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Cheryl Gress Editor-in-Chief

Married to IBJamon since 1999. Spawned two girls and a boy.

MENU: An Homage to Game Title Themes

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

Many video games are known for their great soundtracks and some catch your attention at the menu screen before embarking on your adventure. MENU: An Homage to Game Title Themes is a collection of over fifty theme songs and menu tracks from various games in the past three decades. Most of the songs are true to their origins and others like the Mega Man 2 and Minecraft themes have rap and/or lyrics added to them. While I didn’t mind the “enhancement,” the rest of my family preferred the rap-free songs.

Not surprisingly, this collection has five songs (nearly 10%) from Final Fantasy games. There’s music from Final Fantasy Tactics, IX, XIII, XIII-2, and XV. There are three songs from the Mario franchise including tracks from Mario Kart 64, Paper Mario, and Super Mario 64. Elder Scrolls fans will enjoy the songs from Oblivion and Skyrim.

Belmont Overture from Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is probably one of the oldest tracks in this collection as this game originated in 1989. Listening to this song brought back pleasant memories from my childhood and my NES. Other familiar songs include Geralt of Rivia from Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Doki Doki Literature Club, Main Title from Deus Ex, Happiness from Sims 3, and Myst’s theme.

There are so many songs from games I have yet to play including Limbo, Celeste, Cuphead, Horizon Zero Dawn, Stardew Valley, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Katamari Damacy, and FTL: Faster Than Light. Although I haven’t played Ninja Gaiden II, I really enjoy its menu music now! Mass Effect: Andromeda has good title music too and that series is on my bucket list.

Even if you haven’t played many of the songs in this collection, it’s exceptionally made. The asking price of $16 on Bandcamp is very reasonable. If you order it through there you can get the files in MP3 or in lossless formats like FLAC.

 


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Nature: Super Cats

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

Cats are fascinating creatures and truly show God’s handiwork in their design. This series covers cats of various sizes and from around the world. In total, there are three parts that are an hour long each. The first episode is Extreme Lives and shows how ferocious and daring various cats are. For example, you’ll get to see a jaguar take down a caiman crocodile. It’s well known that cheetahs are fast, but I had no idea that the stress they put on their body during a chase would cause a human’s bones to break! Out of all of the cats in the world, the leopards thrive in the most environments. Sadly, that’s not the case for other cat species like the tiger and the Iberian lynx, which are in danger of extinction.

Episode 2, Cats in Every Corner, features felines thriving in unexpected environments. Many house cats (mine included) hate water, but the fishing cat literally lives in it and spends its life in a swamp environment living up to its name by hunting and eating fish. Swamp tigers also don’t mind getting wet. The bay cat has very little footage and information on it and there’s a scientist who has spent over a decade of his life researching this elusive animal.

The last part, Science and Secrets, shows how technology has been aiding in studying the lives of cats and even saving them from extinction. Out of all of the cats, lions are argued to be the most intelligent since they are social by living in prides. It was neat watching a female lion figure out how to open up a box with meat inside while having another female watching in the distance and learning from her experience and opening the box faster.

As cool as the big cats are, seeing some of the world’s smallest felines hunting is truly a sight to behold. The rusty-spotted cat is only 3 lbs and is every bit of a killing machine as its bigger relatives. The desert native Black-footed Cat is around 4 lbs and has a 60% success rate when it hunts, which is pretty impressive.

If you find cats fascinating, Nature: Super Cats is worth checking out. The visuals look great in the Blu-ray version, and it’s worth the extra $2 on Amazon. The series can be yours in high definition for less than $19.



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Illumination Presents: Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

Thank you Universal for sending us this 4K Blu-ray to review!

The story of Dr. Seuss’ Christmas-hating Grinch has been told many times before. Those who are familiar with the tale will already know that his heart is three sizes too small and that a girl named Cindy-Lou Who will get him to change his views. But this movie develops the characters further and even shows how awesome of a companion the Grinch’s dog, Max, truly is.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch begins with the Grinch and Max running out of food and a trip to Who-ville is necessary for their survival. As his name suggests, The Grinch is a misanthrope and despises socializing with the people of Who-ville. However, during Christmas time he really does not want to be near them with their caroling and joyous celebration of Christ’s birth. Though the town is decked out in candy canes, wreaths, snowmen, and Christmas trees, Christ is clearly mentioned and honored in the Christmas carols (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Silent Night) sung by the villagers.

There are many funny interactions between the grumpy Grinch and the overly cheery townspeople. Out of all of the villagers, Cindy-Lou and her family get the most screen time. Cindy-Lou is the oldest sister of twin baby brothers. There is no mention of a father figure, and as a result, the mother is working a night shift and struggling to attend to the needs of her children during the day. Unlike other children who ask Santa for toys, Cindy-Lou wants to talk to Santa in person to ask him to help make her mother’s life easier. Unfortunately, her method of reaching Santa isn’t exactly orthodox.

I like how the Grinch’s background is shown and how he comes to hate Christmas. It’s easy for him as an outsider to detect the greed displayed during the Christmas season. To pay back the town and to take away their fake joy he plans on stealing their Christmas from them, but in the end discovers what it’s really about: kindness and love.

Though I’m familiar with the book, I haven’t seen other film renditions to give a comparison. I will say that the voice acting by Benedict Cumberbatch, Angela Lansbury, and Pharrell Williams is well done. The visuals are astounding and vibrant, especially in 4K! The computer animation by Illumination is top-notch. The three mini-movies are worth checking out too. One of them, Dog Days of Winter, further develops Max’s character and devotion to the Grinch. The other two shorts, Yellow Is The New Black and Santa’s Little Helpers, feature the Minions and their typical silliness. There is some potty and crude humor which earns the PG rating awarded to the film.

In the end, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch is worth watching with your family around Christmastime. It just might be a new yearly tradition for us.

 


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Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

Thank you Fun Academy for sending us this DVD to review!

Sergeant Stubby is the most decorated dog of World War I and is also the only canine to be promoted to a sergeant through combat. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is based on his heroism and legacy that saved many French and American lives on the Western Front.

The story begins with Stubby being an ever-hungry stray dog on the streets of Connecticut. During a march through town, a newly enlisted Robert Conroy takes notice of Stubby and throws a cookie his way and the dog follows the soldiers back to boot camp. At first, the higher-ups are not keen on having a dog among the ranks, but once Stubby learns how to salute them and shows his dedication, they allow him to stay by Robert’s side. Stubby became the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment.

When the soldiers are dispatched to France, Stubby sneaks onboard and again is welcomed for his perseverance. The film depicts Robert having nothing to do with Stubby’s travels; however, internet sources claim that he was the one who smuggled him aboard. In the end, it’s good that he was there because many lives were saved as a result. On the battlefield, Stubby helped locate wounded soldiers along with warning of incoming artillery shells and gas attacks.

Since this ninety-minute computer animated film is geared for children, the violence is toned down quite a bit. There is no blood shown and many of the close combat encounters end in surrendering and not death. The battlefield is still depicted as grim with many soldiers being shown as sick and/or wounded. There is a death towards the end of the movie that brought some teary eyes among my family. Yes, I was one of them.

Overall, my family enjoyed watching this movie together. Though it’s based on a true story, some artistic liberties were taken. I’m not really sure if Stubby really got to meet George S. Patton, but he did get to sniff presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding. Sgt. Stubby was quite the war hero and I highly recommend this movie for any dog or history lover.



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Music Box Classics: Mario

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

I have been enjoying the Mario Bros. series since the Atari and Super Mario Bros. series on the NES. While the Atari 2600 version of the game lacks music, the NES version has quite the memorable soundtrack and it’s great to see it get the lullaby treatment in the Music Box Classics: Mario collection.

This digital album has ten tracks from various games through Mario’s 30+ years in existence. The first track is the Super Mario Bros. overworld music and is the slowest of the bunch. I honestly think it could have benefited from higher beats per minute. The rest of the tracks are a little bit more upbeat. The underwater music from the first Super Mario Bros. game is a welcome addition as well.

The most represented games are Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy with each having three tracks dedicated to them. You’ll find the following Super Mario 64 songs: Inside the Castle Walls, Bomb-Omb Battlefield, and Dire, Dire Docks. The songs from Super Mario Galaxy Include: Rosalina’s Observatory, Luma, and Gusty Garden. The overworld music from Super Mario Bros. 2 brings back pleasant memories as does Princess Peach’s Theme from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I wish that Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Sunshine had tracks included in the collection, but they’re absent.

Overall, this is a great collection of classic gaming music in music box form. It’s great lullaby music so make sure you’re not too comfortable when listening to it or you may find yourself sleeping before you know it! The total length of this album is a little over thirty-one minutes. It sells for $8.99 on Amazon or for $7 on Bandcamp which provides the tracks in MP3, FLAC and more.


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The House with a Clock in Its Walls

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

The House with a Clock in Its Walls takes place in 1955 and is about a 10-year-old boy named Lewis who loses his parents in a tragic car accident. His closest relative is his uncle Jonathan who lives in a haunted mansion in Michigan. The previous owner of the house was a warlock named Izard. This warlock is responsible for placing a clock within the mansion, and Jonathan, along with his best friend and neighbor, who is also a witch, are trying to find and destroy the clock within.

Lewis is out of place in his new school and the goggles that he wears all of the time are not helping matters. There is a girl who is fascinated with insects that takes a liking to Lewis, but he is more interested in impressing a popular boy named Tarby. His uncle Jonathan is pretty lenient and lets Lewis eat whatever he wants and go to bed whenever he feels like it. His only rule is to not open the locked cabinet. If you’re familiar with Genesis 3, you know what happens when humans only have one rule to follow.

Without spoiling the story too much, I must say that this movie is very anti-Christian and heavily promotes magic use. Lewis wants to become a warlock like his uncle and that involves studying various texts, runes, and spells. There are many occult symbols like pentacle, pentagrams, and upside-down crosses shown throughout this film. Some of the spells require the castor to offer their blood in order to complete the ritual. Necromancy (while frowned upon), is also practiced. One of the characters makes a pact with a powerful demon in exchange for some forbidden knowledge. The occult issues aside, there is also language (hell, d*mn), and gross humor involving puking jack-o'-lanterns' and a topiary griffin that refuses to use a litter box.

If it wasn’t for the heavy-handed occult content, I would have enjoyed The House with a Clock in Its Walls. I haven’t read the book that this film is based on so I’m not sure how descriptive it is with the spell casting and symbolism. It’s a shame since the acting by Jack Black and Cate Blanchett is exceptional and the characters and story are well done. If you’re a Christian and interested in seeing this film, I recommend renting it first.



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God Bless the Broken Road

Thank you Lionsgate for sending us this Blu-ray, soundtrack CD, pot, and toy car to review!

God Bless the Broken Road is about Amber Hill, a wife and mother who tries to make ends meet after the loss of her husband in the Afghanistan war. Before his death, she was very active in church and led their worship ministry. Two years after his passing, her house is behind on the mortgage payments and working 7 days a week is straining the relationship with her daughter, Bree.

A dashing young racecar driver named Cody arrives in town and is instantly told that Amber is out of his league, but that makes her all the more appealing to him. After wrecking his racecar in the big leagues, he’s sent back to this small town to learn from one of the greats, Joe Carter. One of Cody’s first assignments from Joe is to work with the children at the town’s church. Bree takes a liking to Cody and enjoys making a pink camouflaged go-kart there.

While Bree is getting more active in church, her mother is becoming less so. Though Amber is working many hours at the diner, she’s still unable to make ends meet and resorts to pawning off possessions instead of pursuing a job offer from her mother-in-law. The relationship with Bree’s grandmother is strained and Bree wishes that she could spend more time with her. Amber’s walk with God is also deteriorating as she is relying on herself and not Him during her times of financial hardship.

One trait that Cody and Amber share is stubbornness. This film teaches a good moral lesson about listening to and relying on God. It’s Dove approved for all ages and there is little to be worried about morally. In fact, the war violence is bloodless which is contrary to most war films I’ve seen recently. The overall story is moving but predictable at times. While I’m not in a hurry to see this film again, I did enjoy it.



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Elliot the Littlest Reindeer

Thank you Screen Media for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

There are many Christmas songs about Santa and his hard working reindeer that fly his magical sleigh. Unfortunately, Blitzen suddenly retires and favors running a juice bar instead of helping deliver presents to well-behaved boys and girls around the world. With only a few days before Christmas, the elves are scrambling to find a suitable replacement who can win the North Pole tryouts, which lasts three days.

In a warmer climate is a petting zoo that is struggling to pay its bills and its former minor-league baseball owner is considering a sales offer from a woman that seems more interested in eating the animals than caring for them. However, if their promising reindeer, DJ, makes Santa’s team, they may not have to sell.

There’s another hopeful at this petting zoo named Elliot. The only problem is that Elliot is a pony and not a reindeer. I’m all for having dreams and aspirations, but this movie is promoting the agenda anyone can be anything and that’s not necessarily a message I want to instill into my children. I believe that there is a place for boys and a place for girls which is contrary to today’s society that lets “transgender” boys compete (and unfairly win) on girls’ athletic teams and even partake in Miss Universe competitions.

Aside from the obvious agenda, there’s not much to say about the story in this 89-minute movie. Santa and some of the elves are cast in a negative light or even as villains in this film. The voice acting is top notch and has some notable cast members including Josh Hutcherson, Martin Short, and John Cleese. There are some positive messages about putting your friendship first and being selfless. A lesson is also taught about cheating. Given the overall moral of the story, I would still give this film a pass or recommend renting it before purchasing it for your family.


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Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: It's a Beautiful Day Collection

Thank you PBS for sending us this 4 DVD collection to review!

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood ran from 1968-2001 and has 895 episodes (excluding specials). It’s hard to select just thirty episodes from such a large collection, but this sampling is pretty good. My only complaint is that they’re not sequential, so the trips to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe are not always coherent as they often have multiple segments that need to be played in order to get the complete story.

The last disc has the very first episode which is in black and white. Mr. Rogers looks so young and his hair was mostly dark back then. Some of the same actors appear in the colorized episodes, but there were many changes since then. The later episodes still have the same puppets in Make-Believe, the same house set, and even the same fish tank. It's great to see that some of the final episodes are also present in this collection.

Many great memories returned when viewing these episodes again later in life. I wish that this collection was available when my kids were younger. The positive and encouraging messages and lessons are timeless. Kids should definitely know that they’re loved just the way they are.

Throughout the fourteen-and-a-half hours of content, you’ll get to see many famous writers, musicians, and singers showcase their talents in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I was impressed with the musician who played Amazing Grace on a saw! You’ll also be able to accompany Mr. Rogers on many exciting field trips. During a trip to the zoo, Mr. Rogers gets to help feed a panda.

With the way Mr. Rogers encourages and talks to your kids through the television screen, your child will be engaged and feel good about themselves. Programs this wholesome are few and far between these days. The normal price for this set is $19.99 but I have seen it on sale on PBS’ website for $12.99. Amazon sells it too for even less.



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Anne of Green Gables - Fire and Dew

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

Fire and Dew is the third installment from the Anne of Green Gables PBS movie series. It picks up a year after the previous movie where Gilbert vowed not to speak to Anne again after she chose her friends over him. Anne is not pleased with his behavior and finds it difficult to ignore him as they are academically equal and both selected to attend an advanced class to prepare for and apply to Queen’s Academy.

Anne is quite studious and applies for the Avery scholarship along with Gilbert and her friends hoping to earn it as well. Though Matthew and Marilla have budgeted for Anne’s education, they did not plan on their bank with all of their funds to be investigated and in danger of closing.

At Queen’s Academy, Josie is flirting with all of the boys and especially with Gilbert. Other emotions come into play as a character dear to Anne dies in this movie. All of us watching the movie got misty-eyed during that part.

As a result of the loss of a loved one, Anne has to make some difficult choices regarding her future education and employment. Anne is growing up fast and has many accomplishments to be proud of at the tender age of fourteen. I like the theme of forgiveness and sacrifice and hope to see more installments from these classic books. If not, I’ll have no choice but to read all nineteen of them to see how it ends.

Like the other movies, Anne of Green Gables - Fire and Dew is available to stream for free for Amazon Prime members. The DVD is also available to purchase from the PBS website for $14.99.


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Anne of Green Gables - The Good Stars

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

Anne is settling into her new life and is acclimating to school and her household chores, though she’s not too fond of geometry or chickens. Out of all of the girls in school that Gilbert tends to tease, he seems to fancy Anne the most. She’s not too keen of his antics, but eventually she warms up to him. As she spends more time with Gilbert, her friends are a little upset and feel neglected.

Upon turning thirteen, Anne feels that she has some difficult choices to make and seeks the council of the adults in her life. Marilla urges Anne to be sensible while Matthew wants her to pursue romance. Anne also learns that loyalty is more important than honor and makes a difficult decision as a result. Unfortunately, the movie ended before we could see the impact that it made. Thankfully, there’s still one more movie left in the series for us to watch.

It’s pretty safe to say that my kids and I are hooked on this series. So much so that we’ve decided to do like Anne did and bake an apple pie from scratch for Thanksgiving this year. However, we’ll be mindful of the time and not let it burn. Like the previous movies, there are several funny mishaps that Anne must learn from. As usual, most of her mistakes are innocent ones and she tries to right any and all wrongs that she has done.

This film is family friendly and even has some Bible stories told by the newly married pastor’s wife. Forgiveness is a strong theme in this ninety-minute film. Like the rest of the entries, it’s only available in DVD format. It’s a shame since this island is so beautiful and can really benefit from Blu-ray visual enhancements. Either way, it’s still worth checking out for free on Amazon Prime or buying for $15 on PBS’ website.



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2019 Gaming Calendars

Thank you Abrams Books for sending us five calendars to fight over…I mean review!

2018 is coming to an end and with the new year fast approaching we must decide on a calendar to use for next year. Gamers may want to look into the following calendars from Abrams Books:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Pokémon
Splatoon
Super Mario
Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Each calendar has four mini-calendars from September-December of 2018 in case you want to swap it out a little early. Holidays are noted for various countries around the world. I now know that Australia Day is on January 26h and observed on the 28th. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand will be celebrating Mother’s Day with us on May 12th. Australia and New Zealand don’t celebrate Father’s Day until September though. Religious days like Diwali, Kwanzaa, Purim, and Ramadan are also shown. All of the Christian religious days are accounted for.

Many of the holidays that my kids' schools shut down for are also listed along with various bank holidays that are observed in other countries. The beginning and end of daylight saving time is also noted so I can adjust my clocks accordingly. The only thing missing that my current calendar provides are the phases of the moon. I can live without that feature though.

The calendars are nice and big with smooth glossy pages. The artwork is exceptional and any gamer will be pleased with the images chosen for their gaming calendar choice. My family was debating on who should get which calendar and the samples that were sent to us made us do some serious decision making. As the writer of this review, I get first dibs.

The calendars sell for $14.99 on abramsbooks.com which is a reasonable price. They’re still selling similarly themed 2018 calendars so make sure you’re getting the 2019 version of the Pokémon, Splatoon, Super Mario, or Zelda ones. Whichever one you decide on, I’m sure you’ll be happy with it.

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Puppy Star Christmas

Thank you Air Bud Entertainment for sending us a screener to review along with a stuffed bear, an apron and hat, candy for a ginger bread house, dog treats and toys!

Puppy Star Christmas begins with the wedding of Tiny and P.U.P. and puppies arrive several months after that. In total, there are four puppies who could not have fit inside the mother without being born premature or delivered via C-section. The three female puppies take after their mother in appearance and the boy pup, Brody, looks just like his dad. Brody and his sisters, Charlie and Rosie, tend to get in trouble while Cindy tries her best to stop them to no avail.

With some of the trouble the puppies are getting into, Tiny and P.U.P. are wondering if they are being neglectful parents. In an attempt to spend more time with them, they put together a Puppy Star Christmas show and have managed to book Santa Claus as a special guest. News of this spreads like wildfire and catches the attention of the mischievous Bark and his co-conspirator, Kano. Roland assists them in their plan to take over Christmas as long as he gets to fly Santa’s sleigh.

Bark’s objective is to monetize Christmas further and make every family pay for the privilege to receive gifts and not coal. Not only does this provide a lot of income, it nullifies the penalty for being on the naughty list. As long as you have money, presents are guaranteed.

With Christmas in danger, everyone wants to re-kindle the Christmas spirit of love, forgiveness, and selflessness. Christ’s birth is not mentioned whatsoever in this film. I do like the aspect of forgiveness and not carrying a grudge against those who have wronged you.

Puppy Star Christmas is ninety minutes long, rated PG, and has some comedic violence. There is also some gross humor as a character discovers that reindeer poop tastes like toothpaste. Many of the same characters and actors are back in this film, including the effeminate Shep, though he does manage to find love in this movie.

If you enjoyed the silliness of the previous films, then you’ll probably like this one as well. My kids and I enjoyed watching it and it’s now available on Netflix.  Though it's listed on Amazon, it's not yet available for purchase.

 


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Anne of Green Gables

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD set to review!

Anne of Green Gables was written by L.M. Montgomery and published in 1908. The book has sold over fifty million copies and has been adapted into several films. PBS first aired Anne of Green Gables on November 24th, 2016. This 90-minute movie stars Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert who lives with his sister Marilla on a beautiful farm called Green Gables. They’re not getting any younger and can use some help with their chores and seek to adopt a boy to live with them.

Instead of a boy, Matthew and Marilla are greeted by a chatty redheaded girl named Anne Shirley. Matthew is more welcoming than most others that Anne meets, but even the meanest people are nicer than those that Anne dealt with growing up. She was physically punished in orphanages and lived with a family that had a drunk and often violent husband.

As rough as her past was, her future is looking bright at Green Gables and Anne gets to experience many firsts while living there. Her first friend, prayer, church service, school, and even ice cream! There are many humorous moments that my family enjoyed while watching this film together.

This movie is the first in a three-part series and I look forward to watching the rest with my children. The visuals are stunning, but are limited to the DVD format. I wish it was available on Blu-ray for even more vibrant colors. The acting is superb and there are many likable (and unlikable) characters that I look forward to being further developed in this series.

If you’re a fan of the book or for some wholesome family friendly entertainment, you should check out this film. Amazon Prime members can watch it for free as part of their subscription. PBS also sells the DVD on their website for $14.99.



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2018 Christmas Buying Guide

Christmas Buying Guide 2018

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most family friendly games we have reviewed in 2018. 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
The Alliance Alive 82% 81% $29.09
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Block-a-Pix Color 72% 100% $7.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Link-a-Pix Color 72% 100% $7.99
Switch
Switch
Freedom Planet
(PC, Wii U, PlayStation 4, Switch)
88% 94% $14.99
Switch
Switch
Happy Birthdays 84% 94% $29.97
Switch
Switch
Lost in Harmony
(Android, iOS, PC, Switch)
88% 92% $6.99
Switch
Switch
Semblance
(PC, Switch)
88% 96% $9.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Candleman: The Complete Journey
(Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox One)
90% 92% $14.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Tyler: Model 005
(PC, Xbox One)
90% 96% $9.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Staxel 90% 91% $19.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Tracks - The Train Set Game 94% 100% $19.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
de Blob 2 
(Nintendo DS, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii, PC, Xbox 360/One)
84% 93% $18.51
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4

Forgotton Anne
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)

92% 89% $19.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
GRIP: Combat Racing
(PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
92% 90% $39.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Railway Empire
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
82% 92% $34.44
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Word Sudoku by POWGI
(Android, iOS, PS4, Vita)
72% 100% $7.99
  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
Crayola Scoot
(PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
82% 92% $39.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Octahedron
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
86% 96% $12.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Overcooked! 2
(PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
88% 94% $29.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
RGX Showdown
(PS4, Xbox One)
80% 96% $9.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
ARK Park 74% 95% $39.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Pinball FX2 VR Universal Classics 78% 84% $19.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Throw Anything 76% 83% $11.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
TSA Frisky 70% 100% $6.99
Hardware
Hardware
EWin Calling Series Ergonomic Computer Gaming Office Chair with Pillows N/A N/A $220
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hephaestus P1 RGB Surround Sound Gaming Headset N/A N/A $55.79
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hermes P2 RGB Optical Mechanical Switch Gaming Keyboard N/A N/A $76.41
Hardware
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ZMI PowerPack 20000 Portable Power Bank N/A N/A $69.95

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Pixar Animated Shorts: Volume 3

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

Pixar movies are great and they always have the added bonus of a wonderfully made short to precede them. Sometimes they’re funny and other times they’re insightful. Volume 3 contains eleven shorts, two mini-movies, and some bonus features that are exceptionally made. While I have seen some of them, many of these shorts were new and thoroughly enjoyed by my family.

Here’s a breakdown of each one:

Bao – An eye-opening tale about a mother’s love for a rebellious son.

Lou – Lost toys come together to teach a bully a lesson and the benefits of forgiveness.

Piper – Teaching a baby seagull to feed himself, and overcoming the fear of the ocean waves.

Sanjay’s Super Team – Mostly based on a true story. Sanjay is trying to watch his superhero TV show and his dad is trying to meditate by their family shrine. After Sanjay loses the battle over the television volume, he joins his father in worship physically while mentally he daydreams fighting bad guys alongside some of his gods.

Riley’s First Date? – Inside Out characters in the minds of the boy, parents, and Riley. The mother tries to pry information from Riley with “hip talk” while the father attempts to intimidate Jordan.

Lava – A Hawaiian-themed musical short about a lonely volcano looking for love. Will he meet the “lava” of his life?

The Radiator Springs 500 ½ - Stanley Days is interrupted by some young punks looking to challenge Lightning McQueen to a race. Unfortunately, they’re given some bad directions and have quite the adventure.

Party Central – Mike and Sullivan save a lackluster frat party at Monsters University by stealing food and students from another one.

The Blue Umbrella – In a city full of black umbrellas, a bright blue one stands out from the crowd and takes a liking to a vibrant red one. Eventually, they go their separate ways, but will they meet again?

The Legend of Mor’du – A witch shares the tale about a king and his four sons with different skills. When the king passed, the eldest son wanted to rule the kingdom by himself and not share it as his father had decreed. War ensued and resulted in a stalemate. The oldest son enlisted the help of a witch who gave him a spell of choice: great strength or to restore his bond with his brothers.

Partysaurus Rex – The characters of Toy Story gang up against Rex who ruins their fun. They call him Party Pooper Rex. Rex meets some new bath toy friends and introduces himself as Partysaurus Rex. Since he has arms he can draw the bath water to keep the party going after bath time.

There are also two mini-movies:

Marine Life Interviews – A bunch of fish and a couple of seals recall their time with Dory. This one is shorter than most of the shorts.

Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool – The bus from Cars 3 has an infomercial that is pretty intense. Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez are her most recent graduates.

Lastly, there are two bonus features:

Making Bao - Bao means steamed bun or precious. It’s neat that the whole crew learned how to make dumplings from the director’s mother. I didn’t realize it until this behind the scenes that the short takes place in Toronto.

Caricature: A Horrible Way of Saying 'I Love You' – A look into mean caricature night at Pixar. I’m glad I don’t work there…

Despite that a couple of the shorts don’t align with Biblical teachings, but they’re all family friendly. I do like the theme of forgiveness and making things right in Lou. This seventy-six minute collection can be yours for less than $25 on Amazon.

 


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She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Thank you DreamWorks for sending us a cape, tiara, pins, and glitter to decorate it all with!

She-Ra has been around since the mid-eighties. He-Man was geared for boys and got a motion picture. Over thirty years later She-Ra and the Princesses of Power gets its own animated Netflix series courtesy of DreamWorks.

The series begins with Adora, a hard-working Senior Cadet who quickly advances in rank because of her efforts. She’s an orphan and has some close friends including the troublemaking Catra. In order to cheer up Catra who is jealous over Adora’s new rank, they take a “borrowed” ship for a spin and crash it into a forest. In the forest, Adora sees a sword that’s calling for her to fulfill her destiny and fight for the honor of Grayskull.

Adora doesn’t hold a high regard for princesses; little does she know that she is one herself! When Adora uses the sword that has been calling for her, she transforms into She-Ra, a very powerful princess and a force to be reckoned with. It’s nice to see a princess that can hold her own in battle without needing the help of some wandering prince or plumber brothers.

The episodes are twenty-four minutes in length and are action packed. The characters are likeable and often have funny lines. Their voice acting is well done too. The animation is simple but nice.

My kids, including my son, enjoyed watching this show. If you have Netflix and younger kids, you should definitely look into this series. I didn’t pay much attention to She-Ra growing up so I can’t say how true to her story this series is. My brother grew up playing with He-Man so I’m familiar with some of the characters and I look forward to getting reacquainted with them.

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Incredibles 2

Thank you Disney for sending us this Blu-Ray to review!

It’s been fourteen years since the original Incredibles move was released. Incredibles 2 takes place shortly after the first film where performing heroics is still illegal and has been for fifteen years. It was just a regular day for the Parr family when a villain rose up and robbed a bank in broad daylight. The Incredibles took it upon themselves to stop this criminal and to save the city from his out-of-control drilling vehicle heading towards City Hall. Even though that crisis was averted, much damage was done to other buildings and all superheroes were further chastised and told to stay out of the crime fighting business. In fact, the agency that has been helping the Incredibles is shutting down due to this incident.

Though most of the public are against superheroes, not everyone is. A very rich entrepreneur wishes to reverse this law and uses Elastigirl as his ideal example. She was chosen for her performance and lack of damage caused to personal property. Her husband’s ego is shattered, but he wants his wife to succeed as it will benefit all superheroes in the future.

While Helen is fighting crime and making televised appearances, Bob is taking care of the kids at home. He has to learn “new” math, cope with his daughter’s dating drama, and discover Jack-Jack's multiple new powers. I won’t spoil any of the story, but I will say that the whole family must work together to untarnish the reputation of superheroes.

For a film geared towards families, I was surprised at the language in it. Hell, d*mn, and the Lord’s name taken in vain can be heard in this two hour and five minute film. Cartoon violence is a given. If you don’t mind that you’ll probably enjoy this film despite its predictable ending.



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Music Box Classics: Final Fantasy VII

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

Final Fantasy games are known for their extraordinary music and my husband and I have had the pleasure of seeing multiple live symphonic performances of Nobuo Uematsu’s masterpieces. As a result, we own several compilations of Final Fantasy music and managed to get one of our daughters sick of it. Our other two kids love the music so they turned out alright.

Music Box Classics: Final Fantasy VII focuses on a title with many great songs and the music box treatment works well with these melodies. J-E-N-O-V-A is a little too fast paced to be included, but there are plenty of other great songs in this collection. There are lots of theme songs including the Aerith’s, Tifa’s, and the Chocobo song. Of course, the game’s title song is on this album as well.

I love the battle music in Final Fantasy VII and the Fighting song and One Winged Angel are both included. Another welcome addition is Cosmo Canyon though I have to say that I still prefer the version from the game’s soundtrack.

There are fourteen songs in total and they range from a minute and forty-seven seconds to six minutes and forty-one seconds. All of the tracks are great and I highly recommend this $7 digital album to all Final Fantasy VII fans. The songs are available in MP3 and lossless FLAC formats.

As for my daughter who is sick of Final Fantasy music, I have a plan. After she gets married and has a child, I will give it a stuffed animal or a music box with Aerith’s theme. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, but I’m sure the kid(s) will love it.


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Solo: A Star Wars Story

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

Solo takes place before Star Wars IV: A New Hope. As the title suggests, it’s about the reluctant hero, Han Solo, and even shows how he gets his surname when he enlists in the Empire. Han and his girlfriend Qi’ra grew up on the streets in Corellia. Like many street kids, they are forced to steal and bring their loot to Lady Proxima in exchange for food, shelter, and their lives. In attempt to escape Corellia, Han makes it out and promises to come back for Qi’ra.

In order to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot and reuniting with Qi’ra, Han enlists with the Empire. Instead of flying, he’s put on the front lines where he meets some thieves who have infiltrated the Empire's army. Han has a nose for sniffing out trouble and likes to hang around fellow troublemakers. He also meets Chewbacca and the two become inseparable.

The Millennium Falcon's original owner, Lando Calrissian, is also introduced. Lando’s co-pilot is an independent and sassy droid named L3-37. She’s hilarious. Both Han and Lando are fond of gambling and one of them is a cheater. Like other Star Wars films, you can expect to find spaceship violence, blood, and death. There is some language (d*mn) and it’s implied that Han and Qi’ra have been intimate. Kissing is shown, but nothing else.

The Rebellion is in its infancy as the Empire is getting stronger and more hostile by the day. Something needs to be done about them and Han must choose his alliances carefully. I enjoyed this 135-minute film and recommend it for any Star Wars fan. It’s rated PG-13 and I agree with that rating.



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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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