Best Windows 8 apps this week
Forty-seventh in a series. The overall application growth in the US Windows Store continues to remain under the 1,000 app mark. While that is usually a cause for concern in regards to the platform as a whole, this week has seen the release of a remarkable number of quality apps which is reflected below.
A total of 82,641 apps were listed in Windows Store at the time of writing, an increase of 693 apps in the last seven days.
Of these, 63,177 were free to download and install, up 541 applications, and 19,464 paid or trial ware, up 151.
Big news this week was Microsoft's announcement of pricing and packaging for Windows 8.1. The new version, free for Windows 8 users, will be available for $119.99 in the regular version and $199.99 for the Pro version.
It will be available as a download and a full retail product, something that Microsoft did not offer during the Windows 8 launch.
App of the week
Reaper is without doubt one of the best looking and playing games released for the Windows 8 platform so far. It is an action based game with roleplaying elements that will keep you entertained for a long while.
You control your character entirely with the keyboard or an Xbox 360 controller. The game walks you through basic mechanics in a tutorial of sorts before you start to explore the world, take on quests, buy new equipment in store or level up your character.
Reaper offers lots of variety in terms of maps that you fight on, enemies that you encounter, and options that you have to equip your character.
You earn gold by defeating some enemies, collecting treasures in levels, and by completing quests. Since you are always short of gold, you have to decide what to buy next, as you can't buy all the great equipment shops offer.
It is a fun game that will keep you entertained for a long time. A must have.
Another Disney game. Your task in Where's My Water 2 is to control the flow of water from the top of the level down to the crocodile's shower.
It may look like a children's game at first but it is quite challenging for players of all ages.
Your main task in all levels is to remove the earth that is blocking the flow of water. While that may be challenging enough, you may also want to hit all ducks in the level with the water to get a perfect score.
The game features more than 100 challenging levels and great graphics.
Please note that it uses an "energy" system that replenishes over time. This means basically that you can't play continuously but need to wait until the energy replenishes itself.
This app has received more than 500 ratings since it was released less than seven days ago, making it one of the most popular game launches on the system to date.
The main reason it received that many reviews is that it pays players chips when they do so. You start the game with 1,000 chips and either have to earn them while playing Blackjack, get chips every three or so hours, or by purchasing them in the in-game store.
It offers four unique tables, three of which need to be unlocked, and an achievement system to keep players playing the game.
The official Epson application for Windows 8 adds printing and scanning options to the Start screen.
Just select Printer or Scanner at the top, then the device that you want to work with, and any other parameters that define the job. The application is really easy to use and works with many Epson Artisan, Expression Home, Stylus and WorkForce devices.
The official Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation application for Windows 8 provides you with everything needed to plan and book travels. An account is needed to use the app and the sign-up option displayed here opens a page in the default system browser.
The app itself is easy to use, providing you with all the information you could possible want to look up. From your frequent booking history to cancellations and the checking of your PNR status.
Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World (free trial)
Kaptain Brawe is an adventure game that may remind you of Lucasarts or Sierra classics like Day of the Tentacle or the Gabriel Knight series.
It features great looking graphics and two game modes, one for hardcore players who do not want any hints, and one for the casual crowd who like hints and shoves in the right direction.
It is a fun game with over 40 different locations and three different characters to play.
NonoCraft ($4.99, free trial available)
NonoCraft is a challenging puzzle game in which you have to fill out the game board in specific ways. Vertical and horizontal numbers indicate how many fields need to be filled out, and it is up to you to use logic to find out where those fields are.
The game walks you through all the mechanics in the first few stages so that you understand exactly how it is being played.
The game board itself grows over time. You may start with a single row board but will soon be solving 5x5 and larger boards.
Graphics are hand drawn and look really nice, and the game itself is fairly entertaining if you like logic puzzle games.
The official NFL application for Windows 8 provides you with the latest news and information about the league in general, and specific information on your favorite team.
You are asked to pick one at the start and will notice that team news is displayed right next to the general news section on the start page afterwards.
The application features a breaking news section, live game scores, a Fantasy Football area (need to sign in for that), and custom team alerts that displays notifications about team injuries, players, highlights and other team related information.
You can look up team standings and schedules, check out a team roster or statistics from within the app.
The official NFL shop and an option to buy tickets directly online has also been integrated into the application.
Watch full NFL game replays on your Windows 8 device. This is a subscription service that provides you with access to 256 regular season games, 10 playoff games and the Super Bowl, access to a 2012 game archive, and condensed games which are shorter replays that you can watch in about 30 minutes without missing anything.
Create great looking photo collages using local media, the built-in device camera, Flickr, or solid colors. Once you have made the photo selection, you can change how the photos are displayed using the tools menu on the right.
Here you can change the shape of each individual photo, or the shape of all photos at once -- for instance from a regular square look to a heart symbol.
The free version limits the number of photos you can add to a collage to four. If you want to add more, you need to purchase the collage page for $2.99.
If you like Angry Birds, then you will certainly appreciate Siege Wars. The game uses the same game mechanics as Angry Birds: use catapults to hit all the mages placed in structures not far away.
Some levels provide you with multiple catapults under your control which makes it somewhat more challenging, as you have to factor in the new position for your next shot.