Friday, 16 November 2018

Spyro the Dragon, Reignited Trilogy (Game Review)

One of the most anticipated games this years burns up the competition.

Following the awesomeness of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy the bar has been set really high so it didn't come as a surprise when Activision delayed the release of the tiny fire breathing dragon we all love.. 

Whatever about the delay the game is fantastic. It's one of the first games I had on my PS1 released all the way back in 1998 when I was 22. The main thing I loved about the game was the play-ability, compared to modern games, the controls were simple. Walk, charge, fly and blow things up. That's it. AND thankfully this hasn't changed.  

(Although I have fond memories of banging the combination of square, square, circle, x, triangle triangle etc in Soul Calibre.) 

The plot is simple ... go around to loads of different levels, collect jewels, find the dragons and release them. Fight baddies and eat fairies on the way. Throw in a bit of flying and that's it. It doesn't have to be anymore complicated than that. 

This come to my next favourite thing about the game. Nothing has changed in this either. The story hasn't changed and so far the levels are the same. I've a bit of OCD - whilst it's great fun to get to as many new Worlds as quickly as possible - I love going back, finding all the jewels and catching the little FUXXXer that has stolen the eggs and keeps laughing until you catch him. It's lovely when you reach the 100% complete. But that laugh ... aaaarrggghhhhhh.

(source by Blaria)

The Reignited Trilogy includes remakes of Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Revenge, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, the only one annoying this is you have to download the last two games; unlike with Crash, all three games were on the disc but this isn't enough to lose sleep or rating points over. The graphics are amazing, whilst I recently played the first Spyro on my trusty PS2 a couple of weeks ago the graphics looked sooooo bad on the big screen. There are no problems with this newest version. I especially loved the way the burnt grass regenerates and it never gets old killing chickens and sheep. Lamb kebab anyone.

One of my favourite things is the puzzle solving element of trying to fly/glide to the hard to reach spots to find hidden gems and am constantly awed at the vibrant 3d graphics, particularly when you get to a high vantage point and are looking around to find those hard-to-reach treasures. Always look behind the pillar and to the left or right of a doorway you just charged through. Apparently the whole game had to be rebuilt from the ground up as Activision lost the original coding, which even though sounds a bit mad, the complete rebuild is just awesome. The nuances of the grass interacting as you run around (although a little bit annoying when it hides gems - this didn't happen in the original version), the sounds effects are cool and if you stand around too long Spyro gives out. I love the flying stages and can't wait  to reach 100% complete in them, these were always the challenging levels and now have fab graphics.

This game has so much going for it. It suits all ages and I love the idea of Dad's finally being able to best their kids in a game. As you are flying around you suddenly remember - "hang on there's a hidden corner there with some gems" and you can surprise the yung-uns with your superior knowledge. Of course, if you can't remember where those spots are there are of course multiple walk-throughs available already. Gone are the days of buying those magazines to find the solution you spent three long nights trying to figure out.

Simply put ...

Newbies to Spyro will love it, the simplicity is it's charm and adds to the addictability, some modern games are heavy and serious. This is a fun game for all the family.

Old codgers like me will love this remake and the nostalgia factor is massive, just hearing those old sound effects transports you back to playing the games 20 years ago.

It is of course a 10 out of 10 planets for me.

John The Captain Ryan

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Stand-Up against bullying. #StandUp18

This week, 12th - 16th November is National Stand-Up against homophobic bullying week.

This will be a quick blog ...

90% of LGBT youth experience mental health issues with 70% feeling unsafe in school.

Check out this heartfelt video by James Mitchell TV; he talks about the relief and support he felt after opening up to his friend Steph as part of the #BetterOutThanIn campaign for LGBT youth. Taking the brave step of opening up to someone you trust is worth it.

If you are struggling to start your conversation with a family member or friend, stick one of these on the DVD player and start watching it.

I've watched them all and love them for different reasons but Love, Simon is my fave.  I've blogged a review of the book HERE 

And the movie HERE 

Anyway, that's me done for today.

Live Long and Prosper and talk to someone today...

John The Captain Ryan


Saturday, 3 November 2018

The unholy trinity of Peter Casey, Bigotry and the protest vote.

For me, last week's Presidential debate has brought home to roost some worrying trends in Ireland today.


One week after the election I just wanted to string together some thoughts. Traditionally there has always been a protest vote, that is our right as an electorate and is a valid way of public protest. Of course the best way to do this is to write an interesting message on your ballot paper - for example - "I wouldn't vote for any of these candidates if my life depended on it" - or one could write some naughty words!  

I remember seeing some of the messages on the ballot papers during the Marriage Equality Referendum, let's just say that people were very emotional. And that's fine. But this time around people registered their "protest" by voting for the lowest common denominator, the candidate that said some home truths, showing that he was willing to be a bigot and whilst people wouldn't agree with what he said (in public), during a secret ballot they were more than happy to vote for him. He latched onto the politics of hatred and fear just like Trump and Brexit and won a large percentage of the vote. Thankfully a larger percentage of the population didn't agree with him but it is still worrying result. 

If you are of a left wing train of thought you have plenty of people to vote for, Labour, Sinn Fein, Solidarity (aka Anti-Austerity Alliance), People before Profit, Workers Party and several independants. So, if you wanted to register a left wing protest vote, against the establishment you have a lot of choice.

The right wing is more limited however, if you don't want to vote for the established parties of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael (can't link) you are stuck with either Renua or the Human Dignity Alliance. These 2 protest options are frankly sucky so you then choose a candidate that politically lies to the right and says what others are afraid to say in public. 

Role in from stage left - Peter Casey. 8 weeks ago we didn't even know who the man is and now as the national airwaves are still giving him screen time (as I'm typing he is on the Late Late Show) all we can think about is whether we are a welfare state and if Travellers should be considered as Irish, nothing more or nothing less rather than a seperate ethnic group. Casey refuses to recognise them as an ethnic group.  But hang on; this is a them and us arguement of hatred and NIMBYism. And we all know where this has led both the US and Britain - yes down the road of exclusion, fear and bigotry.

Whilst the Travelling community made clear their disapproval of Peter Casey; 342,727 of the electorate agreed with what he was peddling.

(source - Irish Times)

This vote for now is only attacking a small group of people living in Ireland but where does it end. It brings to mind this ...

It's funny in a country that has made two huge left wing liberal changes in the last 3 years - Marriage Equality and Divorce - that we support the politics of exclusion and hate. And then in contrast we vote to repeal the blasphemy laws which is another liberal thought - free speech and all that.  

It's really hard to know where we will go from here, the right wing and those who sell their opinion of exculsion and bigotry are now free to say horrible things about those of a different faith than them, so, will the next group of people to be attacked be those of a Muslim faith (all hale the great U. S of A - wow; see where I'm going with this)    

One thing is very clear, the political landscape of Ireland is changing. We can certainly take the following from the results:

a. The protest vote is becoming more dangerous and those in the traditional parties need to pay more attention to what's being said. The far left has harnessed this vote in the past, now, it's the turn of the right wing.

b. The calibre of the discussion and debate during the election was very poor leaving a vacuum that was going to be filled with horse shit.

c. Whilst on one hand we are becoming a more experienced and learned electorate, on the other hand we can be influenced by outside interests via social media and the value of the doorstep campaign is losing traction.

d. The General Election (whenever it comes) and the Local Election next May will be very interesting, maybe ... MAYBE ... we can use this as an opportunity to mobilise the youth of ireland, just like the Marriage Referendum and help make ireland a more welcoming home for all.

John The Captain Ryan

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Another wander around Wexford at Festival time.

Join me on another exploration at Wexford Festival Opera time.

(source - Wexford Chamber)

I blogged last week about my fave exhibitions between the Bullring and Selskar, check it out here.

This blog I'm going to trace my walk between the Talbot Hotel and Rowe Street but first I want to cover an amazing exhibition in the County Hall. (That's the big glass box in Carricklawn pass the hospital).

This is by any measurement the most stunning exhibition this year. War Changes Its Address: The Aleppo Paintings' is an exhibition that will run in Wexford County Council buildings from 29th October – 3rd December 2018. The exhibition features work by artist Brian Maguire, bringing together a selection of recent works resulting from a visit to Syria in 2017. This exhibition grew from Maguire’s own experience of the aftermath in Aleppo and developed in response to the refugee crises which has arisen because of this conflict.

The scale of the work is amazing and couldn't have been showcased in a better venue, the grey quarry like appearance of the civic space is the perfect canvas for such an exhibition. The paintings are vast, meters wide and high in some cases and cannot be done justice with photos, you really have to see them for yourself. The destruction of Syria can be felt by the fact one can walk straight into the work. Simply put, an amazing exhibition that everyone should see.

 You can read more about the artist Brian Maguire and more on this exhibition here.

This exhibition gets a 10 out of 10 planets.

Walkabout Map 2 (original source Wexford Fringe)

Starting at the Talbot Hotel (green circle on map), there is a huge amount on offer but most, in my opinion whilst very good, fine art, was a bit traditional and boring. A lot of artists have been exhibiting in the Talbot for years and most of the work has a  "same-ie" kind of feel. The one exception was some striking work by Tony Oakey. It'd hard to decribe his work, but I like what I saw. (From his own website ...)

"My "style" has sometimes been described as surreal but I'm not mad enough to be considered a surrealist.   Slightly mad and a bit "different", maybe"


I think that sums it up, I didn't get a chance to speak with the artist but hope to over the next few days. With framed prints there's something to suit everyone's pocket,  here are some of my faves:


The second place I visited was the Friends Meeting Hall (blue circle on map) in Patrick's Square to check out Wexford Camera Club's exhibition. My dad and I are former members so like to keep an eye on what they have been doing. You can find more information about them on their website and facebook. There is a lovely variety of work covering themes of people, landscapes, flora, fauna and abstract so again something to suit everyones tastes. They have a fantastic raffle where you can win a choice of prints. Check it out!

To choose one photographer to showcase is difficult, depending on your personal taste but for me Vladimir Morozov continues to create amazing work, what he does with a camera clearly transcends just simple taking a photo, he is creating true pieces of art work. You can find him on the WWW or Facebook. BTW, he is also a lovely guy and very generous with his time and knowledge.  His most recent series of landscapes are ridic!

And the dude is even photogenic himself ...

And finally, last but certainly not least is the Denis Collins - Padraig Grant Gallery at the bottom of Rowe Street (opposite Cappachinos, red circle on map).

Again, there is a wide variety of work and different price points so something to suit everyones tastes and pocket. Padraig has on display a great collection of his work over many years, some showing his wide travels around the World and also some of his favourite works from around Wexford. 

 (source - Padraig Grant's Facebook page linked above)

There is an eclectic mix of art on the other side of the gallery, here are some of my choices:

Fascinating felt work by Mairead Ryan (no relation). I especially loved Denis' explanation of how the work is created.

The abstract landscapes by Eoin Cassidy are striking and I wouldn't mind having one on my wall ...

 And a beautiful collection of Carmel Fenlon's work.

And finally, a photo of Denis "Outstanding in his field" (aka window)

And thats me done. The best of both walkabouts is the exhibition in Wexford County Council but I have to say again; we are so lucky to be immersed in art and craft all year around in Wexford, I'd urge you all to get out, find something you like, speak to the artists and if you have a few spare yoyos support a local artist.

Please share my blog and comment as to what you've liked this year.


John The Captain Ryan.






Sunday, 21 October 2018

Wandering around Wexford at Festival time.

The best of what Wexford has to offer (part 1)


 (Photo source Pat Sheridan)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of what Wexford has to offer, I hope you can indulge me for a minute. I and so many Wexfordians are so lucky to have a plethora of art and craft right on our doorstep, not just at festival time, but all year round. Outside of Dublin and Galway, Wexford has one of the best art scenes in the country and every Wexfordian has become an expert and critic. Are we educated and knowledgeable - sometimes we are, sometimes not. But, we know what we like. To paraphrase - I can't define it but I know when I see it. 

Since the age of about 11, I have always wandered around checking out all the exhibitions, I make it a point to speak to as many artists that I can, offer encouragement and congratulate them on their creations, not all beautiful (in my eyes) but most with a little bit of the persons soul or being. One thing you can certainly see is that sometimes it's not the destination but the journey and over the years I've loved speaking to the same people and checking out their journey, anyway, enough of the soppy stuff. Let's see what I found.

(Walkabout Map 1)

I started at the Creative Hub (green circle) in the old Bullring Mall.

This exciting new space for artists and creatives located in the heart of Wexford town, in the old Cornmarket Shopping Mall, is now the new home to over 25 artists and craft makers as well as young musicians from the local FDYS youth music programme.

Spearheaded by Wexford County Council and supported by Wexford Art Centre, this new hub comprises approx 8,000 sq ft and provides much needed space at a subsidised cost for artists from the county’s thriving creative sector.  The initiative is a direct response by the Council to artists’ needs as identified in the county’s recent arts plan ‘Advancing the Arts‘ launched earlier this year.

I love the idea of a local arts collective, showcasing some amazing work. The Makers House is the place to be for craft work, my faves being Annette Whelan's glass sculptures.

I've seen Annette's work for over 10 years and am constantly amazed with what she creates, a true artist and Wexford local (her studio is down in Kilmore). Check out her facebook. I also liked Bianca Divito's work (she is also in Whites Hotel).

But there's loads to check out there ...

Moving on to work on canvas, my fave was the open studio of Declan Cody and Olivia Dwyer

And there was some beautiful work in the hallways also ...  

The next venue I loved was the Light and Shadow gallery (red circle - opposite the Bike Shop - 24 Selskar Street).

Jonathan Murphy's work is meticulously hand cut paper sculptures, depicting surreal and atmospheric storybook imagery. He has been awarded both National and International residencies. They have put together a great group exhibition so there is something for everyone's tastes ...

Check out the website HERE and Facebook

The surprise of the weekend was a small exhibition on the top floor by Dara Finneran; his work has a combination of digital, machine and hand-drawn elements. I loved his work. 


If I wasn't broke I'd be buying something from Mr. Finneran!  I love the balance and fusion of the different mediums, the choice of colours and patterns are interesting, the overall affect is great and you keep looking trying to figure out how each element has been done. Well worth the climb up the wobbly stairs.

And in the room next door, there was some really good photography by Aled Owen Thomas (web & facebook)

I popped into Pig Yard Gallery (blue circle) and had a quick look at the exhibition there and really enjoyed the realistic painting style of Jackie Edwards. No picture - go check it out yourself.

And then the final destination was the massive collection of art and craft in Whites Hotel (yellow circle). It's hard to pull out a favourite but the work by Martin Mc Cormack - Irish Peat Art - was stunning and very creative, something I've never scene but unique. Speaking to Martin, he is a lovely person and I could have talked to him for ages. AND his work, well it's amazing. When you talk about something being Irish and of Ireland, it doesn't get any better than this. Martin starts with painting his colours on his medium of choice, then adds a layer of peat (mixed with secret stuff). He then uses tools to scrape away the patterns and create an impasto with the colour showing underneath. He even encourages people to feel the surface of the painting which is great. One of my fave pieces was resurrection...

Well thats me done for now, I'll cover from the Denis Collins Gallery to the Talbot Hotel in the next couple of days. I hope you've enjoyed my wanderings (both by foot and by blog) and please comment which exhibitions you liked. Please share my blog to help promote these brilliant artists.

John The Captain Ryan



Spyro the Dragon, Reignited Trilogy (Game Review)

One of the most anticipated games this years burns up the competition. ( source ) Following the awesomeness of Crash Bandicoot N....