Welcome to March!

Welcome to March on Mother Nature! As you can see, I have decided to go retro with the article image and do it up in the inspired style of Sonic Mania, considering that Sonic Mania is set to be released within the next few months. There is news just around the corner surrounding Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017, which I am excited about and I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on Sonic Mania when it comes out. If Project Sonic 2017 gets an official title and if there’s all-new gameplay featuring both Classic Sonic & Modern Sonic, then I shall consider the possibility of buying the Project Sonic 2017 if it lives up to the hype. I know SEGA & Christian Whitehead both have one heck of a great year ahead so I am pretty sure they will exceed our expectations any which way.

The next few weeks are going to be much busier considering my Summative Assessment deadline for the Self-Directed Curiosity Project is right near the end of this month, so I will be making sure to work my socks off as I am so determined to pass and bump last year’s grade up to a Merit or Distinction at least. Also, I will be working harder than usual over the course of the next few weeks as I have a GCSE English Speaking & Listening Assessment coming up which I am currently preparing for, so I hope it goes well, so fingers crossed! Meanwhile, I will be making sure to put all of the hard work in with my GCSE Maths coursework as I seriously want to pass this time around.

Spring is ready to embrace its beautiful side and with the clocks going forward towards the end of the month, it is safe to say that Mother Nature will blossom with vibrant colours and displays. Not only that, but with the temperature of the weather slowly going back to normal, I cannot wait to enjoy the lovely Spring weather once again. The clocks are set to go forward as part of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday 26th March 2017 at 1:00 AM so I thought it would be wise to let you all know in advance so you know exactly when the clocks go forward.

I should warn you as I read something a short while back for when the clocks went back that if you have any devices with Airplane Mode switched on, such as an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch and any Android devices and smartwatches, then it’s recommended that Airplane Mode must be switched off very briefly in order for every device’s clock to go back or forward an hour. I am prepared for the clocks to go forward so to speak, but even so, why waste time when you make the most of it by making the best out of it?

If I am able to find the free time over the next few weeks, I may consider doing some drawings that I can publish on here, or if I head out to certain places in and around London over the next few weeks to photograph anything nature-based for my coursework, then I will make sure to publish any photography work I produce on this website.

Until then, Welcome to March!

Alex Smithson

Sonic Generations: A Shift Between Classic Sonic & Modern Sonic

As Sonic Generations marked the 20th Anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, it was clear that this game had everything to offer, because for the first time, and with Stereoscopic 3D, you would get to see Classic Sonic & Modern Sonic in an entirely nostalgic form that would shift between the past and the present. I will not deny this, but I have played the game myself and I absolutely love it, because it delivers and creates not just a nostalgic feeling that makes you think of the good old days of Classic Sonic, but it gives you the approach that Sonic is back and Retro is back too.

As a massive SEGA fan, I love the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and have played previous games, such as Sonic Heroes, Sonic Rush and even the Christian Whitehead reboots of Sonic the Hedgehog & Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and I won’t lie, I wish I played Sonic Generations sooner, because it’s one of those games where you cannot afford to not play it to appreciate and understand the true aspects behind how the game was really made, as well as the hard work that SEGA went to in order to modernise and remaster past levels.

For the first time, you can play these levels in modern form:

  • Green Hill Zone (Taken from Sonic the Hedgehog)
  • Chemical Plant (Taken from Sonic the Hedgehog 2)
  • Stardust Speedway (Metal Sonic Rival Battle) [Classic Sonic] {Taken from Sonic CD}
  • Death Egg Robot (Boss) [Classic Sonic] {Taken from Sonic the Hedgehog 2}
  • Shadow the Hedgehog (Rival Battle) [Modern Sonic] {Taken from Sonic Adventure 2 Battle}
  • Sky Sanctuary (Taken from Sonic & Knuckles)
  • Speed Highway (Taken from Sonic Adventure)
  • City Escape (Taken from Sonic Adventure 2)
  • Seaside Hill (Taken from Sonic Heroes)
  • Crisis City (Taken from Sonic the Hedgehog) [2006]
  • Silver the Hedgehog (Rival Battle) [Modern Sonic] {Taken from Sonic the Hedgehog ’06)
  • Perfect Chaos (Taken from Sonic Adventure)
  • Rooftop Run (Taken from Sonic Unleashed)
  • Planet Wisp (Taken from Sonic Colours)
  • Egg Dragoon (Taken from Sonic Unleashed)

Also, for the first time, you can play the final boss in the level, Time Eater. If you have all of the 7 Chaos Emeralds, you will be able to play as Classic Sonic & Modern Sonic but as Classic Super Sonic & Modern Super Sonic, and you will be able to fight Dr. Robotnik & Dr. Eggman.

If you have the PlayStation 3 version of Sonic Generations, it comes bundled with the first ever Sonic game, Sonic the Hedgehog, which is an added bonus considering you can play two games as well as one. To get the first ever Sonic game in Sonic Generations, you need to buy the SEGA Mega Drive Controller in the game with the points that you collect through every level that you have completed and don’t worry, you don’t pay extra money for the game at all, you just use the points you earn in the game for every level to get the controller in the game and you’re ready to go at any time.

Below are some screenshots from some of the Classic & Modern levels of Sonic Generations if you want to relive the nostalgia of past Sonic the Hedgehog games.

It’s hard to believe it was five years ago this game was released, and I won’t lie, playing this game has made me realise just how much technology has evolved in the gaming world, and not only that, but to see games from past time being remastered, it’s amazing how some games still capture that nostalgic appeal from the last 10 to 20 years.

I felt it was right to write a review on this game considering it’s exactly 25 years this year since the first ever Sonic game was released, and to continue the celebrations, Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, who has ported Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 & Sonic CD to smartphones and consoles, is working again with SEGA and also with PagodaWest and Headcannon on the upcoming 2017 Sonic game, Sonic Mania, which will relive the nostalgia of past levels from some games, including some new levels, though some of the new levels will be new to me as I have never seen them before, apart from watching clips of Sonic Mania on YouTube and on some gaming websites. Also, as the as yet untitled Project Sonic 2017 game is being developed for the XBOX ONE, the PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch and also for Laptop / PC, it’s safe to say that SEGA have a fantastic year ahead. 2017 is going to be SEGA’s year, and I am absolutely sure of that.

What do I think of Sonic Generations? I love the game with a passion, because it relives the nostalgic appeal that I had with past games, such as Sonic Heroes & Sonic Unleashed, and because I have played Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic CD & Sonic Heroes, including Sonic & The Secret Rings and Sonic Colours, Sonic Generations really captures the heart of what made SEGA, and Sonic Generations as a whole captures the flare that past Sonic the Hedgehog games had as well.

Overall, I am absolutely glad to have played this game and I will still continue to play the game anytime and also because the HD Graphics on the game are perfectly crisp, and you can’t help but feel like as if you’ve immersed yourself in the game even though you’re the one playing the game. Sonic Generations is such a fantastic game and I absolutely love the fact that SEGA have decided to give past levels from past games the new lease of life they deserve.

One more thing. If you haven’t got Sonic Generations, then I strongly recommend you buy it for the PlayStation 3 as it is on the PlayStation Essentials list, or if you have a Laptop / PC, then it will be available to purchase on Steam.

I wholeheartedly recommend Sonic Generations.

If you enjoyed my review of Sonic Generations, then please feel free to comment below your feedback on this review. All feedback is much appreciated and to end this review on a high note, I just want to say this:

THANK YOU SEGA FOR SUCH A FANTASTIC AND NOSTALGIC GAME!

Alex Smithson

© SEGA & Sonic Team 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

© Any logos / promotional images used, such as the SONIC GENERATIONS Trademark, the Registered SEGA Trademark, including the promotional image of Classic Sonic the Hedgehog & Modern Sonic the Hedgehog, including the concept art behind the logo and the game’s screenshots are all copyright of SEGA & Sonic Team. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

Monthly Roundup: November 2016

After an eventful and busy month, I will be taking a look back on the short number of articles I have published over the course of November. I can only apologise for not being as productive recently. I have had quite a lot going on with coursework including things personal-based, but I will try to be as productive as I can over the course of December. Please keep in mind that on the 8th December, I will be doing a Mock Exam for GCSE Maths, so I will be revising for the duration of this week up until the day of my exam as I want to pass this mock exam. I can only apologise if, within this time, I don’t publish any articles.

1.11.2016 – As this month was set to be full of new challenges and full of productivity considering the large amount of coursework I’ve been doing recently, I welcomed you all to November on Mother Nature. Also, this month would be a month for remembrance considering that Remembrance Day (also known as Armistice Day) was just around the corner.

24.11.2016 – All around the world, everyone uses social media; it’s become the norm of the digital world, but on this day, I wrote an article on whether social media had a long-lasting impact on Mental Health. I gave my reasons for why I felt social media would have a long-lasting impact on Mental Health, given that in October, I had worked with the famous GIANTLAND actor, Oli Regan, and I mentioned that now was the time to stand up and fight to end the stigma against mental health, but that we should also raise awareness for mental health. I also mentioned that now was our time to really make the positive change and the best difference in this world and to take a stand for all of those suffering from Mental Health and to end the stigma against mental health.

26.11.2016 – As I share my love for SEGA‘s blue mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, I wrote a review on the 1993 classic, Sonic CD, which went widescreen, thanks to Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, who is best known for porting SEGA’s iconic classic, Sonic the Hedgehog & Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to consoles, smartphones and even tablets. I mentioned how it was such a good game to play, given that it has the old-school retro appeal that can make you feel like as if you were in the 1990’s playing this game the moment it was released.

27.11.2016 – As I visited the Croydon Road Recreation Ground on Saturday 5th November 2016 to see the Firework Display, I knew I was going to be in for a great evening, as the recreation ground was packed and had a turnout of nearly 3,000 visitors. I published a huge photo collection from bonfire night including a video, but before the firework display kicked off, the organisers of the firework display paid tribute to David Bowie, who sadly passed away on the 10th January 2016 at the age of 69 from liver cancer, and as the 5th November marked Guy Fawkes Night, celebrations came in light of the failed Gunpowder Plot, in which Guy Fawkes committed treason, which saw him being hung, drawn and quartered. Also, as the firework display came to a remarkable close, the organisers asked for donations for the bandstand as it was named in David Bowie’s memory, given that he used to perform down in Beckenham.

28.11.2016 – Shortly after I went to see the firework display at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground on Saturday 5th November 2016, I was on my way home and whilst I waited for my bus, I saw two drivers who were using their phones or tablets behind the wheel whilst I waited. I didn’t make it obvious that I was looking at them, but they were being ignorant enough to use their phones behind the wheel even when there was heavy traffic present. I also described how there were major health and safety concerns after a group of people set fireworks off which they relentlessly aimed at secondary school students as they were on their way home down Shirley Road, something of which I was only made aware of the moment I got home from college. As you can imagine, I was cross and frustrated at the fact that fireworks were set off, and I vented my frustrations by giving an example of how someone would think if they set a firework off, with them potentially almost causing someone else untold harm.

29.11.2016 – With a futuristic and technological approach, Tron: Legacy created a concept that involved Sam Flynn going on a journey into the alternative world, where instead of the world being normal with some partial technology, the alternative world would be completely digital, as Sam would encounter a clone of his father, the clone of which would be the evil force that could have potentially sealed Sam’s fate. I wrote this review given that I had seen Tron: Legacy most recently as it was on BBC One just weeks before, and I genuinely thought it was such a good film and I would recommend it to anyone.

I can only apologise for not publishing frequently over the course of November. I had so much going on with my coursework and other things personal-based, but I will try my best to make more of an effort to publish articles over the course of December.

Thanks for a good month everyone, it really means so much to have your support and I don’t know what I’d do without all of you by my side. It has been an eventful and busy month, I know, but I got through it, but again, thank you for a good month and I’ll see you all in December.

Alex Smithson

Sonic CD: Old-School Retro Meets Modern Gaming

As I share my love for SEGA‘s blue mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic CD officially went widescreen, thanks to Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, who is best known for porting SEGA’s iconic classics, Sonic the Hedgehog & Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to consoles, smartphones and even tablets and as I was lucky to grab a copy of Sonic CD via iTunes, I started playing on the game and I can be honest, it is much better now compared to the 1993 SEGA CD release.

As Sonic CD was also re-released for the PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, Android, Steam and Windows Phone, it was safe to say that the Classic Sonic we all knew and loved was back and to be honest, playing the game in widescreen is so much better now than before as you can finally feel comfortable playing a treasured classic from the past without needing to go back to a certain area in each level that you play.

The 7 time stones, later known as the Chaos Emeralds in the future Sonic the Hedgehog games, were the crucial pieces of the puzzle that would come together once you claimed them through 7 Special Stages in the game. This, of course, would give Sonic the Hedgehog the ability to defeat Eggman once and for all, or Dr. Robotnik as Sonic’s arch nemesis is most famously known as.

I won’t lie to you, it’s such a good game to play and it has the old-school retro appeal that can make you feel like as if you were in the 1990’s playing this game the moment it was released. I love the game, as it is different in its own right, but at the same time, you can’t help but feel like you wished you played this game sooner.

It’s hard to believe it was 23 years ago that this game was released, it’s amazing how the time flies, but when you consider how much technology and gaming have evolved, it’s amazing to see old games becoming new again, and it’s also amazing to see old games being revived for the big screen. Sonic CD was remastered to be played in 16:9 widescreen and it is Full HD, so you’re getting the best from this game, even if you have or haven’t played it before.

But overall, Sonic CD is such a fantastic game and you cannot go wrong with such a fantastic old-school classic like this. Sonic CD’s old-school retro appeal has officially met the modern gaming world and it’s safe to say that this game is worth downloading and is worth playing. I wholeheartedly recommend playing the game, because the moment you start playing it, those seconds turn into minutes, and those minutes quickly turn into hours of gameplay.

If you enjoyed my review of SEGA’s Sonic CD, please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

© SEGA & Sonic Team 1993, 2016

© Any logos / promotional images used, such as the SONIC CD Trademark, including the promotional image of Metal Sonic & Sonic the Hedgehog side-to-side are all copyright of SEGA & Sonic Team. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

Sonic Rush: SEGA’s Iconic Handheld Classic

As it has been 11 years since this iconic handheld classic was released, Sonic Rush was the first Nintendo DS Game produced and released by Sega. With more than 30-40 levels in the game, Sonic Rush brought to the table the new and playable character, Blaze the Cat.

Breaking away from its old tradition of just being 7 Chaos Emeralds, the introduction of Blaze the Cat brought about the Sol Emeralds. As all the levels for both Sonic and Blaze were indefinitely the same, there was a twist to this game, as the music for every level was almost the same, but did change as you played either character. For instance, playing as Sonic the Hedgehog meant the music for the game would remain as is, but for Blaze the Cat, the music sounded more in your face, but was able to fit accordingly and also very well to the overall concept of the game.

For each level, there were obstacles that were almost impossible to get through, given that some levels were a lot more complicated than they first appeared to be, which proved just how much of a smash hit game Sonic Rush was when it was released.

I got this game the year after it was released when I went through hospital treatment from March to May 2006 after fracturing my wrist/arm and I was in pain, but this game kept me going through the pain and I’m pleased to say that for a game like this, it is absolutely worth every penny and also worth everything that comes with it.

I love games, but the type of games that peak my interest, and Sonic Rush and the Sonic series is the type of series of games I would always play.

In the game, you have not one, but two Eggman characters. Eggman and Eggman Nega.

For Sonic the Hedgehog to collect the seven Chaos Emeralds, you would need to find a spinning wheel of different colours in the level, and if your speed gauge is full enough, Sonic will be able to hang on to it and then speed around full circle on the spinning wheel, to which he will be thrown up but into a portal taking you to the secret part of the level where the Chaos Emeralds can be collected.

All seven Chaos Emeralds are separated accordingly over the entire game but throughout all the levels. All you need to do is collect them. In order to gain each Chaos Emerald as you progress through the game, you will be given a ring count target to reach and if you reach it the first time, you will then be given another ring count target to reach, and if you do reach the second ring target then you will earn the Chaos Emerald. If you don’t reach the required ring count target, you won’t receive the Chaos Emeralds, which in effect sets the difficulty to all-new heights.

As you continue to progress through the game, each boss gets harder to complete but the final boss that involves Sonic transforming into Super Sonic and Blaze transforming into Burning Blaze is one of the hardest final bosses you’ll complete, because just like the final boss in Sonic Heroes, you will be expected to keep collecting rings in order to save both Sonic and Blaze from losing their lives as they defeat Eggman and Eggman Nega. If the ring count hits zero for both Sonic & Blaze, both will die as a result so the final boss is the battle for survival.

Sonic Rush and all the other Sonic the Hedgehog games always send a message, reading out: “Survival of the Fittest“, which keeps the spirits of Sonic Rush and the other Sonic games alive.

With 2D & 3D graphics balancing the game’s concept, Sonic Rush couldn’t have come at a better time. Despite some thinking it didn’t live up to the hype of the previous Sonic titles, I can say that it’s an iconic title that does in fact live up to the hype and keeps the energy and spirit of a true Sonic the Hedgehog fan alive.

Also, the nostalgia of some of the levels remind me of some of the previous games, such as Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2 & Sonic Advance 3, as it feels like some of the ideas from those games were recycled and reused in this game, making Sonic Rush feel nostalgic, which I love, because it’s like the ideas from past games have been recycled and reused into something new, but something that is just as better as the past, present and future Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Overall, I love Sonic Rush because of the fact it doesn’t just live up to the hype of the previous Sonic games, but because it also has that nostalgic feeling that takes you back, especially if you’re someone like me who used to and even now, would still play the Sonic Advance series, especially where Sonic Rush is concerned. Sonic Rush is the best follow-up to the Sonic Advance Game Boy Advance titles in my opinion and is the type of game I would play any day.

Do you own a copy of Sonic Rush? Please let me know what you think of the game by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Sonic Rush Nintendo DS Game Rating: 10/10