Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

CHERYLON Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner

Specifications:
High Power 150W motor
Works on wet or dry dirt
14.7 foot cord
Connects to 12V in-car DC outlet
Includes bag and five attachments
Spare filter included
MSRP: $29.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Strong Points: Decent suction; included bag is handy; good selection of included attachments; very nice cord length; spare filter
Weak Points: Can always use an even stronger suction; can only be used in a car; it’s sometimes hard to tell how to fit the accessories together

Thank you CHERYLON for sending us this product to review!

We recently decided that on our next road trip, we were going to bring our new puppy. Knowing how much of a mess our kids make by themselves, with a puppy, I could tell that our van was going to experience a whole new level of mess; hence the need for this vacuum.

When unboxing this item, I was pleased to see that it came in a decently functional case – not one of those that are so tight you can’t get the stuff back inside, but a usable one. It’s made of a canvas material that gets the job done. The vacuum is made out of cheap-feeling but perfectly functional plastic.

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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.

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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.

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part - 4DX Theater experience

Thank you CJ 4DPLEX for sending us to the movies!

As more and more aspects of the theater experience can be reproduced (or are simply better) at home, the movie industry continues looking for ways to encourage movie lovers to make the trek out of their houses and into the local cinema, while also offering value-adds that make it all the more memorable. Being one such enthusiast with a theater in my basement, I know this struggle all too well. Do I see the latest superhero movie when it's new in the theater, where I have to deal with other people and (usually) inferior video, sound, and comfort, or do I wait and watch it in my home theater with 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos surround and a 125" projection screen? (I told you I was an enthusiast.)

Well, 4DX can now safely say they offer something that no home theater ever will. All 4DX movies are in 3D, with a supported 3D glasses being offered. Unlike some theaters, this theater screen was more than bright enough to handle 3D properly. I was also pleased with the theater's sound system; while it wasn't quite as loud as I may have liked, the positional separation of the sound, from the clear center positioning of the voice, to the easy to locate side and rear speakers worked quite well. I did not note any ceiling speakers at this location for Atmos, though.

Each seat has rumble (this can be replicated at home with ButtKickers or other similar bass shakers), but what's really special is the tilting, fans, spritzers, and even scents that can be added to the movie experience. That's right - Smell-O-Vision is back! I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that, as of February 2019, there are only 12 4DX theaters in the USA, and one of them is just a few miles from my house - and the only one in the Midwest! Pretty cool, eh? Fortunately, they are expecting to have as many as 85 locations within a year or so, so hopefully there will be one near you soon.

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The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Volume 1 (A-M)

Author: Brett Weiss
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Hardcover book
416 full-color pages
Over 350 games covered
MSRP: $42.99

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

I was fortunate enough to grow up with video games and technology as it did. Being born in 1978 (and recently turning forty), I was fortunate enough to play the Atari 2600 long before I went to kindergarten, played tons of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) through elementary school, and got my Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in late jr. high or early high school (I don’t remember exactly when; it was early in the system’s launch, but I doubt it was year one).

I had gotten a PlayStation maybe a year after that released, and enjoyed it, but I always felt like the SNES was a perfect storm of available technology and maximum creativity that led to some of the best games of all time, and many remain timeless and revered to this day. (It also helped that I had more time to play games in high school rather than the busier early adulthood that occupied my time shortly after I got my PlayStation.) This book celebrates that 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 ‘3 Ninjas Kick Back’ and ending with ‘Musya: The Classic Japanese Tale of Horror’. Volume 2, when it is released in 2019, will cover game titles starting with N-Z.

The first few pages include a foreword, where the technical specifications of the SNES are discussed, as well as a brief summary of historical context about the system’s release. There is also a preface, where the author talks a bit about his history with gaming, and what led to him writing this book. All of the action starts on page ten.

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Accell USB-C to 3 DisplayPort Multi-monitor Hub

Specifications (from Amazon listing):
|Supports DisplayPort MST (Multi-Stream Transport)
Supports source devices with Windows OS and have DisplayPort Alt Mode, such as HP EliteBook x360, HP ZBook, Dell XPS, MS Surface Book 2
Supports 4K on up to two displays; The third displays up to 1080p
Connects three independent displays to a single USB Type-C port
macOS does not support MST technology for expanded monitors; It will allow for mirroring
Compatible w/ Thunderbolt 3
Data bandwidth up to 5.4 Gbps per lane, 21.6 Gbps total
Can simultaneously display 2 Ultra HD resolution
Compliant to DisplayPort versions 1.2 and 1.1a, VESA DDM, HDCP 1.3
Advanced WideEye SerDes Technology capable of receiving data over a long range


Thank you Accell for sending us this device to review!

As I often live near the cutting edge as technology improves, I’ve had my eye on the USB Type-C interface for quite some time, long before you could buy devices with the ports. I was excited about it then – the promise of a truly universal port, that always plugs in properly, and can work with everything – has finally become reality. With that said, the ‘one port to rule them all’ is great, but it comes with tons of caveats that are important to be aware of, as I found out first hand.

I have four devices with USB-C ports, and two PCs with the interface. USB-C has several possible data lanes, and they vary from USB 2.0 and 3.0/3.1, to DisplayPort, to Thunderbolt, in that order of speed. Almost all support at least USB data transfer, so that part is easy. However, not all ports support DisplayPort, and especially not all ports support Thunderbolt.

DisplayPort is the protocol, along with HDMI (which is just a variation on the DVI standard) that all modern displays use now. This interface is very fast (faster than HDMI in most cases), and extremely flexible. The standard, in version 1.2, supports up to 17.28Gb/s of bandwidth, which supports 4K displays at 60Hz. It also supports the MST (Multi-Stream Transport) protocol, which allows cool devices like this one to exist, which you can use to connect multiple monitors to one DisplayPort connector, or even daisy-chain monitors, if your devices support that.

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What to look for in a gaming laptop

Buying a gaming desktop or laptop is a big commitment. However, if you get a machine powerful enough, it can provide years of entertainment. Desktops are cheaper and easier to upgrade so if you don’t need portability, you can get more machine for your money that way. No matter which route you go, the advice in this article is applicable for both systems.

Generally speaking, with gaming laptops, you have the classic 'pick two' rule: Power/Specs, Size/build quality, Affordability - pick two. The slimmer and lighter something is, the less powerful - unless you are willing to pay more for it. There are relatively affordable gaming laptops that are significantly less expensive than the thin and powerful variety, but they are usually an inch thicker or more. It's only on the very high end where no matter how much you spend it won't be thin (like SLI video cards and such).

All system types discussed herein are assumed to be Windows computers. Macs can play some games, as can Linux, but they are sadly limited. And while Linux can actually use much of the same hardware as Windows, so most of this guide still applies (with the caveat that OS and hardware support is all on your own), you are still limited on game selection (though you may learn other useful technology skills!). On Mac, you are limited to the maximum of a midrange gaming GPU - for their top of the line Macbook Pro prices. Typically, I would say that people who purchase Mac computers do not or should not choose them with primarily gaming in mind. This is something that Apple Corp. has simply chosen to ignore; they do have the power to fix it if they so choose. Instead, Apple has pre-chosen size and build quality as their sole focus, which is dandy, but they do not make gaming capable laptops, and what they do offer is extremely expensive.

The first step in purchasing a gaming machine is to determine your budget. Faster machines are more expensive and there is no way around that. Most laptops come with Intel graphics but if you want to do some serious gaming, you’ll have to pay a premium for AMD or Nvidia graphics. If you plan on doing VR with your system, you’re going to want a GeForce GTX 1060 at least. Anything faster is, you guessed it, more money.

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Solo Velocity Everyday Max Backpack Duffel

Specifications:
Body size: 21"x13"x8"
Weight: 2.40 lbs
Fully padded 17.3" laptop compartment
Internal tablet pocket
Separate shoe compartment
Large size zippered pockets
Padded carry handles
Padded back and backpack straps

Strong Points: Unique, well thought out design; looks very nice; lots of pockets, with a very large main duffel area; laptop pouch is extra large, and well padded
Weak Points: Small number of larger pouches; no location for pens or notepads (pens do fit in pockets though); no shoulder strap reinforcements

Thank you Solo for sending us this backpack to review!

I have always cared deeply about what kind of backpack I have used. I went through several cheaper ones before I finally settled upon one that has lasted – a Swiss Gear. The build quality was a huge step above the several cheap ones I used before that; despite the ~+50% price increase, it has been worth every penny, because it has lasted well on the order of ten years. Sometimes it's worth it to pay more, because it may last more than twice as long. But despite this, my excellent Swiss Gear is finally starting to show its age – flaking ends, the logo was lost years ago, and more signs that it needs to be retired soon. So, when I had the chance to review a new backpack, I jumped on it.

Now, it needs to be said that I am nowhere near as rough on backpacks as I used to be. I no longer regularly take the train to work, nor am I a college student any longer (thankfully). So, a bag that looks good, meets my basic needs, and holds my stuff is more than enough.

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Kim Possible

Trimillennialism: Revelation 20 and the Final Judgment 
Author: Ritchie Way

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

In Revelation 20, there is a passage that has been debated for thousands of years. Here it is, in full:

"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

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Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (3DS) Preview & Unboxing

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is a new game from Atlas in the hardcore Etrian Odyssey series.  This title is actually a remake of the first game, with a whole lot of enhancements.

For those new to the series (like I was before playing this game), it is a first person dungeon crawler RPG, similar to the rather old school Wizardry games from the 80s.  With a fair amount of modernization, and a Japanese flair.

One of the things those older games required was meticulously careful hand drawn maps.  To celebrate this, the Etrian Odyssey series uses the DS's bottom screen and requires you to draw your own.  It's rather ingenious, honestly.  For a hardcore RPG lover, it's a dream come true.

I am about half-way through this game, and I have done almost nothing else but play it non stop (besides work and family, of course) for about a month now.  It is just incredibly long, with a ton of content.  I would estimate at least 60 hours before I am done, at this rate.  It is also incredibly challenging at the higher difficulty levels.  (Picnic isn't for 'real' gamers.  ;))

This game is rated 'T', and I think it deserves that rating.  I have seen the use of the words 'D*mn' and 'H*ll' used in both text and voice-overs.  There is also alcohol and tobacco use, and the player can choose drink alcohol in certain story events.  There are also a few characters who wear revealing clothing, though thankfully not player characters.  The game even makes fun of the fact that female warriors would wear armor... by poking fun at a lady who joins you for a quest who wears skimpy outfits.  You have the option to ask her if she is cold.  :)  It's also somewhat of a repeating gag, as well.  I have enjoyed the banter of the characters quite a bit so far.

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My new Android phone

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

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

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

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

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

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