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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

Thank You For Playing

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Thank you Falco Ink For sending us a screener of this movie!

When Joel Evan Green was a one-year-old, he had brain tumors and was only given four months to live.  His parents had a choice.  They could distance themselves and prepare for his death, or celebrate each day of his life.  While the tumors came and went with chemotherapy, Joel lived a few more years and was showered with love each and every one of those days.  Throughout Joel’s treatment, his parents documented their journey for this documentary and their game immortalizing Joel’s battle with “That Dragon, Cancer”.  

Both the film and the game capture the struggles and testing of the family’s faith and hope for saving their son’s life.  Lots of emotions are shown and they’re all genuine.  A couple of swear words are said so keep that in mind for younger audiences.   

It was really neat to see the behind the scenes discussions and work put into the making of “That Dragon, Cancer.”   Ryan and Amy Green worked together on the script and their sons lended their voice talents in the game as well.  While the laughs in the game are Joel’s, the crying is not.  

Though the characters in the game are expressionless, this movie leaves nothing to the imagination and has lots of footage of Joel and his family.  Many videogames promote violence but not too many tell an emotional story.  Too many families have been impacted by cancer and they don’t talk about their struggles.  One of the goals of this game is to break down those barriers and allow people to share, uplift, and mourn together.  At its PAX appearance, many gamers who play tested “That Dragon, Cancer” were moved to tears.  Both the film and game are powerful and worth checking out.  Just keep some tissues handy.

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Top 15 Wii U Games (...So Far)

The following is a list of Wii U games that I have played and can personally recommend as some of the best out there. Wii U games from 2012-13 might be hard to find, but all of them are available on the Nintendo eShop, in case you want to download them.

 

15. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

For all of those SEGA fans out there, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is the racing game for you. Like Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, the game bears striking similarities to the Mario Kart series. However, the overall game is much more enjoyable and creative than its predecessor. Aside from the odd inclusion of Danica Patrick, the amount of characters and tracks has greatly improved. Characters like NiGHTS who should have been in the first one are now playable. Plus, Wreck-it Ralph is in the game. You gotta love Wreck-it Ralph.

 

14. LEGO Marvel Superheroes

LEGO Marvel Superheroes doesn’t branch too far off from the other LEGO games. However, its large cast of playable characters and tributes to the Marvel franchise make it a memorable experience for comic book nerds of all ages. Though none of the characters have as much depth as the characters of Disney Infinity: Marvel Superheroes, the overall experience is more enjoyable, with a variety of missions and unlockables that will keep gamers playing it for hours.

 

15. Disney Infinity

The first Disney Infinity might not be as big or deep as its sequels, but still offers some of the best simplistic fun you can have. It brings out the inner child in you and takes you across the worlds of some of your favorite Disney and Pixar movies. From Pirates of the Caribbean to Toy Story, you’ll find many creative lands to explore in the wonderful world of Disney!

 

12. Scribblenauts Unlimited

As a launch title for the Wii U, Scribblenauts Unlimited was one of the only third-party exclusives that captured the family-friendly fun that Nintendo is known to offer on their systems. Though the game doesn’t rely on tough brain teasers like its predecessors, the emphasis on creativity and the new character creator makes this possibly the best Scribblenauts yet. Trust me, if you are the creative type, you’ll want to try this one.

 

11. Sonic Lost World

Though controversial among critics, Sonic Lost World is a well-developed game that continues the classic revival found in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. Arguably Sonic’s best-looking game yet, Sonic Lost World features a beautiful art style and wonderful orchestrated music. The gameplay is slower than previous Sonic games, but allows more control over the character. Sonic fans who can accept the slightly slower pace will have a blast traveling the worlds of the Lost Hex.

 

10. Disney Infinity 3.0

One of the best Star Wars games in years, Disney Infinity 3.0 brings to life the characters and worlds from the seven Star Wars films, along with some of the characters from the shows. The gameplay is similar to the first two games, but with enhancements that make it notably better. The combat, in particular, is well choreographed and is much like the fighting style of the Jedi in the films. Star Wars fans young and old have found much enjoyment playing Disney Infinity 3.0.

 

9. Nintendo Land

Nintendo Land is basically Wii Sports for the Wii U. Like Wii Sports, Nintendo Land is a game aimed at the family and showcases what the system can do. The graphics perfectly show the Wii U’s capabilities and the games are very fun. The silliness to the whole thing created many laugh-out-loud moments for me and my family. Admittedly, it doesn’t display the Gamepad’s capabilities as well as Wii Sports displayed the Wii Remote’s. This, however, is easily overlooked after experiencing the mini adventures found in Nintendo Land.

 

8. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

An HD remake to one of the greatest games of all time, The Wind Waker HD boasts an updated look to the already-gorgeous graphics and some new innovations such as the Quick Sail, Gamepad integration, Miiverse bottles, and an easier-to-understand Triforce hunt. Otherwise, the game is mostly the same. However, all of these updates make the game still worth it. The updates take away some of the only real frustrations to the original title, making an amazing game even better.

 

7. Super Mario Maker

In a sense, Super Mario Maker is a simpler version of LittleBigPlanet. That being said, the level editor still allows a great amount of creativity. The main difference is that its simpler system that allows broader audiences to create great levels. One feature, in particular, that is really fun is the costumes you can unlock via amiibo. Almost every amiibo currently available gives the 8-bit Mario a suit that resembles the pixel art from that character’s game. For those who do not care much about level-building, it also includes a story that features levels made on the editor. If you’ve ever wanted to build a level, or just want a classic Mario experience, this is the game for you.

 

6. Rayman Legends

Despite the fact that Ubisoft’s masterpiece is available on other consoles, Rayman Legends was designed for the Wii U. The gamepad integration works very well with the game, and the painting-like graphic style is very beautiful. Its slapstick violence offers humor to just about every level. Its multiplayer shows that 2D platformers can have enjoyable cooperative experiences. And its music levels are some of the best levels in modern platforming.

 

5. Splatoon

Perhaps the only first-party game that is truly original, Splatoon is Nintendo’s brilliant attempt to create a game that focuses on online play. The result? A third-person shooter about squids playing paintball. The game is even weirder than it sounds, with a sort of punk ‘90s approach to the look and feel. However, this odd style adds to a truly wonderful experience. Boasting astounding graphics, a fairly consistent online performance, and a fun little story mode, Splatoon shows that Nintendo still knows how to create something fresh and original.

 

4. Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 is sort of an overlooked gem. Despite Nintendo’s promotional efforts, it never really was one of their top sellers. However, don’t take this as a sign that it isn’t any good. In fact, Pikmin 3 is a magnificent game with an engaging (albeit addicting) gameplay style and photorealistic graphics. Like the previous Pikmin games, Pikmin 3 uses a level system based on how much you get done in a day. A day in Pikmin 3 is about 20-30 minutes. This adds a sense of urgency to completing everything you need to get done on time. It may be a bit slow for some of the younger gamers, but it is something that older players will definitely want to try.

 

3. Mario Kart 8

When viewing the trailers to the game, Mario Kart 8 simply looks like a prettier version of the previous titles. However, the game is much more than a graphically enhanced remake. This game offers a smart variety of tracks, both new and old. It also features customizable karts, with options that are much more interesting than the ones in Mario Kart 7. Another great feature is its smooth online functionality, which features a near-flawless performance. What really makes this game notable, however, is the DLC and amiibo integration. Both offer a variety of bonus content that makes the game feel much larger than the previous games.

 

2. Super Mario 3D World

Though Super Mario 3D World isn’t as creative as, say, Super Mario Galaxy, its highly-polished gameplay and jaw-dropping graphics make it one of the Wii U’s most spectacular games ever. The Cat Suit is one of Mario’s best power-ups in years. The simplistic but fine-tuned style is perfect for the classy feel Mario tends to offer us in his previous entries. And, unlike the New Super Mario Bros. games, the multiplayer is very fun and offers a great time for those seeking a multiplayer experience outside of party games.

 

1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is, to put it simply, the ultimate fighting experience. Featuring a gameplay style that mixes the best of both Melee and Brawl, the latest Smash fine tunes the gameplay to near perfection. This game also boasts a ridiculous amount of content, from dozens of stages, to hundreds of music selections. Gameplay elements such as the Mii Fighters are very well thought out and add a sense of creativity to the already-brilliant fighting series. The number of characters is astounding, and DLC characters such as Ryu, Mewtwo, and the recently-revealed Cloud Strife make the game even better.

 

 

Of course, not all of the great Wii U games are listed on here. I have not played every great game the Wii U has to offer, so I cannot recommend them personally. However, other games that are considered great include Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Trine: Enchanted Edition and 2: Director’s Cut, Yoshi’s Woolly World, LEGO City Undercover, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, the Skylanders games, and Child of Light, among others.

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BuyCostumes.com

Thank you BuyCostumes.com for sending us a deluxe Bowser costume!

BuyCostumes.com, a division of BuysSeasons Inc. was founded in 1999 and is one of the largest internet retailers of costumes and accessories.  Their motto is “Life’s Better in Costume.” While Halloweeen costumes are their biggest market, they sell costumes for events and cosplay all year round. 

bowser costume

There are costumes for people of all sizes and shapes; even couple’s and group costumes are available.  Costumes for pets are not left out either!  If you’re looking for indoor, yard, or porch decorations, BuyCostumes.com has you covered!

bowser costume

Gamers may want to check out their video game collection.     BuyCostumes.com sells officially licensed Nintendo costumes featuring Mario, Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach, Bowser, Yoshi, and Pikachu.  Other popular video game costumes include: 

  • Master Chief
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Kitana, Subzero, and Scorpion from Mortal Kombat
  • Batman
  • Arno from Assassin’s Creed  

Minecraft fans may want to check out the block heads for Endermen, Creepers, and the default character, Steve.  Skylander collectors might like the Spyro, Jet Vac, Wash Buckler, and Trigger Happy costumes.  

The costumes vary in price and complete sets on clearance can be had for under ten dollars not including shipping.  Regularly priced outfits are typically between $25 and $50, but some of the more detailed costumes like Edward Conway from Assassin’s Creed goes for $139.97.   Regular clothing can be purchased there like adult combat boots for $45 or Minecraft creeper or ocelot hoodies for $60-70.  Shipping in the continental forty-eight states is regularly $5 but express shipping is available for a little more if you’re in a rush.  Discount coupon codes are also readily available to take off 10% or more from your order!

bowser costume

I’m very happy with my Bowser costume and it fits my 5’7” frame perfectly.  Despite the extra-large description, taller people like my 6’2” husband should go for the more expensive plus sized costumes as this one has a 5’ 11” height limit.  It would be nice if BuyCostumes.com showed the height info in the item description.  Fortunately, they do have a 30-day return policy and they will price match if you find a better deal elsewhere.

bowser costume

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2015 Christmas Buying Guide

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most family friendly games we have reviewed in 2015. 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!
Mobile
Mobile
Splendor
(Android, iOS, PC)
84% 100% $6.99
Mobile
Mobile
UNWYND 80% 100% $1.99
Mobile
Mobile
Star Realms 80% 98% $4.99
Mobile
Mobile
Snuggle Truck 80% 96% $1.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX 88% 87% $39.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Quell Memento 86% 100% $3.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Story of Seasons 86% 93% $39.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Fairune 78% 93% $2.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse 90% 94% $39.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Nova 111 
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
84% 96% $14.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Pumped BMX + 84% 92% $9.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Just Dance Disney Party 2 
(Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
82% 97% $39.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Crypt of the Necrodancer 86% 90% $14.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Pix the Cat 84% 96% $9.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball 84% 94% $15.00
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Shelter 2 82% 92% $14.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Disney Infinity 3.0 
(PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
88% 90% $59.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Shovel Knight
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
88% 94% $24.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Risk
(PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
84% 94% $14.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Boggle
(PS4, Xbox One)
82% 100% $9.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Shovel Knight
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
88% 94% $24.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Geometry Wars 3 Dimensions Evolved
(PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
86% 94% $14.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Nova 111 
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
84% 96% $14.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Switch Galaxy Ultra 78% 87% $11.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Leo's Fortune HD Edition
(Android, iOS, PC, PS4, Xbox One)
88% 99% $6.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Risk
(PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
84% 94% $14.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Dance Central Spotlight 86% 91% $9.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
NYKO Xbox One Charge Base N/A N/A $24.90
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Zeus Laser Gaming Mouse N/A N/A $49.99
Hardware
Hardware
SteelSeries Siberia 200 Gaming Headset N/A N/A $79.99
Hardware
Hardware
Mionix Castor Optical Gaming Mouse N/A N/A $69.99
Hardware
Hardware
Cherry MX Board 6.0 N/A N/A $200.00

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Mike
I have a recommendation. It would be nice to get multiple "recommended" lists. Based on Family, and older gamers. Also, would like... Read More
Sunday, 29 November 2015 23:32
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LeapTrade Review

Disclaimers:

Thank you Leap Trade for providing us with credit on your website to trade/purchase a game!
Although Leap Trade does advertise with us, it does not influence this review of their service in any way. 

Many of us have games laying around that we no longer play or want anymore.  While GameStop is convenient for trading them in, they give you very little money for them.    If you're not in a rush to sell your games, Leap Trade will give you  more credit for them than Game Stop and Amazon.

There is no cost to join the site and after joining,  you can buy Leap Trade credit at a reduced price for a limited time. The game prices are competitive and updated every couple of weeks.  There is a forum to suggest pricing changes if needed. 

The game price is the final price to your door as shipping is included.  The United States Postal Service shipping labels are paid for by the seller and it's very reasonably priced at $3.50.   Tracking is included and easily accessible via Leap Trade's website.

Buying a game is pretty easy to do.  Their site is easy to navigate by console platform.    All the current consoles are represented along with classic systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis.  Many recent and popular games are available to buy or put yourself down on a waitlist to trade for when it becomes available.    There are plenty of copies of Destiny available, but the game I was the most interested in, Hyrule Warriors, was not immediately available.

There are two forms of trading.  You can trade for credit or do a game swap.  For the sake of this review, I traded in credit for Destiny on the Play Station 4.  The first seller I was matched up with had zero feedback which made me a little nervous.  Sure enough, they never confirmed the trade and after a couple of days the site transferred my trade request to the next seller in line.  That user had positive feedback and shipped the game out to me quickly. I had it in my possession within a couple of days. 

Unfortunately,  they didn't use a padded envelope and the game's case got cracked in transit.  Thankfully the game was in working order (after wiping off some fingerprints).    I left positive feedback regardless.  Had there been a problem, it's comforting to know that Leap Trade 100% guarantees their trades and works with both parties to ensure that the buyer is satisfied. 

Since the game I have listed hasn't sold yet, I can't comment on the shipping label process.  Listing my game took a little bit of effort.  My copy of Just Dance Kids 2014 on the Wii U wasn't available as a sellable title, so they had to be contacted via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to list the game.   If it sells I'll get $20 in Leap Trade credit for it which is very fair.  When listing a game to sell you'll be notified of your selling position.  Not surprisingly, I'm the first in line to sell Just Dance Kids 2014.  

Between  the two adults and three kids in my household, there aren't too many games we like to part with.  There are always exceptions,  and if there's a game we can agree to trade in, we'll do it though Leap Trade in the future.  Besides earning credits for trading games you can earn $5 in credit for every friend that registers and sells a game through your referral link.  Here's mine, if you care to try it out.

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CheapDigitalDownload

Digital gaming on PC is taking off with services like Steam, GOG, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Origin, and Uplay.  Electronic versions of games are often cheaper than their physical counterparts.  Consoles also offer games in digital formats in their electronic stores like Nintendo's eShop, Play Station's store and Xbox's marketplace.  Many console games are only available digitally so checking out the shops every now and then is highly recommended.     Instead of comparing prices on several sites to get the best deal, CheapDigitalDownload.com does all of the price comparison shopping for you!  They also anonymously test their suppliers to ensure the confidence of their customers.

CheapDigitalDownload features prices for the latest games on many platforms including PC, Play Station, Nintendo, and Xbox.   Besides games, CheapDigitalDownload also offers competitive prices on gift cards and subscription plans.   While the Nintendo prices are well above retail, there are plenty of deals to be had in the Xbox, PS4 and PC section.  Some games can be yours for less than a dollar!

When I was in the market for an Xbox Gold subscription I purchased my two year code through them.  Instead of receiving a physical code, I was e-mailed a clear photograph of the back of a card and it worked flawlessly.  Why pay fifty dollars on Amazon for a one year membership when I can get a two year subscription for the same price on CheapDigitialDownload.com?  

There are plenty of ways to get free games through CheapDigitalDownload if you have social media accounts.  If you connect your Facebook account with their website you can earn points by registering, visiting, and commenting on the site.   There are also daily and weekly raffles to enter in as well using e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Disclosure: I was financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience

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Brainzy

Thank you Education.com for sending us a one-month trial code!

Kids are getting tech savvy younger and younger these days.  Why not use their computer skills to help them increase their math and reading proficiency?  Brainzy offers over three-hundred games and activities to keep them entertained and sitting still. Their format, which uses catchy music and colorful animations, is similar to Sesame Street.

Brainzy follows the Common Core guidelines and offers both family and classroom versions of their programs.  Families can pay as little as $3.99 a month if billed annually, or in monthly installments of $6.99.  There’s a seven-day trial available to see if your children are compatible with the browser-based program.  ;)  Each family account can support up to three players.

At this time Brainzy has curriculums for Pre-K through First Grade.  My son, who is in first grade, enjoyed using Brainzy while my older daughters watched and chimed in as well.  They wished there were higher level courses available.

Here’s a breakdown of the skills your kids can learn using Brainzy:

Pre-K

  • Math – Numbers 0-20, Addition, Subtraction, Counting, Shapes, Patterns, Sorting, Measurement and Data
  • Reading – There are several animated stories that can be read to or by them including The Lion and the Rat, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Down by the Bay, How the Camel Got his Hump, The Ugly Duckling, My Shadow, and Anansi and the Turtle 

 

Kindergarten

  • Math – Math – Numbers 0-20, Addition, Subtraction, Counting, Comparing, Shapes, Building Numbers, Sorting & Classifying 
  • Reading – Upper and Lowercase, Short a,e,i,o,u, Blending, Segmenting, Sounds M,S,B,R,P,K,T,G,F, N,D,H,J,C,L,W,V,Y,Z

 

First Grade

  • Math – Number Sense, Place Value, Addition, Subtraction, Comparing Numbers, Geometry, Telling Time, Measurement and Data
  • Reading – Sight Words, Short a,e,i,o,u

As you can tell there is plenty to learn and do here.  Brainzy is reasonably priced and worth looking into for homeschoolers and parents who want to give their kids an academic advantage.

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The Sonic Sitcom Episode 3

Here's the next episode of our internet cartoon series!

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Ninendo's E3 Presentation Review

I've been looking forward to this year's E3 for a while now. With the confirmation that a new Zelda title would appear, and the fact that this E3 had to reveal something big about Smash Bros., I new that this E3 would be big for Nintendo. So how exactly did they do?

Unlike Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo did not hold a press conference this year. Instead, they held a digital event that showcases their games.

The conference starts with a stop-motion segment by Robot Chicken. I had never seen Robot Chicken before, but this segment, along with the others they do in the conference, was very funny and entertaining. It featured Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime talking about what was to come in the presentation and responding to a ranter about mistakes that were assumed to be made. Despite it being out of the norm, the stop-motion segments added to the enjoyment of the presentation.

After that, we see Reggie and Nintendo President Iwata duke it out. They try to beat each other up, but eventually decide to take their battle to Smash Bros. Here they reveal that Mii is going to be playable in Smash. You can play as a boxer, a swordsman, or a shooter. It was great to see that you will finally be able to play as yourself, especially with the choice of fighting styles.

They also revealed their new toyline amiibo. Similar to Disney Infinity and Skylanders, amiibo allows you to place your figure and play as them while also storing up data. The figures look very nice, and, as stated in my review to Disney Infinity, I'm a huge action figure collector. I'm definitely interested in how they're going to incorporate this in their future games.

Nintendo then talked about the new Zelda. Though not much was shown, what was shown was beautiful. Featuring a similar art style to The Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, this game looks absolutely amazing! They also clarified that this game will be completely open world, unlike previous Zelda games that were broken up into segments. Finally, the game will feature some sci-fi elements, like transforming mechanical arrows. Though I would have appreciated seeing more, it's nice to see what's coming and knowing that it's releasing next year.

The next games they talked about were Yoshi's Woolly World, Pokemon Alpha Ruby and Omega Saphire, Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Xenoblade X, a Toad game, and a Kirby game. Yoshi's new game looks both beautiful and interesting. I've never cared too much for Yoshi, but this game actually looks fun. Bayonetta 2 revealed Nintendo costumes and the ability to play the original game. Hyrule Warriors revealed a multiplayer mode and Zelda and Midna as playable characters. I'm now actually interested in playing it. Both Toad and Kirby did not get much time, but neither look interesting anyway.

One notable mention is Nintendo's new Mario Maker for Wii U. It works similarly to LittleBigPlanet, except with Mario. You get to choose whether you want it to look like Super Mario Bros. or New Super Mario Bros. U. It looks very interesting and will definitely be something I'm going to try.

The last game they revealed was a game called Splatoon. This game has four teams trying to cover as much of the battlefield they're on with their color of paint. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed. It could be a great game. Knowing Nintendo, it probably will. But it didn't look like much more than a downloadable game.

After Splatoon, they then revealed another new Smash Bros. character, Lady Palutena from Kid Icarus: Uprising. Now that they've added Miis, I am glad to see that she has been added. After all, pretty much all Nintendo icons have been covered, so adding a new side character is fine. Also, she was quite funny in the game, and the reveal trailer seems to indicate the she will still be.

The final part of the presentation had Shigeru Miyamoto talking about games he has been developing for the Wii U. One of which is a new Star Fox game, though nothing more than a blurred screen was shown.

In the end, Nintendo's E3 presentation was one of the best (and funniest) I had seen in years. Though I would have appreciated seeing more of the new Zelda, I felt that most of their time was used wisely. Unlike Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo actually revealed a slew of games for their system. I felt very disappointed with Sony and Microsoft. Aside from a couple of HD remakes, the only game that caught my eye was LittleBigPlanet 3. Unfortunately, however, even it doesn't seem like it's going to be that interesting. With Smash Bros., the new Zelda, Yoshi's Woolly World, Hyrule Warriors, and Mario Maker, I think it's safe to say that Nintendo's line-up is definitely worth getting excited for.

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State of Construction

Hey guys.  Long time!

 

As a dreamer and idealist, I like to envision a better, bigger and stronger version of the gaming worlds I traverse.  Now I honestly hate any fiction that has something to do with zombies.  I will admit, there are pretty good series and movies out there that have excellent humour or even profound stories , but overall zombies seem too generic to pique my interest.   

I recently took a risk and got myself State of Decay.  State of Decay was originally an xbox exclusive, but it recently got ported over to PC.  SoD seems to have a few interesting concepts.  Like AMC's The Walking Dead, it's based on a survivalist community rather than just several generic characters.  This simple concept got me very excited, and hooked on the game.  A lot of action games share one characteristic these days - pure destruction.  Whether it's FPS, RPG or RTS, there will be opportunities that allow players to destroy static or dynamic entities in the world.  It has become such a popular theme, that we've forgotten how fun it can be to build up and out.  Minecraft is a prime example of the enjoyment embedded in creative and constructive games, but for someone with a liking of action or strategy - with good graphics - there's just a bulk of linear destructive games.

Back to the point!  So as I was saying, SoD allows you to build communities.  I see it as a pretty revolutionary game as there are multitudes of games covering the survival aspects of apocalypses and dilemmas, but not purposeful building and pursuit of prosperity.  It's fun defying the odds by gathering building materials, food and weapons...and scouting out new lofts.  There's also the issue of added responsibilities,  one has to consider the health and safety of fellow survivors.  

So SoD implements a really interesting concept, but the question arises: would it fly with other genres?

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The Sonic Sitcom: Episode 2

Here's the next episode of our cartoon show The Sonic Sitcom:

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My Thoughts on the Wii U

Nintendo's next generation system, called the Wii U, is the first of the eight generation systems to release in stores. But is it worth your money? Or should you pass it up for another system?

Simply put: No! Do not neglect the Wii U, just because the other systems have more power. The Wii U has so many features and upgrades to it, that you'll definitely want to try it! Let's take an examination of each of the important aspects as to what makes a console a good console:

1. Hardware

The Wii U's hardware is pretty much a mixture between a PS3 and a Wii. On one hand, you have the online functionality and graphics of the PS3 and the Nintendo innovation of the Wii. The two mix very well, taking my favorite parts of the last generation's systems. Top that off with an innovative way to play games, the off-TV play, and you've got possibly the best hardware in gaming thus far!

The off-TV play is much more useful than you might think. Having the Wii U for about a year now, my family and I have used the off-TV play function about as much as the normal function. It's very useful if someone wants to watch the game or their soap operas or even play another system. When someone wants to play our PS3, I can easily play Wii U while they're playing on the pad, which leads to less frustration. Sony tries to mimic this with the PS Vita, but the PS4 and Vita together cost about $400 more than a Wii U.

It also comes with bonus features such as Nintendo TV and Miiverse. I want to talk specifically about Miiverse, because I think it's one of the best additions to the Wii U. Miiverse is an online community where users can talk about any games that are on Wii U. It has a strict policy that doesn't allow vulgar language or anything sexually explicit. This is especially nice for people like me who can't play online due to foul-mouths. However, I should mention that certain communities find it easier to get away with things than others.

The battery life has been criticized, but I don't think it's a big deal. Though it is short, it can be plugged in and charged at any time, without it needing the system on (I'm looking at you PS3!).

2. Graphics

Simply put, the graphics to the Wii U are beautiful! Their slightly better than the PS3 and Xbox 360's, but with Nintendo's talent, they outshine them significantly. NintendoLand, which comes with the Deluxe bundle, has better graphics than anything I've seen on either PS3 or Xbox 360! What took Sony and Microsoft about six years was accomplished by Nintendo in one try! Now it's true that games such as New Super Mario Bros. U don't really push the hardware's limits, but even still, games like The Wind Waker HD and Sonic Lost World show that this system contains some of the best graphics out there.

3. Power

Okay, it's true: the Wii U has the power of the last two systems, while the PS4 and Xbox One have significantly more power. To me though, that doesn't matter. One of my favorite games, LittleBigPlanet 2, had almost infinite possibilities, and that was on a PS3's power. True, there were a few things that could have been improved, but for the most part, it was nearly limitless. Adding as much power as the PS4 and Xbox One does seems to be pointless. Games can't get much better. That is, unless they become more expensive. At the same time, Nintendo has won several game-of-the-year awards on Wii (which has significantly less power than the PS3 and Xbox 360). With the power of the Wii U, Nintendo seems to be even more open to making even higher quality games than before!

4. Games

Possibly the most important, the Wii U's game line-up is the best of the three next-gen systems. Though it's launch line-up started a bit slow, the Wii U's line-up has been increasing with some of the most varied games out there. PS4 and Xbox One both focus more on the shooter type genre than anything, while the Wii U features shooters, platformers, racers, kid-friendly, and mature games of the like. Unlike the Wii, the Wii U features great family games like Mario and Wii Party, while also featuring mature games like Assassin's Creed and Batman. Speaking of which, the third-party support is also a lot better than it was on Wii. Not to even mention that the next Smash Bros. and Zelda are coming out soon on Wii U.

I should also note that the Wii U is the only next-generation system that has backwards compatibility. I really wish that the PS4 or the Xbox One could play PS3 or Xbox 360 games. Sadly, this isn't the case. I know that the Xbox One can play 360 games if you have the 360 hooked up to it, but I'm referring to without the aid of another system. Thanks to this ability, you could download all your Wii game files into the Wii U and sell your Wii, saving you even more money.

The Verdict

If you're trying to decide which of the eighth-generation systems you should get, your first choice should be Wii U. Though it might not have as much power as the other two, the Wii U just has the best amount of content and variety for the cheapest price! I'm not saying that you shouldn't get a PS4 or an Xbox One, but rather that this is probably the best option of the three.

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Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia

So many video game developers and manufacturers have come and gone since I have starting playing games on my Commodore 64 and Atari 2600. Capcom is celebrating its 30th anniversary and have released an encyclopedia containing over 200 characters from their lesser known and popular video games alike. Many are familiar with their Street Fighter and Megaman games. Other popular series include Resident EvilDevil May Cry, Monster Hunter, and Viewtiful Joe. Looking though this encyclopedia I saw several games that were only available in Japan or in the arcade.

Since I have not spent too much time at arcades, I wasn't familiar with arcade exclusive games like Battle Circuit, Red Earth, Cyber Bots: Fullmetal Madness, Three Wonders, or Varth Operation Thunderstorm. Power Stone simultaneously came out on arcade and on the DreamCast (never owned one) in 2000. PSP owners can play the Power Stone collection that was released in 2006. Pirate Ship Higemaru was a Japanese arcade game that is now playable in the Capcom Arcade Cabinet collection on PSN and XBLA. 

Many games have memorable characters and this encyclopedia has bios on the main characters, supporting characters, bosses and ship specifications for games lacking characters. Each character has a dedicated page that shows their unique (and sometimes revealing for both males and females!) artwork and stats like their weapon of choice, height and weight. The character biography mentions how the character fights and how they change (if ever) throughout the series. I like how it mentions the game they first appeared in along with subsequent re-appearances. Many of the classic NES games like 1942 and Ghosts and Goblins are currently still playable on PSN, XBLA, or Wii Virtual Console. 

The book quality with the hard cover and pages is good. While the asking price is $16.99, I have seen this for less than $11 on Amazon. Chances are you may be spending more than that after being reminded of Capcom classics that need to be added to your collection. As I was writing this, my husband was pricing out the remainder of Breath of Fire series that we do not own...

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Risk Plants Vs. Zombies Collector's Edition

box

While the game of Risk has been around for decades, I have not played the game until it got the Plants Vs. Zombies makeover.  Instead of global domination, the Plants Vs. Zombies  version focuses on suburban domination.  Who cannot snicker at a suburb named Breakwind Butte?   One side of the game board is shaped like a brain and many of the suburb names play on that with names like Sierra Bella Park, Mount Brainer and Pituitary Glen.  There are color coded regions that give your army a bonus if you have control of all of the suburbs in that region.    The other side of the game board has the lawn backdrop from Plants Vs Zombies.    This side of the board accommodates the exclusive tower defense version of the game.   In this version of the game, victory is granted to the zombies if they make it across the yard or the plants if they are completely annihilated.  In the classic game mode you can win by eliminating your opponent's army or by completing three of the mission objectives.  

I like how this game gives you two basic training scenarios for beginners and an advanced one for increased difficulty.   One departure from the classic game of Risk is that this edition of the game is limited to two players.  One player plays as pea shooters while the other player controls brown coat zombies.  The board's regions are guarded by garden gnomes that are an enemy to both sides.  The zombies use three grey dice while the plants utilize three green ones.  Each team has a stack of faction cards that can aide in invasions or be traded in for units.  The cards seem to be of decent quality and the garden gnome and station wagon markers are made of cardboard.   My only complaint with the construction of the game is that holders for the pieces (instead of relying on the plastic bags they came in), would have been nice.  

The instruction manual is colorful and easy to read and understand.  It offers some good suggestions to increase or decrease the game's difficulty.  The suggested age range is 10+ and given the complexity of the game and rules, I think that's an accurate recommendation.  If you know anyone that enjoys either Risk or Plants Vs. Zombies, this game is worth checking out.  I have seen it online for less than $30 and you'll get hours of enjoyment out of it.


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Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (3DS) Preview & Unboxing

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is a new game from Atlas in the hardcore Etrian Odyssey series.  This title is actually a remake of the first game, with a whole lot of enhancements.

For those new to the series (like I was before playing this game), it is a first person dungeon crawler RPG, similar to the rather old school Wizardry games from the 80s.  With a fair amount of modernization, and a Japanese flair.

One of the things those older games required was meticulously careful hand drawn maps.  To celebrate this, the Etrian Odyssey series uses the DS's bottom screen and requires you to draw your own.  It's rather ingenious, honestly.  For a hardcore RPG lover, it's a dream come true.

I am about half-way through this game, and I have done almost nothing else but play it non stop (besides work and family, of course) for about a month now.  It is just incredibly long, with a ton of content.  I would estimate at least 60 hours before I am done, at this rate.  It is also incredibly challenging at the higher difficulty levels.  (Picnic isn't for 'real' gamers.  ;))

This game is rated 'T', and I think it deserves that rating.  I have seen the use of the words 'D*mn' and 'H*ll' used in both text and voice-overs.  There is also alcohol and tobacco use, and the player can choose drink alcohol in certain story events.  There are also a few characters who wear revealing clothing, though thankfully not player characters.  The game even makes fun of the fact that female warriors would wear armor... by poking fun at a lady who joins you for a quest who wears skimpy outfits.  You have the option to ask her if she is cold.  :)  It's also somewhat of a repeating gag, as well.  I have enjoyed the banter of the characters quite a bit so far.

When you get the digital copy of the game, naturally, you only get the game, and cannot share.  This isn't as bad as it sounds, since the game has only one save slot, but that's still the case.  One thing to point out, though, is that digital 3DS games can backup their saves to SD card via the official firmware feature.  So that can actually be a pretty handy perk that makes the digital version worth considering.

On the other hand, the physical copy, especially for pre-orders and first-run purchasers, do get a pretty nice perk as well.  While I always enjoy having something I can hold in my hand when it comes to games (old fashioned, I know), they also give you a neat, if a bit short, picture book, and also an audio CD!  I have always been a huge fan of game music since I was a kid, and I still am.  My poor kids... anyway, I really enjoy the music in this game, and the samples included on the CD are really well done.  It's not a full OST, sadly, but what is included is all music I have enjoyed quite a bit from the game so far.

So, without further adieu, here are the pics:

Etrian Odyssey Untold box

 

Etrian Odyssey Untold opened

 

Etrian Odyssey Untold cd

There is a demo of this game on the 3DS eShop available, and any progress you make can be trransferred to the full game, so there is little risk checking it out.  If you are curious, I would say it is worth it!  I expect a full review to come sometime next month.

 

IBJamon

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Enervee ranks popular consoles by energy efficiency

The Enervee™ Score for Video Game Consoles is calculated based on performance per power consumption. Current models range from 4.58 to 36.70 performance (scaled) per kWh. This number is converted into an easy energy efficiency rating from 0 to 100 (best). For Gaming Consoles, the CPU, GPU, and system memory components have the biggest impact on energy efficiency.

1. Ouya 8GB     

 

2. PS3 SuperSlim 500GB

3. WiiU

4. Wii

5. Xbox 360 Slim 320GB

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Xbox One Revealed

Today Microsoft has revealed its upcoming console, the Xbox One.  Unlike the Wii U, it has the full support of Electronic Arts and will be launching with their popular sports games FIFA, NFL, UFC and NBA Live.  Forza Motorsport 5 will also be available on the system.  Last but not least, Call of Duty: Ghosts (at 60FPS!) will be making an appearance on this system.  The visuals look great and the system specs are impressive as well. The Xbox One will be sporting 8GB or RAM, USB 3.0 and a Blu-Ray drive.  Microsoft plans to launch 300,000 servers to crunch data real time to provide gamers with trending in games and TV shows and cloud storage space.  The system is very fast and switches between the home screen, games, movies and internet as fast as you can say it.  That's right, this system recognizes your voice and arm movements to enlarge windows or split the screen. Skype is now available and connecting with your friends is easier than ever.  The Xbox One can also use your cellphone as a remote to surf the web.  I'm curious is non-windows phones will be supported.  Time will tell, but this system does look impressive so far.    

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A Gamer's show and tell

Every week at my son’s preschool they have a show and tell for each letter of the alphabet.  Being the gamer geek that I am, a few of those weeks I sent him to school with a game box.  This week was the letter Z so he brought in the CD cover for Zork.   Needless to say it stood out from all of the zebras.  So looking over my game collection here’s some other possibilities…what are yours?  

A. Age of Empires series

B. Bit Trip Runner

C. Crayon Physics

D. Dance Dance Revolution

E. Elder Scrolls series

F. Flatout Series

G. Ghost Busters

H. Halo

I. In The Groove

J. Just Dance 3

K. Kid Icarus: Uprising

L. Little Big Planet

M. Mario Kart

N. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

O. Office Jerk

P. Portal

Q. Quantum Conundrum

R. Rayman Origins

S. Sonic Generations

T. Trackmania

U. Unreal series

V. VVVVV

W. Wario Ware series

X. Xenoblade Chronicles

Y. Yoshi

Z. Zork

 

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My kids are starting cook and to beat me at videogames

My seven year old got Cooking Mama for her birthday and we've all been playing that and have been doing cook-offs to see who can make the best dish.  While I have years of cooking experience, it doesn't make any difference in this title.  It was quite humbling to see that they could make better sandwiches than me.  Not to mention my failing at making rice.  I have since mastered sandwich (and rice) making but I have to actively play and practice to keep up with their scores.  Even though this experience has been humbling, it has been a great influence on my kids as they have been taking a greater interest in cooking and have started helping with mundane tasks like peeling and chopping carrots and potatoes (with supervision!).  This is a wonderful way to bond and teach kids how to cook.  Even if it involves getting whooped in Cooking Mama.     

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I doubt I'll buy another Nintendo product at launch again.

We have owned several Nintendo products going back to the NES.  Our house currently has 3 3DS', a DS Lite, A GBA, GBA SP, Gameboy, SNES, N64 and our latest acquisition, a Wii U deluxe.  While we didn't pre-order it, we did get it within a couple of weeks of its release.  We paid the full $350 price and I'm a little miffed to read they Nintendo is now offering a Zombi U edition of the console that includes the deluxe console with a pro controller, Zombie U, collector's book, and a digital download of Nintendo Land.  The retail price is set at $389.  An additional game and controller for $40? I want in on that deal.  I'm disappointed that  early adopters are getting the shaft here.  The ambassador program for the 3DS was a nice gesture after lowering the price of the unit.  What will Nintendo do to appease their upset fans now?  I think this will be the last time I buy a product of theirs on launch.  

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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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