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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

New Life

Thank you MPRM Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

New Life is a touching movie that begins with a seven-year-old Benjamin as he moves to the U.S. and meets Ava, the girl next door.  Their childhood friendship develops into an adolescent romance and things get rocky in the college years as they attempt a semi-distant relationship.   While they’re only a couple of hours apart, they barely get to see each other with Benjamin juggling two jobs.   

Ava begins her teaching career and gets a sweet marriage proposal from Ben and accepts it.  It doesn’t take long for Ben to get lost in his work again and this puts a strain on their marriage.  Things also get more difficult for this couple, but I don’t want to spoil it.  All that I will say is that this is an inspiring movie about love, family, faith, and perseverance.  Even though life gives us challenges, God provides family and friends to help us cope through our struggles.  

Although this movie isn’t overtly Christian, there are some references to prayer.  Also, while pregnancy is a topic, this film leaves the conception part to your imagination.   There isn’t any language, but before showing this to younger children, be warned that there are scenes involving sickness and death.

Story wise this film is good and the acting is well done.  I was nearly brought to tears in some scenes.  If  you’re looking for a cheerful movie, then you may want to look elsewhere.  However, if you want to see love story that brings hope in the midst of despair, thenn I recommend watching this film.   You can own the DVD for less than $13.  Unfortunately, I don’t see a Blu-ray version available.   Even in the inferior DVD format, it’s worth picking up!


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Days? Or Ages? The Genesis Question: A Layman Looks at Creation's Calendar

Thank you Bohlsen Group for sending us this book to review!

The author Jerry Harmon is not a bible scholar; in fact, he worked in construction until his retirement.  This book is the result of weekly meetings between the author and a couple of his closest friends as they embarked on an in-depth study of the first couple of chapters in Genesis.  Their goal was to determine if Hebrew text could shed some light on the seven literal days or several spans of time/ages debate of the Earth’s creation.  

Surely, God is all powerful and has the ability to age things like wine instantly in John 2:1-11, create life on the spot in John 21:5-11,  or to cause trees to wither on command in Mark 11:12-21.  However, science had disproved statements in the Bible that were taken too literally like the Earth being flat due to verses like Isaiah 11:12 and that the universe was  geocentric as possibly referenced from Genesis 1:16 with the moon being the lesser of two light sources.  Could it be possible that the days of creation are not literal?

All of the common viewpoints are addressed in the second chapter including sudden creation, the gap theory, the day-age theory, the intermittent-day theory, progressive creationism, the literary framework theory, and theistic evolution.  I like how each viewpoint is explained and a list of subscribers to those theories are listed as well.  The rest of the book isn’t as easy to follow, especially when it comes down to breaking down the Hebrew language.  Be sure you are alert and awake when reading this book, or much of it will go over your head.  Some of it still went over my head regardless, but I do recall some good arguments for a possibility of delayed creation.

It is argued that the sun, moon, and planets were created on the first day, but assigned their purpose on the fourth.  The passages in Isaiah 11:6-9  could be referring to Adam being formed as a child rather than an adult.  This theory would make a bit more sense because he would have to have a short attention span to be bored and lonely so fast on his first day of existence.  Also the ability to get to know and name each of the animals is quite a feat as well.

Not surprisingly, the verse Psalms 90:4 is brought up to suggest that each one of God’s days could be like one thousand to us.  In the end, Days or Ages supports the latter.  As to why, I’ll  leave that for you to read and find out in this 203 page book that sells for less than $14 on Amazon.


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Scratch Coding Cards

Thank you No Starch Press for sending us a review sample!

Ever since my son completed the book Scratch Programming Playground, he’s been hooked on Scratch and has been coming up with various challenges and games to create.  The collection of 75 Scratch Coding Cards are perfect for anyone who already has a basic understanding of Scratch and Is looking for some programming ideas.

Each of the glossy cards are broken down into three sections.  The first part is the setup and guides you though selecting the correct sprite.  The second part shows you the code pieces to drop into place.  The last section features a helpful tip to incorporate when running your newly created program. 

While the cards can be done individually, many of them are grouped together to make a bigger program.  Some of the games you will make in this set include a Pong game, a racing game, and an interactive pet.  These were some of my son’s favorites, but there were some duds and even a couple of repeats that he didn’t bother doing a second time.  

Some of the simpler programs just have a sprite make a sound or rotate when they are clicked on.  There’s a whole group of musical cards that will have programs play a rhythm, a chord, a surprise song or even allow you to record your own sounds.  Young girls may like the dress up program that lets you change the appearance of boy and girl characters.  Not only can they change their outfits, they’ll be able to customize their colors too!

There’s plenty to do in the Scratch Coding Cards set and the retail price is $24.95.  The sell for a little over $15 on Amazon and for that price I recommend checking them out for aspiring Scratch coders.  Many of the examples are freely available on Scratch’s website so be sure to check that out first.


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Nintendo Switch Event impressions

For being a loyal My Nintendo member, I was offered two tickets to attend the Chicago Nintendo Switch demo event.  My husband and I planned on going without our kids since tickets were limited.  Thankfully, 360 PR was able to let us bring our three kids along and they had a blast testing out the upcoming console and launch titles with us.  The turnout was good, and I’d guess that there were three hundred or so people there.  The staff members were easy to identify with their red Switch shirts and warm smiles.  They were also very knowledgeable about the game demos and were happy to teach and assist if you got stuck in a game. 

Out of all of the launch games, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the most in demand and you had to grab game session tickets to schedule your twenty-minute play session.  Headphones were provided to help drown out the loud electronic dance music that the DJ was playing, as well as the substantial crowd noise throughout the event.  I really enjoyed my time with the game, though like many open world games, twenty minutes was barely enough time to get a good feel for it.  I was very impressed with the art style, the beauty of the world, and how much there is to do.  The clearly less than 1080p pixels on TV was rather annoying, but you do get used to it.  It looks gorgeous on the small Switch screen.  Combat was also fun, and there is a lot of variety as well.  You constantly pick up new weapons either found outside, or as dropped loot.  Items, including weapons, wear down and break, which is a bit of an adjustment from previous games.  Arrows also seemed hard to come by, but I can understand that given how powerful they are.  I definitely look forward to playing this game more once we get it, since we pre-ordered it along with our Switch.  

Some classic games like Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and Sonic Mania added retro feels, but didn’t show off what the new console system was capable of doing visually.  ARMS was fun and looked good on the flat screen TV/monitors we played it on.  I thought it was one of the highlights of the show, but it's hard to say if it is worth full price, since it's somewhat of a one trick pony.  Some games like Splatoon 2 were playable on TV/monitors as well as the Switch itself.  In all honestly I was disappointed with the pixelated visuals of this title on the TVs there and while there are new weapons, I don’t think it’s different enough to warrant buying it at full price.  On a positive note, this did spark some interest in our kids playing the Wii U version we already own.

Super Bomberman R is a challenging co-op game that allows up to eight players.  The CPU players are pretty formidable and they won more matches than the humans did.  I wouldn’t mind owning this game, but I’ll be waiting for a sale on it.  

Another game I enjoyed was Fast RMX which is a fun racing game that adds a color matching element to change the color of your car’s exhaust to take advantage of speed boosts.  If your car is the wrong color, it will slow you down instead!  The graphics were decent in it but didn’t blow me away.  The local four player multiplayer is fun, and if you’re online, you can race against eight players.   

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looked well polished, though I only got to play it on a hand-held screen.  I do look forward to checking it out on a big screen.  This game is still a blast to play and the included DLC and added levels and characters make this title worth picking up, especially if you missed it on Wii U.

My son enjoyed playing Skylanders Imaginators and like the Wii U, the controller base has an IR reader for importing your favorite Skylander characters into the game.  One of the games that did not resonate with me was Has Been Heroes.  I enjoyed the row-based combat from Grand Kingdom, but the way this game implemented it didn’t seem to click with me.  

Skylanders 

One of my favorite games I played with my oldest daughter was Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!  It’s been a while since I got a good laugh from playing a game with someone.  In this puzzle game you must cut the paper based characters to rotate and fit into specified shapes.  This game requires good team work, communication, and accuracy when cutting.  Just when I was getting close to getting my daughter into the proper shape she’d snip me and I would have to start over to do my part.  This title will be available for $19.99 and I’ll be picking that up as soon as our Switch arrives.

The whole family got to play 1-2 Switch and thought that it was okay.  It had a guessing game where you and your partner had to guess how many balls were inside of a box.  Whoever was closer to the correct amount would win or in our case resulted in a draw since both parties were off by one.  The cow milking simulator was fun to watch as a bystander and the winner is determined by who can get the most cups of milk from the udders.  My husband and I faced off in a Western style shooting match and I shot my hubby down first.  No blood is shown, just the shadow of the loser kneeling before the winner.  I like how the speed in milliseconds is shown at the end.  While this game is alright, I’ll wait for it to hit the bargain bin before purchasing it.  (I still think this would have been a perfect pack-in title.)

We got to check out some games that we anticipate getting review codes for since we’re on good terms with Ubisoft, NIS America, and SEGA/Atlus.  I’m happy to report that I earned a score of 5 stars in Just Dance 2017 to Joan Jett’s 'I Love Rock N Roll'.  Puyo Puyo Tetris is a fast paced and fun mashup of those two games and it switches between them every ten seconds.  Sadly, the CPU whooped me.  I had fun though, and that’s what counts.  Disgaea 5 Complete looks sharp with modern visuals, along with fairly revealing outfits when it comes to female attire or lack thereof.  While the gameplay is fun, I really am spoiled by the accuracy of a mouse from playing PC ports of the first two games.

Puyo Puyo Tetris 

Stay tuned for more in-depth reviews from us as we get to spend more time with these games after they are released.  I’m looking forward to the arrival of our Switch!

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Taco Bell's Naked Chicken Chalupa

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 440
Fat: 30g
Cholesterol: 70mg
Sodium: 1090mg
Carbohydrates: 22g
Protein: 20g

When I first saw the Naked Chicken Chalupa, I was equally intrigued as I was excited. As a prolific connoisseur of fast food oddities, I was immediately reminded of KFC's Double Down.  The Double Down replaced the buns with chicken patties and left the cheese, bacon, and sauce in the middle. The Naked Chicken Chalupa replaces the tortilla with a curved chicken pattie and leaves the cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce in the middle. I thought the Double Down was delicious so I was stoked for this new beyond-the-bun creation. 

When I took the chalupa out of my bag and unwrapped it, my first impression is that it seemed really thick for a chalupa. As advertised there's a cardboard holder covering about 2/3 of the chalupa. I took it out of its holder but it felt awkward to hold, I guess I don't regularly touch fried chicken patties. I put it back in its holder and took a bite. I was hit with a surprising amount of flavor. The chicken was moist and well seasoned and the avocado ranch sauce really compliments it. The breading on the chicken was nice, and didn't fall off chicken or stick to my fingers while I was eating it. I usually douse everything from Taco Bell with a packet or two of their fire sauce, but that was not necessary for this.  

 

The filling in the Naked Chicken Chalupa is its main downside. The stock Taco Bell lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese come off as incredibly bland when paired with the chicken shell and the sauce. Those items are just filler to round out the fact that it's a chalupa. Also while I really enjoyed eating the Naked Chicken Chalupa it wasn't as filling as a normal chalupa due to the lack of traditional chalupa shell. Its $2.99 price tag is only $0.10 more than a Chalupa Supreme which is great for a new/novelty item but you may not feel as satisfied after eating it compared to a regular chalupa. Fortunately there's a $5 box with the Naked Chicken Chalupa, crunchy taco, Doritos Locos taco, and a medium drink for a nice, "well rounded" meal. 

I really enjoyed the new Naked Chicken Chalupa from Taco Bell and hope it sticks around. The chicken shell is well made and flavorful and pairs exceptionally well with the avocado ranch sauce they use. I did end up putting some fire sauce on the my chalupa after the first few bites but it really does not need it. It's perfectly enjoyable on its own. The lackluster fillings are par-for-the-course from Taco Bell and don't detract enough to prevent me from ordering this again.

 

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God’s Silver Soldiers Comic Issue #1

Thank you Art Greenshaw for sending us an autographed issue to review!

The goal of Truthmonger Comics is to bring the much-needed messages of morality and spirituality into today’s youth through the medium of comic books.  Besides God, they are also inspired by the comic book legend, Stan Lee.  Some of the characters are dedicated to public figures who are living by their Christian values.  For example, the Silver Soldier Cecilia is named after the first lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott.

God has appointed the Silver Soldiers to battle against the superhuman forces of evil in our world.  The soldiers have different backgrounds and are all united for this purpose.  The black Silver Soldier is an American Indian musician whose songs will now uplift instead of tear people down.  The green Silver Soldier is a surgeon with a drug problem.  A prestigious chef is given a second chance at life by becoming the blue Silver Soldier.  The yellow Silver Soldier is a college girl who has chosen to keep her child instead of aborting it.  A greedy financial programmer is picked to be the red Silver Soldier.  Last but not least, is the pink Silver Soldier who is a lying gossiper who has since repented of her sins.  Once assembled, the Silver Soldiers report to Angelica, an angel sent by God to cleanse to world of the evil that is invading it.

Individually the Silver Soldiers have enhanced strength and speed. They are also bestowed with a unique ability to control various elements or animals.  When the Silver Soldiers are together, their strength is increased one hundred fold.  Satan’s demons had better watch out!

This forty-three page comic is broken into two parts with each ending at a cliff-hanger.  The last few pages go back in time and offer a new perspective on Jesus’ childhood.  There are some mature themes including drugs and teen pregnancy.   The spiritual warfare elements need to be taken into consideration as well. The Silver Soldiers must descend to Hell to rescue someone and they have to leave their bodies behind in a safe place.  Also, one of Lucifer’s human servants wears a pentagram belt buckle.  There are several Bible verses used throughout the story as well which is nice to see.  

While this series is both engaging and God honoring, I recommend parents give it a good read before their children do.  My oldest daughter read and enjoyed this first issue and we’re both looking forward to many, many more.  The suggested retail price is $4.99 unless you’d rather get the jumbo collector’s edition for $24.99.


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The Gruffalo

Thank you JG PR for sending us this DVD to review!

The children’s book The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson came out in 1999.  Since its release, it has received numerous awards including Smarties Prize and the Blue Peter Award for the Best Book to Read Aloud.   Given the awards and the 5-star rating on Amazon, it’s safe to say that it’s a good book and deserves the DVD treatment.

The 30-minute DVD has a suggested retail price of $9.99, but is available to stream for free for Prime members.   Digitally renting this movie is possible for $3.99, but you may as well buy a physical copy for an extra dollar.  

The story begins with a squirrel mother gathering nuts for her young children.  Instead of food, they’d rather hear a story about a mouse or a monster.  The mother squirrel compromises and tells them a story about both.

A hungry brown mouse is trying to make his way to a nut tree for dinner.  It’s quite a ways away and throughout his journey he gets stopped by a fox, an owl, and a snake.  They each invite the mouse over for a meal, with him being the main course!  The wily mouse outsmarts all of them by telling them that he’s on his way to a meal with a gruffalo and describes its fearsome traits to them.  When each of the animals hears about the gruffalo’s hideous features and discovers that they are its favorite meal, they promptly release the mouse.

The mouse’s tall tale gets more complex with each retelling of it.  Imagine his surprise when he comes face to face with an actual gruffalo who matches his description to a tee!  The mouse’s next feat is to convince the gruffalo to not eat him!  Will he succeed?  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that my daughter and I both enjoyed this movie and its sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child.


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The Gruffalo’s Child

Thank you JGPR for sending us this DVD to review!

After the resounding success of The Gruffalo, the author, Julia Donaldson released The Gruffalo’s Child in 2004. The Gruffalo’s Child was one of the biggest best-sellers of 2004 and won WHS Children's Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. Like the prequel, this children’s storybook has a 5-star rating on Amazon and a DVD based on it.

As spontaneous as the gruffalo came into existence, his daughter followed suit. Still being convinced that all the animals in the forest fear the mouse, he instructs his daughter to not go into the “deep dark wood” to avoid running into “the big bad mouse”. Because children are known to be curious, the young gruffalo defies her father’s orders and sneaks out in the middle of the night to see the mouse with her own eyes.

Along the way, she runs into the same snake, fox, and owl who have been out-witted by the mouse before. They gladly tell her the way to the mouse’s home since they believe that it enjoys feasting on gruffalos. The young gruffalo does indeed meet the mouse and joins the other creatures in being out-witted by him.

I’ll leave out the specifics since this thirty minute movie is worth experiencing first hand. While deception and lying is encouraged in this tale, there is a lesson taught about trusting and obeying your parents since they know what’s best for you.

The Gruffalo’s Child can be rented on Amazon for $3.99 or owned for a dollar more. It’s well worth picking up if you enjoyed the prequel. The best bargain is a double feature DVD that includes both movies and typically sells for less than $6.50.

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Power Rangers Super Megaforce: The Complete Season DVD Set

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

Following the cliffhanger ending from the Power Rangers Megaforce DVD Collection, the Super Megaforce season resumes with the Earth in peril from an enormous alien fleet invading it.  The Power Rangers have exhausted all of their options and need a way to drive back the invaders.  In this series they learn to harness the powers of the legendary Power Rangers from the past. 

Fans of previous seasons will recognize the costumes and abilities used in this season.  I feel old knowing that this series has been running for twenty years now.  Some of the abilities used are from the following shows:

  • Mighty Morphin
  • Zeo
  • Turbo
  • Lost Galaxy
  • Lightspeed
  • Time Force
  • Jungle Fury
  • Ninja Storm
  • Dino Thunder
  • Mystic Force

Some of the cast members of the older series reprise their roles in the movie, The Legendary Battle, which is on the fifth DVD in this set.  The interviews of the cast in the extras are worth watching too.  My son enjoyed all of the discs and is looking forward to the feature film coming out this spring.  Unlike the show, the upcoming movie looks to have some decent special effects!

The characters and actors remain the same from the previous season and their friendships continue to grow and get tested as they face challenge after challenge.  Even on their day off, the Power Rangers get summoned to save the world yet again.  There are some good lessons including valuing and trusting your friends even when they are not in agreement with you.  There are some losses that the Power Rangers have to endure and even though some of their team may disappear, they are not completely gone or forgotten.  

Aside from the fighting, the only other moral concern is that the Power Rangers get “in tune” with their spirit animal to harness the power of the Jungle Fury rangers.  The good outweighs the negative in this series and I can see why this show has kept on going over the years.  For less than $10 you can own and enjoy this series which is mostly complete with the exception of a couple of holiday episodes.

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Civilization Revolution 2 Review

Since the dawn of time, humans have strived to build vast civilizations on earth. Rulers have sought to leave their mark on history by making advances in construction, culture and technology and by taking as much stuff from their neighbors as possible. The civilization series depicts this struggle from the Stone Age through to the modern era and beyond.

The PC versions of Civilization have given me more than a few bouts of ‘one more turn’ fever over the years. They are compelling classics that are epic in scope. But what of the trimmed down version for consoles and mobile devices? I played Civilization Revolution 2 on the iPad to see whether it could recreate the complex joy of the PC experience.

The game starts as all Civ games do. You control a group of wide-eyed settlers looking for the perfect spot to found their first city. Once the foundations of your soon-to-be great civilization are laid, it’s time to turn to the serious business of world domination. Explore your surroundings, choose technologies to develop, train units, and build municipal buildings for your city. The choices you make determine how quickly your civilization develops, scientifically, culturally, financially and militarily. Each of these four areas can lead to victory, so it is important to decide where to focus your efforts.

Civilization Revolution 2

You encounter rival civilizations along the way with which you can trade, swap technologies or fight. Most of the fighting occurs as a result of direct competition for land. Everyone is vying to found their cities in the juiciest spots, and this is where friction arises. There can be rewards in combat - If you manage to capture all three enemy capital cities, you win the game. But it also comes at a great cost - war is expensive, after all. Get bogged down in a long, protracted war and more peaceful civilizations will outstrip you in other areas of the game.

Though stripped down from the PC version, Civ Rev 2 manages to pack in a lot of features. Games can last for many hours and there is great pleasure in seeing your people rise from stone huts to build great wonders and powerful cities. There is a lot of replay value with many civilizations to choose from, each with their own bonuses and special troops. You earn achievements for winning in various different ways and unlock new civilizations to play with. There are also a variety of scenarios to play through that change the gameplay up, such as focussing solely on the space race, or defeating barbarian hordes.

Civ Rev 2’s graphics are crisp and clean with a style that supports understanding of gameplay. Units are slightly cartoonish without being too kiddy, and the UI is easily readable if not beautiful to behold. Given the platform, the scope of the terrain is pretty respectable and different land types and city bonuses are easy to make out.

Civilization Revolution 2

The menu music of Civ Rev 2 has the same orchestral world music vibe of the original games. It can sound a bit like a mixtape in a massage parlour, but is pretty unobtrusive, which is no bad thing. In game the ambient country noises and city sounds can get a little repetitive but they do add some character. There is very little music in-game, which is a good thing as any track would get stale over three to four hours of play.

Civilization Revolution 2 is obviously not as deep as the PC versions of the game. There are some great design decisions that have simplified it in a way that makes it easier to handle on the smaller screen but also a few more questionable ones. City management is mostly automated, which is great - I often found myself bored of moving workers around in the PC version. The stacking of units into three-strong armies is a little bit confusing though. At later stages of the game, individual units are pretty worthless so you have to wait till you have built three. When units become obsolete you cannot build them any more so any individual units not in armies are left in limbo. Curiously you are unable to disband these units so they just hang around, getting in the way.

Minor issues aside, Civ Rev 2 is a very strong iPad game. There are lots of features and oodles of replay value. This is a great introduction to the Civilization franchise for those who haven’t experienced it yet. Even if you have played the PC version, it’s still good for long train journeys or away days when you need to get a Civ fix.

Andy Trowers is a game design consultant, freelance ne’er do well and staff writer for www.canada.for-sale.com

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Lost and Found

Thank you Riverdale Ave. Books for sending us this e-book to review!

When Micky Neilson was eight months old he was kidnapped by his schizophrenic father and lived as a nomad in the desert.  He didn’t attend school until the seventh grade and his only socialization with other kids was in Boy Scouts. Although Micky thought his father’s stories and notions were strange, he loved him regardless.   

Sometimes Micky and his father would take refuge in Mormon churches, but religion didn’t last with Micky.  His life was pretty rough with being asked to steal or even point a gun at someone from a distance.  Before he was a teenager, he was in a foster home and would continue his relationship with his father via letters.

Micky goes into detail about his experience at different foster homes, jobs, serving in the Gulf War and even his love life.  As a gamer I found his experience at Blizzard Entertainment to be the most fascinating, though his pranks as a teenager are pretty hilarious as well.  I like the prank where he swapped out his boss’ telephone number with a customer's and had a new hire at the telemarketing company call him.

Some of the language in the book is a bit much for children to read and there is some mature content in terms of the war experiences and Micky’s first time with a prostitute.  There are also several references of drinking and partying.  Though Micky got baptized as a teenager his faith didn’t last long and he dabbled in using the Ouija board with his friends on several occasions.  

If you don’t mind those moral issues, this book is a very good read and has a happy ending despite the turbulent childhood Micky had.  The kindle edition sells for $9.99 and the paperback is twice the price.  I highly recommend it for fans of Blizzard games or great story telling in general.  

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With Skate 3 Added To Xbox Backplay, Is It Time For A Sequel?

Microsoft has celebrated the anniversary of the backward compatibility feature for its Xbox One consoles by adding a fan favorite to the list of available games. Anyone who owns a physical or digital copy of Skate 3 by EA Black Box can now play the classic 360 game on their Xbox One or Xbox One S console. Check the ‘games’ screen of your console for more information on this and other available backplay titles.

When backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games was announced at the E3 segment, there was an instant demand for Skate 3 to be among the available titles. The third installment of this cult EA skateboarding series instantly became the most popular yet upon its release in 2010, plus the game had something of a revival in 2014 after YouTube boosted its popularity. It rose to become one of the most demanded titles in fan forums for the backplay feature, and is a very welcome addition to the growing catalog of compatible 360 games.

Grab a copy if you missed it the first time

Backplay is available to any Xbox One owner - if you didn’t own a 360 game originally, you can still pick them up for just a few dollars in second hand gaming stores or online. Research Team at Frugaa (a leading coupon provider in the USA) saw a sudden surge in searches for deals on Skate 3 games right after the update was announced, and the game also became a featured product on Amazon’s front page for a short time, because of the boom in demand.

Not only is the game included in the list of compatible titles, but you can get to all the DLC extras as well! From extra tracks and courses to fun merchandise and additional tasks, many of the add-ons have been free to Xbox 360 users for some time and can be added directly from the menu when you load up the game. Some versions of the game include all of the extra features within the disk - these can be ordered online or found in most gaming stores.

What is Skate 3 and why should I get it?

Skate 3 is like many other EA sports games in that it will appeal to skaters and gamers alike. It combines the real world physics of skateboarding with the bright colors and crazy tricks you want from a video game. The whole landscape can be skated and the game is entirely open, with missions and goals to achieve or a simple freeskate mode. Players can also take on others in one-on-one online skate battles, or work together in teams to defeat opponents. The game features pro skaters from the real world, and combines a fictitious city with actual brands, events, locations and competitions.

In addition to the skating itself, an in-built video editor allows players to take photos and create clips during play, which can be edited and uploaded to the community boards. Unfortunately, this community area is one part of the game that has succumbed to time: EA have turned off the main servers and many online features are no longer available to play around with. That said, the online world is still a whole lot of fun, and thanks to a revived interest from Xbox One players there are always plenty of opponents to take on and skate with! Set up a team lobby or stay offline and freeskate privately: you can take on the environment in your own way.

Demand for a sequel keeps growing

EA are probably better known for their bigger sports titles, such as FIFA, Madden and NBA. Skating is a niche sport in itself and while Skate 3 has a strong cult following, the series has only achieved modest sales. This might be why they have so far declined to make a fourth game. However, fans feel that Skate 3 was the best game in the series, and that an updated game for the current generation of consoles would be well worth investing in. The company has also stated that the market for skateboarding games has declined - though fans argue this is due to a lack of games, not a lack of interest in them.

The web has been filled with rumors of a Skate 4 release for several years now, and this release of the backward compatible third installment has added fuel to the fire. Fans are taking to social media to push for a new title, and encouraging new players to buy the game and show some support for the cause. Will this renewed interest be enough to convince EA that a sequel is worth making? Watch this space for news as we hear it.

Disclaimer - The article is brought to you by team of Frugaa, but all the opinions are of my own.

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Scratch Programming Playground

Thank you No Starch Press for sending us this book to review!

No Starch Press has been publishing kid friendly programming books for a while and my kids have learned a lot through them.  My son went through the Ruby Wizardry book and didn’t like all of the typing involved.  Thanks to this book, he loves making games with Scratch.  Scratch is a beginner friendly programming language that uses very little code.  All of the programs are assembled by dragging and dropping code blocks.  

My son isn’t much of an artist; even when asked to draw simple shapes, the pediatrician said that he isn’t a Picasso.  There is a downloadable resource pack that includes all of the images and source code to reference if you get stuck.  There is also an image file of the completed program to use as a reference if your game is broken.  Throughout this book we have used all of the file types at one point or another.  When the computer was accidentally turned off we were able to restore a program close to where my son left off.  This saved us from further tears and frustration.

The games my son made were fun to play and well-polished (when using the included artwork).  In this book you’ll learn how to make an Asteroids, Snake, Break-Out, and platformer style games.  There is a maze game as well as my son’s favorite:  a Fruit Ninja clone.  My son truly enjoyed this book from start to finish and often completed multiple chapters in one day.

In total there are nine chapters and 256 pages of content.  It didn’t take long for my son to finish this book and we look forward to more written by Al Sweigart.  The list price is $24.95 but I have seen it for less than $15 on Amazon.

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Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit

Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit
Written and illustrated by: Lorrie Bennett
Published by: Health Communications, Inc.
Released: August, 2016
Price: $10.99

Thank you, Health Communications, Inc. for sending us a copy of this coloring book to review!

Although the health benefits of coloring have been documented for decades – including by Carl Jung in the early 1900s – there has been a recent resurgence in this trend. Adults have used coloring to relax the body, focus the mind, and train fine motor skills. The marketplace has reflected this, and it seems that you can't go anywhere without finding coloring books for adults anymore.

 

These coloring books often stand out from those for children by having more detailed and elaborate pictures, a higher quality paper, and sometimes hidden objects to locate as well. Health Communications, Inc. has decided to add another element to the genre of adult coloring book – scripture references. The copy that we received was illustrated by artist Lorrie Bennett, and each illustration is accompanied by a verse from the Bible on the facing page.

The paper is of a high quality, and handles crayons and colored pencils quite well, including the Mr. Cuya colored pencils we received to review a while ago. I was able to erase the colored pencil as well, and barely a smudge remained. The same can't be said with markers, though – both Sharpies and Mr. Sketch colored markers bled through easily. Fortunately, I colored outside the margin, so the picture itself wouldn't be damaged. Each page is perforated, so once the picture is completed, it can be separated easily from the book to display.

 

There are a total of 32 pictures to color in the book, not counting the facing pages which contain the scripture and a few border illustrations. The complexity and subject matter varies, from animals and teacups, to abstract designs that reminded me of a patchwork quilt. My oldest daughter (12 at the time of this writing) was fascinated with the illustrations, and looked forward to giving them a try herself.

One part of the book that I found surprising was the introduction. Printed on glossy paper are some instructions as to how to use the book. Although you may not think that a coloring book needs instructions, the tips it provided were quite useful, with recommendations of complimentary colors and blending techniques that go beyond the concept of simply filling in the area between the dark lines. The book also contains examples that other people did of some of the illustrations, to provide inspiration for those who are trying to decide what to do. 

Looking at their Web site, it appears that you can sign up on their mailing list and receive free coloring pages. For those wondering about adding these coloring books to their library – or their daily relaxation routine – it could definitely be worth a look!

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2016 Christmas Buying Guide

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most family friendly games we have reviewed in 2016. 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
The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance
(Android, iOS, PC)
86% 93% $24.99
Mobile
Mobile
Dungenious 86% 93% $2.99
Mobile
Mobile
Galaxy Zega 80% 94% $149.99
Mobile
Mobile
Peppy Pals Farm 82% 100% $3.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition 84% 95% $2.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Noitu Love: Devolution 90% 92% $9.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas 90% 94% $4.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Sega 3D Classics Collection 90% 90% $19.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Ashes of the Singularity 86% 94% $24.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
King's Quest Series 86% 93% $24.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Overcooked
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
86% 100% $16.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
The Order of the Thorne: The King's Challenge 90% 93% $9.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Organic Panic 
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
80% 89% $14.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Ratchet & Clank
87% 88% $19.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Trackmania Turbo
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
90% 94% $29.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Hue
(PC, PS4, Vita, Xbox One)
88% 96% $14.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space
86% 74% $23.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Green Game: TimeSwapper
(iOS, PC, PS4, Vita)
80% 94% $4.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X 84% 77% $39.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Laser Disco Defenders 86% 96% $9.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Cubikolor (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
82% 100% $7.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
The Flame In The Flood
(PC, Xbox One)
88% 85% $19.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Uno
(PS4, Xbox One)
80% 100% $9.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Valentino Rossi
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
82% 96% $38.50
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
The Climb (Rift) 84% 100% $49.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed (Vive) 90% 86% $19.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live (PSVR) 84% 87% $14.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Quar: Battle for Gate 18 (Vive) 84% 94% $19.99
Hardware
Hardware
BuddyPhones N/A N/A $24.95
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hephaestus II Surround Gaming Headset N/A N/A $59.99
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hermes 7 Color Mechanical Keyboard N/A N/A $59.99
Hardware
Hardware
Mionix Alioth Large Mousepad N/A N/A $19.99

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Counter Strike: Global Offensive was released to the public in 2012 and can be played on various platforms such as OS X, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Steam, Linux and PlayStation 3.

Counter Strike is a multiplayer game in which a player can join either the Counter-terrorist or the Terrorist team. Its main objective  is to eliminate the opponent. The game is over when all the players in one team are dead, or the objective of the team is completed.

Development of Counter Strike: Global Offensive

A year after the release of the game, cosmetic items were added like weapon finishes. These cosmetic items were obtained through opening virtual crates and game-end drops that could be purchased through microtransactions just like in Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2.

Another update was made in October 2014. This time music kits were added, thus replacing the default in-game music.  The kit could also be borrowed, exchanged or sold within the community market.

The good thing about the new version is that the player needs not download maps by using third party sites. It’s because in Global Offensive, the player can upload content such as weapon finishes. They can also map and customize gameplay scenarios.

Game Modes

The game features five different modes namely:

•    Competitive or Classic Casual – This is the most played mode of the game and it involves Hostage Scenario and Bomb Scenario missions. The players can buy gear and weapons using the money earned after completing the objectives.

•    Arms Race – This mode gives the players a new weapon as a reward for each kill that they make. The first player who gets the golden knife will win the game.

•    Demolition – In this game mode, the player is given rewards, such as new weapon after each round. The reward can be used for the next round.

•    Deathmatch – The player can earn points from each kill that has been made using different weapons. This game mode consists of 10 minutes of matches, and bonus weapons can be obtained if the player chooses to respawn.

Global Offensive also offers offline game modes such as the Weapon course and Offline with Bots. Playing the game online is more exciting because it allows the player to filter the game modes, adjust the built-in system and use maps. The player can also use cheats and have the opportunity to find the player that can match your skill levels, making the whole experience extra enjoyable. Playing Global Offensive on PC is also supported by private dedicated servers that let the player connect with the community server.

Game Tournaments

The creator of Counter Strike: Global Offensive is offering events and tournaments. The prizes are bigger as compared to other online games tournaments and the fund is generated by the community through different sources such as special in-game cosmetics and open in-game cases. Likewise, merchandises are sold during the tournament.

Last October 2015, Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournament was held and more than $7.5 million prize money was awarded. There are major tournaments that are attended by huge audiences watching live and millions of people watching through the internet.

Conclusion

There's no doubt that Counter Strike: Global Offensive has become more popular. With a lot of games, both new and old competing in the market, it has managed to stay on the top. To access more games, you can try JoyLand Free games online.

*Disclaimer - this is a sponsored post*

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Your Brain On Video Games

Thank you Daniels Murphy Communications for sending us a screener for this special!

It has long been debated about the effects of video games on the human brain.  Do they make people more violent?  Can they be addicting?  Are there practical uses for them?  The BBC’s special Your Brain On Video Games which premiered on the Science Channel on November 1st, 2016 set out to answer all of those questions.

More and more violent video games are coming out every year and despite the bad press they are receiving, they only account for 5% of the games that are released.  There are 1.2 billion people in the world who play video games and a majority of them are over thirty-five.  Many of them have been gaming since their childhood and video game addiction is only attributed to less than 1% of them.  Gamers who play extended gaming sessions every day (on the tune of 20 hours a week) did not scientifically qualify as addiction through both the use of personality tests and brain scans.  According to Valerie Voon from University of Cambridge, one of the indicators of video game addiction is requiring instant gratification in many real life scenarios.  

Many professors including Craig Anderson and Doug Gentile from Iowa State University and Brad Bushman from Ohio State University have studied the effects of playing violent video games and how they raise levels of aggression.  Their findings indicated that after playing a violent video game the aggression level of college aged students showed an increase between 4-9%.  Studies have also revealed that gamers are desensitized to real world violence after playing violent video games.  

Despite the desensitizing and slight aggression level increases there is no direct correlation of video games influencing violent crimes.  In fact, many of the professors featured in the special believe the opposite.  They believe the routine activities theory is taking place where less opportunities are available for potential criminals since they are too busy playing video games instead of committing crimes.  

Besides possibly preventing crimes, video games have been shown to restore cognitive brain function in three different areas of the brain.  The game used in the study was Super Mario 64.  Therapeutic games have also been developed to help retirees restore brain functionality. To prove their effectiveness, the patients have scored better than twenty year olds playing the same game for the first time!  

Video games could possibly save lives too.  A custom game has been developed that is used to train prospective keyhole surgeons.  Be warned that there is some surgery footage shown and it’s pretty gritty.  I guess I haven’t been completely desensitized in my thirty plus years of gaming.  I recommend this show to any concerned parent or gamer interested in the impact of video games on their friends and family.

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Power Rangers Megaforce: The Complete Season

 

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

This is the first time my kids have watched Power Rangers and they enjoyed this series.  My son more so than my daughters, though they related with the female rangers.   This collection ends in a cliff-hanger and is missing the holiday episodes so I wouldn’t really consider it complete.  However, the less than $10 asking price is still pretty reasonable for twenty episodes and seven hours of entertainment. 

The first episode introduces the high school students soon to be the next generation of Power Rangers.  Troy, who becomes the red ranger, is good at handling adversity and is a martial arts expert.  Gia, with her calm demeanor, morphs into the yellow ranger.  Emma is Gia’s best friend and appreciates nature; she transforms into the pink ranger.  The nerdy, but likable Noah becomes the blue ranger.   Last but not least is Jake, who is strong, has a crush on Gia, and turns into the black ranger.

The character development is decent and held the interest of my daughters while my son likes the battle scenes with the insect-like alien invaders.  The special effects are cheesy and make Sharknado look like Avatar.   Each episode features a new insect-like invader with a different method to thwart the Power Rangers and to take over the world.  Thankfully, their plans get squashed every time until the final episode.  I won’t know the result of the epic battle until the next season of the Super Megaforce Power Rangers.

One thing I can count on is that the battle formula doesn’t change much.  At first the Power Rangers try to subdue the invader with hand to hand combat.  If that doesn’t work they start to use their weapons and then switch to their mega weapons.  If more force is necessary then the Zords come out and ultimately combine into the Mega Zord to finish off the attacker.

While this show has a lot of tacky special effects and violence, it does teach some good moral lessons as well.  The value of friendship and team work is shown as crucial to a successful outcome.  Believing in yourself is also expounded upon along with the value of honesty.  

There is much to like in this DVD set for current and future Power Ranger fans. I know my kids enjoy the show and that the epic theme song gets stuck in my head shorty after hearing it.   My children are looking forward watching the next season.

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Python Crash Course

Thank you No Starch Press for sending us a review copy of this book!

Python is a powerful programming language that is used worldwide and is a valuable skill to know for a hobbyist or anyone pursuing a computer science major.   In Python Crash Course you’ll learn basic coding concepts, troubleshooting skills, and how to make games, manipulate data, and deploy your programs.  The example scripts show how to code for both Python 2.X and 3.X.   The recommended and free editor, Geany, is user friendly and works well.

The first half of the book talks about variables, lists, loops, if statements, dictionaries, while loops, functions, classes, and working with files.  Each of the twenty chapters has about twenty or so pages with helpful examples to teach you how to use the concepts they are teaching.  The beginning coding examples aren’t that memorable, but they get you familiar with the basics required for the advanced projects in the second half of the book.  

My favorite project was making the Space Invaders type game.  The source code has all of the graphics needed and is available for troubleshooting purposes.  I ran across an issue in the eleventh chapter where the printed code is incorrect and the source code had corrected code that successfully compiled.    The printed code was "print(question)" when the proper code should have been "print(self.question)."  

From chapter fifteen on I could no longer compile my programs using cloud services like Dropbox or One Drive.  If I compiled my programs locally they worked just fine.  This is not the fault of the author; I just thought I would spare someone some frustration if they use cloud storage for saving their work.  

Other issues I ran across include changes in the classes referenced later in the book.  For the data graphing, pygal is required and since this book was published it no longer handles country codes like it used to.  Instead of 'from pygal.i18 import COUNTRIES' I had to use 'from pygal_maps_world.i18 import COUNTRIES'.

The final chapters involve making a discussion forum using the Django web framework. They also cover using Git for version control and Heroku’s free cloud services for hosting it.  However, despite my best efforts I couldn’t get the forum to work online and even had difficulty setting it up locally without using the source code.  Despite not being able to see the final project, I still learned a lot and got to play around with it locally in a virtual environment.

Although my experiences have been mixed using this book, I have learned a lot from it.  I was able to use concepts from it and code a program that quizzes people on the Ten Commandments for a mission’s conference I spoke at.  Without this book it would have taken me much longer to make.  The suggested retail price is $39.95 but it can be purchased for less than $30 on Amazon.

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Gifted Custom Art

 

 

Thank you Gifted Custom Art for sending us a product sample to review!

GiftedCustomArt.com’s founder Kevin West is a professional artist that grew up in the Boys and Girls Club as a child.  He considers it his second home and worked there as a part-time teacher until he was diagnosed with stage three cancer.  After he beat the cancer, he knew that God had bigger plans for him and wanted to share his passion for art with kids and adults alike.  After seeing his daughter paint an astounding self-portrait of herself using his paint-by number concept, he knew he was onto something big.

The painting kits sell for a promotional price of $99.95 and includes a 16” X 20” canvas that come pre-printed with an outline of your image marked with which color to paint the different sections.  The photo submission guidelines give tips on ideal file submissions and restrictions such as copyrighted photos are not permitted.  For best results the image must be close up, high resolution, and only featuring one or two people/subjects.

There are six color palettes to choose from (rose, green, blue, purple, black, brown) and five shades of paint will be included in the kit.  Five paint brushes of different widths are bundled in as well.  Last but not least are the disposable smock and easel.  The easel is cardboard and didn’t come with any instructions on how to assemble it.  I wound up using my kitchen table for painting a portrait of my dog.  

The painting took me a couple of hours to complete and my son helped out by painting some of the larger sections.  The tinier areas needed the smaller tipped paint brush and I wound up using all five brushes throughout the project.  

Overall this has been a positive experience and I highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to paint a loved one.  Gift certificates can be purchased and they can provide an excellent present for anyone who enjoys painting no matter their skill level!

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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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