: Gamers of all ages


Hill Climb Racing

What is it? A racing game

Why we love it? It’s a cross between a driving game and a physics game; with a brake and an accelerator at your disposal, you have to get your car from A to B without flipping over. It’s set up like a platform game, all scrolling action, and it’s the physics of the hills you encounter that makes it challenging: balancing gas and momentum is harder than it looks! The cartoony graphics are cute, and there’s actually a fair bit of techy vehicle customization options for car-geeks to enjoy (all of which involve earning in-game coins, of course). The music and ads are a little annoying, but far from irksome enough to stop us playing: this is truly addictive.

Who it’s perfect for: All sorts of gamers – fans of driving, platform games and physics puzzles will get hooked.


Tetris Blitz

What is it? Tetris! Or, for the young ‘uns, a highly addictive cascade game where you stack different shaped blocks to earn points…

Why we love it? Unlike the marathon that is regular Tetris, the Blitz variant is a two-minute race against the clock to accumulate points, so it’s great for mobile gaming. While it’s not as smooth to operate as old-school joystick control, EA have come up with a set of touch-screen buttons that are very workable and only take a little getting used to. Build up reward coins and buy power-ups; and buy more of these with in-app purchases. It’s fun even without spending, though, so don’t worry if your budget’s tight. Those retro graphics will get you all nostalgic, and since we first reviewed it, a new tournament mode has been added. Fancy!

Who it’s perfect for: old and new Tetris fanatics.



Asphalt 8: Airborne

What is it? A racing game

Why we love it? We’d stockpiled fuel in preparation for this baby. Excellent graphics, high octane gameplay, superb and glitzy international locations and a jaw-dropping range of cars (Lamborghini!) make this unmissable for driving fans. The Airborne in the title refers to the stunt moves you can do once you lift off the track ramps, so you can barrel-roll your way to the finish line while real-life bands provide the soundtrack.

Who it’s perfect for: Speed lovers



Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

What is it? A world-building game

Why we love it? The evil Emperor is struggling to build the Death Star, and you’ve got to help him! Join Palpatine and Darth Vader himself on an intergalactic fundraising mission. This is a building/business simulation game at base, but it’s got adventure elements too, what with the dueling: those darn Rebels keep infiltrating your site and trying to scupper your nefarious schemes! Deploy your Stormtroopers and hack away with your lightsaber, and above all, keep the construction going. The latest update introduces a festive Imperial Decorator Droid and new character info – bonus!

Who it’s perfect for: Budding Emperors, Sith Lords and construction-site workers, old and young!


Tawkable Chinese

What is it? A language game

Why we love it? Sure it’s educational, but it’s a lot of fun, too, once you’ve downloaded Mandarin onto your handset (this might take a while). You gave to speak certain phrases to progress to the next stage of the game – by the end you’ll be rocking the lingo!

Who it’s perfect for: Travellers, tourists, business people on the move, students…


Angry Birds Go!

What is it? A racing game

Why we love it? This is Mario Kart with feathers: the Angry Birds have gotten wheels and, we guess, an appropriate amount road rage. It’s 3D, you can play as the Birds or the Pigs (oink!), there are special powers to unleash for each character, and a whole bunch of different tracks and game modes. More importantly for Birds fanatics, it’s free! Get downloading pronto lest we beat you to the finish line…

Who it’s perfect for: Gamers – but, again, only those with devices that have 1GB of RAM or more.




What is it? An RPG game

Why we love it? It’s just so darn cute! It makes excellent uses of your WP’s touch-screen gestures: the controls are responsive and intuitive as you watch your little hero leap, slash and bash his way to glory. You can play for a while for free, but after you ascend to Level 10, you’ll need an in-app purchase to carry on (different packages are available), but because it’s such a beautiful game, we think you’ll be hooked enough to want to shell out.

Who it’s perfect for: gamers of all ages




What is it? A puzzle game

Why we love it? You’ve got a ball and you have to guide it towards a target. Draw a line (or lines) onscreen with your fingertip to create platforms for the ball to roll along, and when you’ve set out the track, which ought to let you avoid all the obstacles while still letting you collect all the bonus stars, press play. The ball will start to move, and you’ll see if your planning and engineering skills are up to scratch to get it to its destination. It’s like bowling crossed with Lemmings and man, does it get hard. The developers keep adding more levels, too, so the challenge continues.

Who it’s perfect for: physics students and gamers.


Uno & Friends

What is it? The Xbox LIVE version of the popular mutliplayer cardgame

Why we love it? Uno’s a classic and this version is a really decent online version. You play against real-life opponents, so you’ll need an internet connection. Gameplay is on a timer and there’s a tutorial if you’re not already familiar with the rules. It’s as addictive as you’d expect and a great game, especially for those who prefer a more traditional gaming experience rather than fast-moving racing or RGP games.

Who it’s perfect for: gamers of all ages


FIFA 2013

What is it? Seriously? Okay: a football game.

Why we love it? For a start, this is the only officially licensed FIFA game for Windows 8 phones. It’s got EA’s fancy cinematic graphics and proper tunes. There’s no multi-player mode, but single-player rocks, and it’s better value than its equivalent on other platforms. Steer your team through a bunch of leagues, score all the goals, but take note: this is a Lumia exclusive and will only run on WP8 models with 1GB of RAM. It should keep you going until the 2014 version is rolled out…

Who it’s perfect for: footballers


We’ve had a ton of fun playing these over the past 12 months and we can’t wait to see what 2014 brings. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your gaming picks for 2013 in comments below.

Image credit: Lord Jim

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