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Iserlohn’s Mini Basketball Hoop

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

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

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

basketball hoop

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

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

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NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible
Published by: Zondervan
Price: $24.99

Thank you Zondervan for sending us this Bible to color and review!

Kids and coloring books have gone hand in hand for as long as I can remember. Recently adult coloring books have taken off and not long ago we reviewed Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit which has thirty-two Bible verse themed pages to color. The NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible is attractive to both adults and kids who like to color and provides fifty-two verses to color.

My daughter took an interest in this Bible right away and I promised it to her if she colored in one of the verses. She agreed to these terms and has been taking this Bible to church with her since. The coloring pages are noticeably thicker than the Bible pages and this is a good thing. The Bible pages are thin (like most Bibles) and prone to tearing if too much pressure is applied while coloring.

One of the first coloring pages has the verse Joshua 1:9 which says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.” That inspiring verse was the one that my daughter colored. The items to color really don’t match the verses too well in my opinion. This one in particular has a sunrise/sunset and flowers all around. The coloring page for Luke 6:27’s “Love your enemies” is filled with donuts and popsicles. I guess you can show love to your rivals by raising their cholesterol and weight. Despite the odd themes, these pages are pretty well detailed and bound to entertain artists for some time.

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

As a Bible, this one is easy to read and I like how the words that Jesus spoke are highlighted in red. Another cool feature is the table of weights and measures in the back that translates Biblical terms with modern day equivalents. For example, a cubit is equal to 18 inches.

There is a lot to like about this Bible. The only problem I have with it is the translation used. There has been some controversy regarding the 2011 NIV translation and this Bible does use the gender neutral verses. So if you look at the verse John 15:6 “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The new NIV changes it to, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The classic Proverb 27:17 is changed from “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” to “…so one person sharpens another” .

If you enjoy reading the NIV translation and like coloring, then you’ll want to check out the NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible. The hard cover sells for less than $25 on Amazon and that’s a pretty reasonable price. If you’re in need of coloring pencils, we have a review of those too!



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Mario Jackson
This is really splendid. Thanks a lot for the update here... Read More
Monday, 14 August 2017 09:56
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The Passion of Augustine

Thank you EG-PR for sending us a press screener of this movie to review!

The Passion of Augustine is a Canadian film that was originally released in 2015. Since this film takes place in Quebec, the native language is French. There is English closed captioning which doesn’t kick in until ten minutes or so into the film. The beginning of the movie starts off in Latin and the nuns are waking the girls up in Latin and attending a church service conducted in Latin. Had I not known that Catholic services used to be conducted in Latin, I would have assumed that the subtitles were misconfigured. Thankfully, we stuck with it and enjoyed the rest of the film that we were able to understand.

The rest of the film is fairly easy to follow if you don't mind subtitles. Later in the movie there is a scene where a student is singing a love song in a foreign language and I wish I knew what the lyrics were. Despite the language barrier the story is worth sticking around for. It’s based in the ‘60s and tells the tale of a struggling convent. Between the Vactican II changes and the state’s push for public schooling, the mother superior, Augustine, is doing what she can to keep the all-girls school running. Unlike the public schools, this convent focuses a lot on music theory and has won a silver medal award at a prestigious piano contest.

With the rising cost of heating oil, and the need for better musical instruments, the mother general is not fond of music and thinks that mother Augustine is too proud of her school and its students. One of the recent transfer students is Augustine’s niece, Alice, who gets into trouble and sometimes it’s not even her fault. Other times it is and Alice and another fellow classmate get in big trouble for sneaking out to a “Love in” dance club.

Mother Augustine is protective of Alice because of mistakes that she has made when she was younger. There is a flashback scene that isn’t very clear of a medical procedure being done to Augustine when she was younger. Given some later conversations in the movie, I believe that it was an abortion.

Because of the religious backdrop, there isn’t much cussing in this film. You do see some kissing, but nothing more. Part of the Vatican II changes included modernizing the church and that involves changing the attire of the nuns. There are scenes of them changing their clothes, but like the rest of the film, it is done in good taste and nothing is seen.

We viewed this movie using Vimeo which usually provides good service, but we ran into several buffering delays and had to set the quality to auto instead of the 720p maximum. Even on auto, it still had buffering issues.

Overall, we enjoyed The Passion of Augustine and recommend checking it out when it goes to video on demand. The DVD is available on Amazon but the $40 asking price is pretty hefty. Hopefully the paid rental service is more reliable than the method we used to watch this film.

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Retrogression: Vol.1

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was truly innovative on many levels upon its launch. So many great games were available on that console and given the success of the recent NES Classic, gamers still love them. Besides the fun gameplay, many of the most popular games had stellar soundtracks to go with them. Stemage has done something interesting in their recently released digital album, Retrogression: Vol.1.

In Retrogression: Vol.1, Stemage plays four popular theme songs backwards and then reverses them (individually) so you can recognize them again. To stay true to the NES’ limitations they used drums, two guitars, and one bass. The songs performed backwards are really well done and are fun listening to, even if I’ve only played 3/4 games being represented.

The four games paid homage to include Ghosts N’ Goblins, Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Brothers, and Tetris. Since the album is available on Bandcamp, you can listen to each track individually and pay what you want for it. The songs are available to download in MP3 or FLAC format. Since you can set your own price, I won’t complain about the length of the album as it can be heard in its entirety in less than fifteen minutes. While the reversed/forward songs are neat, I would have loved to hear the jazzed up songs played in their proper direction. Other than those minor nitpicks, I recommend picking up this album if these NES games hold a special place in your heart.

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Iserlohn Non Stick Silicone Baking Mat Set

For the reasonable price of $12.99 you can get 2 FDA approved and BPA/BPP free mats that measure 16.5” long , 11.6” wide, and 0.03” thick. These are the perfect size for half-sheet baking pans. The corners are trimmed so they’re easy to lift up as well. Because these mats can withstand temperatures up to 500 °F, you can use them instead of wax paper or aluminum foil to protect your baking pans. Alternatively, you can freeze them as long as your freezer doesn’t go below -40 °F. The mats can be cleaned up with soapy water or ran through the dishwasher. They’re pretty flexible (pun intended) when it comes to storage as well. You can store them flat, folded, or rolled up to save space.

The two mats have different designs and I used the one with the inches and centimeters on it for rolling out some pie dough. I’d much rather sprinkle flour on and roll on top of a baking mat than my kitchen counter top. Pizza dough will be another great use for these mats. Having both of them will come in handy for really big pizza crusts! Here’s the recipe I use for making deep dish pizza.

With Mother’s day around the corner this set would make a great gift for mothers out there that enjoy baking. As an added bonus, a bright red silicone spatula is included. I can never have enough spatulas and the red one will be much easier to find in my silverware drawer too. My family and I look forward to many more meals and desserts made with the help of these baking mats. They seem pretty durable and I’m sure we’ll be enjoying them for many years to come. This set is priced lower than competing models and comes with a bonus spatula. How can you beat that?


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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The Most Thrilling And Mind Blowing Video Games Of 2017

The Most Thrilling And Mind Blowing Video Games Of 2017

What was just considered as a hobby a few years back that some freaks used to play sitting in their living room or any other place is now an art that every human being in the world enjoys participating. Whether it’s your friend next door or your elder brother who is working in a firm, everyone is now playing the astounding video games.

So, with reference to the sneak peaks and the interesting early gameplay footage, 2017 launched many breathtaking video games and is proved to be one of the best gaming years of the era. Moreover, the well-known technology stores around the world also made it sure that you can grab the latest games at any point of time as soon as those are launched in the market. So, you can find these stores always updated with their stocks.

But with so many games around you, it might be too perplexing for you to choose the one that stands out. Thus, without further hassle, here are the top and mind blowing video games which you’ll be much excited to know about.

  • Platform PS4

It is one of the most surprising and striking video games of the year which is a sequel to the very famous Vita adventure. It leads you to battle evil in a captivating imaginative world with an ability to turn the world upside down. The Gravity Rush 2 walks through with a creative streak which runs across the two heartfelt heroines of the game i.e., Kat and Raven. And moreover, the fascinating land of Heskeville will be a wonderful place to explore.

Running short of time to hop into a store for buying this amazing game? Then you can order it online from various leading stores of the UK like Argos. And on doing so, you can purchase and get it delivered to you both in a frugal way through various deals, discount offers, Argos free delivery discount code etc. 

  • Dandy Dungeon

 It is a brilliant mobile game where you’ll be brave Yamada, an upcoming games developer and a defeated lothario who is trying to impress his beautiful neighbor with his skills in coding. In this puzzle game, you must find the right path for the hero to the exit while avoiding all the traps and beasts on his way. It’s a funny yet an extremely interesting game. 

  • She remembered Caterpillars

It is an eccentric and adventurous puzzle game where you’ve to build bridges and make paths through the nominal insects. The logic puzzle in the game is appealingly wicked and enthralling with various unique elements added in a smart way. Thus, this game will certainly lead you to end up unwinding yourself into a whole new world.

  • Nioh

It is a fantasy RPG which lets you to explore the vast battle-field, hunting Yokai. It might be hundreds of hours that you’ve played but new excitements and discoveries will always keep on coming towards you. You’ll be continuously finding fresh an rewarding things to do. It is an absolutely fantastic game which includes a strong sense of charm.

So, if you’re a yet another teenager or someone in his or her 20’s, 30’s 40’s or of whatever age who is one of the biggest fans of video games and still now haven’t tried your hands on these phenomenal new-ones in the market, then you should explore those soon. And moreover, browsing through Dealslands you can even save your huge bucks as you can grab the lucrative deals from the UK’s high-end technology and games selling stores in this money-saving voucher site. 

*This post has been provided by Dealslands*

 

 

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Whelek Self-Inflating Camp Pad

Thank you Whalek for sending us a review sample!

Family camp-outs are fun and our kids aren’t too picky when it comes to just using a sleeping bag to separate themselves from the tent and gravel/dirt terrain underneath them.  My husband and I appreciated the foam padding we brought along, but sadly, foam often breaks apart over time.

The Whalek sleeping/camp pad is pretty durable and has many nice features with my favorite being the self-inflation.  The valve is easy to use, though if there was an instruction manual included, I would have gladly read it.  The construction is solid and looks like it can take a bit of a beating.  The carrying bag on the other hand isn’t as forgiving as I can already see some loosened stitches.  This can be problematic as we all know that putting things back in their original containers is never as easy as removing them!

 

My 5’7” body fit nicely on this sleeping mat, but my 6’2” husband had his feet dangling off the end a bit.  In conjunction with a sleeping bag using this camp pad is more comfortable than without. However, if I had a choice between a sleeping mat or an inflatable air mattress I would choose the latter without a second thought!  A couch still trumps an air mattress if there isn’t a bed available.  

The asking price of $60 is a bit more expensive than the others available on Amazon or Ebay.  The sleeping mask is a nice add-on though and I enjoyed using that more than the mat.   I do plan on bring this along on our next camping trip and I enjoy the compact size after a couple of attempts of folding and squeezing it back into its carrying bag.  The Whelek Self-Inflating Camp Pad is great for camping trips and I recommend picking one up if you love sleeping outdoors.

 

 
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Iserlohn Bronze Wind Chime

Thank you Iserlohn for sending us this bronze wind chime!

When my oldest daughter was a toddler we did a nine-hour road trip to Missouri to visit my mom and step dad.  It was a nice trip, but when we were half-way home on the way back, the unimaginable happened.  My daughter puked in the car when we still had another 4.5 hours to go!  We stopped at the closest gas station and used up a lot of paper towels to clean up what we could.   The gas station attendants knew what was going on and took pity on us and gave her some lemon lime pop to soothe her stomach a bit.  While we were at the counter my daughter took notice of the wind chimes and as many toddlers would do, grabbed one and broke it.  Since the gas station refused to let me pay for the broken wind chime, we bought a different one that used to be a lot fuller and purpler than it is today.  

 

It’s definitely time for a replacement.  Upon opening up the new wind chime, I noticed that some of the chimes were tangled, but thankfully they were easy to separate again.  There are also two extra hangers included with the wind chime.   The build quality is good and it looks pretty sturdy with the exception of the plastic ring on top.  While it won’t rust like the previous one did, I still wonder how much of a beating it will take with the 50MPH+ winds we can get here in Illinois.  

 

I like the bronze color, though this wind chime is available in silver as well.  Both models are reasonably priced at $19.99.  The design is sleek and the chimes sound great when there is a mild breeze outside.  Thankfully, I haven’t heard it in a violent wind storm (yet).


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Iserlohn Office Chair Caster Wheels

Thank you Iserlohn for sending us these office wheels to review!

I used to roller-blade quite often before having kids.  I still put on my Rollerblades every so often, but not as much as I used to.  I’m familiar with doing standard maintenance including rotating the wheels and greasing/replacing the bearings in them. There are many different kinds of wheels available and in varying degrees of firmness.  The softer wheels will give you a smoother ride, but will wear down faster.    Apparently, softer wheels are great on office chairs if you have wood, or another smooth floor surface.  I wish I had known about these before our wood floors got scratched up by the anti-scratch mats we bought for them. If we would have started off with these wheels, our ruined wood floor could have been avoided entirely!

Included in this $19.99 bundle are five orange or teal wheels with ABEC 7 bearings in them.  These are some pretty fast bearings! They make me want to roll down my driveway, or a big hill, or a long corridor if I worked in a stuffy office building.  If I did give into that temptation, I would no doubt lodge some gravel or sand into my wheels and ruin my wood floor some more!  

Installation was a breeze.  It took me less than a minute to pull off my old wheels and install the new ones.  The orange wheels are much brighter and are definitely more noticeable.  Black or gray would be more professional, but are not available from this vendor.  When going in a single direction the movement on these wheels is buttery smooth.  However, changing directions takes a little more effort with these wheels than the standard wide ones.  Vertically challenged people will be happy to know that these wheels will raise your chair an extra inch or so.

Despite the more effort needed to change directions, I’m still pleased with these wheels.  When we get our floors fixed and remove the throw rug covering the scuffs, we’ll be buying a couple more sets!


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Atown
How well do they roll on throw rugs or carpet tile?
Thursday, 30 March 2017 15:35
Cheryl Gress
They work good on the throw rugs in our office, like butter on the wood floors ... Read More
Thursday, 30 March 2017 17:28
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Miracles We Have Seen

Thank you HCI Books for sending us this book to review!

Miracles We Have Seen is a collection of short stories from doctors around the world retelling their most memorable experiences throughout their medical careers.  Since there are many authors, divvying up the royalties would be a pain and it’s nice to know that 100% of the profits are going to various charities nominated by the contributing physicians.  Not only are you guaranteed to read some touching stories, you’ll be helping various non-profits as well!

There are many inspiring stories as well as tragic tales told throughout this book. In each of the eighty plus short essays you’ll see the date(s) they occurred and they range from World War II to this decade.  It’s sad to read about the deaths of those who suffered from now curable ailments.  For example, one of the stories is about JFK’s prematurely born son, Patrick, who only lived a couple of days because of his underdeveloped lungs.  Thanks to modern medicine, premature babies have a much higher survival rate. There are several stories involving AIDS, detailing the historic lack of and modern progress towards drugs that keep HIV patients alive longer than a couple of years.

Though this book isn’t meant to be spiritual, there are a few stories that are nothing short of miraculous and the doctors are convinced that something out of this world happened to some the patients they have seen.  There’s a story about a boy who most likely caught a glimpse of heaven by the sheer look of awe on his face before peacefully passing away while holding onto his mother’s hand.  Another event was about a resuscitated toddler who was pulled out of the pool by a child not much older than he was. When asked why she went in the pool to get him despite not being able to swim, she responded by saying that a man in white told her to.    

Since many of the stories are only a couple of pages long, this is a great book to pick up and read throughout the day.  My oldest daughter starting reading this book before me and it didn’t take me long to surpass her.  The stories shared are definitely worth the price of admission at $9.99 digitally and only a couple of dollars more in paperback format.


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Iserlohn Garden Hose

Thank you Iserlohn for sending us this 50-foot expandable hose to review!

Last summer we had the pleasure of reviewing VicTsing’s garden hose nozzle and my kids helped in the reviewing process by washing our cars with it and getting sprayed down when it was hot outside.  While I didn’t have any issues with the nozzle in that review, my hose was definitely aging and leaking by the faucet, causing a reduction in water pressure.  A new hose was in order and now we got one to test out.  

hose

Since it’s not even spring and barely in the 50’s temperature wise, our testing options are limited.  I hooked up this flexible hose next to our deck and proceeded to spray liquid and solid forms of dog waste off of our deck.  The water leaking issue by the faucet was gone and the water pressure was strong enough to remove some of the stain from our deck that was painted only last year.  For what it’s worth it was chipping last year too and we plan on using a different brand next time.

I like the braided fabric that’s available in multiple colors including black, blue, green, and red.  No matter what color you choose, the handy carrying bag is blue.  I also like that they include twelve extra washers for when the current ones get worn out and cracked.  While not part of the Amazon package, I also received another VicTsing garden hose nozzle which sadly disintegrated upon use.  Fortunately, last year’s model is still working perfectly.

broken nozzle

The brass connectors seem sturdy, though the rubber sleeves underneath them slide out of place.  The shut off valve is nice and works as expected.  Before using the hose, it managed to get tangled a bit but untangling it wasn’t that bad.  I like how this hose doesn’t kink-up and stop the water flow like my old one did.

Overall, this is a nice $26 hose that I would recommend considering if you’re in the market for one.  I have reservations about recommending the VicTsing garden hose nozzle now though.  


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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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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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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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