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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

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100% Unofficial Fortnite Pro Guide

Thank you Quarto Group for sending us this book!

This is a book that teaches Fortnite players how to become a pro at the game. It teaches players the art of speed building, how to build a good base, the best strategies, and much more.

This book tells the readers about emotes. It shows what they look like, and when to use them. It also talks about a lot of epic things that happened in the history of Fortnite: Battle Royale. It will explain you many ways that you can bend the rules. It tells you that you can play the game however you want to play the game, so that you can have fun as well as everyone else who is playing with you.

The only problem with this book is that it is outdated. Fortnite is one of those games that changes or has something added or removed every few weeks, so that makes this book incorrect in some of the things that it says in it. When this book was made, it was season 7. As of this review, season 10 just came out. It is a little more up to date than the first book (the 100% Unofficial Fortnite Essential Guide), which was made in season 5. Other than that, the book is great.

I think that any Fortnite players that want to become a pro (probably all of them) should read this book. If they just want to become a master builder, then this book would help them. If they just want to know how to properly raid an enemy base, they are covered. This book covers stuff from battle tactics to just organizing your inventory. This book is very useful, but I still think that you should read the first book before reading this one, that the first one covers the basics, while this one contains more advanced things.


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5 Ways Gaming Can Affect Your Eyesight

You have likely played some type of game today on one of your many various digital devices.  From games like Angry Birds to Call of Duty, video gaming is a mainstream part of today’s culture.  

However, playing video games for extended amounts of time can cause physical damage to your body.  Your eye health, in particular, should be your main concern.  

Take a few moments to read through some of the most common ways in which excess gaming can affect your eyesight, and go forth with new knowledge. 

Problems focusing

Focusing on words you see on a piece of paper is much different than what your eyes go through when you play video games for hours.  Your eyes are used to focusing in on one depth and angle to read and write, but gaming requires much more from your vision.  

Gamer eyes are required to refocus on a dime, and long hours of play can really wear your eye muscles down.  You may experience problems focusing even after you turn the game off. It helps to limit your exposure. 

Issues with dry eyes 

Gamers tend to get tuned in to their chosen activity, and blinking becomes a bit of a distraction.  Hardcore gamers can go for quite some time without blinking their eyes.  

Though it may have seemed like a gift when you were young, allowing your eyes to dry out on a regular basis will likely cause vision problems in the future.  Remember to take the time to blink when you play games, and keep your most effective weapon on point.  

Eye irritation 

Eye irritation is a common effect of excess gaming.  Not blinking, constantly shifting your focus, and staring at the contrast of the screen for too long can really leave your eyes in a world of irritation.  

If you have kids who love gaming, it’s helpful to set a timer for breaks in screen time.  Every 20 minutes, make your kid take a break. Step away from the game, and go find something else to do for at least five minutes.  Taking a break will give your eyes time to rest, reducing your risk of inflammation and irritation.  

Computer Vision Syndrome

Using any digital device excessively can cause you to suffer a physical price.  You may experience pain in your neck and shoulders, headaches, and unusual fatigue after playing video games for a long period of time. 

Computer vision syndrome is not compartmentalized solely to the excess use of computers.  You may also experience these symptoms from gaming.  

There are some positive things

There are some positive aspects of gaming.  When done in moderation, gamers can really improve their eye’s abilities.  Gamers can see things quicker and more fine tuned than the average watcher. 

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Kingdom Heartbeats

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

Kingdom Heartbeats features ten electronically remixed tracks from the popular Kingdom Hearts franchise. This album has been produced by Roborob and features some excellent vocals in some of the tracks.

The album begins with a nearly two minute shorter version of the intro song: Simple and Clean. Though the original tracks fall under the electronic dance music category, these remixes kick it up a notch. Tension Rising from Kingdom Hearts II is the second song and the remix amplifies it but stays true to the original battle music. The 13th Struggle from Kingdom Hearts 2 has also been tweaked for this album and it too sounds true to form and is nicely done.

Most of the tracks are from Kingdom Hearts 2 and Sora’s Theme has not been neglected. You’ll find a longer and tweaked version on this album. I have no idea what the Japanese singers are saying in the song Passion, but it sounds great. The menu music Dearly Beloved is so beautiful and should have been left alone. Although the remix is good, I still prefer the original.

Kingdom Hearts 3 gets some representation with Face My Fears. After that opening song, the first game is re-visited with some enhanced theme music from Traverse Town. Kingdom Hearts 2 takes the spotlight again with the upbeat battle music, Sinister Sundown. The album concludes with a much faster and dubstep version of one of my favorite tracks, This Is Halloween. Although interesting, I still prefer the original version.

Fans of Kingdom Hearts and electronic dance/dubstep music should definitely check out Kingdom Heartbeats. This album is available digitally for $10 and can be yours in MP3, Flac, and other lossless formats. A limited-run physical edition will be available in September for $20. If MP3 format is good enough for you, it’s also available on Amazon for $8.99.


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The Best FIFA 20 Players

The top 10 or top 20 of anything can be a highly subjective rating. Even when the rating depends on goals scored or blocked, passes completed or assists made, there is still the simple matter of likability. Some players, no matter how good they may be technically, just aren’t popular because they’re a horses behind.

A perfect example of this is Megan Rapinoe. Although she led the U.S. Women’s Team to a championship in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, her extreme attitude turned a lot of people off. Even if you agreed with everything she said, the way she said it was too ugly for most people to put up with. She needs to be reminded that FIFA is not the League of War where the object is to utterly destroy the other side.


Fédération Internationale de Football Association


Voting is going on right now for the top spots and will continue until August 19, 2019, for the Best FIFA Men's and Women's Players and Coaches. The awards will be given out once all the votes have been tallied and the results published. If you’re looking for more information on the best FIFA 20 Players altogether you can follow the link for a complete rundown of them and their stats. Be aware though that the stats given are temporary at this point and still subject to change.

One of the great things about FIFA is its openness to both men and women players. In the United States, for instance, the NFL is only open to male players. While there are certainly females involved in the game, they’re relegated to the sidelines as cheerleaders. They’re pretty and lots of fun to look at, but they’re not in the game.

In FIFA, women are definitely in the game. Returning to our previous example of Megan Rapinoe, whatever you may think of her, good or bad, there is no arguing the fact that she is in the game. She’s not on the sidelines in any way, shape, or form. She is one of the best women players in the world and she and her team won the championship fair and square.

They didn’t show much sportsmanship in the process, but that’s a different story.


Paid To Play


The women’s teams get paid to play too. That is important to note. Leaving aside for the moment of how much they’re being paid compared to the men (an economic question best settled by the bean counters in the back room), they are being paid. Furthermore, they’re being paid enough to make their living at it. That means they can survive on their player’s salary without having to moonlight at another job. It’s not nearly as much as men are being paid, but again, that’s for the bean counters to worry about.

In many ways, it is similar to the bad guys in the VR game High Noon, where the men and women have an equal chance to be part of the ravening horde trying to overrun your town. If both men and women have an equal chance to be the hero or the villain, whether it’s in sports or in a video game, then you can safely say that equality has pretty much arrived.


Choosing The Top 20


Choosing the top 20 players in FIFA is an emotionally charged issue. Everyone has their personal favorites; scoring, kicking, dribbling, etc., notwithstanding. It all comes down to personality. The inspirational story of Eric Abidal is a case in point.

In 2011, he underwent surgery to get rid of a tumor on his liver. Just two months later he was out there on the pitch playing in the UEFA Champions League Final. Then a year later he underwent another surgery, this time a full liver transplant. A year later he was back out there with his team playing a full 90 minutes.

Regardless of anything else you might think about Abidal, you have to admire his raw courage, determination, and guts to face those kinds of odds and make a full come back anyway.


It’s Not All On The Pitch


Why are footballers so passionate about the game? It’s because FIFA is full of examples of personal strength and dignity in the face of monumental struggles and obstacles, not all of them out on the pitch.

The players showcase the best of human nature as well as the worst. They represent all of us in our constant, eternal struggle to be better than we are. What’s not to love about that?

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Games as a Tool to Improve Students Behavior

Ever since their invention, games have been seen as only a tool for entertainment. But, plenty of research and case studies have shown that games can be beneficial in many ways. Of course, the benefits will depend greatly on the game choice, as well as the time the person spends playing them. Even so, games can definitely lead to good things like good behavior, boosted critical thinking skills, etc.

In fact, this goes so far that there are currently scientifically proven advantages of playing games. According to research, games can increase memory capacity, provide pain relief, help dyslexic kids with reading, help limit trauma, etc.

That being said, it is about time that we all learn how to use games to our benefit. When it comes to students and behavior, here are the ways the good game can yield positive results.

1.  Students Can Learn While Playing

When a student plays teaching games, these games can help them understand the new concepts, learn new skills, and use their knowledge in practice. Games are a known way of boosting fresh knowledge, which is why they are so widely encouraged in the world of education.

Based on the choice of a game, students can learn quite a lot by playing. With the right approach and some quality educational games, teachers can create an interesting and inspiring teaching atmosphere. When you add some versatility to the study process, students are more likely to feel motivated to learn.

This is where games come really handy.

Games as a Tool to Improve Students Behavior

2.  Games Provide Learning Practice

Games aren’t an educational material on their own, but when combined with it, they provide an excellent opportunity to practice. When students are faced with a challenging new material to grasp, they can benefit a lot by some ‘mental exercise’. This is especially useful in cases where the students learn rules, structures, and vocabulary.

In such cases, the repetitive exercises in textbooks are simply not engaging enough. That’s where teachers have to include a new, fun element to boost the student’s motivation and therefore, behavior in the classroom.

3.  Games Help Students Learn New Skills

There are so many games nowadays, there’s no limit as to how much a student can learn by playing. Many skills can be developed with the help of games, such as creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, and even good sportsmanship. All this leads to a more developed individual with better behavior and learning habits.

For example, when a student plays guessing games, he’s boosting his critical thinking skill and his circumlocution improves while he has fun. Moreover, by allowing students to play games, teachers can literally watch their creativity and tweak the education to fit every individual student.

There are even games that help with the writing skills. Students will still order from Edu Birdie when they lack of time to write a paper, but with some good writing and vocabulary games, they can work on this skill, too.

4.  Games Help Students Boost Their Memory

Memory games are an excellent way to boost the memory skill. When combined with material that the student needs to master, these can give the student a positive look toward the process of learning. If learning is fun, the student will be more likely to engage in it.

Games as a Tool to Improve Students Behavior

There are plenty of games that boost the memory in students. Some of them are so fun, they stick into their memory for years. With the right game and material-playing combination, teachers can help students master structures and vocabulary much easier.

Moreover, some games feature stimuli that will aid the students in remembering vocabulary words, such as mimics, acting words out, using clues, calling out answers, etc. As you can see, there’s no limitation of the fun. As long as you can find different games to play, you can engage the students and boost their behavior toward learning.

5.  Games Grab the Attention of Players

The concept of playing a game is engaging and fun. To students who are stuck most of their days in a classroom and have to spend hours studying from books, this is the best break they can get. So, since games are actually beneficial in terms of mastering the material and building new skills, why not use them to boost the motivation, too?

Games are known to grab the attention of those who play them. If students are too tired or lazy to study from books and textbooks, they might enjoy being more active and having fun. Instead of the standardized classes and exams, an addition of some games can be truly refreshing.

Final Thoughts

The education has improved a lot in the past few decades. We’ve found new things to teach the youth, but also new ways to engage them and help them memorize. The burden the educational system puts on children is immense and, even though its goal is to prepare them for the future, it still has to be relieved from time to time. As it turns out, games are the way to do this.

Author’s Bio:

Joshua Robinson is a teacher with eleven years of teaching experience. As an educator, he has worked with children from the youngest age up to high school, constantly inviting new, modern ways into his classroom. Thankfully, he takes the time off to share his results and tricks with others.

 

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100% Unofficial Fortnite Essential Guide

Thank you The Quarto Group for sending us this book to review!

This book is a guide to Fortnite players who had just started playing the game. It provides lots of tips and tricks to help you survive a good amount of time in a match. If you don't already know, Fortnite is a Battle Royale game, so the tips that this book gives are very nice to know when you are being attacked by another player.

This book is very useful, but it is also very outdated. When this book was made, it was in season 5 of the game. As of this review, it is in season 10. That does matter a lot, because the creators of Fortnite have removed and added some weapons and features since then.

This book helps you decide what gaming platform you want to play Fortnite on, learn the controls, helps you decide if you want to play Battle Royale or Save the World mode, and so much more. It tells you what to do when you encounter another player, stumble into a build battle, and how to use your weapons and conserve your ammo. It tells you what building materials to use, their advantages and disadvantages, and also what every item and weapon can do. It provides a description of a weapon, how easy or hard it is to find, and where to find them. It also tells you how to build a base and how to invade other bases as well. It also describes each location and tells the reader how many players usually land at that location.

I think that this book is very useful and whenever I play Fortnite: Battle Royale I use these techniques and I use the hints and tips that it gives me. There is also another book like this one called the 100% Unofficial Fortnite Pro Guide. If you read this one and use it, then you should also read the Pro Guide.



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The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Volume 2 (N-Z)

Author: Brett Weiss
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Hardcover book
464 full-color pages
Over 375 games covered
MSRP: $49.99

Thank you Schiffer Publishing for sending us this book to review!

As I mentioned in my SNES Omnibus Volume 1 review, I was blessed to grow up as video games did, and played tons of Atari, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and got my Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in what was probably early high school. Based on the release date of Super Mario All-Stars as mentioned in this book, I believe it was 1993.

This book celebrates this generation of gaming by devoting one or two pages to each and every game in the SNES library. This volume covers every game in alphabetical order, starting with ‘Natsume Championship Wrestling’ and ending with ‘Zoop’. I highly recommend you check out Volume 1, as well as this one.

The first few pages include a foreword, where the technical specifications of the SNES are discussed, as well as a brief summary of the competitive landscape surrounding the system’s release. There is also a preface, where the author talks a bit about his love for the SNES, along with his rationale for making the SNES Omnibus series into two books, rather than one. The game compilation itself starts on page 12.

Each page is in full color, with the title, publisher, developer, game type, and release year all notated at the top. Under that is the box art, a picture of the cartridge, and a general description and summary of the game. If it’s particularly good or bad, you might find some commentary there, too. Sometimes they will compare the game with its Sega Genesis counterpart, if there was one. There are also screenshots, and some titles may have promotional art or a picture of an ad as well.

Other than the general overview, each page also includes a ‘Notable Quotable’, which is typically an excerpt from a review, sometimes modern and sometimes classic, or a comment from a famous YouTuber, game developer, or industry veteran. Some games also feature one or more ‘Insider Insight’, which is a story of how that game impacted one of the many contributors. There are eighty-seven people listed as contributors on pages 453-457. Having been recently honored by an entry in the Superstars of 2019 Walter Day Trading Card collection, it was really neat to see other Trading Card holders mentioned in the credits. There are also articles that go in-depth about the Super Game Boy, which is an accessory I treasured since I also loved playing Game Boy games on my TV, and Super Metroid, one of the greatest games of all time. There is also a bibliography.

Reading through this lovingly crafted archive, I was reminded both of the many great games that shaped my adolescence, and also the many that I remember looking at fondly but never having the chance to purchase for myself. I had a job in high school, so I worked for my games – but no kid can afford everything, so something always had to give. Thankfully, I often had great success scouring the used games at my old Blockbuster Video, which no doubt saved me a pretty penny in these early days before GameStop (as FuncoLand was the only used game store around).

A few notable games that I either own or owned, or borrowed from friends which are covered here include:

Pocky & Rocky (big garage sale win!)
Rampart (played at a friend's house as a kid)
Robotrek (love this game!)
Secret of Evermore (recent acquisition!)
Secret of Mana (one of the best games on SNES)
Shadowrun (borrowed from a friend - love this game!)
Soul Blazer (a friend of mine had this game when I was young. If anyone is willing to sell for a reasonable price, please let me know!)
Star Fox
Star Fox 2 (SNES Classic only)
Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting (I have so many wonderful memories of this game!)
Super Castlevania IV (SNES Classic/Wii VC)
Super Double Dragon (garage sale find)
Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts (I played this at a friend's house, and now own it on SNES Classic)
Super Mario All-Stars (my SNES came with this and I loved it!)
Super Mario Kart (I love all of the sequels, but this one never really worked for me)
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES Classic only)
Super Mario World (love this game! I got all 96 stars)
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (mind-blowingly good game!)
Super Metroid (one of the best games ever. Borrowed a friend's copy as a kid. I never owned a cart, but I own it now on SNES Classic and Wii VC)
Super 3-D Noah's Ark (Okay, I never played the SNES version, but we reviewed the Steam re-release!)
Super Punch Out!! (borrowed it from a friend as a kid, now own it on the SNES Classic)
Super R-Type (I remember playing this at a friend's house)
Super Scope 6 (never had one, played it once, but it looked really cool!)
Super Star Wars (played at a friend's house, and years later it was a garage sale find!)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (I never owned this, but have good memories playing with friends)
Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (garage sale find)
Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits (a friend gave me an unopened copy!)
Wing Commander: The Secret Missions (I played a friend's copy. Great game, but even better on PC!)

And, of course, the awesome Super Game Boy, which has a dedicated article about it.

As an aside, many, many games of that era would call themselves 'Super' if they were on the Super Nintendo. If you want proof, pages 228 through 312 all deal with games that start with 'Super'.

This book is an excellent retrospective, and reminded me of several games that I wanted to pick up when I was younger, but never had the chance, as well as some new ones I hadn’t heard of. I had no idea Paladin's Quest was a good game. I had no idea that the NBA Jam games were popular because they were good (I've never been a sports game person). I ended up getting some new-to-me SNES games recently, including Secret of Evermore, thanks to reading more about them in this book. I'm sure my wife is thrilled!

If you want to be tempted to hunt down old games, or simply long to read about more games from arguably the greatest video game console of all time, then you owe it to yourself to check out The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games Volume 2. If you are a collector, or simply love the SNES, then I highly recommend that you pick up this book and its companion volume. It may be pricey, but it’s worth every penny.


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Safety Tips For Parents With Gaming Kids

Gaming has certainly evolved over the last decade.  Kids don’t use their consoles solely for gaming anymore.  An extensive interconnected network of millions of gamers is available for playing any time of the day or night.  

You can talk, text, send emails, send pictures, watch streaming movies/television, play games, and more from the access granted through one gaming console.  This means that parents have a heightened sense of danger, and must pay closer attention to what their kids are doing.  

Make use of the parental controls

Get to know your child’s preferred console.  All modern gaming consoles come equipped with the option of parental controls.  

Dig into the specific options you have for your child’s platform, and set them to your liking.  Here is where you can place a password on purchases from the online game stores, and keep your kids from blowing money without permission. 

Stay interested in what your kid is doing on their console

You can’t maintain full control of your child’s gaming until you really know what it’s all about.  Educate yourself on the various gaming platforms available, and understand what each machine is capable of doing.  

Stay interested in your child’s gaming likes and dislikes.  It’s helpful to be able to connect with your kids on this level, especially if gaming is something they really enjoy.  

Set time boundaries for your gaming kids

You should never just let your kids play video games for twelve hours straight.  It’s not good for their body, and it’s definitely not good for their eyes.  

You can experience vision loss from extensive exposure to screen time.  Use the parental control settings and your own verbal reinforcement to limit your kid’s screen time.  Consider their age and maturity while calculating just how long they can play each day/week.  

Have a conversation about cyberbullying

Your first instinct is likely to teach your kids what to do if someone is bullying them, but it’s important to remember that your kid may be the bully.  Teach them that it’s bad form to verbally abuse their competitors, no matter the setting.  

Gamers can be pretty unforgiving, so keep an open line of communication when it comes to your child’s gaming connections.  Some kids may not be responsible enough to use a headset.  Others are mature enough to be trusted.  Gauge your child before granting them free access.  

Maintain control over game choices 

Play a game before ever allowing your child to play it.  This is the best way to monitor the content your kids are really being exposed to during gameplay.  Use your judgment after playing to decide whether or not your child is mature enough to play the game in question.  




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Unofficial Minecraft Life Hacks Lab for Kids: How to Stay Sharp, Have Fun, Avoid Bullies, and Be the Creative Ruler of Your Universe

Thank you Quarry Books for sending us a review copy!

Minecraft Life Hacks Lab for Kids is a book that teaches kids some things about communication skills, building self-confidence, and much more. It has some stuff to do and build in Minecraft, and some stuff to do in real life.

There are two chapters: Life Hacks: Acquiring Skills and Life Hacks: Applying Skills to Projects. Chapter one teaches children skills (hence the name) like emotional empathy, problem solving, and much more. Chapter two teaches children ways to use those skills. For example, you would make an animated movie in real life, as well as a short film in Minecraft.

This book has twenty-four labs (twelve in each chapter), which are things that you can do. In every chapter, there are 6 in game labs, and 6 labs to do in real life. Most of the things that you have to do in real life have something to do with what you do in-game. As an example, you had to draw a map of a house, and then building the house you drew in Minecraft. It made you build your character as well, and it had you fill it with positive messages to gain self-confidence. A lot of the things you do in Minecraft relate to the real world. It makes you build a farm, but the farm has to be the same style of farm that you can find in the real world. It also had you build a democracy, which was interesting. My favorite thing to do was building a roller coaster that described me. I put lots of work into it, and it turned out very well.

Overall, this book was fun to work on and I loved building some of the things, and then testing to see if they work, and then fixing them if they don't work correctly. The only thing it had wrong was the estimated time that it takes to build something. The book said it would take one to two hours to do something, but I was able to do it in ten to fifteen minutes. Other than that, the book is great and I think that lots of people who enjoy Minecraft should read it and use it as well.


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Wholesome Games That Can Be Enjoyed With Friends And Family

One of the most worrying things about being a gamer in 2019 is the deluge of stereotypes that the gamer community finds itself battling against. Let’s face it, video games (and the people who play them) are no stranger to controversy. From political outcry over violent games like Mortal Kombat and Duke Nukem to the frankly abysmal display of behavior in “Gamergate”, there’s a lot to reinforce the stereotype that so many gamers rail against. No matter how old, well educated and morally centered we may get, no matter how much we may read the Bible and try and lead lives that exemplify Christian values we can still find ourselves tarred with the “stereotypical gamer” brush. The popular image of an antisocial, basement dwelling and aggressively male teenager living out violent or misogynistic fantasies through their games is, tragically, one which still pervades in our popular culture today.

Wholesome Games That Can Be Enjoyed With Friends And Family

This is such a shame as many of us are far from this stereotype. We are nice, socially well adjusted, morally and spiritually sound people. Some of us may see gaming alone as a way to let off steam after a busy and stressful work day. But we also enjoy playing fun and wholesome games with friends and family.

With this in mind, we’re going to look at some fun and wholesome games that everyone in your family and friendship group can enjoy! We’re going to look at a wide range of games so that no matter what your hardware or personal preferences you’ll find something that you, your friends and your family will enjoy playing...

VR Games

What is Virtual Reality? It’s a technology that has fascinated us for decades, allowing software developers to create immersive digital worlds which users can just dive into. While VR lends itself naturally to gaming, it’s currently hard at work in a number of different industries facilitating employee training, creating safe combat simulations for the military and even transforming the way in which we shop. You could be forgiven for thinking that VR gaming is a solitary pursuit, but there are plenty of VR games you can play with friends and family for an experience that, while immersive can bring you together with the people closest to you...

VR Pictionary (Steam VR / Oculus Home)- A technologically advanced spin on a party game classic. It works in exactly the same way as the board game except with VR you can draw with much more artistic license using different brushes, a wide range of colors and even 3D effects. It can be used with Tilt Brush or Quill.

The Playroom VR (PS4)- If you own a Playstation VR set, the good news is that you already have a copy of The Playroom VR. It includes a fun array of mini VR party games which offer a combination of co-operative and competitive games. It’s a great way to get to know the capabilities of VR and enjoy it with special people.

Mass Exodus (XBox One)- A single VR player plays the role of a Seeker, an android tasked with the job of tracking down four rogue robots… That’s where the other players come in. Your friends will have fun confounding the seeker as it searches the factory floor for the mischievous bots.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (multiple platforms)- Ever wondered if you and your loved ones would be able to safely defuse a bomb together? Of course you have! Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a preposterously fun game that puts the VR player in a room with a ticking time bomb… And it’s up to the player’s friends to help them solve the puzzles to disarm it. Clear communication between players is the key to success, making it not just fun to play with friends and family but a potentially awesome team building tool for work or business colleagues.

AR Games

In the age of the cell phone, everybody’s a gamer! Even if you don’t have the time or cash to dedicate to serious hardware, as long as you have a smartphone you can play fun games with friends and family via AR or Augmented Reality. These combine digital elements with the world around you to create experiences that exist in the real world and the game world simultaneously. The Pokemon GO craze that swept the nation a while back was a great example of this. 

Today, of course, everyone’s in on the act. Although the Pokemon game is still as popular as ever, there are many other great AR games that can make for fun activities with friends and family. Jurassic World has its own AR game as does Ghostbusters and now Harry Potter is in on the act with Wizards Unite which encourages players to track down magical creatures in their neighborhood while also solving puzzles and expanding on the mythology of the beloved franchise.  

Don’t feel like tracking down ghosts, dinosaurs or nifflers in your apartment complex? How about raising a virtual pet with My Tamagotchi Forever. That’s right, the beloved cyber pet of the late ‘90s is back and cuter than ever. You can work with friends to keep your Tamagotchi happy and healthy or compare your virtual pets with others’.

Co-Op Games

I don’t know about you guys, but for me when it comes to family friendly co-op games, anything with Lego is a win. The licensed Lego games (starting with Lego Star Wars back in 2005 are just bursting at the seams with fun challenges and their own idiosyncratic charm. There are many, many franchises that have been given the Lego treatment from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to DC and Marvel Superheroes to Indiana Jones and, of course, more Star Wars games than you can wave a lightsaber at! They’re easy and intuitive to pick up yet hard to master. Your four year old can play them while your forty year old friends can really sink their teeth into some of the games’ meatier puzzles and collection challenges.

Speaking of cute, lovable things. We can’t have a conversation about couch co-op without mentioning LittleBigPlanet 3. Ostensibly a simple yet satisfying platform game, it takes on a whole new dimension when playing with friends and family. You can create and explore one another’s levels, download levels made by other users around the world and work together to navigate them. All with an infinitely endearing art style that people of all ages will love. 

If, however, you like this dynamic but would prefer to move it to a more familiar environment, look no further than Super Mario Maker 2 which was just released last month on the Nintendo Switch. You can design levels in the familiar multicolored mushroom-centric universe and watch your friends navigate them or download one of the millions of levels which have already been created by gamers all over the world. 

Competitive Games

As fun as it is playing collaboratively with your friends, your loved one or your spouse… let’s face it, sometimes you just want to prove who’s best. The trouble is that the majority of competitive games are off-puttingly violent for some or at the very least less than appropriate for younger members of the family.

The good news is that there are a great many competitive games that eschew violence for family friendly fun. Needless to say, Mario Kart is always a win! Even those who don’t usually enjoy racing games can’t deny the charm of racing adorable characters from the Mario-verse (or their own Mii characters) around on little buggies across a wide range of tracks taken from various eras of the wider Nintendo Universe. While ostensibly a fighting game Super Smash Bros. is a more family-friendly button basher which is also a cornucopia of Nintendo references and easter eggs which devotees of the Nintendo brand will get a huge kick out of. Ever wanted to see Ryu from Street Fighter mix it up with Sonic the Hedgehog and Pikachu?

Looking for something with the gameplay mechanics of a shoot ‘em up but without the violence so that kids can enjoy it? You should definitely get to know Splatoon. It offers all the fun of firing paint guns at your loved ones… Without the humongous dry cleaning bill.

Puzzle Games

What could be a better way to bind with friends and family than by pumping some neurons together? Puzzle games are a great way to keep your mind sharp, and there are many that you can enjoy with other players, too!

Fans of PC and PSOne classic Myst will get a huge kick out of The Witness on PS4 which similarly dunks you in a digital world and forces you to use your problem solving skills to navigate it. It’s definitely too big a challenge for just one brain.

Or if you like your gaming worlds more retro flavored you could do worse than check out Fez, a NES-era inspired puzzle platformer that the whole family can enjoy.

Who said that gaming had to be an unhealthy, unwholesome and antisocial activity? 

 

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What are the Best Games For Teenagers?

It’s little wonder than the average age of a gamer is 33. They were coming to age just as video games really began to take off, and once they were on the hook, it was unlikely that they were going to stop. After all, games have just continued to get better and better, and in many ways, they’re “better” for people than watching TV shows and movies, which are passive experiences. When it comes to gaming, they’re involved every step of the way. Studies have shown that gaming can also have a positive impact on teenagers, especially older teenagers, as it develops their cognitive abilities, and, despite what people think, their social skills too -- they’re rarely playing by themselves, after all.

If you’ve got a teenager of your own, or are indeed a teenager yourself, then take read below, where we outline some of the best types of games for this age bracket. 


All Things Sport

It’s true that children should be spending more time in the outdoors than they currently do. It seems like when we were younger, we were always outside -- but times have changed. Even though crime is lower than what it was in decades past (it’s practically at an all-time low), perception of crime has gone up. And that’s what counts to parents. So if teenagers aren’t able to go out and play sports with their friends anymore, then they should at least be able to play them at home (and also with their friends). Get your child the latest soccer, basketball, or NFL game, and you’ll be keeping your child interested in sport, and they’ll be more likely to play when they’re older.

On the Roads

Everyone says that being a teenager is all fun and games, but it’s really not. For starters, you’re not able to do anything by yourself. You’re under your parent’s control, and you can’t even drive (or if you can, you probably don’t have a set of wheels). If gaming is about feeding the imagination, then look at introducing your teenager to some driving games. There’s a lot of fun to be had by playing drift hunters, for example. They’ll love being in control of the vehicles that are available in the game, even if they’re not yet old enough to have one in real life. In fact, that might make the game even more enjoyable for them!

Hollywood Goodness

There’s nothing that captures the imagination like a trip to the cinema. You’re transported into a magical, Hollywood-sprinkled world, one that is hard to resist. If you see a movie that you love, then it can be a bit of a buzzkill to leave and return to everyday life, can’t it? In this day and age, though, the magic can just keep on coming. If a movie is at all magical, you can rest assured that there’s a game that’s based on the movie. There are Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man games and much more than you can play. The out and out best has to be Lego Star Wars, however. It’s just super fun for teenagers (and, come to think of it, the whole family). 

Raising their own Family

What better way to prepare teenagers for the trials and tribulations of adult life than by...letting them play a game where you look after a family, and there are zero consequences? OK, The Sims might not really be all that relevant when it comes to actual parenting responsibilities, but it is fun. And the positive sides of the games seem to go beyond just what’s enjoyable -- there’s an element of elevated thought processes that are involved in the game too. There aren’t too many games where you get to create your own world from scratch.

In the Warzone

There has been a lot of negative talk about the use of weapons in video games, and some of it is justified. Grand Theft Auto, for example, isn’t right for kids -- it paints a terrible picture of violence. But that doesn’t mean that anything with a gun is wrong. Take war games, for example. They’ve probably had a more positive impact on teenager’s understanding of violence than people give credit for. There’s a storyline and honor and respect for the military in these video games -- and these are things that some teenagers are lacking in. 

Conclusion

Virtually every game can be fun when you’re a teenager, but the ones above are the best. If you’ve got to buy a birthday present soon, try one of these! 



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Between Earth and Sky (Music from "Chrono Trigger")

Between Earth and Sky (Music from "Chrono Trigger")
By Julia Henderson
Published by: Materia Collective
Julia Henderson: Producer, Arranger, Lyricist, Vocals, Mix Engineer
Alejandro Hernández: Mastering Engineer
Lorenzo de Sequera: Album Art

Thank you Materia Collective for sending us this album on MP3 to review!

Chrono Trigger is one of those rare games that actually deserves all of the unbridled praise that it gets. It was also a capstone on the total domination by the 1990s Squaresoft during the Super Nintendo era of RPGs, and is an absolute classic still worth playing today. One of the many ways in which Chrono Trigger excelled was in its music.

It's funny; during this era, Nobuo Uematsu was king of the Final Fantasy music empire, and while he did contribute to Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, the majority of the truly memorable tracks came not from him, but from Yasunori Mitsuda's excellent compositions. It is from these that Julia Henderson takes her inspiration in the development of this album.

It is only six tracks, and just over twenty-three and a half minutes long. Thankfully, the price is quite reasonable at only $5 on Bandcamp; at that price, it's well worth it.

Memories of Green is music you hear early in the game and is a perfect song for the first track. It's the overworld song from 1000 A.D., which is where you start. It's also mellow and has a mysterious mood. Julia does a great job on the synthesizer and flute, but her voice, where she adds vocals to an otherwise instrumental piece, is remarkably good. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful, in an appropriate way. The other artists who join in, on the violin and clarinet, all come together to make a beautiful piece.

The next track is Battle with Magus, which has always been my favorite track in the game. The titular character is also one of my favorites. This one starts off slow and quickly ramps up into the heaviest song on this collection (and rightfully so). It's a lot of fun, and has no words but plenty of vocals to act as instruments in their own right. It is an excellent homage to an excellent song.

Corridors of Time is once again more mellow, with piano, and Julia's beautiful voice once again anchoring the song. It goes into a bit more later in the song, adding bass and guitar. It does a good job keeping the tone of the original in this arrangement.

After this is Schala's Theme, which is a critical song that sets the tone for a very important part of the game. Here, Julia once again sings along, this time with an oboe and violin. It's another beautiful song, and I enjoy it quite a bit.

Wings That Cross Time is the second-to-last song on this album, and probably the most thematically unique. Rather than being orchestral like most of the other tracks, it's played in a smooth jazz arrangement. It makes sense, as the song is much more melancholy in-game as well. Julia sings quite a bit, but with few actual words, instead relying on phonetic sounds that fit the moment of the song. I like it, but it probably departs from the source material the most of the songs in this album.

The final track, World Revolution, is frankly a must-include song in any Chrono Trigger sampler, and this most certainly does not disappoint. It is the final boss music and a glorious rendition at that. It is complete with heavy synthesizers, vocals, and a solid horn section to bring it home. And a flute is called upon when needed also. This song sticks quite closely to the source material for the first half, then lets you down gently as the song wraps up.

This short album does an excellent job of picking up arguably the six most important songs in all of Chrono Trigger and giving them the most lovingly inspired arrangements I could have imagined. I normally am not a fan of vocal arrangements in general, as I mostly prefer instrumental music, but they did as good of a job as anyone could have with these six songs. The production quality is also excellent; despite them being MP3s, I found the sound to be quite good. I imagine the FLACs available at Bandcamp would sound even better. I also love how each song flows, one into the next - while they can be enjoyed in a shuffle fashion, I would strongly discourage that; this is a short album, and should be listened to in one sitting, consecutively. And when you do, your love for one of the best games of all time may come rushing back to you.

Bravo, Julia Henderson. Bravo. If you love Chrono Trigger as I do, do yourself a favor and check out this fantastic album here.


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Can Undertaking Video Game Translation as You Play Add to the Gaming Experience?

Perfecting your translation and language skills needn't be a bore. With the right approach, it can even be fun! Video games offer a terrific opportunity to hone your proficiency in another tongue while taking part in some healthy competition. Additionally, there are so many genres to choose from and devices to use for gaming that nearly anyone can find something to capture their interest. When you find something that you enjoy, playing it in order to practise your second language will hardly seem like learning at all.

What Are the Advantages of Video Game Translation?

Aside from the obvious reason that improving your video game translation prowess will give you a competitive edge, there is another reason to take part in this enriching experience.

Both the gaming and translation industries are growing by leaps and bounds. The market for video games is expected to be worth around 90 billion dollars by 2020. Further, annual spending on professional translation services is expected to reach over 56 billion dollars by 2021. If you have ever considered a career in mobile and video game translation or even app translation, there has never been a better time than now.

Understanding Video Game Localization

Gaming provides an atmosphere of learning that is dynamic. When you are playing, you become immersed in what you are seeing and hearing. This hyperawareness of your surroundings within a game can help you learn localization skills quickly.

Games that are based in other cultures, for example, will incorporate regional landmarks, symbols, street signs, and other visual details that might typically be overlooked. Localization services work hard to make these as realistic as possible. These seemingly small inclusions taking place in the background offer an excellent opportunity to perfect your localization skills by taking note of them.

Additionally, many app localization professionals and game developers have created different versions of popular games to reach across global boundaries. Spotting these features can be a game in itself. Are you eagle-eyed enough to pick up on any differences between two different versions of the same game? This is particularly fun for unearthing the use of colloquialisms in different languages.

Gaming Is Motivating to Language Learners

Some people value competition more than others, but for some reason, nearly everyone enjoys the sense of satisfaction that moving up to the next level brings. This dopamine rush that seems to be a universal experience among gamers is one of the best learning tools at your disposable.

When you become involved in a game you are really interested in, you naturally want to understand what is happening so you can progress. This determination can potentially drive language learning faster than any other method. It's like being dropped off in a foreign country with nobody who speaks your language.

To survive, you need to develop skills and understanding quickly by learning some basic words and symbols. It is likely that you will instinctively gravitate to someone you can communicate with (even on the most rudimentary level) who will help you understand things better. This brings us to another essential part of the gaming experience: communication.

Basic Communication Will Make You a Better Translator

Communication is the fastest way to improve your translation skills in gaming and nowhere is this more obvious than in massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMO's). These games are dependent on communication with other players from all over the world.

What's more, players are so involved in trying to beat specific parameters that learning takes place super-fast. Communication happens in real time, so there are not a lot of opportunities to stop and think about what you want to say and how you should say it. Also, because of its anonymous nature, interacting in the virtual world removes a layer of self-consciousness in even the shyest and most introverted people.

Making mistakes in the chat box is no big deal, and the sense of camaraderie that develops among players is one of the most critical aspects of this type of gaming. The negotiations that take place offer a kind of shared experience that is unique to gaming. Not only does this make you a better gamer, but it helps you to meet people who will help you be a better translator. Your language skills will stay fresh, and you will probably learn a lot of the jargon and slang of your second tongue in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take.

Gaming and Language-learning: Conclusion

Gaming is one of the most efficient and enjoyable ways of immersing yourself in a new language. It offers the ability to fast-track your learning while giving you a broad overview of the nuances of a different culture.

If you intend to make translation a career choice, the opportunities available in app strip translation, app description translation, and mobile and video game translation are abundant. The entire virtual world is at your fingertips.

 

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The World Is Square

Thank you Scarlet Moon Productions for sending us this digital album to review!

The World Is Square began in 2003 and took over fifteen years to complete by Mustin who is best known as one of the founders of OneUp Studios/The OneUps. This album features classic Square Enix music from hit games like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV, VI, and VII. The eight tracks are given an electronic jazz twist and sound great. There is some creative license, but the songs are still very recognizable.

The songs range from three to over six minutes each. It takes a little over thirty-seven minutes to hear the whole album and I’m always looking for more when it’s finished. The calm and relaxing tracks would make excellent hold music; I certainly wouldn’t mind listening to it while waiting.

The first track is Fear of the Heaven from Secret of Mana. I have to confess that I have not played this game (yet), but the song, acoustic guitar, and vocals are good. Thankfully, I have played all of the Final Fantasy games represented on this album. Final Fantasy IV’s main theme is the second track. One of the most popular songs from Final Fantasy IV, Theme of Love, is the third song. The violin work on this track is exceptional.

Chrono Trigger fans will enjoy Forest Butterflies and From the Bottom. William Carlos Reyes provides the guitar playing for From the Bottom and does an excellent job. We’ve previously reviewed his album Guitar Collections Final Fantasy IV.

The remainder of this album features Final Fantasy tracks from VI and VII. The sixth track is Coin Song followed by Terra from Final Fantasy VI. The acoustic guitar sounds great in Terra’s theme. That final song, Serenity, is Final Fantasy VII’s main theme.

Final Fantasy fans should definitely pick up this soothing album. Even though I have yet to play Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger, I still enjoyed those songs. (Chrono Trigger is on my bucket list!) The album can be yours for $7 and is available in MP3, FLAC, and other formats. Physical CDs are available for $10.

 


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Total AV for gaming - Review

Are you an enthusiastic gamer? You most definitely understand the need to stay safe whenever you are playing a game online. The internet is free and a large village that has every type of person. Some are there to enjoy its connectivity and easy access to information, while others target victims to hack and steal their information. Whichever the case, you must ensure that you have a good antivirus to keep you safe whenever you are playing online.

For a good antivirus for gaming, you must consider if it has a gaming mode. In some cases, the game/gaming mode is when the antivirus can run smoothly even as you play your game. In other words, the antivirus should be able to run without lagging your computer as you play.

TotalAV is one of the best antivirus programs that you can use for gaming. With this antivirus, you can play a heavy game as it continues to keep you safe. But that’s not all; here is why you should use TotalAV for gaming.

  • Accurate Virus Detection

How would you feel if you were sure that the antivirus you have on your computer could alert you of any possible threats? It would be a great experience because you will not have to worry about having any possible malware or virus on your computer. If there is any virus that has gotten into your PC, TotalAV will detect it in a matter of seconds.

It will also find any affected file and quarantine or delete it accordingly. Nonetheless, this can take some time to finish based on the complexity of the virus. The best part is that it will scan for any malware whenever you visit a website. So if the game redirects you to their official website, you’re still good to go. If you are overly suspicious of any website, you can use the security tools to scan those websites or check for any suspicious links that are sent in your game’s chat room.

  • Total Protection

It is one thing to detect malicious links and infected files and another to offer protection to your computer. Luckily, TotalAV offers both. You can enjoy the remote firewall that protects you from any possible incoming attack. Plus, you can control the firewall settings of your computer remotely with this antivirus. This way, you can be confident that you will remain safe even when you are away from your computer. In case you try to download any risky file or malware from the chat room or any game website, the firewall will always notify you in advance.

  • Optimizes The Comp To Run Smoothly

Any game lover would tell you how much it sucks to have your computer lagging whenever you are playing a game. In most cases, it could be that you are playing the game on a computer with limited requirements. But if the comp has all the requirements, but it is still lagging, then there might be a virus slowing it down. Nonetheless, the computer can naturally slow down after using it for a long time.

If you look at a detailed TotalAV review, you will see that the antivirus also comes with a disk cleaner. This feature will scan all the folders on your computer. The antivirus will usually try to find duplicates, junk files, as well as the unnecessary data that is filling up your hard drive. All these files will make your computer full for no reason. As a result, it will slow down the entire system including your game.

But TotalAV will try to create more space for new files and also boost the computer speed. So yes, this antivirus can help to boost the speed of your game too.

  • Stay Anonymous Online

No regular internet user will want to be noticed when they are browsing online. This is the same as the gamers that play online. If you are in the chat room, you don’t want other gamers there to know about your location.

Well, you can count yourself lucky because TotalAV will keep you anonymous. It is one of the few antivirus programs that come with a VPN. You can enjoy your online game as you remain anonymous. Plus, this helps to prevent other people from stealing your data as you play online. Some games might need you to purchase chips and supplies with real money. The antivirus will keep you safe as you make these transactions.

With the VPN feature, your IP address will be kept safe, and your browsing data will not be saved.

If there is any game that has geo-restrictions, you can break-free with the VPN on this antivirus.

  • Privacy Tools Onboard

There’s more to enjoy from this antivirus. Besides the scanner and VPN, you also enjoy three incredible tools that will defend you against all the common threats online. For instance, there is the Adblocker extension, Safe Site, and Password Manager.

Adblocker will do the obvious to block the multiple ads that pop up on most game websites. The Safe Site is a tool that will alert you even before you open any new URL, while the password manager helps you keep track of every password. This means that it will not save the password on the browser but the secure antivirus.

  • User-Friendly

If you are new to this antivirus, you won’t have to worry about how you are going to work with it. The interface is quite friendly. Plus, you can learn more about how to protect yourself as you play online. For example, there is the Antivirus Pro and Ultimate Antivirus that come with an Antivirus eBook. This eBook entails detailed tips on how to protect yourself as you game online.

A handy guide is there to help you know how to use the antivirus and get the most of it. The guide is also quite easy to understand.

Even with a good antivirus, you still need to follow the right tips on how to stay safe when playing online games. Don’t just be careless because you have a reliable antivirus at your disposal. Plus, always avoid that are known to contain too many ads. Such games are risky to play on your comp.

 

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How to Bypass IP Bans When Gaming

Today, most service providers and website owners do their best to protect their customers.

This is usually done by monitoring their networks and blocking any abuses when flagged or reported by other users. Whenever an abuse is detected, they may either choose to block the contravening user’s account or they might put a full-on ban on that user’s IP address.

Obviously, the best way to avoid having your IP address banned is to simply read and follow the service providers rules and regulations.

But fortunately, if you find yourself having been banned for whatever reason, there are a few stealthy workarounds that you can employ to regain access to the service.

In essence, since your IP address has been blocked, you’re going to need to change your IP address. This can be done in a number of ways, such as using a proxy server or a service such as ExpressVPN. But we’ll get to a bit further on in this article.

For now, let’s start out by explaining a little bit more about IP bans.

What Are IP Bans?

To define an IP ban, it is a block created by a server, which will reject any requests made by a specific IP address or range of IP addresses. IP bans can either be implemented manually by a server’s admin, or they can be put in place automatically when a pattern of abuse has been red flagged by the server itself.

There are many reasons that IP bans are put in place. But most of the time, they are implemented to help protect the server and its users from brute force attacks, to limit network usage, or even to block unknown spam emailers.

IP bans allow a network server to block certain IP addresses from being able to access a website, chat forum, game server, or any other type of online destination.

How to Bypass IP Bans

As we’ve mentioned, the best way to avoid an IP ban is to abide by the service provider’s terms and conditions. So, if you’ve had your IP banned, chances are that you’ve gone and contravened against their rules.

However, there are some situations when you might want to or need to regain access after being banned. Below, we’ll explain some of the most common methods for this.

Changing Your IP Address

To regain access after having been banned, you’re going to need to change your IP address to one that hasn’t been blocked by the server’s administrators.

To do this, you can try to renew your IP with your current internet service provider by speaking with them. However, they may or may not end up assigning you a new one and might simply renew the one that you’ve been using.

If that doesn’t work, depending on your setup, you might be able to change your IP address by resetting your hardware device (router) or your computer’s IP address.

Aside from that, the only other way to change your IP address is to use someone else’s instead. Below, we’ll take a look at the three easiest ways to go about doing that. 

Proxy Servers

Proxy servers are basically computers that sit somewhere between your computer and the internet and provide you with an indirect way to access a client’s network.

Essentially, when you access a proxy server, you’ll be able to access the world wide web by using the server’s IP address instead of your own.

So, when you try to access a gaming server or any other type of online content that your IP address has been banned from, the proxy will intercept the request and provide a response to the client you’re trying to reach before forwarding your request to its final destination.

Virtual Private Network

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a type of networking technology, which extends its private network (similar to a LAN network) across the world’s biggest public network, otherwise known as the internet.

In other words, using a VPN allows your computer to safely connect to the internet, almost as if it was physically wired to it. At the same time, by using a VPN, you’ll have the option to choose the server with which you would like to connect.

This means that, when accessing the internet, it will appear as if your IP address is actually the IP address of the servers that you’ve chosen to connect to. Essentially, this can trick gaming servers and they won’t be able to see your true IP address, which has been put on their blacklist.

The TOR Server

TOR is a free-to-use software application, which allows internet users to browse and communicate anonymously while connected to the world wide web.

The name TOR is short for The Onion Router. This refers to onion routing, which is when the data being sent from a computer or device is encrypted and then routed through multiple nodes or relays located around the world.

TOR has more than 6,000 relays that your activity can be routed through, making it practically impossible for anyone to view where your IP address is actually located.

In other words, if your IP address has been banned from your favorite gaming server, using TOR can help you hide your IP and get around the block.

 

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MENU: An Homage to Game Title Themes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Music Box Classics: Mario

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

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

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

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

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


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2019 Gaming Calendars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dark Souls 2: When Less is More

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Most modern games seem to put a huge emphasis on amazing, jaw-dropping graphics, intensely fun gameplay, and a riveting storyline that may very well rival the stories written by our friends in Hollywood. These components are often deemed to be the recipe for a great game.

And well, the formula hasn’t led any games astray. If you think of it, most of the greatest games of all time have two of these three things sorted out. So, it would seem to be the highest degree of tomfoolery if one were to create a game without at least trying to get all three right. In fact, most games strive to get these three things done.

Then there’s Dark Souls 2.

It’s a game that isn’t exactly impressive when it comes to today’s standards. The gameplay isn’t that refined as some of the more popular titles, and the storyline? It’s barely even there.

And yet, I’d proudly say that it’s an amazing game and it’s definitely unique. Why do I say so despite having just said that it has none of the things that makes a video great? Well, it’s really just one word -- experience.

That’s right. This second installment in the masterpiece series from From Software is a great game because of the experience it thrusts gamers into. On the title screen, you’re greeted (or not greeted, rather) by something strange -- there’s no difficulty setting. Not only that, but the beginning of the game already makes you feel that you’re playing on hard mode.

And while this may discourage most casual gamers, those who brave the cruel, unforgiving world of the Dark Souls universe are in for a treat.

In all honesty, even the early enemies you face will kill you if you aren’t skilled enough of a player. There are so many traps, some even posing as chests when they’re in fact mimics that cause instant death to beginners and even those who’ve been playing the game for at least 10 hours. The bosses are not only resistant to the damage you deal, but they also hit like trucks, often killing even high-level players with just two blows.

And the terrain, don’t get me started on the perilous terrain. There are so many areas in the game that make it feel like a horrible copy of a platform game, and well, of course, you die if you fall off.

But that’s not all. The controls are wonky and the honestly feel a little robotic at times. Also, the PVP matchmaking is unbalanced.

But all of these make for a unique experience. And because it’s such a unique experience, this video game is a great game.

Most games will make you feel powerful, they will hold your hand and they will praise you as you play the game.

This game, and the other titles in this series? They will mock you with each death by stating the obvious. Red text appears on the screen saying “You died”. It even tracks the number of times you die in the game as if to add insult to digital injury. It forces you to learn, to adapt, and to overcome.

This game is notorious in the sense that it’s greatly contributed to the spike in the search for services like “game console repair near Detroit, MI” where many controllers and consoles have been destroyed out of frustration from the game.

BUT.

This game is great because it teaches you something most games don’t -- true hard work. The strength to accept that things are going to be difficult, and at times the odds may even seem impossible. Sometimes you may fight as hard as you can and still fall short by one swing of your sword.

And the experience of being able to surmount difficult and nigh impossible odds is one that keeps players coming back to this game. You may even say that this game is a rite of passage of sorts between boys and men in the gaming community.

 

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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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