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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

What is the most amount of time you put into a game?

I have over 35 hours into Dragon Warrior VII and I'm still on the first disc.  I think I will have to sink 100 hours into this game before I finish it.  It's really a shame since this great game is riddled with swearing, quite a difference from the Nintendo versions I have been playing until this point.  I'm not exaggerating that every time I load up this game I encounter a swear of some sort.  da*n, bas*ard, son of a......, and hell is thrown around pretty casually too.  "Get the hell out of here" etc.  The Nintendo versions may have had 1 or 2 da*n in it max.  :\ 

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Sonic's 20th Anniversary

I am a huge Sonic fan who loves playing the blue blur's games despite their critical reception. I love the fast-paced action, catchy music, and great graphics of the series. I know that some of his games have had weird gimmicks such as the werehog in Sonic Unleashed, but I found most of his games enjoyable. Actually, the only Sonic game that I officially hate is Sonic Labyrinth. Still, games like Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity made me think that the blue blur could do a lot better. Once Sonic Colors and Sonic 4 came out, I knew that the blue blur was done with gimmicks. For Sonic's 20th anniversary, SEGA is giving us Sonic Generations and Mario and Sonic 3, both I think look excellent. Sonic Generations features both Classic and Modern incarnations of Sonic, while Mario and Sonic 3 features both series' iconic characters and party games based on the London Olympics coming next year.

2011 is actually not only Sonic's 20th anniversary, but also Mario's 30th, Zelda's 25th, and Halo's 10th! Weird huh?

Reviews to Sonic Colors and Sonic '06 coming soon.

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Have a nice gaming pc? Make some money with it!

This is not a get rich quick scheme but many people have made good money mining bitcoins.  What is a bitcoin you ask?  Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency. Peer-to-peer means that no central authority issues new money or tracks transactions. These tasks are managed collectively by the network.  New coins are generated by a network node each time it finds the solution to a difficult mathematical problem.  There will be a maximum of 21,000,000 generated bitcoins and because of this limit, bitcoins are divisible to 8 decimal places.  In other words you can send fractions of bitcoins to people.  Like many currencies the value fluctuates.  As of this blog entry its between $13 and $14 USD.

As of July 2011, there are just over 6.8 million bitcoins in existence.  New coins are slowly "mined" into existence by running a program that searches tirelessly for a solution to a very difficult math problem. When a solution is found, the user may tell everyone of the existence of this new found solution, along with other information, packaged together in what is called a "block".  Blocks contain 50 bitcoins at present. This amount is an incentive for people to perform the computation work required for block generation. Roughly every 4 years, the number of bitcoins that can be "mined" in a block reduces by 50%.  In other words, while the bounty is still 50 bitcoins, hop on this gravy train!

You have two options when it comes to mining for bitcoins.  If you have a good video card, you can try going solo and crunch numbers for weeks or months for a big payout. Or, if you prefer a steady payout, you can join a mining pool and equally share the bounty for your share of work put into it.  If you have a slower video card, a mining pool will be the only way you can stand a chance at finding the blocks before someone else does.

The better the hardware, the better the hash rates you'll get.  ATI is taking the crown here.  Here's how my systems fare at my house.

My hubby and I have quad core 860's with 5870's getting 346 Mhash/s
Our kids dual core with a 5570 is 67Mhash/s
Our myth tv pvr front-end with a 4650 gets 21.6Mhash/s 
Lastly my dual core laptop with a GeForce M230 gets 8 Mhash/s (I don't bother mining with this one)

The higher the hash rate, the more my video card contributes to solving the mathematical problem and thus giving me more of the reward.  Overclocking can increase those numbers but it will also increase the heat generated and the electricity needed to power the system.  The next hurdle is seeing if this is worth jacking up your electric bill.  With those systems in place I can get a bitcoin every 4 days.  With a bitcoin value at $14 I can make $105 a month doing this.  How much of that will get sucked up by a higher electric bill is to be determined.  For those who leave their systems on 24/7 anyway, why not have it make money for you in the process.

Once you earn a bitcoin you'll have to decide what to do with it.  I converted mine to USD using Mt. Gox. There was a .0005 fee to send my bitcoin there and then Mt. Gox took .30%.  Once I had it in USD I sent it to my dwolla account for .25 and then sent it to my bank account.  All said and done I got $13.70 of my $14.

Here are some helpful links to get started.

Bitcoin client
Python GUI Miner put this in the extra flags section: -v -w128
Slush's mining pool

 

sources: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Introduction
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

 

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PSP: The bargain hunter's dream

I'm a sucker for bargain bin games and try to avoid paying full retail price when possible.  There are many great games to be found in the used game sections of GameStop and the prices of many classics are $20 or less.

For my birthday I got a used PSP 3001 for $50 and the came with Fifa 2009 and a UMD movie Treasure Hunter 2.  I had to buy an AC adapter for it.  So $65 out the door with a game and a movie isn't bad.

Since I don't play sports games I traded in Fifa 2009 and took advantage of GameStop's recent buy 2 get one free sale and picked up.  Jeanne De'arc, Final Fantasy: Crisis Core and Patapon.  All of these out the door was less than $15.  We went back the next day and picked up Parappa the Rapper for $6 and Lumines 2 for $5.  My last purchase was Half Minute Hero for $10 out the door after using a 20% off coupon I got for my birthday.

We also got two free games from the PSN Welcome back pack (Kill Zone and Little Big Planet)

 

So a system, AC adapter and 8 games for $101..not bad at all

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Wii U unveiling

I was very surprised at this years E3. I wasn't too crazy about Sony and Microsoft's conferences, and I didn't think the Nintendo one would be any better. I was shocked at the new console, Wii U.

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The best Jesus-free critique of CCG

I don't take criticism easily. Especially when it comes to my personal beliefs or the things I'm passionate about. So when a secular game site takes aim at both video games and my faith, I am quick to reach for my righteous rage.

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Gaming on a Quad-Core Tablet

The Nvidia Kal-El quad core powered tablets are looking pretty promising..I wonder how much they will cost! Check out this video where they demonstrate the difference between a dual and a quad core tablet.

 

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Play classic DOS games in Google Chrome!

It's been ages since I played Lucas Arts' Tie Fighter.  NaCLBox is a DOS box that runs right in your Google Chrome browser and does not require you to install any plugins.  All you have to do is enable the Native Client by typing about:flags in your address bar.  Once you do that you can play demos of The Secret of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Duke Nukem 1 & 2 (I don't remember the content in those!) and more.

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First two months with the iPad

If you had asked me two months ago if I would ever have an iPad, I would have laughed.  I already had an iPod Touch for two years and could not understand why anyone would want an oversized iPod.  Well, my wife ended up getting a fantastic price on one from someone at my office.  I was so blown away by all it was capable of, I ended up getting one for myself two weeks later.

Now, two months later, I am hooked.  I absolutely love the iPad. It is not just a large iPod, as I had thought.  The apps look gorgeous on the screen and are developed to take into account the screen size.  I am able to do so much more than I was with the iPod.  Other than for work, I am rarely on my computer anymore.  Does it replace my computer?  No.  But it certainly covers a lot of the same areas and can even go beyond what I do with my personal laptop.

Spiritually - It has allowed me to go deeper in my Bible studies with a split screen for a commentary.  Clicking on words, I can perform a lookup in a Bible dictionary.

Photography - I am able to download photos from my camera.  No more need to take my laptop on trips to handle downloading my day's worth of photos.

Music - I can keep all of my sheets of music stored on the iPad.  I can create worship sets for the week and can even annotate my music with markups.  There is almost no need for printed sheets.  There are some really great apps to write music as well.  I can now grab the iPad and get a musical phrase recorded or come up with an electronic jam sequence.

Games - There are so many great games and they look beautiful on the iPad.  It has been a wonderful gaming device.  I have some fun in-depth strategy games, a few 3D RPGs, sudoku, time management, space sims, and more.  They cover everything from the casual to the harder core gamer.

This just covers a few of the reasons I so enjoy the iPad.  It has made me more productive.  I don't look at it as just a device.  It has absolutely transformed the way I do things.  From drawing diagrams for work, reading a technical book, and even listening to the songs for this week's worship set while I'm in bed, I continue to find useful apps to fill a need.

You can expect more blogging on the iPad over the months.

And, yes, I wrote this entire post on the iPad.

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Sending bricks to Ninendo a DRM protest

Nintendo has threatened to brick 3DS devices that have been modified by hardware or software. To protest, Defective by Design will be sending bricks with a note to the chairman of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime.

What do you think about this?  Does Nintendo have a right to render devices we purchase as useless?  Last time I checked, 3DS's are still selling for $250.   Once we buy the device isn't it ours to do as we please? Is it wrong for me to put a sticker on my DS? Can I change the casing if it cracks or scratches?  We have replaced the scratched screen on our DS Lite, we have cleaned the broken trigger buttons in an attempt to repair them.  If the repairs fail it's our own fault, I don't blame Nintendo.   I can understand this tinkering voids the warranty.  If the system broke while it was under warranty I would have send it back to them to fix.

I understand that people modify the hardware beyond standard maintenance. Perhaps for these individuals their system should be blocked from the Nintendo network so they don't interfere with "vanilla" systems.  I think bricking the device by rendering it useless is going too far. Here's an quote from the Terms of service (chapter 3).  I think they mean business:

"You understand that the Nintendo 3DS System specifications and the Nintendo 3DS Service are constantly evolving and that we may update or change the Nintendo 3DS System or the Nintendo 3DS Service in whole or in part, without notice to you. Such updates may be required for you to play new Nintendo 3DS games, enjoy new features, or continue to access the Nintendo 3DS Service. After the Nintendo 3DS menu is updated, any existing or future unauthorized technical modification of the hardware or software of your Nintendo 3DS System, or the use of an unauthorized device in connection with your system, will render the system permanently unplayable."

What about software modifications?   That's awfully vague.  Chances are the DS Cart system I'm using is violating the terms of service.  The kicker is that I am not using it to pirate games.  I use it so I have all my games with me and don't have to worry about losing them.  Have you seen how small these DS cartridges are?  Again I don't agree with hacking the system to ruin the game play for other people.  I think Xbox has taken the proper approach to block non standard systems from the network.

Has Nintendo gone too far?

 

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Wii HD to recapture the Hardcore?

 

 

Industry guru Michael Pachter has been forecasting a "Wii HD" for some time now, but it looks like Nintendo has finally shed some light on its next home console, codenamed, "Project Cafe."

 

IGN recently received word that the Wii 2 will usher Nintendo into the High Definition era with a 1080p ready machine, suggesting the console is, "significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and that Nintendo's intent is to recapture the hardcore market." It's also expected to be backwards-compatible with current Wii games.

 

The Wii successor which will feature a new controller with dual analog sticks, a d-pad and trigger buttons. However, it will also include a 6 inch touch screen capable of streaming game content from the console.

 

That's all we know for now, but E3 is two months away and Nintendo will likely make an official announcement and at the very least have video footage ready for the public.

 

Nintendo is apparently already showing the console to publishers in hopes of generating interest for a late 2012 launch.

 

Thoughts?

 

Is the screen on the controller as gimmicky as connecting your gameboy to the gamecube?

 

Were you just getting used to home consoles at a reasonable price?

 

How powerful will it be compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360?

 

 

 

 

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What's with all the language in games these days?

We just posted our Crysis 2 review today. As fun as this game is I was taken aback by all the language in it. It's not just this game but a trend I'm seeing in many games we've been reviewing lately.  What gives? Yeah I get it, in stressful situations people swear, it may add some realism but to me I think it's exaggerating a bit.  I hang around non-Christians and they don't drop the F bomb every 3 minutes.  I miss the options to disable swearing and blood, can we have those back please?  Or should I say "Can we have those *#&$^'n options back please?"

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Site upgrade is finished!

It took a lot of preparation and patience to get this new site up and running. I hope you like the new look and if you have any suggestions, feedback or encouragement, I'm all ears!

God Bless!

Cheryl

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M rated games a minority in 2010

 

 

I couldn't wait to turn 13.

 

Driving at 16? Drinking and voting at 18? Didn't care, because 12 years old meant video games with the big "T for Teen" could never join my collection.

 

Can I play Goldeneye? Nope, Metal Gear Solid? Not a chance. But after the big 1-3 I finally had some leverage in the violence vs. Mom and Dad debate.

 

Even now at 23, parents and well meaning relatives can point out the depravity of Bulletstorm or the abiding debauchery of Grand Theft Auto with just the most peripheral knowledge of the industry.

 

But I can't blame them, because the mainstream news coverage only extends to the next Halo or Call of Duty. So it's no wonder people assume the majority of video games exist to teach children how to make people/aliens/prostitues die.

 

Turns out, we were wrong.

 

The ESRB broke down their assigned ratings for 2010 and out of 1,638 games, the frown inducing 'M for mature' rating only accounted for a measly 5%.

 

Five per cent. That's like assuming lucky charms are mostly shooting stars. In fact, people have gone around calling it "Shooting Star" cereal. That's just not accurate. There's rainbows and moons and horseshoes swirling in a sea of toasted oats.

 

T for Teen came in at 21% and E for Everyone accounted for a whopping 55%.

 

The ESRB said around 6 in 10 games released over the last two years received E for Everyone ages six and up.

 

"In fact, three quarters of the ratings we assigned last year were for games that are appropriate for those under the age of 13, so there's a huge variety of games available for players of all ages."

 

That's a whole lot of toasted oat chunks.

 

ESRB ratings for 2010

 

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Another View: Dragon Age II Impressions

Having just (finally) finished Dragon Age: Origins, I was dismayed to see my colleague's comments on the newly minted demo for the upcoming Dragon Age II.

The beautiful thing about Dragon Age has always been the versatility of play: if a player wishes to tactically play the game they can, utilizing different powers and setting traps, as well as combining powers and attacks in an effort to be the most effective; however, if the player wishes to just play the game as a hack-and-slash, they can too, and this is what Dragon Age II recognizes.

I fought with the battle system and control scheme from Dragon Age: Origins from the first. After buying the game at launch and hitting a series of snags, I was unable to review the game as planned, first from the difficulty of the proceedings (I, like many gamers, don't like to knock down the difficulty because of a little challenge) and then because I encountered a disc read error on my 360 that would not resolve.

So I sold the game, finally repurchasing and finishing it almost two years later (and discovering that I was something like four hours from the end when the game stopped working).

Coming from that experience, with its jerky combat woes and long areas of disconnected grinding, Dragon Age II was a welcome change. You press a button... something happens. This was not what Dragon Age: Origins did, and the change is good. Things feel solid. Combat carries weight. And the writing is great.

Another welcome change is the protagonist, who is actually a character this time. I understand the nostalgic feel of the silent protagonist, but the inclusion of that made it hard to care about what happened in the last game. Here, however, I do care. And not only that, I'm fascinated by the way that they're telling the story. Framed narratives, such as the one presented in Dragon Age II, aren't a new thing, but they aren't often done well in games. That doesn't seem to be the case here.

Ultimately, I came away very pleased, and anxious to get my hands on the new game. I don't know if Deep's comments were because of a static control scheme or the lack of familiarity with the original game, but I do know that on the console, Dragon Age II is looking to be the first great RPG of 2011. If that's the case on the PC, I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt it; the combat has lost none of its depth, it's just far more accessible.

For Bioware fans, for fans of any significant story or action game, that's a very good thing. And it means that Dragon Age II is going to be excellent.

As an aside, there were several sexual references in the game, along with a focus (unnecessary, actually) on large breasts, and tons of blood and gore flying everywhere. This is seeming to be a pretty hard M, so if you're not old enough or don't want to deal with that stuff... don't play it.

-Drew "Drewsov" Regensburger

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Dragon Age II demo impressions

So a few days ago, I was able to download and play the demo for Dragon Age II. My first impression was "This is really stripped down." I wasn't surprised, as this is a demo. So I watched the opening cutscene, and thought that was decent enough. Then the game started. When I first started controlling, I noticed a serious flaw: The mouse does not rotate the camera unless the left mouse button is held. The problem with this is that the left mouse button is also your action button. You attack, move, select and do more with it. This may not seem like a huge issue, but when the enemies are constantly moving away from the screen, the only way to reliably adjust the camera for attacking is to pause the game. While this is a fairly common feature in Bioware games, this scheme was incredibly awkward. If I so chose, I should be able to actively control and fight without having to pause the game to readjust my viewing frustum. There was no such option that I could find. I can excuse the lack of customization since it is a demo, but the control scheme is a battle to use effectively.

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Tron Revival!

Over the weekend I finally saw the new "Tron: Legacy"...twice.  I enjoyed it so much, I took my younger daughter with me the 2nd time.  One night later, she went again.  This time with my wife.  I'm hoping to see it one more time before it leaves our theater.  The music, the visuals, the sound.  I absolutely loved the movie and came back with my first real 'movie experience' in years.  It's one of those movies I'll remember when I saw it in the theater.

I've been a fan of Tron ever since the original was released.  It really made an impact on me at the time.  It was such a great idea and concept.  A world inside a computer or video game.  I also pumped many quarters into the arcade game.  Over the years, it had become a fading memory.  Though a memory I would reference every so often.

In 2002, I bought my first DVD.  It was the 20th Anniversary of Tron.  My wife was like, "I"ve never even heard you mention this movie before.  That's what you want to buy?"

In 2003, my hopes were raised as the PC game "Tron 2.0" was released.  I swooped it up and really enjoyed it.  The beginning of the game was frustrating and hard, but once I worked through that, the game ended up being a really exciting time.  I still have fond memories of many of the levels and puzzles.

The following year (2004) I bought "TRON 2.0: Killer App" for the Gameboy Advance.  I enjoyed it, but the shining part were the minigames and port of the Tron arcade game.

There were rumors of a new Tron movie in the works, but nothing ever came through.  But ever since then, I've been waiting patiently for the Tron sequel.  Well, "Tron: Legacy" met my desires for a sequel.  I love the many references to the first movie and the updated Tron world looks SO good.  Different enough you know it's an update, but similar enough you know you are in the world of Tron.

This last weekend saw a Tron revival inside of me.

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My new Android phone

I recently got a new T-Mobile G2.  Any time I get a new gadget, I always investigate its gaming potential, whether it's intended by the device creators or otherwise.  I still remember writing a simple Final Fantasy-like game for my old calculator in High School.  I've also always installed solitaire on even the most basic cellphones when possible, because, well, you never know when you'll need it.

Fortunately, this device doesn't make gaming so hard.  In fact, with the fast CPU, capacitive touch screen, and physical keyboard and trackpad, it doesn't get too much better for a cellphone.  And the Android Market doesn't disappoint when it comes to variety.  And last but most certainly not least, it's not a closed system like an iPhone.  Closed off systems drive me nuts - I will only accept openness, and Android provides that in spades.  But that's perhaps for another blog post.

As for games themselves, I have downloaded around 30 so far, but I have mostly played just a few of them so far.  I have played Angry Birds the most by far.  I highly recommend it.  And since the Android version is ad supported freeware, there is no excuse - grab it now.

Other good ones include Frozen Bubble - which is a classic ported from desktop Linux.  Bonzai Blast is also high quality, as is PewPew.  My wife likes Glow Hockey, and of course I had to load the requisite Solitaire Free Pack.  OpenSudoku is also nice.  Please beware of violence and scantily clad ladies (only in the menus), but Gun Bros. is a very high quality game, which reminds me of Ikari Warriors somewhat.  But I'm not too thrilled with the menu 'decoration', so we'll see how long I keep it on my phone.

I could talk about others also, but suffice it to say that I don't need much more convincing on one point - Nintendo and Sony should definitely continue to make sure that they offer compelling portable gaming experiences that are worth bringing along another device for, because since getting this phone I've been trying game after game, and playing little else.

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Games I am playing

Wii: Epic Mickey (I'm playing in small doses, I'm not a console gamer!)
PC: Magicka (frustrated over stability issues) Baron Wittard Nemesis of Ragnarok (stuck and no walkthroughs yet for this adventure game)
On the go: Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls (GBA) Beat FF1 playing FF2 need to grind.  I got DQVI on pre-order!

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Whoops! I fixed the RSS feed

I'm sure not many people were interested in a feed of our seldom updated FAQs and Walkthroughs.  The RSS feed now points to computer reviews.  Enjoy!  When we migrate to the new site, the console and PC reviews will most likely be merged.  Yay!

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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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