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Jonathan Cain - Unsung Noel

Thank you Hoganson Media for sending us a digital album to review!

Jonathan Cain was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April of 2017. Many may know him as Journey’s keyboardist and co-author of Don’t Stop Believin’. A quick look at his Twitter feed will show that he’s a Christian and listening to his latest Christmas album, Unsung Noel, truly emphasizes the reason for the season. The first song, The Heart of Christmas, emphasizes that Jesus is the reason for the season.

There are fourteen songs and they are all beautifully performed and produced. A couple that I recognized right off the bat are Angels We Have Heard on High, Oh Holy Night, and Do You Hear What I Hear. The other eleven tracks were all new to me. Even though I’m not Catholic anymore, I enjoyed Hail Mary. That song and entire CD proclaim Jesus Christ as the king, savior, and true meaning behind Christmas.

All of the songs are calming and have great singing and keyboard playing. The lyrics throughout the CD are inspiring, praise Jesus, and tell of his miraculous birth. The song Joseph’s Pride tells Joseph’s doubts and role as Jesus’ earthly father.

If you’re looking for praise filled Christmas music, look no further than Jonathan Cain’s Unsung Noel Christmas album. Digitally it sells for $8.99 and the audio CD is only a dollar more. I love playing Christmas music throughout the month of December though I have made an exception for this album. It’s great to listen to Christ-centered music instead of ones focusing on made up figures. This one is definitely staying in my Christmas music collection!

 

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All Saints

Thank you Affirm Films for sending us this DVD to review!

All Saints tells the true story about the recently ordained pastor, Michael Spurlock, who takes over a church slated for closing in a few weeks. Michael used to be a corporate salesperson and he has a history of clashing with his bosses. After getting to know the twelve church members, he realizes that the All Saints church is a big part of their lives and closing it down may hurt them spiritually. On top of that, some Karen refugee farmers have started attending and their growing numbers quickly fill up the pews in the chapel.

Michael must again clash heads with those in authority over him as he refuses to cooperate with the building appraisers. To keep the church afloat, Michael proposes that they use the land for farming and the expertise of the refugees for maintaining it. The diocese reluctantly agrees to keep the church off of the market until after the first harvest.

The church members work together to plant and tend the fields. Farming is hard work and requires a lot of time and water and both of them are in short supply. Friendships, marriages, and people’s faith are tested and strained throughout this journey. I’ll leave the rest of the details for you to watch in this 108 minute film.

The credits show some neat pictures and stories of actual All Saints church members. It’s also great to see that some of them are in the film. This movie is rated PG and shows a bit of blood and violence. Most of the movie is family friendly and I recommend checking it out. The Blu-ray is available for less than $20 and the DVD is $16.99 on Amazon.

 

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All I Want For Christmas Is You

Thank you Universal Studios for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

All I Want For Christmas Is You features Mariah Carey’s song with the same title and she is the narrator of this cute Christmas themed story. The main character is a little girl named Mariah (big surprise!) who has been asking for a puppy for many years without any success. While her father is allergic to dogs, he also struggles with saying “No” to her and would rather come up with an excuse to leave rather than give her a response. This year is a little different from before as Mariah agrees to be in a doggie fashion show without the required dog. Her friends are still okay with it since Mariah assures them that she’s getting one this Christmas.

Mariah’s grandmother is in her corner and tries to get her parents to reconsider after seeing a cute hypoallergenic poodle-bichon hybrid puppy at the local animal shelter. Mariah sets her sights on getting this female puppy that she names Princess. Her father, on the other hand, has different plans. He brings home a troublesome puppy named Jack and promises that if she can take care of this wily dog, then they’ll consider getting Princess for her.

Jack is quite the troublemaker, destroying many items in the house, and even manages to tarnish Mariah’s impeccable reputation at school. Because of some of his hijinks, she is forced to trespass into her neighbor’s yard to “borrow” Mrs. Claus’ outfit since Jack destroyed the one she needed for the fashion show. Unfortunately, her grandfather trespasses into their neighbor’s yard all of the time out of jealousy to interfere with their obnoxious Christmas decorations.

While there is justification for lying and jealousy in this film, it does have a good message about love in the end and how it does not require perfection to thrive. I won’t spoil any more of the story or the ending, but I recommend checking out this film if you’re a fan of dogs or Mariah Carey. All I Want For Christmas Is You sells for less than $15 on Amazon.


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The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

Thank you Team Click for sending us this movie to review!

Life isn’t easy for a squirrel. Everything is out to get them: cars, bikes, gum, and humans. They had the easy life in the closed down nut shop, but good things don’t last forever. Sadly, it exploded and the easy life is now gone for Surly and his friends. Surly’s love interest, Andie, wants him to go back to the park and live as a wild animal again. However, the greedy mayor wants to remove Liberty Park since it’s not generating any income.

Instead of going back to the park, Surly and his friends decide to steal their meals from humans. Their life of crime is short lived after discovering that it’s not worth the hassle. Aside from stealing, there is some alcohol consumption and a spoiled rotten child being given her way when she throws a temper tantrum. Some gross humor is also shown when it comes to dogs and vomit.

The comedy begins when the ground breaks in the park to construct a new amusement park. The animals team up to stop the construction team from making any progress. The mayor brings in reinforcements and things get serious when Precious the dog gets taken by the mayor’s daughter. The daughter’s dog loves Precious but the feelings are not mutual.

During Precious’ rescue, Buddy gets injured and the animals rally together once again. With the renewed comradery, the animals vow to take down the newly opened amusement park. The animal exterminators come in full force and capture everyone but Surly. Does he run and take the easy way out or does he save the park and his friends? I’ll leave the rest as a mystery as you should see this movie firsthand.

My kids and I enjoyed this movie and recommend picking it up. The Blu-ray/DVD combo can be yours for less than $20.

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CORE Gaming Backpack by Mobile Edge

Thank you Mobile Edge for sending us a loaner backpack to review!

The CORE Gaming Backpack was successfully Kickstarted in September 2017, exceeding its $30,000 goal by $4! As of this review, the backers have received their products and most of them are satisfied with the results.

As an owner of a 15.6” gaming laptop it’s rather challenging to find a laptop bag big enough to fit my laptop let alone the accessories I like to tote around with it. Granted some of the items I carry around are not your typical fare, but I like to keep it all together if possible.

I’m happy to report that my laptop does indeed fit in the checkpoint friendly pouch. This is great for easy access and airport security checks. The fleece pouch for tablets is super soft and won’t scratch the screen unless you add something sharp in there along with it.

Core Gaming Backpack

There were some nice add-ons like a USB charging bank which I did not get to review, but this backpack does make it easy to charge accessories with its built in USB cable. Another add-on was a Samsung Gear VR. Again, this was not included with the backpack, but, my first generation Samsung Gear VR fit nicely in the middle pouch. While I was able to store my SteelSeries controller, Oculus Touch controllers and sensors, I could not get my Oculus Rift to fit inside the backpack with all of my other accessories. My current laptop bag can fit everything.

As long as you don’t need to carry a full blown VR setup, there is plenty to like in this backpack. The build quality is top notch. The rubberized grip on the metal reinforced carrying handle is both comfortable and sturdy. The gel lined backing and straps adds further comfort for long walks with a heavy laptop on your back. The shock absorbing straps seem pretty strong as well. Since we can’t keep this review sample, it’s hard to say how long it will last, but the overall build quality is quite good at first glance.

Core Gaming Backpack

In my attempts to squish my Rift in there I started to see some threads showing but that would probably happen with any item and I did not force the issue to avoid damaging my Rift or the backpack. If something were to happen to the CORE Gaming Backpack, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty. On the Kickstarter page they seem to be very responsive to customer complaints and thankfully, a majority of them are satisfied with their products. One of the backers was having trouble fitting their 17” Asus RoG laptop in it, but I don’t have a laptop that big to confirm that. My 15.6” MSI fits great with some room to spare.

There are plenty of pouches for various accessories. I like the small memory storage units for SD cards. The Velcro front is rather strange for my tastes but it makes customizing the backpack rather easy if you have Velcro decals for your favorite games, sports teams, or sponsors. There is a Velcro free version available as well.

The price is very reasonable for this gaming laptop backpack. Early bird backers were able to get it for $75 with free shipping. Not so early backers were able to snag it for $89 shipped. Everyone else can get it on Mobile Edge’s website for $129.

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2017 Christmas Buying Guide

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most family friendly games we have reviewed in 2017. More reviews can be found on ChristCenteredGamer.com! Each game is given a gameplay score for the overall gaming experience and a moral score for how suitable it is for younger gamers. The Amazon and Humble Store links will benefit Christ Centered Gamer by giving us a small % of the sale.

System Game Game Score Moral Score Buy it!
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Metroid: Samus Returns 92% 90% $39.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns 86% 94% $39.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Kid Tripp 80% 96% $3.99
Switch
Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
(Switch, Wii U)
98% 83% $59.99
Switch
Switch
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 88% 98% $59.99
Switch
Switch
Puyo Puyo Tetris
(PS4, Switch)
88% 97% $39.99
Switch
Switch
Fast RMX 86% 96% $19.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Hover: Revolt of Gamers 94% 96% $19.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry 94% 94% $14.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
20XX 90% 93% $14.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Minecraft Story Mode: Season Two
(Android, iOS, PC, PS4, Xbox One)
90% 87% $24.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Destiny 2 
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
96% 86% $59.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4

Cities: Skylines
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)

94% 100% $49.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone 92% 87% $53.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Aven Colony
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
90% 82% $29.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Seas
86% 83% $12.99
  While we have reviewed other Vita games this year, they
are not on this guide because they are not family friendly
enough to be included. You can read our other Vita reviews
 here.
     
Xbox One
Xbox One
Seasons after Fall
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
88% 86% $19.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Aaero
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
86% 94% $14.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Ghost Blade HD
(PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)
84% 87% $9.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Typoman Revised
(PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)
82% 93% $12.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
GNOG (PSVR) 90% 93% $14.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Darknet (Vive) 88% 86% $14.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Sairento VR (Rift) 88% 85% $29.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
EVERSPACE (Vive) 86% 96% $29.99
Hardware
Hardware
Custom PS4 Controller N/A N/A $70+
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hebe M1 RGB Surround Sound Gaming Headset N/A N/A $69.99
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hermes E2 7 Color Mechanical Gaming Keyboard N/A N/A $56.99
Hardware
Hardware
Kidz Gear Wireless Headphones N/A N/A $19.99

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Cars 3

cars swag

Thank you Disney for sending us a Blu-ray, board game, Cruz Ramierez plush, Miss Fritter toy, snack cups, plates, and napkins!

My family has enjoyed and owns Cars 1 and 2 on Blu-ray. Though we enjoyed the first movie more than the sequel, we had high hopes for the third entry (if you don’t count the Planes movie). Cars 3 is a solid film despite its predictable ending.

In the beginning, you see Lightning McQueen at the top of his game with several adoring fans in the audience sporting his number 95. The banter and pranks between the top three performers is quite entertaining and fun to watch. The racing season starts off good for Lightning McQueen, until a younger, high-tech model racer named Jackson Storm starts winning the races. It doesn’t take long for many of Lightning McQueen’s friends to see the writing on the wall and start retiring one by one. Lightning McQueen doesn’t want to throw in the towel so easily, but a bad car accident gives him plenty of time to reflect on his situation and think back to the good advice that Doc Hudson gave him during his training.

Despite being at a disadvantage against the modern cars and their hi-tech simulation training machines, Lightning McQueen decides to continue on with his career. He soon befriends a personal trainer who constantly makes cracks about him being old, needing naps, and leaking oil. As someone who is pushing forty I can relate to feeling insecure to the threats of younger and more efficient models out there.

The overall story is good and the heartwarming ending isn’t a total surprise. My family enjoyed watching this film and highly recommend it to any Cars fan out there. People of all ages can enjoy this film and its lessons of pushing yourself to try harder and thinking smarter than your opposition. Sometimes things are not as hopeless as they seem. Currently you can enjoy this movie digitally and on November 7th it will be available on Blu-ray and DVD.




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7 Lessons From Heaven

Thank you Roslan & Campion for sending us this book to review!

Mary C. Neal, M.D. drowned in a kayaking accident in 1999. She was unresponsive for a half hour and vividly recalls her loving encounter with Jesus and shares her experiences and advice with her fresh perspective on life, death, and eternity. I have not read her previous New York Times best seller, To Heaven and Back, but I do appreciate the detailed recap of her near death experience.

Dr. Neal is an orthopedic surgeon and I really enjoyed the scientific analysis of her near death experience and how it could not have been her imagination, a seizure, oxygen deprivation, or a DMT trip. Not only are her experiences shared, but there are several other quotes from people who have also had near death experiences or encounters with the heavenly realm.

As a Christian, I appreciated the many Bible references throughout the book and hearing about her judgement or "life in review" process. It’s comforting to know that it’s not as bad as many fear. The main emotion felt in the afterlife is love and even the painful experiences are shown from various perspectives. One of the goals in the "life in review" process is fact finding instead of fault finding.

The first lesson taught in this book is that circumstances make sense from heaven’s lens. God’s grace should be freely given as it is to us. There’s probably a reason that someone may be in a foul mood and it’s best not to judge them unless you know what they’re going through.

I won’t spoil any of the other lessons taught as they should be read first hand. I told my daughter about this book and she started reading it and got to chapter five in her first sitting! In total, there are eighteen chapters in this 274-page book. It sells for less than $11 on Amazon and I highly recommend checking out if you’re curious about the afterlife.


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Undertale: Strings of Determination

Thank you Materia Collective for sending us this digital album to review!

I reviewed Undertale shortly after its 2015 release date and this game continues to stay popular, with many kids still talking about and playing it. I can see why since it’s a fun game. While I did beat the game once, I haven’t had the time (or determination) to revisit the other endings. What impressed me most about Undertale was the wonderful soundtrack composed by the very same game developer, Toby Fox. Although the game was gifted to me, I purchased the soundtrack and Ferdk’s symphonic metal rendition as well. As great as those are, I truly feel that String Player Gamer’s digital album, Undertale: Strings of Determination, is the definitive soundtrack to buy if you have to choose one. Of course, I recommend picking up all three!

The violin and guitar work is top notch and the production quality is as good as it gets. The songs don't stray too much from the original soundtrack, but the instrument work really does stand out. In total, there are forty-six songs and they are all well done. All of the tracks are arranged by Diwa de Leon and the song ‘Temmie Village’ has a guest acapella singer, Tera Catallo aka TeraCMusic on YouTube. It’s hard to believe that this album was made by a couple of people!

The asking price is a very reasonable $14 and this album can be listened to and purchased on BandCamp, Spotify, and on iTunes. Before this complete album was released, String Player Gamer released four Undertale volumes so if you only want a few of the songs, that’s a cheaper option. Each of the volumes cost $6 so getting the complete set is still a better deal. I now consider myself a fan of String Player Gamer’s work and will continue to follow and look forward to his future masterpieces.

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Supergirl

Thank you JGPR for sending us this film to review!

Supergirl is a 78-minute documentary about Naomi Kutin who is a record setting power lifter. The catch is that she started breaking national and world records when she was eight years old! Her first national record was set for lifting 148lbs at eight years old. In this documentary, you’ll see her living out her Orthodox Jewish faith and lifting over 230lbs while weighing less than 100lbs. In fact, she has to maintain a strict diet to keep her weight at 97lbs or less. As she grows up physically, she’ll have to change weight classes to adjust to her adolescent body.

It's pretty neat to get a glimpse into the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. When traveling for events they cannot operate gas or electric powered tools like elevators at hotels on Saturdays. Seeing her become of age and watching her Bat Mitzvah is pretty exciting as well.

Despite all of the excitement, there are some somber moments in this documentary which should be considered before showing this to children. Naomi reads some comments on her YouTube and Facebook videos and many of them are rude and laced with profanity. Her adoring brother has autism and her mother was a victim of sexual abuse as she was growing up. With Naomi’s many successes come failures and she doesn’t win all of her competitions, but she does learn from them though.

One of the biggest trials in this film is the migraines that she experiences for months on end. Per doctor’s orders she has to take a break from lifting. This is a pretty tough blow because she loves lifting and her parents encourage her and don’t force this upon her. Once some progress is made, she resumes lifting and I’ll leave the conclusion of whether or not she makes a comeback for you to watch! Supergirl became available for sale and rental on Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, as well as DVD and Blu-ray on September 28, timed to coincide with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

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Our Experience At GDEX

The GDEX was our second conference and it was much bigger than Gamer Grace. We enjoyed our stay in Ohio and felt at home there. I arrived on Friday and got our booth set up as much as I could given the 30-minute unloading time limit and lack of power. Since I had some time to kill before I could check into the hotel, I decided to try some local cuisine and was introduced to fried corn nuggets - those were yummy! Once checked into the hotel, I was planning on utilizing the swimming pool, but some kid threw up into it and it was closed for a few hours. Despite some obnoxious neighbors and kids in the hotel (not mine), I did manage to get some much needed sleep until Jay arrived at 12:30am. Thankfully, on Saturday we had enough time before the doors opened to the public to finish setting up our laptops and Oculus Rift.

Even though they had a nice VR exhibit with several games, our VR setup got a fair amount of use on Saturday. On Sunday, the attendance in the exhibitor hall was much lower and it was only used once or twice that day. I don't know how many people attended the seminars but the exhibitor hall didn't seem to have 4,000 people as advertised. On the other hand, the classes were scheduled back to back and didn't give guests much free time without sacrificing a class to attend.

The GDEX

One highlight of the conference was meeting one of our reviewers, Gamer4Christ, there. Until this year, she never heard of GDEX! We also met a couple of developers (Hullbreach Studios and Schell Games) whose games we have reviewed (and they were still happy to see us!).

There were a lot of exhibitors present and many promising games being shown. Some charities like Extra Life and Able Gamers were there as well. We were not the only gamer reviewers present and we handed out plenty of business cards and made some new contacts. Our review queue has grown because of this conference! That’s a good thing though as many of these games are family friendly and deserve to be promoted.

Many Christians stopped by our booth and offered appreciation and encouragement for what we're doing. We were not the only Christian exhibitors as representatives for The Bible Project were two booths down from us. Some of the game developers we got to know are Christian too!

The GDEX

Our biggest goal at this convention was promotion and awareness. So many people stopping by our booth did not know that we existed! Many of our business cards were taken and people wanted to tell their pastors/priests about our ministry. Despite a few Bibles being returned with (broken) promises of picking them up later, we still gave away about a dozen to good homes. We didn’t want to force them on people and we hope and pray that the people who took them are blessed by them.

Although we didn’t sell any shirts or action Bibles, I still consider this conference a success. I’m smacking myself for forgetting to bring the bumper stickers that we have. In the end, it was great interacting with the gaming and game development community. I look forward to returning next year, Lord willing.

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Happy Holidays Garfield

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

Growing up I enjoyed reading Garfield comics and watching the cartoons. This fifty-minute DVD comes with the Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes; the picture quality and 4:3 resolution tells me that not much has changed since they first aired. My kids enjoyed watching Happy Holidays, Garfield as they too love his comics.

Here’s a quick synopsis of each episode:

According to Garfield, Thanksgiving is about celebrating food and the more you eat the more grateful you’ll feel. Unfortunately, the vet put Garfield on a diet and Jon assigned Odie to keep him on task. While at Garfield’s check-up, Jon manages to get the vet to come over for a Thanksgiving dinner date. The problem is that Jon can’t cook and has a knack for talking his date to sleep. Fortunately, Jon’s grandmother saves the meal and Jon’s date. I was happy to see them take a moment of silence before the meal.

In the next cartoon Garfield is dreaming about Christmas and imagines Jon dressed as an elf and receives lots and lots of presents because that’s what Christmas is all about. When Garfield wakes up he finds out that instead of eating all the lasagna he wants, he has to go to Jon’s family farm. The family gets to enjoy a nice meal and Jon’s brother says grace before they eat. Jon’s grandmother gives Odie and Garfield some table scraps. After dinner, the family decorates the Christmas tree and enlists Garfield to put the star on top of it. While Jesus isn’t mentioned as the reason for Christmas, in the end Garfield acknowledges that Christmas is about loving more than giving or getting.

Both episodes are funny and enjoyable. This DVD is available on Amazon for less than $5 and I recommend it for any fan of the classic Garfield cartoons and comics.

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Our First Convention Experience

booth

As many of you are aware, we’ve been preparing for various gaming conventions and finally attended our first one, Gamer Grace, this past weekend. It was quite an experience and we’ve learned a few things along the way.

The Oculus Rift was a hit and many people enjoyed their first VR experience with it. Watching a six-year-old think he was falling in space was priceless. I kept the headset sanitary by using mask covers and offering disposable shower caps if anyone was interested in head lice prevention. Our family dealt with head lice and it was a total nightmare. Only one person bothered with the shower cap. I’m open to suggestions on what to do with the leftover shower caps.

Setting up the Rift didn’t take much time, so in the future I think a half hour of prep time should be sufficient for placing our tablecloth, Rift, business cards, t-shirts, and Bibles. We offered Bibles to people but didn’t force them. The last thing I wanted to see was them in the garbage can. Although we couldn’t give any away (didn’t realize how hard this would be), we did sell an Action Bible. One thing we will add is a whiteboard to explain that the Bibles are free. I was thinking of writing this on our future whiteboard:

Free Bibles!
Great for:
Reading
Salvation
Changing lives
Bookshelves
Night stands

We had one mother consider buying a t-shirt but her son seemed rather indifferent about it so it never happened. We do have some shirts available online if anyone wants one. Hopefully, more people are interested at future conventions.

Speaking of more people, that’s what Gamer Grace REALLY NEEDED. During our three-day stay we probably had about seventy-five visitors at our booth, total. It wasn’t just us either. There was some amazing artwork, leather crafting, and gaming accessory exhibits that probably didn’t break even from their booth cost. We did get to meet some nice game developers and followed each other on Twitter. Those were probably my only new followers from this convention.

It’s a real shame since Gamer Grace had lot going for it. Unlimited and coinless arcade games, interesting panelists and competitions, board/card games, crafts, and foam weapon/armor battles. My kids plus their friend had a blast and I rarely saw them. My husband and I enjoyed playing some In The Groove and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games. My son was really happy to meet one of the creators of Terreria, one of his favorite video games.

Other than the Rocket League tournament, the multiple Xbox Ones sat untouched. Many of the vendors, us included, played on our mobile hand held devices. The Microsoft rep was knitting! I managed to get some good play time in for some upcoming handheld game reviews.

Gamer Grace was a learning experience for sure. I won’t mind attending as a patron if they do it again in the future. To consider it as a vendor I’ll need to know specifics on their game plan on getting the word out next time around. I look forward to better results at our future exhibits!

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The Porter’s Gate Volume 1: Work Songs


Thank you Porter’s Gate Worship Project for sending us this digital album to review!

I grew up Roman Catholic and then attended a Baptist church in my teenage years. Both of those churches had traditional hymns with only an organ or piano and vocals. I appreciate a good hymn, but I also love contemporary worship with a wide variety of instruments or even a symphonic band! Seeing a need for worship revival, The Porter’s Gate started a creative movement to compose some new worship songs with the help of first-rate singers, songwriters, and musicians.

The theme for this collaborative effort is vocation and they hope to use music as an opportunity to extend hospitality and build bridges with our neighbors. I think they achieved this goal of creating music that is beautiful, truth-filled, and inspiring in this thirteen-track album.


There’s a lot of variety in each of the songs with some of them having a male lead singer while others feature a female lead singer. Urban Doxology was part of the collaboration project too. The voices are all great and I didn’t hear any sour notes. Some of the songs feature just a piano while others have an entire symphony. There are some somber songs and others are energetic.

Like many worship songs, I have to hear the songs a couple of times to have them resonate with me. Listening to this album multiple times has been a pleasant and uplifting experience. The lyrics are God honoring and the music is catchy. I caught myself tapping my foot while listening.

The debut album is due to release on October 6th, 2017 and I highly recommend checking it out through your favorite music provider. I look forward to more inspiring music from Porter’s Gate Worship Project!

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Urban Armor Gear S7 Phone Case

Thank you Urban Armor Gear for sending us this phone case to review!

My past two phones have been Samsungs with my previous one being an S4 and my current one an S7. To protect both of them I have used Otterbox covers and have been very happy with their performance. I can’t how count how many times I’ve accidentally dropped my phone, but it happens. Between dropping my phone and it getting shuffled around in my purse it’s on its second tempered glass screen protector. The base phone itself is in pristine condition.

My pink Otterbox case has taken a beating with broken plastics around the USB and headphone connections. I was in the market for a replacement when hearing about Urban Armor Gear.

Urban Armor Gear Otterbox

On their website, Urban Armor Gear advertises their military grade cases as rugged, lightweight, and providing drop protection. Their testing requirements are dropping their products twenty-six times at a height of forty-eight inches. On top of that they offer free shipping, a one-year warranty, and US based customer support. Compared to current S7 Otterbox case prices, the Urban Armor Gear sells for $10 more on Amazon. Is it worth the extra cost?

The bottom ports are easily accessible since they are not covered like the Otterbox model. The power and volume buttons feel nice and are very responsive. The thickness is about the same as my previous phone cover so there’s not much change there.

Urban Armor Gear

I purposely dropped my phone once at my house on concrete and nothing broke. However while showing my case off to some people at church I test dropped it twice on a tile floor and my glass tempered screen protector broke. Thankfully, my phone’s screen was fine. This isn’t my first replacement screen since I have replaced the screen cover with my Otterbox, but it sure as heck survived more than three falls. Once my replacement screen protector arrives I’m be switching back to my Otterbox.

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Only by the Grace of God

Thank you Archway Publishing for sending us this book to review!

Only by the Grace of God tells the true story of the Brink family who lived in the Philippines and became prisoners of war during World War II. Each of the twelve chapters are told from the three perspectives of the children: Bill, Bob, and Pam. Some of the minor details are different in the accounts, but the main events are told in vivid detail. This family went through a lot of suffering and as the title suggests, they only survived by the grace of God.

The beginning of the 212-page book focuses on their life in the Philippines before the war. The Brink family was well-to-do with fancy furniture and servants who cleaned the house, tended to the children, and chauffeured them around. For birthdays, the kids would get nice gifts like a BB gun or a pony. The recollections of the games the kids used to play were both amusing and scary as a parent. I chuckled about the kids getting caught and punished for sling-shooting rocks at the priest’s metal roof. On the flipside, I gasped aloud when I read about the kids re-enacting cowboys and robbers and hanging one of their friends who volunteered to be the prisoner. Luckily, he was taken down in time before anything serious happened.

Once the war began the carefree lives of this family were over. The Japanese soldiers took away their belongings and father. Later they came back and imprisoned the rest of the family. In the internment camps, the family was often together and usually got a couple of meals a day. Towards the end of the war, food was very scarce and approximately three prisoners a day would die from starvation or other devastating illnesses.

During the war the children still received an education and found unique ways to entertain themselves. One amusing method was taking ants from one ant hill to another and enjoying the battle that would ensue. They even managed to scrounge enough parts to build a cart to scoot around in. While there were a lot of negative experiences, there are still some good ones and the family became closer to God in the process. The timing for their miraculous rescue couldn’t have been better.

Besides the mentioning of mischievous behavior, some other topics including homosexuality, prostitution, and minor language should be noted before letting a child read this book. It’s a great recollection of the terrors of war and the hope and faith needed to endure the trials every step of the way. This book sells for $17 on Amazon and is worth picking up. You’ll have a hard time putting it back down.

 



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The Atoning

Thank you Roberson Public Relations for sending us a screener of this film!

While I’m not typically into horror movies, the trailer looked interesting for The Atoning. My husband laughed at me for getting startled while viewing it. Like many horror movies, this one revolves around a haunted house and deals with spirits that have not crossed over to the “other side”. While unbiblical, it does provide decent entertainment.

Vera and Ray’s marriage is on the rocks and their son Sam is trying his best to keep them together. His attempt at cooking breakfast for them resulted in black and crispy pancakes and a huge mess to clean up. Vera is a loving mother while the father seems a bit distant. One thing that the family can all agree on is that their house seems to be haunted. Between doors opening and closing for no reason, objects moving around without explanation, and water turning on sporadically, this family is legitimately creeped out. The oddities seem to escalate at 9:45 every night as well.

Ray knows the name of the inhabitants of the house and their son Sam has seen their daughter who is about his age. The ghosts are not welcome and a medium is consulted to help remove the spirits. Unfortunately, the ghosts need to resolve their conflicts before moving onward. This involves a marital affair with an underage girl, drunkenness, and murder. To help figure all of this out, Ray consults a book that discusses occult topics like Neo-purgatory and Necrostasis. God is mentioned and quickly dismissed as soon as He’s brought up. During some flashbacks, Vera mentions going to church, but later doubts that God existed.

There’s a bit of a story twist, but this film’s main focus is on scaring it’s viewers. The demon like creatures are very creepy with their black bodies and bright eyes. After being startled from the trailer I was on guard for the movie and didn’t get freaked out while watching it. In all honesty I wasn’t very entertained either and have no desire to watch this film again.

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Pup Star: Better 2Gether

Thank you Air Bud Entertainment for sending us a screener link!

After losing to Tiny in the first Pup Star movie, Bark isn’t taking it lying down. In his local singing club, The Bark Easy, there’s a small dog with a big attitude named Scrappy that just so happens to look a lot like Tiny. Bark comes up with the plan to replace Tiny with Scrappy and have her take the fall to Bark in the upcoming season of Pup Star. Scrappy isn’t keen on this plan at first, but once her back alley home gets destroyed she’s onboard with it.

With the help of a skunk, the dog switch happens and those closest to the two dogs immediately detect the personality differences. Lots of hilarity ensues as the little dogs adjust to their new roles. Tiny’s human family considers a vet visit, holy water, and possibly an exorcism to bring back the dog they’re used to.

Many characters return including Lady Paw Paw, Simon Growl, and Dog Marley. Some new characters like Jimmy Kibble and Katty Purry are introduced. Like the previous movie, there is a character that’s extremely flamboyant. Even with the theme of deceit running throughout the movie, the pursuit of integrity and forgiveness is promoted. One final nitpick is that one of the dogs says OMG.

My kids enjoyed this movie and its over-the-top humor that adults will see coming from a mile away. Without spoiling the story, this film is heartwarming and shows the importance of family, friends, and acceptance. If you enjoyed the first movie, chances are that you’ll like this one too. This movie will be in theaters on August 29th. If you enjoy the music the soundtrack is available for purchase on Amazon.



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Windjammers Flying Power Disc

Thank you Tyler Barnett PR for sending us this Frisbee to review!

In 1994 Data East released Windjammers on the Neo Geo arcade system. In 2010, Wii owners were able to add this title to their virtual console library. Now that Data East is no longer around, DotEmu is handling the latest port to PlayStation 4 and Vita systems on August 29th, 2017. For those who are not familiar with the series, it’s a sports arcade style game with intense Frisbee action. Long Pong or air hockey, your goal is to get the Flying Power Disc into your opponent’s goal.

Like the real game of Frisbee, there are various ways to throw it to slip past your opponent’s defenses. If you want to practice your moves outside of the video game, Wham-O has got you covered. The creators of the original Frisbee have released a special edition 175g Flying Power Disc.

windjammers flying power disc

The bright blue disc is easy to keep track of in the sky and on the ground. Hopefully, you’ll have a playing partner to catch it so it doesn’t land on the ground though. The Windjammer title is displayed in English and Japanese. Both Data East and DotEmu are represented along with the original and re-release years. Wham-O’s logo and trademark text are present as well.

As the name implies, it flies accurately and has a quality feel to it. Unlike cheap imitations, this one does not feel flimsy. I doubt it would survive a big dog’s teeth very long though. Thankfully, my dog is too old to care and has never been trained to fetch Frisbees. My kids on the other hand are attracted to it.

If you’re a fan of Windjammers or enjoy playing Frisbee then this Flying Power Disc is worth picking up. The asking price is a reasonable $12 and is exclusively available at FanGamer.com

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Iserlohn’s Mini Basketball Hoop

Thank you Iserlohn for sending us this mini basketball hoop to review!

We haven’t played much basketball at our house since my mom backed into our outdoor movable hoop with my brother’s car. Sure, it’s nice to play with a real basketball outside, but there’s something to be said about the ability to play all year round in the comfort of your own room while wearing whatever you please.

Iserlohn’s mini basketball hoop comes with everything needed to get your game on. With the inclusion of 2 plush cotton basketballs, the games can be conducted in a quiet manner. The mini basketball requires inflation and the bundled-in air pump will do the job if your arms can handle the several hundred pumps required to fill it up. At first, we couldn’t find the inflation needle, but after my son dropped and broke the pump, it was located. Fortunately, we had a spare pump that was able to finish the job.

basketball hoop

The rest of the kit is quite sturdy and easy to set up. Installing the basketball net was a breeze. I like how the backboard and door clamps are padded to prevent scuffs and scratches. With the net installed, my son’s bedroom door still closes as it should. The only thing to be careful of is slamming the door open and possibly denting the opposing wall with the rim.

My kids enjoy this new toy and have completed several games of “PIG” with little arguing. Anything that gets my kids to play together quietly is a win in my book. Since we have wood flooring, the mini basketball is a bit loud when it’s in use. The plush balls are quite the opposite so if you want a low volume toy, don’t even bother inflating the mini baskteball. Iserlohn’s mini basketball hoop makes a perfect gift with its reasonable asking price of less than $25 on Amazon.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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