New And Old Favorites

I came across a video game review I did several years ago on here while looking through old posts, just being nostalgic. I gave a list of my all-time favorite games at the tame and explained why, so I figured it would be fun to do one now.

The list back then:

Jack and Daxter
Spyro (original trilogy)
Spyro (new trilogy)
Crash Team Racing
Crash Warped
Crash Bash

I came up with this list at the time because I was feeling nostalgic, but some of the games on this list are still favorites.

The list now:

Spyr0 (first game)
Crash Team Racing

I like the first Spyro game because it’s incredibly simple and easy and you can beat the whole thing in a few hours–well, until you get to Tree Tops. I forget how to beat that level every time I play it. I eliminated the two sequels from my list because they add in gimmicky complications that I personally think make the whole process a little less fun. Most of the game is pretty mindless, and sometimes I just enjoy a mindless game. All you have to do, really, is wander around, collect treasure, and occasionally fight bosses that are really pretty easy to kill.

I like Crash Team Racing because my dad and i get really competitive about it. It’s just something we do together. He comes home from work, we watch the news for a little while, and then we play Crash. As with Spyro, it’s incredibly simple and relatively mindless, so we usually talk about stuff or trash talk unnecessarily while we play. It’s basically like Mario Kart, only easier, and requires less effort.

Journey is probably even more simple than the two games I just talked about. The purpose of the game is to get to the shiny mountain. You just wander through several levels until some spirits who are showing you visions throughout the game help you to fly through the last level to get to the top. You would almost think a game like this would be boring, but it’s actually beautiful. It’s visually stunning, and the soundtrack is amazing. In fact, I sometimes just listen to the soundtrack while working on things because I like it so much. The nice thing about this game, too is that it only takes about an hour and a half to play through the whole thing. Furthermore, there are little things you can do within the game that can add to it, but are not necessary. If you want to, you can search for images that help tell a story (based on your interpretation), and shiny symbols that make your scarf longer, which in turn allows you to fly higher and longer. Again, though, you don’t have to do these things. If you just want to book it to the shiny mountain, you can.

Minecraft has been around for a while now, and while I don’t play it nearly as much as I used to, I still consider it one of my favorite games. Sometimes I just like to listen to music or podcasts while building my kingdom. What I like about Minecraft is that it’s fun by yourself or with playmates. I like working on projects with my brother and cousin, but I also like to just do my own thing. It’s also fun that there are different game modes. I tend to find survival mode more fun while playing with others because it adds a little complication that makes cooperation necessary, while I find creative mode more fun by myself because it allows me to build stuff more quickly without having to worry about starving to death.

I only recently started playing Oblivion. It’s definitely the most complicated game on my list, but in some ways I find that refreshing. Playing oblivion is really like entering a whole new world where magic and goblins and other strange creatures are totally a thing. I like that the world is complicated. You can have a hundred things going on all at once, and in some ways, the stories intersect. You acquire quests right when you’re in the middle of something important. The nice thing about it is that you can do things at your own pace. I also like creating a story around my character, which this game not only allows, but encourages. You can join guilds and by doing so, create enemies, and what you do matters. I’ve played other role-playing games, namely MMO’s, but I’m also liking that this game is single-player because the focus is on my character. She’s actually significant, and I have to be careful about who I piss off.

Well, that’s it for now!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

A Good Place To Start: Review Of Christians In Crisis Website

It is difficult to say exactly what “accurate” news really is. The truth of the matter is, however, that without doing more research than most of us have time for, we’re never getting the whole story. Furthermore, every news station on TV, and every newspaper has its priorities and its politics. To survive they have to cover what is most important and most interesting to the average consumer. News, like anything else, is a commercial product. In general, it seems that domestic issues get far more coverage than international ones, especially when international issues are religious in nature, and particularly violent. The coverage of the war on ISIS, and their brutal persecution of Christians in the Middle East has all but died out, and is only really mentioned again when an American reporter gets tragically involved.

However, this is an ongoing problem. Radical Islam and their oppressive ideals are currently taking over in Iraq and Syria, but the media is very quiet on the issue. Christianity is the largest religion in the world, seconded by Islam. However, in many parts of the world, it is a clear minority. The International Christian Concern released an article on December 11th explaining how Hindu radicals in parts of rural India are going into villages and forcibly converting Christians to Hinduism and their churches into temples. This is clearly a bigger issue than the media is letting on.

In light of that, a blog has been created that specifically focuses international religious relations for people who are invested in it. Christians In Crisis is a small, nonprofit organization that compiles information and news found from internet and print sources specifically about the persecuted Church throughout the world. They do not ask for or accept donations, but point potential donors in the direction of organizations that do. Their main goal is to provide information and incentive to help. They are constantly updating the site and do not simply focus on one area. On December 12, they posted five stories focusing on current events in various Middle Eastern countries as well as one article focusing on Christian missionaries in China.
The link to that particular article is here: Article

This article explains that the Chinese Government seems to be cracking down on Christian missionaries from around the world due to their humanitarian efforts to aid North Korean refugees to that country. Several individuals that were specifically mentioned in the article have been accused and deported for allegedly stealing and illegally sharing state secrets. One theory is that:

“While there’s no concrete evidence for such a claim, the deportations do seem to be part of a larger trend toward nationalization of domestic institutions, particularly Christian churches.”


“A number of Christian aid groups in the area have ceased operations.”

The article suggests that this increase in deportations is a way for the Communist party to maintain power over an increasingly Christian population.

This is very helpful information for the western Church to know. If the Church is in fact one cohesive organization, then it is important to know what is happening in all areas of the world, and it is the responsibility of those who can help to actually do something if they can. Knowing the truth about these things is the first step toward making change. obviously change is difficult, and there is more involved than religion, such as politics, diplomacy and other cultural concerns. However, Christians In Crisis is a very helpful website and an excellent place to start for those who want to know more.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Nostalgic Video Game Review And Procrastination

As usual I’m supposed to be doing homework, but it seemed like I was in pretty good shape last night, so what the heck? I’ll see if I can find something interesting to say before I start this morning.

Yesterday my brother and I went over to Game Stop while my mom was picking up food because we’ve been wanting to get a copy of “Border Lands.” I don’t really know what it’s about, but my brother says it’s a two-player, split-screen, adventure shooter, which sounds like fun. I’m very bad at shooters, but he assures me it won’t be that hard. I can do okay as long as I have a team mate.

Anyway, while we were there, my brother went off on a nostalgic tangent about Play Station 1 and 2 games. We both agree that the best video games were made in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, with a few very good exceptions, of course.

My favorite video games of all time are (and this is not in any particular order):

Jack and Daxter (PS 2)
Spyro 1, 2 and 3 (PS 1 and 2)
Spyro 1, 2 and 3 remakes/new story (PS 2)
Crash Team Racing (PS 1)
Crash Warped (PS 2, I think)
Crash Bash (PS 1)
Journey (PS 3)

If you haven’t played these and you like relatively easy/fun games, you should absolutely play them. I know for a fact you can download the original 3 Spyro games, Crash Team Racing (CTR) and Crash Warped on a PS 3.

Jack and Daxter basically a fantasy platformer. Each area is “related” to a different element, which are different from the standard water, fire, etc. Different forms of energy in this game give you different abilities. The basic story line is that Jack and his buddy Dxter are two young boys who head over to a dark, creepy island, which (it’s safe to assume) they’re not supposed to be doing. Daxter falls into a vat of “dark ooze,” and is turned into a little orange fuzzy thing. Originally the point of the game is to make it through all the levels to presumably reach the Dark Sage (or something to that effect, I haven’t played this in a while), to get Daxter changed back. But like any good fantasy game, the point shifts to SAVIN’ THE WORLD!

The original 3 Spyro games are very straight forward. The point is to go through all the levels, collect all the treasure, free all the dragons and collect all the dragon eggs to unlock “The Super Bonus World.” There’s a version of this final level in all three games. There are a few puzzles here and there but for the most part it’s very straight forward. Of the three, I like the third one (Year Of The Dragon) the best.

The next couple Spyro games were really awful. I think they just tried to extend the story farther than it could or needed to go. Then a new trilogy came out that basically started the story over. These three games (the names of which escape me at the moment) were actually pretty good. The first one was a bit too easy, but overall they had a pretty good plot line, the enemies were pretty interesting and there was even a two-player aspect in the third one. The only thing I really think think they could have done better is voice acting/dialogue. Some of it was just painfully corny. I also don’t particularly love what they did with the dragonfly, Sparks. In the original three games, he would change colors to indicate how much health you had. In the second trilogy the only purpose he served was comic relief (which he actually did a good job with).

Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash are just fun multi-player games. CTR is like any old racing game. Weird track and characters meet ridiculous weapons such as the Electric Bomb (my name for it) and Homing Missile. I think the appeal of CTR is that it’s not quite as trippy as any of the Mario racing games (although I suppose it’s arguable depending on the track). Crash Bash is similar in that it doesn’t actually have a plot. You could probably call it a smaller Mario Party equivalent. The mini-games are very violent and completely ridiculous. It’s even fun to lose in that game. My brother and I couldn’t beat a particular mini game, but we couldn’t stop laughing because of what happens when you lose. If you want to know what happens, you’ll just have to play it. What’s good about this game is that you definitely need to use teamwork to win in most cases.

Crash Warped is similar to the original Spyro games in that the the point is to collect all the items and defeat all the bosses to get 100%. I don’t think I need to go into much detail about this one because it’s so similar. One aspect that I somewhat dislike is that you basically have to go through each level at least three times (for different reasons, of course) before you beat the game.

As you can tell, Journey is the only “recent” game on my list. I already gave a description in my post “Mind Candy,” but I’ll give a quick one here. The point is literally just to get to the shiny mountain. There’s no actual reason for getting there, it’s just what you have to do. You do so by going through the levels with the aid of these little magical cloth creatures. The music and the use of sound in the game are fantastic. The scenery is beautiful, and the multi-player is pretty fun. The only downside is that it’s only online, which means you can’t play with your friend who is sitting next to you. Even so, it’s kind of fun to go through the game with a mysterious stranger. Interestingly, your only way of communicating is with the little chirps that your characters can make, but it works pretty darn well. You learn to use it effectively pretty quickly.