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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

2016 Christmas Buying Guide

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most family friendly games we have reviewed in 2016. More reviews can be found on ChristCenteredGamer.com! Each game is given a gameplay score for the overall gaming experience and a moral score for how suitable it is for younger gamers. The Amazon and Humble Store links will benefit Christ Centered Gamer by giving us a small % of the sale.

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

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

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

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

Development of Counter Strike: Global Offensive

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

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

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

Game Modes

The game features five different modes namely:

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

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

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

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

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

Game Tournaments

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

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

Conclusion

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

*Disclaimer - this is a sponsored post*

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Your Brain On Video Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Power Rangers Megaforce: The Complete Season

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Python Crash Course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gifted Custom Art

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fruit-Full Kids

 

Thank you Fruit-Full Kids for sending us a Golden Rule plate to review!

Fruit-Full Kids began unexpectedly when a mother offered a kindness award for her kids to get along after a day of bickering.  She didn’t expect her offer to make a difference, but God had other plans! When her children behaved the rest of the day, Laurie Canata, gave one of her kids a different plate than the others.  Following that day her kids were excited to see who would get the special plate.   And thus the idea for unique Christian/Bible verse themed plates was born!

At the time of this article there are sixteen different plates to choose from and they sell for $6.95 individually or $19.95 for a set of three.  There are plates for several fruits of the spirit including love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Biblical principles like the Golden Rule (Matt 7:12), being a Fruitful Follower (Mark 12:30), and a Gracious Giver (2 Cor 9:7) are also available in plate-form.  Last but not least are holiday themes plates with Christmas (Luke 2:11 & Luke 2:14), Thanksgiving (Ps 136:1), and birthday (Ps 139:13-14) plates available.  

The dishes themselves are high quality with colorful and attractive artwork on them.  They are made from non-toxic BPA free melamine.  The plates measure nine inches in diameter and are dishwasher safe.  My biggest complaint is that they are not recommended for microwave use.  Given that my kids often need to re-heat leftovers, they don’t get as much use out of these dishes as I would like. However, in the past couple of weeks that we have been using the plate, it has held up fine and the design is not scratching or fading away.     

If you’re looking for a fun way to bless and teach your kids God’s word, then check out the wide variety of plates sold at the Fruit-Full Kids website and several retail locations.  Shipping charges apply on the website and Amazon.com.  These plates make great gifts and bless people in many ways as ten percent of the proceeds goes toward the fruit tree program through Samaritan’s Purse.  

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ZORP (Zombie Oblivion Response pack)

 

ZORP (Zombie Oblivion Response pack)
Developed by: Carl Sommer
Price: $35

Thank you Wonky Rhino Games for sending us a review prototype!

ZORP is a table top strategy game that utilizes fun weapons like flame throwers, grenades, cars, and bazookas against hordes of zombies that are blocking the way to a cure.  Up to four players can play and there are only nine turns for the humans to make it to the limited number of cures available.  One player controls the zombie hordes while the rest focus on clearing a path to the coveted cure.  

Each turn has two movement phases and one action phase and they can be taken in any order.  After all of the humans take their turn, the zombie master gets to move all of the zombies and play an event card if applicable.  The possible zombie events include super zombies, explosive zombies, zombies armed with slingshots, and resurrecting zombies.  

Humans have events of their own including the chance to mow zombies down with a car, throw a grenade, wear faster shoes for increased movement, gain an extra turn via a distraction or recruiting the help of a rescued human.  There’s a wide variety of weapons available at their disposal including bazookas, shotguns, flamethrowers, and pistols.  Each weapon does different damage amounts and has a unique firing radius.  Intentional or not, humans can be hurt by them as well.  In our play-through, my daughter shot me to slow me down and ensure her victory of reaching the cure first.  If nobody makes it to the cure in nine turns, the zombie master is declared the winner.

All of my kids enjoyed playing the prototype of this board game.  Because of the guns and possibility of leaving piles of zombie parts behind, this game is rated 12+.  I can’t comment on the final build quality, but the artwork of our review sample is nicely done.  If you’re looking for a fun and unique kind of board game, then ZORP is worth checking out on Kickstarter.

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My Many Sons

Thank you Well Go USA Entertainment for sending us this DVD to review!

My Many Sons tells the true story of Don Meyer (played by Judge Reinhold), the “winningest coach that nobody knew.”  In 2009 Don Meyer passed Bobby Knight’s NCAA winning record and held it until 2012.  Coach Meyer’s dedication and work ethic helped put Lipscomb University on the map and because of him, they were able to move up to division one basketball.  Despite the university offering to double his salary, coach Meyer refused to coach division one basketball since he was investing more into the students than basketball skills.  

Besides teaching the students valuable basketball maneuvers, he taught them to be accountable, respectable and to clean up after themselves and to pick up litter.  Like many coaches, Don threw verbal taunts like calling them numb nuts. No other foul language was used in this film though.  On a few occasions he got physical with them and had to apologize for his actions.  He was not an easy man to get along with and was known for culling the weak links from his team relatively quickly.  After his first month at Northern University in South Dakota, Don only had seven players left on his team!  

Though his team didn’t lose very often, they found out that coach Meyer took to their losses pretty well. He didn’t rub it in any further since they did a pretty good enough of a job to themselves.  Don promised to be there for his students when things got rough and he kept his promise.  During his near fatal car accident, his students return the favor and visited while he was recuperating in the hospital for nearly two months.  When he was released, he showed up at work the next morning! 

While not perfect by any means, Don Meyer was a faithful and self-less man that wasn’t shy about his faith and work ethic.  He has touched the lives of many and his story is a good one that’s worth seeing.  Even though I’m not into basketball, I enjoyed this sports-themed movie that tells a great story of perseverance.  This ninety-eight minute film can be yours for less than $12 on Amazon.

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Magic Sketch

Thank you Magic Sketch for sending us a review sample!

My kids love to draw and go through a lot of construction paper and scurry off with all the pens in our house.  Of course they like video games too and primarily use their tablets to play them.   The problem with tablets is that they don’t last too long before needing to be recharged again.  The Magic Sketch is a durable tablet like device that allows kids to draw, trace, and play games in beautiful rainbow colors.  There’s only one button on it and it’s used to clear the screen.  The battery life is estimated to last seven years and is easily accessible and replaceable.

There’s plenty to do with the basic bundle that includes sixty stencils, four styluses, three stamps, and one roller.   The website says it’s $29.95, but after you factor in the $7.95 processing and handling fees, the final total is $37.90.  For all that you get it’s a pretty good deal.

 

The stencils have three different focus areas including learning, drawing, and games.  The learning stencils include math problems and letters of the alphabet to practice on.  The drawing stencils have step by step drawing, complete the picture, and tracing templates.  The favorite among my kids are the game stencils.  The game cards include mazes, word finds, connect the dots, tic tac toe and hang-man templates.  The stencils are easy to use and slide in and out of the top layer of the Magic Sketch.

Even without the stencils there is still plenty to do on the Magic Sketch.  In fact, my kids spent most of the time drawing freehand and using the stamps, styluses, and roller that came with it.  I was honestly surprised at how much use the MagicSketch got given that my kids are getting older and two of them are in middle school.  My soon to be twelve-year-old played with it the most.  

The Magic Sketch is a great device that is bound to entertain kids of all ages for extended periods of time.  We’ll be sure to bring it on any upcoming extended car rides.  The reasonable price makes this an affordable gift that’s sure to please!

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In-Lawfully Yours

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us a DVD to review!

In-Lawfully Yours is a Christian themed romantic comedy that stars and is produced by Corbin Bernsen.  Not only does it have a unique love story, there’s a positive message about God’s love and redemption.  This is another Christian movie that pleasantly surprised us with some funny moments and a good story.

Upon receiving the news of her father-in-law’s illness, Jesse went to inform her husband, Charlie.   Once she tracked him down, she caught him in the arms of another woman.  Divorce paperwork and the death of his father soon followed.  Charlie’s mother, Naomi, takes the loss pretty hard as she lost her daughter six years prior.  Packing up and moving out of her mostly empty house is not something she’s looking forward to, but her son is pushing her so she can move in with him.  Prepping to leave this small town behind she starts packing her things with Jesse’s help.

Jesse is from New York and is not familiar with how quickly rumors spread around small towns.   Besides the humorous and unwelcome treatment she gets at the only restaurant in town, Jesse is also treated rudely when visiting the local church for the first time in her life.  She has many faith questions and learns the hard way that it’s not proper to interrupt the pastor during his sermon to ask them.  The pastor, Ben, is her widowed ex-brother in-law who still wears his wedding ring. 

At first the relationship between Ben and Jesse is awkward, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that it has some potential.  However, before things get too serious Charlie comes back into town stating that he wants to fix his marriage.  Is Charlie truly changed, jealous, or is he up to no good?  To find out Charlie’s true intentions and the future of Ben and Jesse’s relationship, I recommend watching In-Lawfully Yours which can be yours for less than $15 on Amazon.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Pup Star

Thank you Air Bud Entertainment for sending us a screener link!

Reality singing shows like American Idol and The Voice are enjoyed by many humans.  With the help of Evolution treats, dogs have gained the ability to talk, sing, and enjoy competing in their own singing show titled Pup Star.  The contestants must sing original songs and are judged by canine judges with similar names and personalities of their human counterparts.  The judges’ names are Blake Sheltie, Dog Gnarly, Lady Paw Paw, and Simon Growl.  There’s plenty of silliness in this tale of love, revenge, and perseverance.

Tiny is a Yorkie who loves her owner, Lou.  Sadly, Lou lost her mother recently.  Lou and Tiny sing together and encourage each other to follow their dreams.  Tiny competes in Chicago’s audition’s for Pup Star and gets the golden bone and a chance to compete in the finals that take place in New York City.  Lou has to get her father’s permission to take her there though.  Sadly, the trip planning gets postponed due to Lou running into a truck and breaking her arm and Tiny getting dognapped by Roland, the greedy owner of Happy Ranch kennel.  

In the kennel Tiny learns that Roland only releases dogs that have a reward on them and that if they’re not claimed within a year they’ll be put down.  A dog named Charlie is nearing his execution date but has an escape plan and begrudgingly takes Tiny along with him.  As Tiny and Charlie travel to New Orleans, New Jersey, and New York they learn about love, friendship, and infusing their experiences into the songs that they sing.

Charlie has a bone to pick with the current Pup Star champion, Bark, and wants to pay him back for stealing his music without giving him proper credit for it.  Along the way Tiny gets to meet Charlie’s love interest and her personal idol, Emily Rose.  With all of the help and support of friends Tiny has what it takes to dethrone Bark, but needs to get past Kano the bounty hunter that’s after her.  I’ll leave the rest of the movie a surprise as it’s worth checking out.

The music is cute and has many different styles ranging from country, rap (performed by Juicy J), to rock and roll.  The lip syncing/special effects are well done and the dogs do a nice job of dancing while performing.  

While Pup Star is family friendly, it’s worth noting that there are references to Hinduism, Buddhism, and one of the dogs has homosexual characteristics though it's not expounded upon. With that being said, there’s a far more positive message about rescuing dogs and loving them unconditionally.  

Currently Pup Star is available on FandangoNow and we highly recommend checking it out!  We double dog dare you!

 

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Peter: The Redemption

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this DVD to review!

Many of us have lied or made mistakes before.  Fortunately for us, our misdeeds are not recorded in the Bible.  Luke 22:54-62 recounts Peter denying that he knew Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted.  After Jesus’ resurrection He restores Peter by having Him affirm him three times in John 21:15-19.  The movie Peter: The Redemption depicts Peter living his final months in a Roman jail and refusing to confess to burning down the city under Nero’s rule.  Despite being given several opportunities to recant his faith, Peter holds firm and refuses to deny Jesus any more in his lifetime.  Unfortunately, several other Christians are persecuted and tortured as a result.

There are many bloody and uncomfortable scenes as Christians are seen getting beaten and bloodied.  For this reason, younger children should probably refrain from seeing this film.  Fortunately, the scenes with them being set on fire are not shown, but the screams of torture still hit home.  Many popular actors are in this ninety-minute film including John Rhys-Davies as Peter and Stephen Baldwin as Nero.  

Besides the story of Peter’s strong faith, there is a budding romance between a dedicated Roman soldier named Martinian and a palace servant, Suzanna, who is tending to Peter’s many wounds.  Suzanna is a Christian and is treading on thin ice as Nero detests Christians and enjoys using them as torches to illuminate his garden.  To make matters worse Nero takes a liking to her and his wife is extremely jealous.

I won’t spoil this movie, but unlike many Christian films out there, Peter The Redemption tells a good story about faith, love, forgiveness, and perseverance.   Not all of the believers keep their faith as some of the prisoners recant to regain their freedom.  However, others die for their faith and those strong Christians inspire unlikely individuals to become saved and get baptized in Jesus’ name.   

For less than $10 for the DVD, Peter: The Redemption is worth picking up.  Though there doesn’t seem to be a Blu-ray version available, the visual quality is surprisingly good for a DVD.  My husband and I were pleasantly surprised with the overall quality of this film and highly recommend it to believers and non-believers alike.

 


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Last Days In The Desert

Thank you Broadgreen for sending us this DVD to review!

The fourth chapter in the book of Matthew mentions Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted and fasting for forty days and nights.  The Bible tells about three of the temptations, but the movie Last Days In The Desert uses some artistic license to add many more.    The beginning of this hour and thirty-eight minute movie is a bit slow starting as it shows the “Holy man” as He’s referred to wandering aimlessly in the desert.  You’ll see Him sleeping and hear Him praying for guidance to His Heavenly Father and even laughing at the wind blowing sticks around.  Later on in the film He laughs at a fart too.

While He’s never called Jesus, Satan who is also played by Ewan McGregor (He's Jesus too) refers to Him as Yeshua.   Satan takes on many forms, but is most often identical in appearance to Jesus.  One of the forms Satan takes on is that of a topless woman whose hair covers the otherwise  would be seen nipples.  

During Jesus’ fasting in the desert He happens upon a nomad family that is struggling emotionally.  Their mother is deathly ill while the adolescent son and father barely communicate and cannot relate to one another.  The father is a skilled carpenter and wishes for his son to live in the desert with him, but the son longs to set his own destiny in Jerusalem.  The mother wishes for him to fulfill his dreams as well, but the family cannot afford an apprenticeship for him.  

Satan offers a wager to Jesus to fix this family and even tells Him of their future had Jesus not crossed paths with them.  I found it odd that Satan could see the future, but Jesus couldn’t in this film.  Jesus was able to foresee many events including His own death (Matt 26:2), betrayal (Matt 26:21), resurrection (Matt 16:21), coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), and even the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:43-44).  Even though Jesus is perceived as weak (despite eating) and doubting of His abilities, there is a decent story about humanity, family, and relationships in this film.  Just don’t expect much Biblical content because much of it goes against God’s word.   

 


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C.S. Lewis The Most Reluctant Convert

Thank you Allied Integrated Marketing for providing us with two tickets to the show!

C.S. Lewis is a well-known author who has penned many great Christian themed works including The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and plenty more that I have yet to read!  Though he grew up in a Christian household, he did renounce his faith and defended atheism for a while.  The play C.S. Lewis The Most Reluctant Convert is based off of his letters and autobiography, Surprised by Joy.  Max McLean’s performance and retelling of C.S. Lewis’ early life is absolutely brilliant and worth seeing if there’s a performance near you!

The play has a slideshow in the background that would animate and bring forward portraits of people in C.S. Lewis’s life as they were mentioned.  Unfortunately for us, there was a technical malfunction that caused an unplanned intermission and the play was resumed with a still image for the remainder of the performance.  Some of the people talked about were C.S. Lewis’ father, his mentor William T. Kirkpatrick, and his theist friends (Owen Bartfield, J. R. R. Tolkien, Hugo Dyson) that made him question his materialist views.

It was fun seeing C.S. Lewis’ transforming views going from believing that there was no God behind the universe, and if there was it would be an evil God, to acknowledging that the hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men.  Of course C.S. Lewis didn’t dive fully into Christianity, he took many baby steps and slowly gave God the reverence and respect that He deserves.  At first he would only refer to God as “Spirit” stating that He had to earn his title of God.  His prayer life had to grow as well as he first thought prayer was the equivalent of sending letters to a nonexistent address.  

Since this play ends at C.S Lewis’ conversion it begs the question of the possibility of a sequel.  I personally would look forward to it or any other productions from Fellowship For Performing Arts.

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Joseph and Mary

Thank you BH Impact for sending us this DVD to review!

Most Christians are familiar with Mary’s role in submitting to God’s will and bringing our savior into this world.  She agreed to carry the Lord’s child knowing that her future marriage and life would be endangered as a result.   Because of a dream Joseph received from the Lord, he knew that her pregnancy was indeed a miracle and continued the engagement knowing that his reputation would suffer as a result.  The movie Joseph and Mary doesn’t focus on the angelic visit and begins with Joseph (Kevin Sorbo) crafting a wooden cradle for their future baby.  

While the Bible doesn’t specify the ages of Mary and Joseph, I’m willing to bet that they were much younger than the actors used to play their roles in this film.  I’m also willing to wager that they were not Caucasian either.   The miscasting continues in the temple scene with Simeon and Anna. Their actors are much too young for their roles.  Both of them were promised to see the Messiah before they died and Anna was in her eighties when she saw baby Jesus.

The acting is still decent regardless of their ages and the main story of the revenge seeking rabbi, Elijah, is pretty good.  King Herod’s taxes are causing an uproar and people who resist paying taxes are made examples of.  Rebekah’s husband, Aaron, is killed in front of her despite Elijah’s attempts of appeasing the tax collector.  The husband’s dying wish is that Elijah takes care of his wife and he does so.  Her oldest son grows fond of Elijah and they become a family.  That is until Herod demands the deaths of young male children.  Rebekah vows vengeance on the soldier that carried out Herod’s orders on her family and she pressures Elijah into killing him on her behalf.

Elijah refers to the Deuteronomy 19 verse 21 which states a life for a life and an eye for an eye for agreeing to kill this legionnaire.  Joseph is trying to convince Elijah to forgive the man and have compassion on him instead.  As Jesus grows up and speaks in the temple, Elijah is convinced that there’s something different about this child and starts to believe that He’s the Messiah.  Can he accept Christ’s teachings and learn to forgive?  I’ll leave the rest for you see for yourself in this hour and twenty-two-minute film.

Because this film deals with the murder of innocents, there are some violence scenes. Other than those moments, this film is family friendly and teaches a good moral lesson.  This DVD can be yours to own on Amazon for less than $15.


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The BFG

Thank you Public Media Distribution for sending us this DVD to review!

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) book written by Roald Dahl came out in 1982 and the ninety-minute film adaptation was released in 1989.  This 2016 version has been digitally restored and comes with a before and after special feature so you can see the difference in real time.  Another added bonus is a documentary on Roald Dahl.  

The rest of this timeless classic remains the same where a young orphan girl named Sophie is woken up in the middle of the night and sees something peculiar.    There is a giant wandering around the town and is blowing something into the windows of her neighbors.  After she’s been spotted, the giant reaches into the orphanage, grabs Sophie, and takes her to his world of giants.

Sophie is afraid that the giant will eat her, but unlike the others, BFG does not eat humans.  He shares with her some of his other foods which are quite different from our world.  One of the beverages he offers her has the bubbles going down instead of up and as a result instead of burping, this drink causes the drinker to whizzpop/fart.  Needless to say that this song and other flatulence based humor in this film brought smiles and laughter out of my children.

The dated visuals are noticeable, but don’t detract from the story of friendship and courage.  There is also a good message about not judging people by their appearance and tolerating language mishaps.  Overall, my family enjoyed this film and look forward to watching the live action remake.  

I can see why this family friendly story is popular in schools and highly recommend the book or this animated rendition of it.  The 1989 version can be yours on Amazon for less than $8 but the remastered blu-ray is $29.99.


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Walkers Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

Thank you Walkers Shortbread for sending us these delicious cookies to try!

Walkers Shortbread was founded in 1898 and is still family run and operated.  They are located in Aberlour in the Scottish Highlands and export their cookies, cakes, crackers, and puddings to over eighty countries worldwide.  We’ve been blessed to try their Pure Butter Mini Shortbread Fingers, Gluten Free Pure Butter Chocolate Chip and regular shortbread cookies.

Since I don’t practice gluten free living, I tried the Pure Butter Mini Shortbread Fingers first.  I was definitely able to taste the butter and the flakey texture was pleasing as well.  To my surprise there are only four ingredients (wheat flour, butter, sugar, salt) to these cookies and they are all natural!  A serving of four fingers/cookies will set your diet back by 170 calories and 9 grams of fat though.  Four out of five of my family members enjoyed them.  My son is spoiled by my homemade cookies I guess.

To fairly review the gluten free cookies, I took the Gluten Free Pure Butter Chocolate Chip and regular shortbread cookies to my mother-in-law who regularly eats gluten free products.  It’s no secret that a good majority of gluten free food tastes inferior to their gluten counterparts.  These Walker shortbread cookies are quite the exception though!  In fact, my mother-in-law said that you couldn’t tell that they’re gluten free.

Like the Pure Butter Mini Shortbread Fingers, the gluten free shortbread cookies are light, airy, and delicious.  Instead of wheat flour, a blend of rice, potato starch, maize, and xanthan gum (as a stabilizer) is used.  The other ingredients (butter, sugar, salt) remain the same.  The chocolate chip variety has chocolate chips as well which include sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and natural vanilla flavoring.  

Surprisingly, both the chocolate chip and regular gluten free shortbread cookies have the same number of calories (160 for two cookies), but the chocolate chip variety has eight grams of fat compared to the regular cookie’s nine.  If you have milk, soy, or nut allergies the packaging warns against eating these products.  

The individually wrapped serving packages are convenient and guarantee that the cookies maintain their freshness.  This could also prevent some binge eating by limiting you to two cookies per package.  Whether you’re on a gluten free diet or not, I highly recommend checking out Walkers products at your local grocer or on their website.


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Jessica Darling’s It List

Thank you MarVista for sending us a screener of this movie to review!

This one hour and nineteen-minute movie is based off of the popular book series by Megan McCafferty.  The main character is Jessica Darling who is about to enter seventh grade and wants to start off on the right foot.  Her older sister with a passion for fashion gave Jessica a list of four things to do to be popular in junior high.  Here’s the contents of her sister’s “It List”:

1. Wear something different every day

2. Make the cheer team

3. Pick your first boyfriend wisely

4. Stick with the It clique

The first item on the list doesn’t apply to Jessica since she doesn’t really enjoy shopping for or wearing exquisite clothing.  Jessica also struggles with making the cheer team since she lacks the grace and gymnastics skills to outshine the other cheer leader hopefuls.  She does land an interesting and humorous gig that is cheer team related though.

While noticing boys, Jessica doesn’t fall head over heels over any of them in her school yet.  Though the boy in her wood working class seems to like her.  Unlike her friends, Jessica wasn’t able to get into the home economics class.  

Friendship is something that Jessica learns a lot about.  She discovers that many of the girls in the It clique are very shallow and their feelings towards her come and go.  Jessica must first find her own identity and then discover who her true friends are and appreciate them.

Overall, Jessica Darling’s It List is a cute and funny film that teaches some valuable lessons on being yourself and being a good friend.    It’s a family safe film without any language or sexual content to worry about.  All of my kids enjoyed watching it, though my girls enjoyed it more since it’s geared more towards females.


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VicTsing Garden Hose Nozzle

hose nozzle

Thank you VicTsing for sending us this product to review!

There are many uses for a garden hose nozzle and we put this eight-mode gadget to the test by using it on three children and washing two cars.  While hosing down my kids on a hot summer day, they seemed to enjoy the mist mode the best. Not only was it gentle and refreshing, it also produced rainbows as an added bonus.  The Cone mode is a little stronger than the mist and the kids liked that one as well.  If you’re looking for some more power that’s not too forceful, the flat mode is another good option to use.

The soaker mode was a disappointment and seemed to dribble more than soak anything.  It could be an issue on my end since there was water leaking out of both ends of my garden hose.  All of the other modes worked flawlessly despite the leaks.  There wasn’t any text or instructions included in the packaging.  Just the nozzle and an extra washer.  The nozzle did have a washer in place as I checked to make sure that wasn’t the source of the water leak.  The hose used is old so I blame that for the leaks and not the nozzle.

If you need a bunch of streams, the center mode is a good one to use and the aptly named shower mode has several streams as well.  The shower mode is great for watering plants.    The jet mode has a powerful beam and the rinse mode is similar but stronger and great for taking off soap from a freshly washed car.

Overall, my kids and I are very pleased with this garden hose nozzle and look forward to more car washes and summer fun with it.  It’s probably time for us to get a new hose though.


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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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