The 'Shroom:Issue 108/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Crocodile Dippy (talk)

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Nothing to really say. I'm tired and busy listening to Kendrick's dope mixtape (for certain values of "mixtape"), so just enjoy your read.

Section of the Month

Critic Corner SECTION OF THE MONTH
Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Marioverse Reviews 9 39.13% PowerKamek (talk)
2nd Location, Location 5 21.74% Time Turner (talk)
4th Character Review 3 13.04% Yoshi876 (talk)
4th Meta Knight's Boss Battle Reviews 3 13.04% Meta Knight (talk)


Reviews

PowerKamek takes a drive down memory lane in this review of Mario Kart: Super Circuit!
[read more]

Dippy goes feral in this review of Far Cry Primal.
[read more]

DragonFreak contemplates human suffering and desperation in this review of LISA the Painful.
[read more]

Everybody, get on the floor, everybody walk the Dino Piranha.
[read more]

Meta Knight deals with a baby's tantrum in this review of Baby Bowser.
[read more]

Expecting a brawl in the family? TOO BAD! WALUIGI TIME!
[read more]

Don't be such a knob in this review of Bednobs and Broomsticks.
[read more]

Trust no one, Agent Mulder. Not even the writers of your own show...
[read more]
Opinion Pieces



Marioverse Reviews

Written by: PowerKamek (talk)

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Happy March everyone! This is PowerKamek, and I’m happy about Spring being here! This month, I’m going to review a game that has been special to me since I was little, and still special today. It’s a great Mario Kart game that has been around for nearly 15 years! Mario Kart: Super Circuit!

Mario Kart: Super Circuit is special to me because it was one of my first Mario games ever! I think that the courses are imaginative, like Ribbon Road. The background may look a little kiddish, but I really don’t care. I wonder who ever thought of a road made out of ribbon. Also the course Cheese Land is pretty cool. Driving on cheese with cute Little Mousers running all over the track just makes my day. Another great course is Bowser Castle 4. It’s one of my all-time favorite Bowser Castles. It’s layout is fun to play on because of it’s challenging obsticles. My favorite course in this game is Sunset Wilds because I like how the course gets deeper into nighttime every lap. It makes me feel like I’m watching a sunset while I’m racing, which gives me a good feeling.

I like how you can view your replays on the time trial records option. If you save ghost data, it will go here and you can view it whenever you want. But, you can only save up to ten of them. For the battle mode, the battle courses are great. It’s fun playing on multiplayer mode because you get to battle. My favorite battle course is Battle Course 4 because it’s more peaceful than the other courses. I don’t really battle much on this game anymore, but I still like that course.

Alright, I said enough, it’s time to rate it! Let’s see:
Pros: Great, imaginative courses; great battle courses, great gameplay

Cons: Multiplayer mode isn’t the best

Since there’s plenty of positive ratings, I’m going to rate it a 9.5/10. It’s a very good game, and if you’re a hardcore Mario Kart fan, I highly recommend playing this one. Thanks for reading and have a great month!



Crocodile Style Reviews

Written by: Crocodile Dippy (talk)

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Far Cry: Primal
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Developer Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher Ubisoft
Platform(s) PlayStation 4, XBox One, Windows
Genres Sandbox, beat ‘em up
Rating(s)
ESRB:ESRB M.svg - Mature
PEGI:PEGI 18.svg - Eighteen years and older
ACB:ACB MA15+.svg - Fifteen years and older
Available From

PETA’s history with video games has been decidedly antagonistic, of no great surprise to anyone. With their rather hilariously inane attempts to drive up controversy for attention with Super Tofu Boy and whatever the fuck this was, which was made all the more amusing by how many enraged gamers took the bait. Oh PETA, you sly, animal-slaughtering dickheads, always playing on outrage culture like it’s actually difficult to do. But honestly, if PETA were to have a genuine shitfit about anything in the gaming sphere, Far Cry Primal would certainly be one of the better options, since this game has more counts of animal brutality than a KFC chicken farm.

Far Cry Primal is the latest in Ubisoft’s long-standing series of open-world shooters dedicated to the destabilisation of every third-world nation, but after the disappointing reception to Far Cry 4 – or rather, Far Cry 3: Part 2: The Map Icons Strike Back – Ubisoft have decided to best path to take is to remove all the guns and cars and set their sights on destabilising our ancestor’s instead. Far Cry Primal takes place 10,000 B.C. during the Ice Age in a bountiful world called Oros, where you take the role of resident monkey-man Takkar coming out from a failed hunting excursion short of his entire party, where he now has to hang around with the least popular kids in high school to beat the ever-loving shit out of all the rival gangs and become king of the blood-soaked skull mountain.

The first thing you’re likely to notice when you start playing is that you can throw spears at shit, unless you’re dyslexic, in which case good fucking luck figuring out what the shit you’re supposed to do since the text is blisteringly small in the menu and everyone talks in a crazy fictional language that I’m going to presume is whatever nonsense tongue Glowsquid (talk) speaks. While you start the game out with just a club, a girl barking orders at you, and an insatiable bloodthirst, Far Cry Primal is definitely one of the better examples I’ve seen in recent memory of a game delivering new weapons and gear to you at a steady, easy to manage pace. It was such that I found myself actually using all the weapons in the game instead of simply relying on crushing people’s balls with my big fuckoff club like a goddamn animal.

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Speaking of animals, the central mechanic of Far Cry Primal is definitely the beast taming ability, wherein Takkar can use bait to attract a nearby predator and then subsequently domesticate it for use in mauling enemies while you run off with all their shit. While it’s easy to assume that getting more dangerous animals automatically makes them better, a lot of care has been invested into balancing out each beast’s statistics based on stealth, speed, and raw power, as well as quirks that each species possesses that benefit different scenarios. For instance, dholes automatically loot your enemies’ pockets upon killing them, while bears can swim and draw enemy fire away from you. It’s a nice touch to give every creature a bit of extra life, even with the herbivores that you can’t tame, especially the mammoths, which you’re able to ride around for maximum environmental destruction, since where would an open-world sandbox be without copious amounts of property damage?

Although this is one world that you may want to avoid damaging too much, since the vibrant colours and gorgeous landmarks make Oros one of the more aesthetically exciting worlds to explore, a pleasant contrast from the endless grey sludge a lot of these games subject you to. It’s actually quite impressive that a world as big as this can avoid feeling too much like a copypaste job, due in very large part to the unique landmarks, biomes, and wildlife that populate distinct areas of Oros, although the size can make travel a pain in the ass. This is where the bonfire system comes in, wherein you follow standard conqueror procedure of killing everything that doesn’t look like you until the only thing standing between you and a comfy night’s rest in the frozen wastes are the dead bodies stinking up the place. Taking these camps and settlements grants you fast travel options, and thank the fire gods that these bastards have set up so many camps across the world, because travel time running through the jungle with angry wildlife chasing after you would begin to feel like my daily commute.

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And by the fire gods, are there a lot of options to kill things in this game, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for anyone who’s been with the Far Cry series since word dot. Aside from the clubs, the bows, the spears, the traps, the daggers, the bombs, the animals, the stealth takedowns, and the fires, the game sees fit to also grant you a pet owl, which can be used to scout the area, mark targets, as well as drop rocks on people like a prehistoric Dennis the Menace. The sheer degree of options available to you to terrorise and brutalise your enemies is staggering, although it can get frustrating when you’re planning a beautiful stealth attack but your animal friend decides to go for a merry stroll through the enemy camp, alerting them all to your exact location. It’s like when your dumbass dog tries to greet everyone you know regardless of whether you hate their guts or not.

I think one of my bigger gripes with the game is that while it is a barrel of fun to explore and hurl spears at people’s throats, the game’s RPG elements are shallower than a scene kid’s poetry. Completing missions and killing enemies grants you experience which amount to skill points, which can be invested into a myriad of skills based on survival, combat, foraging, etc., but experience is gained so damned quickly that it becomes very possible to upgrade every useful skill before the half-way point in the game. It’s not helped that the upgrade system is largely shit like “carry more spears,” “have more health,” “run faster while you eat your breakfast because you slept in and are late for work for the tenth time this month,” and all the skills in each category only branch off three ways anyway, so it’s not like there’s a lot of deep decision-making to be had. When are you ever going to need the ability to use weapons while you’re carrying a dead body? Who the hell carries dead bodies in these games, other than to put them into sexually suggestive positions like a 12-year old?

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Also if you’re going to invest in a crafting system in your game, please for the love of god, give us more than a few sticks and huts to upgrade, since there’s very little to actually build beyond equipment upgrades and home improvement. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with that but several of the higher upgrades require so-called “rare” versions of normal resources that are most often acquired at random while scrounging for the base material. It’s ok if you want to simplify our crafting options, but when I’m being forced to rely on a random number generator to upgrade my bloody longbow, I think we’re having a misunderstanding over fair and equal exchange. Not to mention that for all the world’s dynamic events and vivid wildlife, the bonus missions do little to stimulate the imagination, since Ubisoft seemed content to just recycle a handful of quest types, program them to appear at random on your travels, and knock off to eat their mammoth steak. Save one twerp in bondage, you’ve saved them all, and I had so many denizens in my settlements as it was that I eventually just resorted to killing all the berks the game expected me to save. Fuck it, this is 10,000 B.C., I have places to be, things to do.

But for all of Far Cry: Primal's faults and failings, I found it a genuinely enjoyable ride, even if it felt a bit unstructured and too free. The story doesn't really evolve much past its initial established goal of "conquer and destroy", but it's prehistoric times, they're evolving about as fast as they can, and it gives you less pressure to keep advancing in the story so you can put more time into riding mammoths through hordes of Mad Max rejects. The game's mechanics are sound and the dedication to the art of murder is admirable in its own way, even if it's at the expense of depth, and applying the Far Cry formula to a completely unique, beautifully realised setting distinct from all past entries (and most games in general) was a smart move from Ubisoft. Give it a burl if you have the spare cash, and enjoy your newfound love for taxidermy.

The 'Shroom: Crocodile Style Reviews
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2011
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Psychonauts
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Assassin's Creed: Revelations
2012
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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
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Ōkami
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NeverDead
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Kid Icarus: Uprising and Asura's Wrath
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I Am Alive and Journey
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Prototype 2
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Dragon's Dogma
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Spec Ops: The Line
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Darksiders II
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Sleeping Dogs
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Dishonored
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Assassin's Creed III
2013
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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
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MediEvil
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Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3
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Tomb Raider
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BioShock Infinite
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Metro: Last Light
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Remember Me
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The Last of Us
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State of Decay and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
2015
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Half-Life series
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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
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Darkest Dungeon and Hand of Fate
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Bloodborne
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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
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Splatoon
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Life Is Strange
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Until Dawn
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Mad Max
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Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4
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Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
2016
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Fallout 4
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Ico and Shadow of the Colossus
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Far Cry: Primal

DragonFreak's Review Quest

Written by: DragonFreak (talk)


"I've been dead for 35 years. Today is the day I live."
LISA the Painful
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Developer Dingaling Productions
Publisher Dingaling Productions
Platform(s) Windows
Genres Side-scrolling RPG
Rating(s)
ESRB:ESRB M.svg - Mature

Do you like Earthbound? Do you wish Earthbound was darker and grimmer? Do you wish it was so dark and grim that it causes you mental and emotional pain? If so LISA the Painful is for you. And no I am not kidding or exaggerating when I say this game will cause you mental and emotional pain.

Recently there have been two Indie RPGs that have embodied the spirit of the Eartbhound/Mother series. One of them is, of course, Undertale. The other is a game released just a year before, which is called LISA the Painful (or simply known as LISA). Even though both of these games are spiritual successors to Earthbound, LISA and Undertale cannot be any more different. Undertale's themes deal with friendship and non-violence. In LISA, everyone is your enemy, and the only way to win is to kill. This is a truly, one hundred percent kill or be killed scenario.

The game starts out as the child version of the main character, Brad. He saves his three friends from getting bloodily beaten up by bullies by sacrificing himself in their place. This tells a lot about Brad. That he is a good person and really wants to help and do good. He limps home to his run down house ran by his abusive drunken father. After seeing Brad’s bruised body, he hurts him further by throwing a beer bottle at him and sends him to his room. An event that is similar to what happened in LISA the Painful’s Prequel, LISA the First. Brad, even though he has a heart of gold, comes from a broken and ruined childhood, and his life just begun.

Jump forward to the present time of the date. The Earth is in a post-apocalyptic state. As explained further early in the game, in a sudden, blinding flash of white, the entire world became a desert wasteland, leaving everything dry and depressing. It is terrible, but that is not the worst part of the apocalypse. The same white flash annihilated all the female humans in the entire world all at once. They just completely disappeared. These events completely ruined civilization as we know it. The rest of the male human population are left to suffer this new world and what happens is nothing else but completely anarchy.

It does not take long for everyone to realize that with no women, the human population cannot survive. Eventually all humans will die out, their species completely doomed. It depresses most everyone at the thought. However, one day, Brad discovered a miracle. Nearby his house, a newborn baby was swaddled in cloth, crying out for their mother. Brad takes them in to show his friends and they find out that the baby... is female.

Brad is not stupid. He knows that if he were to announce he found a baby girl, everyone would go after her for various reasons. Some would want to use her to procreate and save the human race. Others... well they would rape her to satisfy their lust. It is a grim and cruel realization that this miracle of a baby girl’s life will always be males wanting to use her like a tool. Brad decided to take a stand and hide the girl for an indefinite amount of time and raise and protect her. One day someone snitched about her and a vicious gang led by a mysterious Rando had her kidnapped. Brad sets off to find her, before anything bad happens.

As you travel through this post-apocalyptic world, that atmosphere of fear, defeat, and depravity is heavy with almost every area. This game is what I would call “accurate”, meaning that the scenario the game presents is something I could fully believe would happen if this specific post-apocalyptic world would to take place. The White Flash wiped out any kind of culture and instantly replaces it revolving around the lack of women. Cults are formed to search for women. Businesses are open for lonely men to cuddle with crossdressing men (a mini game you can actually play as the cross-dressed man side), and the currency of the game are magazines. Dirty magazines. And I am not talking about the ones that are part of guns. The amount of world building is pretty great, something that I feel is very important for RPGs, and LISA nails it.

Now let me tell you about what I call the gimmick of this RPG. This is what puts the “Painful” in LISA the Painful. Throughout this journey, you will have difficult choices, make sacrifices, and permanently lose party members. You are probably thinking “But Fire Emblem has permanent deaths, that is not unique”, which is true that Fire Emblem has that mechanic, however you can’t exactly compare the two. With FE, your party members die usually when you make a tactical error (or when the RNG is not on your side). But LISA, your party members are lost... just because for some reason. They can abandon you. They can be kidnapped (where you may be fortunate enough to rescue them). And in battle, some monsters have a permanent death attack, where if a party member gets hit by this attack, they die forever, never to be able to be playable again (unless you game over in that battle or do not reset). Luckily there are 30 party members you can recruit so it is unlikely you will run out, but the fact that you can lose them relatively easily adds to the grim realism of this game.

You can also permanently lose party members in a series of scripted choices where the outcome is undesirable regardless of the decision. These choices, for being in a video game with no effect on the real world, are very difficult to make. If you are someone like me who emotionally invests in the characters in a game, it is only going to intensify these decisions. For me these choices are the best and worst parts of the game. Worst because they truly are gut-wrenching decisions, best because I love that they make me feel these emotions. In fact, that’s what I like most about LISA, it is hard to make me feel these emotions in real life, because they just never happen. And for a video game that can inflict disgust, despair, depravity, complete hopelessness on me, as well as others, is a very interesting experience.

Do I recommend this game? I thought about this for a long time, and I have to say, no I do not. At least, not casually. Here is the thing, comparing it to other games of the series like Earthbound or Undertale, both of those games have a sort of universal appeal, where a good chunk of gamers regardless of their interests could pick it up and enjoy it. LISA does not have that universal appeal. There are many people out there who would like a game possibly styled like LISA, but would find its contents unpleasant enough to stop playing fairly early on. However, if what I said sounds great to you, chances are you’ll enjoy it. LISA does everything it attempts to do very well, and I have lots of praise for this game.

Also if you liked or loved this game, I highly recommend you playing the DLC: LISA the Joyful. It picks up where Painful leaves off and it is one of the best DLC I have played. It is almost as good as the base game.


Character Review

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

Dino Piranha

What a cute little bab.... oh, wait, we're about to kill it...

Super Mario Galaxy was the first big game for the Nintendo Wii. And it was a big game, spanning various galaxies. And as a result it introduced a lot of new characters, enemies and bosses, and it's the first boss that I'm going to be talking about today: Dino Piranha

Dino Piranha is encountered in the first proper galaxy of the game: the Good Egg Galaxy, and also appears in the first level of the aforementioned galaxy. And as the first boss of the game, he is naturally quite easy to beat, and is generally just intended to be a tutorial for how to use the spin move. Which is quite a shame, because he just ends up being wasted potential. Dino Piranha is in essence, a baby, so in my opinion what would have been a better root for the character would be something always stop you from defeating him, and in the next battle, he's grown a bit and it able to counter the moves that you previously used on him, meaning you need a new way to beat him. Instead, we just get a one-shot boss as per usual.

As for characters, as a result of him being a one-shot thing, there's not really a lot for me to say on this. Dino Piranha acts like a generic baby, throwing a tantrum every time doesn't go his way, although having some strange guy throw your tail at you in an attempt to kill you is a decent enough reason to be throwing a tantrum. And sadly, that's all I can really say on him, he's given nothing but a lazy generic personality and wouldn't be memorable in anyway if he wasn't the first boss in the game. It's sad, because yet again if he'd been a recurring boss then they could have done something with the character.

Other than his Super Mario Galaxy appearance, Dino Piranha hasn't appeared much, instead just being a rehash boss in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and a an event boss in Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, in an Olympic event that doesn't even exist. And here again, he doesn't really do much, so hooray, we've brought back a boring character, just so he can continue to be boring.

I want to like Dino Piranha, I really do, his design is incredible and probably one of the best thought out designs in the game, but because he's just a one-time boss with a boring generic character and a load of wasted potential, I can't look at him with anything but contempt for what he could and should have been.


Meta Knight's Boss Battle Reviews

Written by: Meta Knight (talk)


This month I'd like to go back to Yoshi's Island. I can't believe that Yoshi has been around for 25 years. While he didn't debut in this game, I wanted to take a look at one boss in particular that stands out. There are plenty of unique bosses in this game, but for now let's take a look at the final fight against Baby Bowser. In level 6-8, you move through a long corridor as Helicopter Yoshi. After this you'll go through one of four doors. No matter what door you choose, you'll end up in another long corridor where Kamek attempts to ruin your days with his attacks. This is important because you can really tell that the tension is building up for something. The music really helps set the tone. I also like how Kamek attacks similarly to how he did in Super Mario World. Once you skillfully maneuver through his chamber, you will be at the boss door.

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You enter a dark room, then Baby Bowser reveals himself after a bit of dialogue. The way his reveal is executed is phenomenal. This is the first time we've seen Baby Bowser, and the developers really were able to make this moment dramatic. I also like the fact that Baby Bowser has a personality of what you'd expect his adult counterpart to be like. Anyway I love this fight. Baby Bowser tries to jump on you, hoping that you will give him a piggy back ride. Honestly I would want a pet Yoshi too. Just ground pound him 3 times and you win. This boss is easy, almost anyone can do it. Shouldn't be too surprising, Yoshi's Island is usually pretty easy. I still think that the reveal of Baby Bowser makes this fight great. Some may think this part is underwhelming, and I can see that, but congratulations, you beat the game. Or at least that's what I first thought upon playing it.

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Of course, Baby Bowser won't go down without a fight. Kamek uses his magic to make him gigantic, and this begins one of the best Bowser fights in history. The castle is rumbling, the night sky is bright, and out in the distance, Baby Bowser slowly rises from the background. The music is awesome, one of my favorite boss battle themes of all time. It's so amazing because you would never expect a hard electric guitar like this in a Yoshi game. The music also builds up this second phase as well. The developers really made a perfect atmosphere with this fight. Once Baby Bowser is revealed, the music has a shift in tone, drifting from a suspenseful buildup, to being fast paced for the fight to begin. Heck this final boss could be terrible, and the music would still be just as awesome.

Game-play wise, this battle is unique. Baby Bowser first sends boulders to break some of the castle, setting up the area for you to move around in. The first thing you'll notice is that there are no enemies to gain eggs from. Instead, you'll need to get giant eggs from the balloon helpers. Then you'll also notice that you throw eggs into the screen to hit Baby Bowser. For a Super Nintendo, this is incredible, and really showed the system's power. Graphically, everything looks amazing as well just like you'd expect in Yoshi's Island. However, getting used to the new dimension may take a while. Baby Bowser will also target you with fireballs. Throughout the fight, cross-hairs will appear on Yoshi indicating where he's going to shoot you. This means that you can't just stay still. I love this because it creates an intense fight, and keeps you on your toes. It also ends up making quite an interesting parallel, because you are aiming cross-hairs in Baby Bowser's direction.

After a few hits, Baby Bowser will summon a few more boulders. The areas you're allowed to stand on become much shorter. It is another fantastic way to set the tone for this battle. There are so many things about this fight that are truly spectacular. The visuals, the music, the atmosphere, the uniqueness, the game-play, etc. In this fight, there's nothing but you, and Baby Bowser. You aren't only trying to save Baby Luigi, but if you fail, the entire Mushroom Kingdom would be under Bowser's control. Words cannot express how I love this fight. Part of it is because it's so unexpected. You would never expect something as intense as this in Yoshi's Island. You can even see how in Yoshi's Story, Baby Bowser sticks to the light hearted theme. If you have not played this fight by now, you should. I highly recommend it for anyone.


Graphic Novel Reviews

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

Brawl in the Family: The Complete Trilogy
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Author Matthew Taranto, Chris Seward
Release date 2016
Genre Comics, video games
Pages ~700
Available From

Greetings, readers! Welcome to the March issue! This month, for Graphic Novel Reviews, I decided to review a series that is close to my heart for its gags, heartwarming moments, and parodical musical numbers! I review for you, Brawl in the Family’s complete bound trilogy!

If you’ve never been on the internet or have been living under a rock all your life, I’ll give you a basic rundown. Brawl in the Family was a webcomic started in 2008 by Matthew Taranto, using characters from Super Smash Bros. Brawl and their associated games. The series ran for 6 years, up until it was announced in strip 580 that THE COMIC IS ENDING?!?! Needless to say, that was quite a sad day, but yet, one we all knew was coming.

The thing is, about Brawl in the Family, is that it is a family. Longtime fans of the strip know a lot about Matthew (less of Chris, because Matthew did 90% of the comics and updating), and how he went through a lot of ups and downs during the run of the series, including his wedding, his miserable hospital stay with a mysterious ailment that was later revealed, and the death of his family dog. He and his wife also had a baby within the past year (more on that later)! But Matthew stayed positive and upbeat throughout all of it, creating funny and touching comics strips, musical numbers, and eventually his own video game, Tadpole Treble, scheduled to be released sometime this year. Matthew is such a likable guy, he really became like family to the fans of the comic.

I started following regularly early in 2010, after one of my friends in high school told me to check it out, and I was instantly hooked, reading the 100s of comics I'd missed while sitting in my video production lab waiting for the computers to load up my final project (hey, it was stop motion for 7 minutes, which meant 30 hours of loading time, pretty much). I followed it all the way until the end, shedding tears at the final tributes Matthew created as thanks to all of his loyal readers.

Around the time that THE COMIC IS ENDING?!?!?, Matthew started a Kickstarter project to fund the creation of two more books that collected every comic in the series picking up after Book 1 left off (his first successful BitF Kickstarter) That Kickstarter managed to raise over 250,000 dollars, surpassing every goal Matthew, meaning the last two books were packed with extra content and certain reward tiers for hardcover books were able to get fancy slipcases with their purchases. I opted for a paperback trilogy set, since I hadn't gotten the first book from the first Kickstarter, and also because I was a poor college sophomore at the time. Delivery was set for May 2015, and we were pumped!

"May 2015?!?!" I bet you're thinking, "Why is she just blabbing about this now???" Well, around May was when Matthew and his wife Sarah announced they were having the baby, and the deadline got pushed back to June, then August, and further and further. After the initial push back, problems with the publishing company continued to move that deadline and it seemed like these books were never going to come out. People were losing hope, some were demanding their money back, but most held out, knowing Matthew wouldn't disappoint.

AND THEN THERE THEY WERE HERE. I got mine a week or two after I'd returned to school from winter break, and I was happy to hear from my dad that they hadn't been damaged in any way by the shipping. I even got an original print of Volume 1! And boy, these suckers were heavy. He didn't expect them to weigh so much, but when I told him what they were compiling, he understood. Currently, the books are sold out from the store and Kickstarter, but if you want to read the comics, (and you most certainly should!), the website will still be up and running for the foreseeable future. You can even log onto the forums and chat with other users about the comics. I love to go on there to check out some of the gorgeous fan art that's featured on the website.

Which brings me along nicely to the books themselves! As I said, they are heavy. They aren't ordinary graphic novel-sized, they're more like 9x11 inches, which is huge. Currently the only book I own that is heavier than any of these is my Allspark Almanac, which is the same size but at about 500+ pages, I believe. Honestly, I can't even imagine trying to read the hardcover edition. My paperbacks are heavy enough, and reading one without setting it on a table or something is rather tiring. Matthew even said that one of the hardcover books managed to take a bite out of his hand while he was trying to take pictures of it- ouch! So yeah, they are not portable. Unless you're planning to pack a nice, sturdy backpack!

On a quality standard, however, there isn't much to say. They are absolutely awesome. The pages are incredible high quality- the thickest comic paper one can get for a comic book, without it being that weird shiny stuff that you scrape your fingernails on, uguughguh, which is the main reason for the heft. Better than my Archie comics, better than my DC graphic novels, heck, I think this paper even beats my Almanac, which is mighty impressive considering that's from licensed publisher IDW and Matthew is an independent artist with limited Kickstarter funds. The pages aren't the best smelling pages ever (yes, I DO take page smell into consideration), but they could be a LOT worse. Colors are vibrant and don't bleed, and text is easy to read. My one nitpick is that the spines just read weird. They go bottom-to-top/left-to-right when pretty much all of my other books read top-to-bottom/left-to-right. A minor thing, I know. Additionally, if you did get an original print of Book 1, the spine doesn't match up correctly with Books 2 and 3, but it's not really that big of a deal. The spine text bothered me more than that did, and I'm an incredibly OCD person when it comes to my books.

"This is still a webcomic! How'd they put music in a book, huh??" Well, you can find all of the songs in the books, along with any comics that have panels in .gif formats. Matthew included QR codes for each of them, so you can just scan them with your smartphone and it'll take you straight to the comic's page where you can see the action, or hear the music, or both! A very nice touch, in my opinion, instead of just leaving it with "to view video, please go to brawlinthefa..." This way, you can check those comics out even if you don't have a computer right there with you. And I don't know why you'd want to miss these songs. Matthew is a fantastic composer, and he has a great voice. He's even invited family members to sing with him (as well as drawing a set of comics for his birthday, which are also great)!

One of the things Brawl in the Family was known for is the mouseover text that accompanied almost every comic, minus about 75 or so of the earliest ones and the massive ones that are more than 40 panels. Usually a little quip, or a pun on the day's comic, sometimes they'd span a sentence or two and you'd have to really read quick before they disappeared. Or they could be the most famous ones, found accompanying each and every video game review that Matthew talked about. I won't spoil those, because they're some of the best. Anyway, all of the mouseover text can be found in the books! Even the long ones, yes. So don't ignore that text! There's a lot of work put in, even though it probably doesn't feel like it.

But the most important part of any book is what's inside, and what's inside these books is really quite special. What do I love about Brawl in the Family? I love the simple gags and the guest strips. I love how stupidly funny B. Royale in the Family is. I love how much detail Matthew was able to pack into Cocoon Academy. I love looking through the books again and again and getting all the references I missed, knowing who the Battletoads are, and finding Snake's butt in pretty much every comic he was in. I love the respect that he treats these characters with. The care and love he and Chris and all of their guest put into the series is what makes them so special. They're Nintendo fans, in the best sense, just looking to have some fun with the characters and breathe new life into them. They're charming and funny, silly and heartfelt, creative and simple, and so much more. The comic keeps the 'family' tone, as the website was where we kept up with Matthew's hospital updates, congratulated him on his wedding, and mourned the loss of greats like Iwata-san, among others. You can bet that if someone significant to Mario, Kirby, or Nintendo passed away, Matthew would deliver a beautiful tribute. Anniversaries were celebrated with gorgeous drawings and songs. E3's were given big reviews and recaps,, when Matthew would usually travel out to LA to see the spectacle in itself. It's amazing to see how much his style has evolved from Book 1 to Book 3, and I truly mean that. Any artist will show a gradual progression of deepening skill as they continue through the medium they're exploring, but when you look at the six years Matthew spent writing the comic, it's just incredible. Blue 'Kirby eating something' gags morphed into multi-update, 120-panel arcs that are in full color with gripping plot lines and twists and turns. Very rarely are characters introduced who do not make a repeat appearance. This is no more evident in the comics all following 580, (THE COMIC IS ENDING?!?!?) where you can really see the lengths Matthew and Chris went to to make sure the comic went out gracefully, tying up loose ends while leaving the ending as a tear-jerking, bright vision of the future they want to see from Nintendo and fans. So definitely, thank you, Matthew and Chris, for six+ incredible years of storytelling and song singing.

My final rating??? "FUNKYK38 SEZ...THIS IS A GREAT COMIC!"


Movie Reviews

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks
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Genres Musical / Fantasy
Release date October 1971 (UK), December 1971 (US)
Starring Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson
Runtime 96-139 minutes (depends on which version)
Ratings U (UK)

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a live-action Disney musical, and as such it's filled to the brim with animated sequences, England and cockney children. Oh, and it also comes jam-packed with knob jokes for the parents.

Now, if you've looked through my little template above you will have noticed the varying runtimes and that's because there are three different versions of the film, all with varying run times. The original lasts for 117 minutes (1 hour and 57 minutes), the 1979 reissue lasts for 96 minutes (1 hour and 36 minutes) and the 2001 reconstructions lasts for that whopping 139 minutes (2 hours and 19 minutes). The version that I'm reviewing is the original 1971 film, but I really wish that is was the 1979 version, because various sequences in the 1971 version just last so much longer than they should, I honestly struggle to think what else they put into the 2001 version to extend the runtime by about 20 minutes. In the 1971 version there's a scene during the soccer game on the island of Naboombu where the two goalkeepers hit the ball back to each for about a minute before anything else even happens, there's an establishing shot lasting for about two minutes just showing all of the armour that Miss Price has just brought to life, and the main offender is the dance sequence during the Portobello Road sequence; it lasts for about five minutes and features random people dancing, and I mean random, the majority of the scene doesn't include any of the five major characters. What's worse about that sequence is that it was shortened by six minutes before it was released into theatres, I guess that's what they shoved into the 2001 version.

For a fantasy film, it fulfils it works quite well, it includes magic, talking animals and Nazis, your bog-standard stuff really. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that the overall plot of the film involves Miss Price trying to become a witch and find a certain spell so that she can help the war effort. Although, the Nazis that she faces aren't entirely threatening considering that their overall aim when they land in her village is to "scare people and cause mischief", and plus like any movie version of the Nazis they're hilariously incompetent, seeing as a man with no discernible talents is able to sneak past and even knock a few out and they take several minutes before deciding that they might want to fire upon the witch that's causing them so much trouble.

However, as a musical, it falls kind of flat. None of the songs are entirely memorable and all of them before "The Beautiful Briny" seem forced, the biggest example of this I'd say is "Eglantine", which is song where Emelius is trying to convince Miss Price to be his assistant for a magic show.

Now, I am reviewing a 1971 film here in 2016, so I feel like I should bring up how well it has stood the test of time, and whilst the majority of the animated sequences have (I'll get onto the bits that don't in a small while), the live-action does have a few issues. My main one being the fact that the British countryside either looks like green-screen or that it's been painted, and seeing as they filmed parts of it on location at Corfe Castle, I have no idea why they didn't bother filming it properly. However, there is a particular sequence that shines through and that's when various inanimate objects animate, moving around on invisible strings these objects appear much better than the CGI stuff that we'd have nowadays. Now, onto the animation parts that don't work as well, all the times that the bed disappears look like something you'd expect from the seventies, and during the scenes where it's travelling it does look like an acid trip; however, the main problem is during "The Beautiful Briny". Most of the fish that have their eyes open look like they are brain-dead, especially with their Frankensteinesque grin on their faces.

The acting and characters are a mixed bag. The child actors aren't actually that bad, it's just their Cockney accents that will get on your nerves, and I think the actor who played Paul was told to always show his entire set of teeth whenever he spoke. My other gripe is that for whatever reason Angela Lansbury (Miss Price) seems entirely incapable of showing the emotion of shock. And my gripe with the characters is that most of the people who live in the village are entirely pointless, there's an army officer who's supposedly mistaken for a Nazi constantly, yet it only happens once; a priest who's interested in Miss Price for monetary reasons, yet his subplot is removed; and the home army who only show up once the Nazis have fled.

I have two other issues that I can think of. One of which is that it seems that Disney had the budget for a real rabbit, yet they couldn't afford a real cat and that most of the time when the Nazis speak German they don't have any subtitles, yet other times they do, so for the majority of their dialogue you can only guess what they're trying to say. It also raises just a couple of questions, like how an entire army of armour and trumpets made it across a village without waking anyone up? Or, how if the human characters can be injured by the fantasy animals living on Naboombu, why do they not drown in its waters?

Overall, it is surprisingly an enjoyable film. Yes certain sequences drag on, but they never feel agonizingly boring, you just wish they'd hurry up so the plot could advance. And yes, I have more gripes than you can shake a stick at, but really if the runtime was cut I'd find it hard not to suggest this to someone. Whilst I haven't watched the 1979 version, I imagine that it has shortened down the overly long sequences, so I would probably end up recommending that one for you.


The Stoob Tube

Written by: Stooben Rooben (talk)


What's that? You say you need a TV junkie to review TV junk?
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Please, sit down, Agents! Welcome to Critic Corner's third edition of The Stoob Tube! I am your darling writer, Stooben Rooben, and I am here to help you find television entertainment that won't liquefy your brain! Well, actually, TV's not all that bad, but it still helps to know where to look — and that's why I'm here, to introduce you to good entertainment. Or, in the worst case, tell you which programs to avoid.

I will try to hide any significant spoilers in black bars that you have to highlight to read.

The X-Files (miniseries)
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The show's title sequence.
Creator(s) Chris Carter
Executive Producer(s) Chris Carter, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, James Wong
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi
Number of Seasons 1
Number of Episodes 6
Genre(s) Science fiction, Drama, Mystery
Channel FOX
Running Time 44 minutes
Original Run 24 Jan, 2016 — 22 Feb, 2016

This month, I will be reviewing a brand new program, one that this generation of television has needed to see for quite some time. That program is The X-Files. Yes, the very same one that aired 1993—2002! Fourteen years after the end of the original series' run, and eight years after the theatrical release of I Want to Believe, we've finally been presented with a six-episode miniseries that will answer our biggest questions and tie up any remaining loose ends. Not only could it provide longtime viewers with the ending they've been waiting on for 14 years, it could serve as a great method for attracting a whole new generation of viewers. If you are unfamiliar with the premise of the series, though, allow me to explain.

The X-Files follows the story of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mulder is a strong believer in the existence of extraterrestrials, supernatural beings, and government conspiracies to cover up their existence; Scully, on the other hand, is a staunch skeptic, though highly intelligent and analytical. Both spend their time working under division of the FBI that works on difficult, unsolved, or otherwise unexplainable cases, known as the eponymous "X-Files". When the show starts out, Mulder is already working for the X-Files division when Scully is assigned to be his partner; her job is to debunk his outlandish theories with cold, hard science. Quite frequently, though, just science isn't enough to explain or solve the cases these two encounter.

Among the returning X-Files alumni is Mitch Pileggi, who plays the role of Walter Skinner. He appears in four of the six aired episodes, and is credited in the title sequence for those episodes only.

Mulder's obsession with the paranormal is not without good reason; when he was 12 years old, he witness his younger sister, Samantha, being abducted by aliens. This starts the ball rolling for Mulder's new purpose — to find and reveal the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials. This is a journey in which Mulder encounters foil after foil, though that rarely seems to stop him, even when Scully is in complete doubt of his beliefs. As the show progresses, Scully witnesses and experiences a wide array of events she can not explain with science alone. Her skepticism evolves over the course of the show, to the point where she is arguably more open-minded than Mulder (due in part to Scully's religious beliefs — something Mulder can't help but be completely void of).

Throughout the show, the two agents are occasionally aided by other individuals (although they are not necessarily always allies). Among some of these people are Assistant Director, Walter Skinner, the tough but flexible supervisor of Mulder and Scully; The Lone Gunmen, a trio of conspiracy theorists who provide reliable technological insight; and even the cigarette-smoking man, the main villain of the series. John Doggett and Monica Reyes are also vital characters in the eighth and ninth seasons of the show, two FBI agents who essentially fill in Scully and Mulder's own shoes, respectively.

When the series ended in 2002, it left a number of questions unanswered and arcs incomplete. The finale was not bad (I enjoy it quite a lot actually), but it was a slightly frustrating finish to a show that spent nine years very clearly building up to something without fully achieving it. The X-Files is very much a show that could see a well-rounded ending, yet somehow it remained just beyond the finale's reach. To many fans, this was still an acceptable approach to the finale though, since it more or less encapsulated how close The Truth always was to being uncovered in the show (not only by Mulder, but by anyone who tried).

That's a dumb question and you know it.

The open-ended nature of the finale eventually led to the creation of the I Want to Believe movie in 2008. Intended and promised to be a better conclusion than the original series finale, the film failed at living up to this claim in nearly every aspect. The film was pretty negatively-received and left a number of fans feeling pretty sour. Mistakes happen, though. So long as you learn from them and improve, it's not so bad, right?

That's where this new miniseries comes in. After the success of 24's reboot, FOX decided it would be a good idea to greenlight a similar opportunity for their flagship show of the 90s, The X-Files. While 24 received twelve episodes with their miniseries, The X-Files received six. Scheduling conflicts played a big factor in the decision to produce only six episodes. Size isn't everything, though; six episodes is plenty of time to tie up any loose ends in the series and still have a little bit of room for fun. I mean, that's, like, at least the length of both X-Files movies!

Unfortunately, those six episodes do not uniformly serve to conclude the very long X-Files story. As a matter of fact, only two episodes (1 and 6) focus on the "government conspiracy" arc that dates back to the 1993 pilot. Episodes 2 through 5 utilize the classic "monster-of-the-week" format that The X-Files made commonplace. Around the same time these facts were announced, the miniseries was officially referred to as "Season 10" by Chris Carter, the creator the series himself. These choices send a lot of mixed signals, but aren't necessarily damning. Two episodes can still answer a lot, and it's not like they can't keep the main arc going in the background while these monster-of-the-week cases are going on.

I remain skeptical of just how much will be answered, but confident that I will enjoy the episodes and the performances. Seeing some beloved old characters back in action at what they do best is gonna have to be at least somewhat cool. So with that, I will break down each episode's worth and how they stack up all together in the end. This should be pretty fun.

The Roswell Incident. A fair amount of time and money went into creating this crash sequence and the resulting impact site.

Episode 1: My Struggle

The premiere starts off six-ish years after the second movie (I Want to Believe), with Mulder narrating a decent summary of his time on the original X-Files run. It hypes you into thinking this season is going to pick up right where the original series left off. The next scene is the 1947 Roswell crash scene showcased on the left. Military, feds, scientists — all show up to investigate this massive event. When an alien is discovered crawling away from the ship, it is succinctly executed by military personnel despite pleas from nearby truth-seekers.

Jump ahead 69 years and we see Scully randomly receiving a call from The Skinman (Walter Skinner, that is), requesting a meeting be arranged between Mulder and A Bill O'Reilly Type (affectionately named "Tad O'Malley", enjoyably portrayed by Joel McHale). If that sounds forced at all, that's okay, because it is. The reason Skinner wants these two to meet, is to discuss a woman who claimed to be abducted and have her fetuses stolen. Pretty disturbing if you're not familiar with what to expect from an X-File, but otherwise standard fare and a bit thin for the reboot basis. It's at this point I realize, they're not going to continue the story from the comics. In actuality, the comics are completely ignored. Even worse, they aren't the only writing that's ignored.

Television's biggest proponent of carcinogens since Rod Serling is still alive. But only because he's essential to Chris Carter's master plan in Episode 6.

Meanwhile, things are happening, the abductee is getting examined by Scully, Mulder's talking about conspiracies, Tad is feeding that, Skinner is in the background mostly just looking badass with his new beard, but...something...doesn't quite feel right. The writing is flat and uninteresting, because it's frankly a huge cliche at this point — the kind of thing Supernatural would use as the basis of a lampoon episode, not the kind of thing X-Files would use to keep the momentum of their conspiracy arc moving...let alone as a launching pad for a new generation of X-Files seasons. To make the weak writing already worse, the acting is some of the most cardboard in all 200+ episodes of the series. Mulder are Scully get into an argument over how badly "he wants to believe", but neither side of the performance was convincing. If anything, I was half-convinced they were making fun of the original series. Joel McHale did alright throughout the episode, at least.

By the time the episode was over, I was left wanting more — but not because the episode was so great I needed ANOTHER FIX, MAN. It was because I felt kind of cheated. It was great to see Mulder, Scully, Skinner, back in action in a modern setting, around new people, but absolutely nothing about the episode interested me. The cliffhanger was old news. Even worse, nothing got answered. I love the original X-Files, but this episode was flatter than Eugene Tooms after the escalator. Thankfully, the night following the premiere, a second episode aired. Surely, it's a continuation of this new layer of conspiracy arc?

At the end of the season, quotes like this start to feel like foreshadowing.

Episode 2: Founder's Mutation

Wrong. Episode two switches to The X-Files' signature monster-of-the-week format. This one is written by James Wong, rather than Chris Carter, though — a fact that definitely shows, although this episode is still not stellar by any means.

The episode starts out with your typical X-Files cold open. We see some sort of scientist suffering from bloodshot eyes and a high-pitched ringing in his ears. This isn't just tinnitus, though. This is the kind of noise that turns Walter Red into Walter White. The plot isn't a complete rip-off of the classic that is "Drive", though; it actually has a few entertaining (if predictable) twists throughout the episode and carries its weight well. There are mentions of "Alien DNA" throughout the episode, so you're left feeling like the arc hasn't been abandoned, at least. It's a comforting feeling that appears all too infrequently this season.

I wish I had more to say about the episode, but unfortunately it's still pretty standard-fare. The ending is has a decent payoff, but really, things are still feeling halfhearted at this point. I will admit that the return to "monster-of-the-week" format worked out pretty nicely, but let's face it — that's not why most viewers wanted the show to come back, especially for such a short period.

Prop replications of Kim Manners' and Jack Hardy's gravestones. While Manners was a creative influence during the original run of The X-Files, Jack Hardy worked on short-lived sister programs Millennium and The Lone Gunmen. Episode 3 serves well at honoring their contributions without distracting from the story itself.

Episode 3: Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Now THIS is an episode. Even though it's not a government-conspiracy-spooky-alien story line, it is the single best episode in this six-episode run. Another stand alone "monster-of-the-week", this loony episode is written by Darin Morgan, who has one of the best track records of any X-Files writer or producer. What starts out as a likable, comedic episode, turns out to be extremely clever in the story department, too. It features a number of twists that I was pleasantly surprised by, but best of all is the very lengthy and hilarious monologue provided by Rhys Darby (who, also humorously, is dressed much like Kolchack, The X-Files 1970s inspiration).

To make an already-good episode even better, there's also a fair amount of fanservice, which caters to nearly any type of fan — those who get high on referencing old lore, those who tune in only for the memes, even horny Scully fans waiting on that first sex scene (spoilers: the scene is a totally hilarious and unbelievable part of Darby's monologue, so it doesn't feel awkward or unnecessary).

Remember Queequeg? Well, meet Daggoo! He's also named after a Moby Dick character. And Scuwwy wuvs him.

The episode references a number of old episodes (Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, War of the Coprophages, Quagmire), and bears some obvious influence from certain scenes that made Jose Chung's From Outer Space and Small Potatoes so great. Darin Morgan had his hand in every single one of those episodes, which shows he pays attention to his work and is consistent. This is not something that can be said for any other writers in this season.

Perhaps the most touching part of the episode, though, is that Darby's long monologue takes place in a cemetery. Well, the cemetery part isn't touching, but the fact that there are clear shots of headstones with Kim Manners' and Jack Hardy's names obviously means that the writers want the viewers to know, "hey, these two people meant a lot to us and we want you to know their names". While my personal exposure to Hardy's work has been a bit limited, Manners definitely put heaps of work into making The X-Files shine. This was the first opportunity the series has had to express their condolences since either of the two passed away; the fact that they worked this background memorial into one of this very-restricted season's episodes says that it was a top priority for the crew. Overall, the episode lives up to the quality you would expect from a classic screwball X-File. I was plenty happy with this episode.

The Trashman is the only creepy monster of the season.

Episode 4: Home Again

I got a little nervous when I first read the title of this episode, but I felt much better once I realized this was not literally revisiting the plot of Home. (If you've never watched The X-Files, that's pretty much the most disturbing episode in its entire run.) Written by Glen Morgan (brother of Darin), this episode is yet another "monster-of-the-week" feature. The cold open is violent, but intriguing. The creature that is the focus of this case, the Trashman, looks cool and has the makings of a memorable X-File. All in all, the episode starts out very promising.

However, the focus of this episode quickly drifts and then splits: Scully's mom is in the hospital, unconscious. Random, pain-inducing drama! Just wanted I wanted out of this reboot! ((No, it's not.)) I'm actually not too sure what spurred this story choice. The character had been out of the show for a while, is not immediately important to anything going on in the episode, or anything going on in the entire season.

The episode also makes countless references to William. If you recognize the name, then you know exactly what that means; if you don't recognize the name, don't worry, it's a pretty big spoiler from the original series that I'm not going to get into. What is particularly frustrating about these mentions, though, is that they amount to absolutely nothing in this episode, yet again. I don't remember The X-Files doing this. It's like when Lost would bring attention to something as if it were highly important, only to retreat out of fear of commitment. It's a good way to string viewers along to no resolve. Me no likey.

Unfortunately, the interesting parts of the Trashman's case get completely smothered by this ongoing side-plot that becomes the main plot. It felt to me as if the purpose of the episode was changed halfway through production, and that the only reason any time was being spent on the case was because they started the episode out with it. It's as if they didn't think of a proper closer. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the Trashman as a monster and was interested in what little bit of lore he had attached to him (even if one of Mulder's rants regarding the monster completely contradicts his findings in another episode).

In other words, the writers are not paying much attention to continuity. The Were-Monster episode gave me hope that this wouldn't be an issue, but here it is rearing its butt-ugly head.

Robbie Amell (left) plays Agent Miller, while Lauren Ambrose (right) plays Agent Einstein. These two characters are new agents introduced in the miniseries. They function as a modernized (and somewhat parodied) version of Mulder and Scully.

Episode 5: Babylon

And here we arrive back at Chris Carter as writer; the circle is now complete. Chris Carter's name is typically associated with the conspiracy arc episodes, so you'd think this would be the part where the season gets back on track with the whole "wrapping things up" bit. I mean, we're in the back half of the season, and there's only 2 episodes to go...but nah, let's have another one-off monster-of-the-week! Oh hey, just to spice things up, why don't we make it not a monster, and just a cliche terrorist case? Seriously, this episode plays out like a watered-down "homage" to 24's worst seasons. It's truly a bottom-of-the-barrel episode. I could probably think of at least 200 other X-Files episodes I like more — so in other words, it's worst than most of the entire series.

Super Mario Wiki represent.

To inflate the length of the episode (because the actual case would only last 15-20 minutes), we are introduced to two new agents, Miller and Einstein. They are meant to be nods to Mulder and Scully, respectively, but just come across as incredibly hamfisted characters. Miller is a boring copy of Mulder, having all of "spooky Mulder"'s traits without even half the heart (although, twice the finesse); making connection to this character even more impossible, are the facts that he gets very little screen time, and that, for all we know, we're never going to see him again after Season 10. Einstein, on the other hand, is more like Slowpoke, bearing obvious similarities to Scully (in profession, personality, and appearance), but replacing most of her intelligence and foresight with brattiness. She also suffers from the same screen time and connection problems that Miller does. I want to like these characters, but I just don't have enough to grab on to. I guess that's my struggle.

The episode takes a random detour two-thirds of the way through when Mulder decides to use magic mushrooms to communicate with someone in a coma. This should be a good idea, but it's not. It's executed terribly. There's a 5-minute montage of Mulder doing line dances, getting whipped by Cigarette Smoking Man, and a mere one- or two-second speechless cameo by The Lone Gunmen (who, if you blink, you will miss — if you can even recognize them in cowpolk garb). If this doesn't sound corny to you, then you may change your opinion when I tell you the entire scene is backed with the most overdone bad country song ever: "Achy Breaky Heart". Couldn't have picked something else equally horrible that hasn't been played five-trillion times?

The whole episode is built with that shroom trip being the climax, but it's forced, awkward, and feels like a genuine waste of time. "Babylon" does not belong in this season; hell, it barely belongs in The X-Files. Even if I did get to hear The Skinman say "dude" twice.

Perhaps Chris Carter is trying to tell us something?

Episode 6: My Struggle II

Last stop: Season Finale! Another episode provided by the very brazen Chris Carter. I don't think I need to tell you that I've lost the will to believe at this point. I realize now that there is no way The X-Files is getting wrapped up properly in this lone 44-minute episode. It just can't happen. There isn't a season 11 on the horizon or confirmed yet, either. I don't know what the hell Chris Carter is thinking anymore. But hey, I've already watched five of the six episodes, I may as well watch the finale. It can't get much more disappointing, right?

Annabeth Gish briefly reprises her role as Monica Reyes in the season finale.

No. Wrong again.

So, we return to the Tad O'Malley plot from the premiere. "Alien DNA" is mentioned enough times in the episode to make a drinking game. Mulder, Tad, and the entire world are getting sick from some sort of apocalyptic alien virus, and only Dana Scully can save the planet with her cultured blood. Not even kidding here. Like, the entire population gets sick and society starts falling apart within hours, but almost equally as fast, Scully realizes that her Alien DNA holds the key to this whole thing. The whole cure-making process takes only a few more hours, with only two people working on it, who aren't even sure if they're doing the right thing at first. X-Files has had some rushed deus ex machinas in its day, but this one was totally uncalled for.

Carter tries to cram five episodes' worth of content into one episode. As a result, the episode is poorly-edited, confusing, paced unbelievably, and completely devoid of any sort of meaningful character development...with two exceptions. Although, I feel using the word "development" here is misleading.

First, is the reappearance of Monica Reyes. As someone who enjoyed the eighth and ninth seasons of The X-Files, it's awesome to see her back in the series. Unfortunately, in less than seven minutes' time, she completely violates the moral compass viewers has grown accustomed to her having. Reyes is essentially a soft-spoken, female Mulder, but no, Chris Carter decided she should side with C.G.B. Spender, despite the many established reasons she would never do such a thing. Perhaps there is more to the picture than we are seeing in this single episode, but with no guarantee of season 11, there's really no way of telling if we will get a more fleshed-out explanation for her actions. Still, though, that's not the worst of the episode.

Real cute.

The title of "worst offender" appropriately goes to the Cigarette-Smoking Man himself. While he appears in a decent portion of the haphazard episode, what he does and speaks about in that time is perhaps the most unforgivable act Carter committed in this whole X-Files revival: He completely retconned the Smoking Man's plan for alien colonization of Earth — you know, the main reason this character even exists in the X-Files universe... Never before have I seen nine seasons (or, mercifully, seven seasons) undermined in a less-than-ten-minute period before. Props to Chris Carter for that one, I guess?

If you're not feeling dissatisfied with the episode's profound blunders yet, then allow me to continue. When Scully creates the cure, she rushes to find Mulder in a traffic jam, acting and driving like an idiot the entire way there. When she arrives, Mulder is basically on death's door and she says she's there to help him. ...Then, she wanders off and talks to Agent Miller about some shit going down earlier in the episode. How un-Scully is it to let Mulder helplessly fade away in a car six feet behind her? By this point in the show, there's less than one minute left. Nothing is going to get wrapped up — not even this single episode's story. Suddenly, a UFO appears, its beam focused on Scully. The camera zooms in to her eyes and ends just like that. Th-th-th-that's all folks!

Basically how I felt about the whole season. Except Episode 3.

Aftermath

So much went wrong with this season. I've already rambled for an entire lagfest about how awful it is and I feel like I've still barely touched on why I was so disappointed. Most of my other complaints are minor compared to the issues I did point out though, and would require me to go into too much detail of the original show for just this one section. If you are a true X-Phile though, you'll no doubt pick up on every part that stinks. If you've never watched the show before, do not start here. This season, in many ways, is completely unfaithful to the original series. It's not just the arc neglect, either. The characters are written recklessly, and the acting frequently becomes awkward as a consequence. Even details such as Mulder being logged into mobile apps that can track him contribute to the overall feel that the writers (and especially Chris Carter) have forgotten what they were even aiming for when they first started writing the show.

I can not knock the entire season, though. "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" is truly a fantastic episode and may very well have been worth the other five episodes being commissioned. Darin Morgan did awesome and should feel proud of his accomplishments. I will, however, pretend those five other episodes don't exist — just like I do the second movie, I Want to Believe.

Well, really, I can't fault Glen Morgan or James Wong too much either. They did their part in their episodes, and parts of those two were at least entertaining. But at the end of the season, they just don't feel "worth the weight".

Chris Carter's obliviousness towards established arcs and character traits is deplorable. He needs to take a step back and let some different writers handle the true meat of the show, if it even comes back for another season. It's not like the X-Files crew doesn't have connections to nearly every major television network; their writer pool is far from narrow. So, why would Chris Carter seemingly choose to butcher his TV baby? My guess is that he just wants people to know what his name is, without really caring about what kind attachment those people will make to it.

Another area this reboot will fail at spectacularly is bringing in new viewers. There is no grab to this season. Anything good you see here, you can get elsewhere on TV currently. Mulder, Scully, Skinner — all these characters pale in comparison to their original-run counterparts, which is a shame, because I would love to see those three reeling me in to the show again. I love those characters, and I don't entirely blame the actors for the way they turned out this season. The performances were lifeless at times, but to be fair, it's probably difficult to work with such 1-dimensional scripts.

I would love to supply a quote as to why you should watch this, but I'm afraid I can't bring myself to muster such content this time around. The reason being, that I consider Season 10 of The X-Files shameful. I cannot think of a better word. Unless he plans to pretend this Season 10 doesn't exist either, Chris Carter and any future writers and producers are seriously going to have their hands full fixing this mess. "My Struggle II" is a contender for one of the worst episodes of primetime television I've seen this decade. Possibly longer. It is bad and Chris Carter should feel bad. Chris Carter made me feel bad for being foolish enough to think he'd actually wrap shit up. What a jerk I am.

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