Monthly Roundup / February 2017

February sure flew by like the wind. It felt like it was yesterday that February just started and now we’re at the end of the month already. To end February, I will take a look back on the articles published over the course of this month.

1.2.2017 – As this month was set to be just as busy as January, I welcomed all of you to February on Mother Nature. I mentioned that this month would be a lot busier considering I had a Maths mock exam just around the corner, but also because I would be making sure to get out more and make use of the free time I have on my days off to photograph nature-based places for my Self-Directed Curiosity Project.

Also, in a surprise announcement, Beyoncé announced to the world that she is pregnant with twins. Her last pregnancy came in 2011 when she was pregnant with her first child, Blue Ivy Carter, who she gave birth to on the 7th January 2012.

2.2.2017 – As the hashtag, #TIMETOTALK, was officially trending on Twitter, Oli Regan asked me to write this article as this day was Time to Talk Day, in which anyone suffering from Mental Health can speak up about their Mental Health, as well as to how they feel the negative stigma affects and negatively impacts them and anyone else suffering from any kind of Mental Health condition. Oli Regan also appeared live on BBC Two at 9:30 AM and again at 10:30 AM on the Victoria Derbyshire Show. He would also go on to talk about Mental Health on BBC Newsbeat at 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM, including how suffering from Mental Health affected him over the course of his life.

3.2.2017 – Continuing on from my first set of photographs that I took previously at Kelsey Park, I headed to Dulwich Park on the 31st January 2017 to photograph the scenery and also some ducks and birds. I saw some Mallards and Parakeets whilst I was there, including some squirrels, though to tell you the truth, some of the squirrels I came across looked bigger than their usual size, so I did make sure to walk very slowly to photograph them and I am pleased with the end result that I have achieved from this photographic collection.

5.2.2017 – Following on from my visit to Dulwich Park, I decided to visit Beddington Park on the 1st February 2017 to photograph some of the scenery, and I also photographed some of the gravestones, given the names on some or most of the gravestones consisted of people who may have died a few years earlier, including those that may have died up to more than 100 years ago.

7.2.2017 – As I wanted to set the tone of this article, I recommended Madonna’s True Blue record to soothe the soul, as this article was titled as Relaxation. I mentioned that after a relaxing day, despite doing the mock exam for GCSE Maths the day before, I mentioned that I wasn’t stressed, which was a first for me in a long time considering that I’ve been so focused on the coursework lately.

17.2.2017 – Just a few months after we all witnessed the marsupial make his comeback, it was officially announced that Crash Bandicoot would be coming back to PlayStation on the 30th June. I mentioned I would be pre-ordering the Crash Bandicoot N⋅Sane Trilogy, and the release date of the trilogy comes exactly two weeks after I mark my 19th birthday.

19.2.2017 – As it has been almost a year since we lost the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, who passed away on the 21st April 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the iconic music legend by drawing for this sixth artistic interpretation. This drawing was the first Artistic Interpretation for 2017 and I wanted to make sure that Prince Rogers Nelson would be the first musician I would draw for 2017.

24.2.2017 – After months of rumours and speculation, Cheryl officially announced she is pregnant! This news came at the perfect time and it was only a few weeks before that Beyoncé announced her pregnancy with twins to the world. February was most certainly shaping up to be a fun-filled and heartwarming month.

25.2.2017 – Following hot on the heels of my previous Artistic Interpretation which was based on the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, I worked and completed my 7th Artistic Interpretation which focused on the Destiny’s Child musician and solo hit-maker, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.

Also on this day, the world lost a face of the film world. Bill Paxton, best known for appearing in Apollo 13, Titanic & Twister, sadly passed away at the age of 61 after complications following surgery.

Thanks for a great month everyone. Of course, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Bill Paxton by saying this: “Thank you for everything Bill Paxton. You are greatly missed but you’ll always live on in our hearts forever. Thanks for being the positive change this world truly needed. Thank you for everything Bill Paxton.”

Again, thanks for a great month and I will see you all in March.

Alex Smithson

Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy / Out 30th June!

It’s official! Just a few months after we all witnessed the marsupial make his comeback, Crash Bandicoot is ready to come back to PlayStation on the 30th June! Who would have thought it, eh?

This news comes after the comeback trailer unveiled Crash Bandicoot back to his true and original form, with the comeback trailer itself even showing comparisons of the original PS1 Classic levels including the newly upgraded level designs of the exact same levels.

I also came across official screenshots of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back after reading an article that Crashy News published, and honestly, Activision have made sure to keep the N⋅Sane Trilogy true to the original PS1 Classic Crash Bandicoot and they have most certainly done the Naughty Dog Original series justice with this refreshed collection of the N⋅Sane Trilogy.

I won’t deny this, I will be pre-ordering the Crash Bandicoot N⋅Sane Trilogy because it’s so good! I will not be surprised if this trilogy sells just as well as the original PS1 Classics, because Crash Bandicoot was and still is a bestseller even to the present day, and the N⋅Sane Trilogy itself will do just the same, because Activision have made sure to keep this game original by making sure it captures the true heart of the original PS1 version of Crash Bandicoot that we all came to know and love.

This release date couldn’t have come at a much better time, as this trilogy releases exactly two weeks after I mark my 19th birthday.

Are you just as excited as I am that Crash Bandicoot is finally back? If you are excited to see Crash Bandicoot come to the PlayStation 4 on the 30th June, then please let me know, I would love to hear what you think about the marsupial bandicoot making his comeback to PlayStation.

Also, if you want to be kept up-to-date on all things Crash Bandicoot, then please visit Crashy News by clicking here.

Alex Smithson

Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy Unveiled at PlayStation Experience!

A short while ago, I wrote an article following my excitement that Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back & Crash Bandicoot: Warped were being remastered after years of rumours and speculation, and tonight at the PlayStation Experience, Activision unveiled the first ever look of Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy and I have just seen the comeback trailer of the new Crash game and believe me, I wasn’t prepared. It’s so good! To reminisce the nostalgic fever of the PS1 Classic Crash Bandicoot, Activision showed the original levels from the Crash Bandicoot PS1 game, and then they put the original levels together with the remastered levels and it’s so good!

I know I keep saying it’s so good, but trust me, it is that good that your jaws will drop the moment you see the comeback trailer. I have provided the comeback trailer below so all of you can see Crash Bandicoot in his full glory, officially remastered for the PlayStation 4 in 60FPS (Frames Per Second)

Sony & Activision couldn’t have picked a better time to show Crash Bandicoot off, and just in time for Christmas, they have given all of us hope and have put smiles on all of our faces, because the marsupial Crash Bandicoot is back and marks his 20th Anniversary of being on PlayStation.

What did you think of the comeback trailer for Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy? Do you have all three of the original PlayStation 1 Crash Bandicoot games? Are you just as excited as I am about Crash Bandicoot’s comeback? Please let me know if you feel nostalgic by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Crash Bandicoot is Back!!!

On the 13th June 2016, after years of rumours and speculation, Sony finally announced that the classic Crash Bandicoot series that consisted of the three PlayStation 1 games, Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot: Warped will be remastered.

Of course, I’ve been waiting for that news to arrive, and I’m absolutely pleased that it’s finally happening. It was only on the 9th July 2015 that I talked about Crash Bandicoot: Warped in a gaming review, and to now hear that all three of the first Crash games are finally being revived, that’s amazing.

The Crash series was the norm 20 years ago, and loads of people would literally lock themselves away in their bedrooms for hours on end playing the games, because the games were that good that you could play it and feel like you were in a world of your own.

Believe me when I say this, when I’ve played the Crash games, I’ve been like that, locking myself away in my bedroom just to play the games because they’re classic games that, even to this day, will always be so good, and the potential for revivals of all three Crash games were on the cards for a very long time.

We all have, so far, got a taster of the new version of Crash Bandicoot, as he makes his debut on the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation 4, the XBOX 360, XBOX ONE and the Nintendo Wii U in the new Skylanders game, Skylanders Imaginators, which will be released in three editions, the Standard Edition, the Dark Edition & the Crash Edition, on the 14th October 2016. The Crash Bandicoot Remastered Series is being released next year, though more details of the trilogy will follow nearer the time of release.

All I can say is that as long as the remastered versions of Crash Bandicoot’s 1, 2 & 3 for the PlayStation 4 live up to the same potential or to the highest potential as the PS1 Classic versions of the games, then I’ll be pleased, and as long as the remastered versions of the Crash PS1 Series live up to the hype that the originals had at release, then I’ll consider getting the trilogy when it comes out, after I see gameplay videos of the remastered versions in action on YouTube of course.

Are you just as excited as I am about the Crash Bandicoot series being revived? If so, please me know by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: July 2015

To round off what has been an exciting, eventful, energetic and incredible month, I will now take a look back on the articles that have been published over the course of this month.

1.7.2015 – I welcomed you all back to Mother Nature for what would be a scorching hot July. This month was set to be an energetic and relaxing month, despite the hot weather. I also mentioned that my third book was finally reaching the completion stage, which was a fantastic sign, as I was itching to get the book finished and ready for release.

2.7.2015 – After a year of hard work, studying and revision, I was absolutely pleased to tell all of you that I had officially, as of this day, passed my UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course with a high Merit grade. This news came in light of the 8 units that I had completed and passed, with a Distinction on my research, which had resulted in me getting that high Merit grade for the whole course overall. I was also delighted to tell all of you that I had also received two certificate from Croydon College that day, one of which celebrates the outstanding achievement in terms of my exemplary attendance, while the other had celebrated my outstanding achievement I’ve made in terms of excellent achievement.

3.7.2015 – After 9 months of working on Book #3, I was absolutely pleased to tell you all that: “My Journey Through a Lens” would officially be out on Independence Day at 6:00 PM. The news of this book release finally came, as I had just finished up work on the book that day (and night), which had left me then to just prepare it so that it was officially ready for release the following day.

The book would contain over 400+ pages, and this book was indeed my largest book to date. It was originally going to be released towards the end of May, but because of the fact I had my college studies and revision to worry about, I had to hold off the released of the book to allow myself a lot more time to finish up the book and to also finalise it, so that it would give me a lot more time to work on it.

In terms of this book, some of the book would focus mainly around the photographical work that I have published on Mother Nature, and not only that, but most of the book itself would also focus around my own interests, as well as Croydon College.

4.7.2015 – After 9 months of hard work, effort and designing, My Journey Through a Lens finally became available as of this day. As the book was over 400+ pages long, this book was indeed the largest book I had ever made, which followed up from my previous book: “A Year in Photography”, which was released on the 1st September 2014. In this book, I talked about 6 historical icons, as well as musicians, from Ben Haenow to Madonna, and not only that, but I had also dedicated this book to a small number of people that I mentioned, including those that had passed away most recently. As of this day, you can now officially download my third book: “My Journey Through a Lens”, which is available now under “Free Books“.

9.7.2015 – Spinning back the clock to 1998, Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the 3rd, most popular installment in the series of Crash Bandicoot. Crash Bandicoot: Warped continues from where Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, left off. I wrote this review because I thought it would be good to relive the nostalgic days of gaming, when games were much better compared to some of the games that are around today. Some of the games that are around nowadays tend to leave little to the imagination, especially for those that are younger than the age that is given on the game’s PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) rating. Overall, I think the game is perfect, and it is one of the top-of-the-class games that you just can’t miss. To end this review, I gave the game an overall rating of 10/10.

13.7.2015 – On this day, the world lost a true gaming icon. Satoru Iwata of the worldwide gaming company, Nintendo, sadly passed away on Saturday 11th July 2015 at the age of 55 from cancer, following complications from a bile duct growth. On the same day, Nintendo had issued an official statement, which had documented the news of Satoru Iwata’s passing. To me, this was a massive shock, as I had only just found out the news of his death on the same day, and not only had his death shocked me, but his death had also been a massive shock to the gaming world. To pay tribute to Satoru Iwata, I would take a look back on his life as it unfolded, and the highlights of his career up until his death.

On that final note, thanks so much for an energetic, eventful, relaxing and perfect month, and I’ll see you all in August :-).

Alex Smithson

P.S. Here is the book in its physical glory :-).

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A Naughty Dog Classic | Crash Bandicoot: Warped

Spinning back the clock to 1998, Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the 3rd, most popular installment in the series of Crash Bandicoot. Crash Bandicoot: Warped continues from where Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, left off.

In this installment, Crash Bandicoot: Warped is full of adventurous landscapes, each bringing along with them many different obstacles, some obstacles of which you can and cannot break, which requires you to overcome those obstacles through an alternative method.

As each level of the game progresses, you’ll begin to notice that each level becomes more challenging and also a lot harder to complete. Much of the levels contain secret pathways, which in effect, are useful as these secret pathways can allow you to collect any extra gems, and even the special gems to unlock further pathways to another part of that level.

The Crash Bandicoot series had proved to be a popular gaming series towards the end of the 1990s, as the Spyro the Dragon series had proved the same. Both of these gaming franchises, despite being released by two different developers, had proved that they had the staying power for more games to come, not like some of the games that are made today, because some of the games that are created today leave little to the imagination, especially for those younger than the age that is given on the game’s PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) rating.

Referring back to Crash Bandicoot: Warped, this game, to me, is such a fantastically crafted game where what would take a few minutes turns into hours, and before you know it, it could take days to complete, depending on how competitive you are.

I must admit, the levels I do find difficult to complete myself are the N.Gin Boss Level, and the flying level in the 5th world hard to complete. Those two levels are more of the pain-in-your-backside levels that look easy to start with, but then, the difficulty of the levels are turned all the way up to the hard setting.

There is a lot of potential for the Crash Bandicoot series to be remastered, though that will depend on whether a remaster ever occurs. It would be nice if the series was remastered and revived, because it would bring back a lot more value, not just for the original versions of the Crash series, but also for the potential remastering of the Crash Bandicoot series altogether.

Overall, I think this game is perfect, and this game is one of the top-of-the-class games that you just can’t miss. Play it, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a childhood classic to me, and I bet that once you start playing this game, along with the other games in the Crash Bandicoot series, you won’t be disappointed, it’s that good :-).

My overall rating on this game: 10/10.

Alex Smithson