The 'Shroom:Issue 122/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Issue100 anton.png

Hello hello hello to this merry month of May. Summer is right around the corner and I'm already making plans to cut and run to the beach and get ice cream whenever I can. Critic Corner is back again with a whopping 12 sections, wowzers!! We've got all of the usual sections, plus a special review from Gabumon (talk). Congrats to Lord Bowser (talk) for winning CC's Section of the Month for April! You may see him in a new role this month, so be sure to check out everything~

This month we are also saying bye to Yoshi876 (talk)'s section Yoshi876's Monthly Thoughts. I'm sad to see it go, as I always thought it was a nice summary of news that I may not have seen, or from the perspective of someone across the pond, but I'm sure Yoshi876 has other tricks up his sleeves, which I think is particularly remarkable given that he doesn't wear a shirt ever! Without this section, please refer to Fake News as your next reliable source of media and world events.

Next month be sure to leave a clove of garlic out for Wario Claus before you go to sleep, and if you've been good (or bad, he doesn't discriminate) you will receive an entire issue of Wario-themed sections! Everyone is more than welcome to participate whether in Critic Corner or any other team! Also, Mario Awards polls will be out for next issue as well, including the Community Awards where you can vote on 15 things based on community and 'Shroom features. I will be spamming that all over the entire community for the next month or so, so keep an eye out and be sure to vote!!!

And speaking of voting, reader please keep voting in our Section of the Month poll at the bottom of this page! The results of it help us figure out what content you like, and help our writers know if there's something they should change. In this tune, writers, I'm vaguely planning on unleashing the power of Critic Corner on ourselves and figuring out a way to open up internal critiques on each other's sections. Plenty of people read and enjoy your sections, but feedback is hard to come by, so if you ever feel like you want someone else to take a critical look at what you're writing and provide you with a response please feel more than welcome to ask me!

Section of the Month

Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Lord Bowser's Inside Story 8 27.59% Lord Bowser (talk)
2nd Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 5 17.24% Hypnotoad (talk)
2nd Could Have Been 5 17.24% Alex95 (talk)
3rd Meta Knight's Boss Battle Reviews 3 10.34% Meta Knight (talk)

Opinion Pieces

Who needs to read fiction when we're living it?
[read more]

Don't space out, you might miss these again!
[read more]

Lord Bowser keeps the recliner warm for me
[read more]

Could any of these be the song of the summer? Get Rihanna on the line!
[read more]

May wishes it could be as bright and cheery as PowerKamek
[read more]

♪♫Carry On my Funky pun~♪♫
[read more]

April showers bring May shower brings Perry the Parasol
[read more]

Can I think of a purrrrfect pun that's not purr? Nope!
[read more]

Dual Screens? Deluxe? Got nothin' on MK's 7-part section!
[read more]

TTYL TTYD? Not before the Pit of 100 Trials!
[read more]

Pukeuh-Layzee? Wat a güd joke i'm captain funnybones
[read more]

Yoshi876's Monthly Thoughts

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

Hello readers and welcome to my Monthly Thoughts! Here, I give a run down on the ten, news stories that interested me the most in the past month. Most of these will be me shining the light on lesser known stories, among some of the larger ones of the past month. This issue we'll be covering news from April 9 - May 13. I'd also like to say that this is the final time I'll be writing this section. It's been fun, but I've decided to stand down, but don't worry (or do if you're not a fan), I should hopefully be sticking with The 'Shroom for some time.

10. New driving test - I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I'm 20, and I haven't passed my test. I did a few lessons, then stopped to focus on my A-levels, and then sadly never picked them up again. Hopefully I'll be doing it over Summer, but if not then I'll likely encounter these new modern tests which are coming into force in December 2017. Reversing around a corner, and other manoeuvres, are being replaced with new ones like driving and reversing into a parking spot, and navigating with satnav. These all seem like decent ideas, but whether they're actually implemented well remains to be seen.

9. Press freedom falls in U.S. - Usually something like this would rank higher up, but in all honesty it's not massively important. America still has a free press, it's just fallen by two percentage points, my worry is if it continues to fall, as we all know that Donald Trump isn't the biggest fan of the press.

8. Venice bans new fast-food shops - In a bid to preserve its traditions, Venice is banning the opening of new fast-food and kebab shops, and the only thing the measures won't apply to are artisanal ice cream. So if you want a McDonald's in Venice, better hop there quick in case new measures ban them outright.

7. Baby misidentified as terrorist - A mistake on a visa form led to US embassy officials thinking that a three year old baby was a terrorist, after his grandfather ticked the wrong box. Obviously, terrorism should be taken seriously, but I think that the baby's grandfather does have a point when he says "If you were a terrorist, I suspect you’d not be ticking yes on the Esta form anyway." And let's be honest, I highly doubt the three year old would be up to anything sinister.

6. Human DNA found in cave without bones - For the first time ever scientists have found ancient human DNA, without there being bones. The DNA was found in some sediment, and can help with further research for human evolution.

5. Reading fiction makes you nicer - A study by Kingston University in London found that people who read fiction, are nicer than people who watch TV. The study found that those who read are more considerate of other people's feelings, but given how bitchy people are on reality TV, and a large portion is murder, I can't say it's surprising.

4. American politicians obsess over Hitler - It's been an interesting month down in America, with at least two politicians making some ill-judged Hitler remark. First up was Sean Spicer, press secretary for the President, as he said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was worse than Hitler as the latter had never gassed his own people. Whilst I'm not denying that al-Assad is evil, Spicer's comments come out as a little bit Holocaust-denier, which is also not that great. Not just content with Spicer's gaffe, North Carolina politician Larry Pitmann said that Lincoln was as bad as Hitler. Not sure the President who helped end slavery should be compared to Hitler.

3. Texas plans new foster care bill - The new bill, if it passes, means that you can be rejected from adopting a child from a foster case place, if you're of a different religious belief than the supplier, or they object to your lifestyle, be it LGBT or single, because of their religious beliefs. As much as I respect America is big on freedom, religion should start taking a back seat, and allow people to adopt, no matter the situation. It's ridiculous, and in the 21st century, it's even more ridiculous.

Not pretty, but pretty cool.
2. Naked mole-rats astonish again - If you don't know what a naked mole-rat is, well look at the handily supplied picture, and also look them up, because they are nature's most fascinating creature. And scientists have discovered another cool thing about them, they can survive without oxygen for eighteen minutes, by altering their metabolism so that they can survive off of fructose instead of glucose. Makes you wonder if they're hiding any other tricks.
My thoughts are with you, LGBT people of Chechnya.
1. Chechnya gay purge - You may have missed this one, based on the fact that mainstream media seems to want to avoid it at all costs. Anyway, Chechnya authorities are rounding up gay people, and putting them in what are essentially concentration camps, where they're tortured, with some reports confirming that some have been killed. I genuinely cannot believe that I'm writing these words in the 21 century; people are gay, and if you don't like it, then grow up. I sincerely hope that everyone trapped in those camps, and Chechnya are rescued, and set free; and I also hope the media actually starts covering this. Mainstream wise, I think I've only seen it on the front page of one publication, and broadcast wise, I've heard one two minute broadcast, other than that silence.

Could Have Been

Written by: Alex95 (talk)

The earliest known design for the Super Mario Galaxy logo.
The original logo.

Hello everyone! My name is Alex95 and welcome to "Could Have Been". In this segment, I talk about features that didn't quite make it into a game's final release and see just how the cut content would've affected the game. I've been working on the Super Mario Galaxy pages over the past couple of weeks, so I thought I'd base this month's segment on Galaxy. There are a lot of unused concepts and assets for this game, so I'm only going to go over the ones that I feel stick out the most. So let's dive right in and take a look at what could have been.

Mario blasts off from "HomePlanet" in Super Mario Galaxy.
The Star World planet.

First, let's talk about the major selling point of Super Mario Galaxy: the galaxies themselves. The first galaxy shown off at E3 2006 when the game was first revealed was a place known as "Star World", which was simply a conglomeration of planets that were created at the time, from Good Egg Galaxy to Space Junk Galaxy to Gusty Garden Galaxy. Would've been interesting to see that assortment of planets in the final game, but they were there simply for a demo. The main planet of the Star World was certainly interesting, full of plains and ledges. Closest comparison I can draw it to is the main planet of the Yoshi Star Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2. Perhaps they drew inspiration from the original idea? Some of the galaxies that did make it into the final game went through some changes as well. The planet where Megaleg is found was bright white, Good Egg Galaxy had Star Bunnies inhabiting it, and it appears the Honeyhive Galaxy and the Gold Leaf Galaxy were originally going to be one galaxy; which makes sense considering the latter is a simple reskin of the former.

Rosalina concept art
Princess Rosetta.

We may be getting new characters left and right nowadays, but it's not often they become mainstream characters. Rosalina quickly rose to stardom, but she didn't always look or act the way she does in the final game. As seen on the right, Princess "Rosetta", as she was known by then, looked very different, having a beehive hairstyle and a dress similar to Princess Peach's. Why design a character to look similar to one already created? Turns out, Rosetta was planned to be a relative of Peach's. Whether that relation was supposed to be a sister, daughter, or alternate reality counterpart is unknown, as this version of Rosalina never left the concept pages as was quickly replaced with the one we know today. Shame, we could've had a definite answer to a certain game theory, but if we did, Rosalina's Storybook may not have existed, which gives us a more powerful look on Rosalina's past (which was ultimately rectified and neglected).
Rosalina isn't the only character that changed. The Lumas were originally Toads with star prints on their caps, known as "Cosmic Toads". My guess is they were ultimately repurposed into characters that had a better relation to space and were reformed into what is now known as the Toad Brigade.

Super Mario Galaxy unused characters.
Several models and skins for cut characters.

Yoshi was also stated to appear, along with Starship Mario! Comparing it to Super Mario Galaxy 2, Starship Mario implies that the world-jumping may have worked differently; however it's also possible the Starship was much larger or maybe worked similarly to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, another Wii game that launched around the same time. Ultimately, Yoshi and Starship Mario were cut and reincluded into Super Mario Galaxy 2, though Yoshi's head did appear as a planet in the Yoshi's Unexpected Appearance mission.

Friendly characters weren't the only ones that went through some changes. As Super Mario Galaxy was made by the same developers as those from Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, some of the assets were reused and are still left in the game's code, like the Helper Monkey. Bullies from Super Mario 64 seem to have been planned to be included, and I can see them working fairly well in the game: having the player Spin into them to knock them around…I wonder why they were removed. A genie's hand that looks much like Master Hand is also found in the game's files. Not sure what its purpose in the game would've been, but, being a hand, I suspect it would've grabbed something, likely Mario, and brought them to a different location?

Mario spins Coins out from the ground in an earlier version of Super Mario Galaxy
The "Coin Spin" would've been helpful…
The much-more-helpful life meter.

Now then, mechanics! How differently did the game work originally compared to its final release? Collecting and firing Star Bits is an awesome mechanic in the game, essentially allowing Mario to use a form of ammunition. However, collecting them was rather tedious in the early builds, as the player needed to hold B Button in order to collect them. As the same button is used to fire them in the final build, I'm not sure how this affected the firing mechanic. Perhaps you had to use the One Button or Two Button buttons, which are not used at all in the final game.
A mechanic that would've been helpful in some cases is something I'm calling the "Coin Spin". Spinning when you're in the center of a ring of coins would result in you collecting all the coins in one go. I don't think there are any coin formations like that in the final game, but if there are/were, this would certainly make collecting them easier. The Coin Spin kind of does make it into the final game, however only when you're using the Red Star power-up and is only relevant when you're collecting the Purple Coins in the Gateway Galaxy mission: Gateway's Purple Coins.
You know what would've been really helpful? Having more than three wedges of life in the game! In earlier builds of the game, the life meter appears to have functioned similarly to how it does in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, having eight wedges of health. Sure, the Life Mushroom gave you additional life in the final game, but only up to six hits. Eight is much more helpful, and I assume the Life Mushroom wouldn't have been in the game as a result. …Though if it was, would it have increased the life meter to sixteen?

That's pretty much all the important stuff. Galaxy's were jumbled, Rosalina wasn't a loner, and players could take more than three hits of damage. While the jumbled galaxies idea sounds interesting, I'm kinda glad they revoked Rosalina's relation to Peach. Makes her seem more mysterious. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this look into Super Mario Galaxy's development. You can learn more about the game's past in our article here, or you can head on over to The Cutting Room Floor and see the discoveries they've made. Next month, as part of the Wario theme, I'm going to go over one of my favorite Wario games. Until then, I'll see you around and a happy tenth anniversary to Super Mario Galaxy! …Or at least it will be in November, anyway.


Written By: Lord Bowser (talk)

You may have noticed I'm not Anton. Don't worry, I have a totally valid explanation.

HalfBaked 9 1.png

Alternative explanation; Anton's task of "stop writing" from last issue became a little too meta. Either way, that was a thing that happened.

Anyway, yup; I'm filling in for Anton this month for Half-Baked Reviews! Don't worry, I haven't replaced him yet; he'll be back next month. In the meantime, however, I'll be reviewing things I have no experience with and put minimal effort into researching! I hope you enjoy this honorable experiment for both me and you, which is definitely not a ploy to overrun the Critic Corner Section-of-the-Month votes!

Play VVVVVV (with six V's)

So for the past few months now, I've been asked by multiple people here to try out a popular indie game known as VVVVVV. I've actually known about the game for some time now, ever since I first saw it on the 3DS eShop a few years ago, but I never actually owned it until it was gifted to me by DragonFreak (talk) on my birthday. Partly due to a nervous-ish feeling I get when I play a new game, partly due to being busy/lacking computer access, and partly due to sheer laziness, I never actually got around to playing the game until now. Being the responsible, timely, and also beautiful role model that I am, I booted up Steam at 1 in the morning and played the game until 4am on a Saturday night.

literally me

It took me a little while to get used to the controls of this game; I kept instinctively pressing Down to duck and Space to jump even though doing both of those things literally flipped all of gravity 180 degrees. I also had to get used to just how fragile this guy was, since he literally died to everything that moved... even moving words like "TRUTH" and "LIES". Not sure why that was there, but it was certainly... unique??? Anyway, I was told that some random ship I was on was malfunctioning and was teleported to some random alternate dimension, named VVVVVV. My crew members got separated, and it was up to me to rescue them all. After the Deep Lore™ got out of the way, I was able to play the actual game some more. My initial impressions were that it was a cute game with nice-looking visuals and decent music, but... that quickly changed.

VVVVVV is somewhat like a Metroidvania-style game, where there's an emphasis on exploration and there's no real set direction for the player to go in. This is encouraged in the game by having a few moments where you can basically just free-fall through a lot of the map and just see where it takes you. I did like being able to do stuff like that; the game is basically rewarding you for having absolutely no idea where to go and therefore acting like a total loon.

also literally me

One thing I liked were the little puzzle rooms. When you're in a colored area of the map, there's teleporters and a crew member (who are essentially your MacGuffins in this game) in that area. The rooms inside are all uniquely named and feature some kind of gimmick, such as trampolines and wrap-around paths. I liked the names of some of them; the AAAAAA room was my favorite. I also like how some of them worked together, such as the "I Love You" and the "That's Why I Have To Kill You" rooms. There was also a set of three rooms named "Veni", "Vidi", and "Vici!", which was neat except for the fact that half the time they would show up in reverse order... and they also served as part of the ludicrously hard puzzle you need to do in order to get one of the game's Trinkets; you have to go up and back down a very long pathway full of spikes, with no checkpoints in between. It's really annoying and tedious to keep doing over and over again, and I gave up after like 20 minutes and +400 deaths. The other like 95% of the named rooms pretty much made no sense to me or just annoyed me, so I won't care about them.

At many other points besides that one really annoying trinket though, this game got really frustrating. There was one point early on in the game where I thought I had gone the wrong way and attempted to backtrack, though it took me a very long time to figure out that the room I tried to move backwards in was one-way; the game gave no real notice that it was, however, making me waste a good 10 minutes, amass +200 deaths, and even bug my buddy Meta Knight (talk) to save me from insanity. There were some other rooms which were just a pain to go through a lot, because they required a lot of frame- and pixel-perfect timing; with my relatively slow reaction time, this was hell for me. One room in particular annoyed me to the brink of rage.
Actually Literally Me
After rescuing the third crew member, you have to take them on a sort-of rescue mission through an unknown area of the map. They follow you, but in a kinda weird way; they'll catch up to you as long as you move normally on the ground instead of just copying their movements. It might not sound too bad, but trust me, it is. One room that this idea is featured in is particularly infuriating; you have to walk underneath fast-moving platforms and time your flips in order to make sure your crew member doesn't kill themselves. You have almost no room for error, as pretty much every action you do in the room has to be frame-perfect or one of you die. I spent half an hour, racked up like 500 deaths, and continuously bugged MK with my rapidly declining sanity thanks to this room before I finally gave up, closed out the game, and stopped for the night at 4am. I was too frustrated, too salty, and too tired in order to continue playing this sadistic game.

Rating: HalfBaked 9 5.png Kazuichi Soda going "AAAAAA" like in the AAAAAA room and also crying

Explanation: See I can get the appeal of this game; it's a fast-paced precision puzzle game and it has some nice, almost trippy visuals and cool chiptune music. The thing is, though, I'm just simply not meant for games this aggravatingly precise; my reaction time has always been somewhat slower than others, which was very apparent when playing this game. The sheer amount of frame- and pixel-perfect movement I had to make all throughout playing this game was too much for me to really properly enjoy it, making me stop about halfway through. It's a good game on it's own, yeah, and it certainly deserves the acclaim it gets, but it's simply just not for me.

Watch Spirited Away

So for context, Spirited Away is a movie that Nabber (talk) and Freakworld (talk) have been bugging me to watch for like several months now. To finally appease them and have more nonsense to write about for this section, I decided to strategically wait until only just now to finally watch it! I'm sure it was worth the wait for both of them.

For those who don't already know, Spirited Away is a Japanese film written by the renowned Hayao Miyazaki and produced by his studio, Studio Ghibli. Spirited Away is the highest-grossing film in Japanese history and made a very hefty profit overseas, with the dubbed version being written by Disney. Anywho, history lesson out of the way; let's get to my opinion of it!

me running away from my responsibilities
So the movie started with a girl named Chihiro -- sounds familiar huh, Freakworld? :-) -- and her parents moving to a new house. However, on the way there, her parents are lured into a trap by the smell of delicious food. After a few minutes of hot food porn, Chihiro separates from her parents, crosses over a dried-up river, and enters a mysterious new world; the spirit world. Spooky scary skele- I mean spirits arise from the ground and other places everywhere, and then some random kid named Haku runs in and warns her to get out of there before nightfall. Chihiro follows his word and tries to escape, but she's too late; the dry river is now filled with rushing water, and her parents were transformed into pigs seemingly because of the food. Chihiro comes back to Haku, who tries to take her to the main palace of the spirit world. There, they meet a cute little frog named Aogaeru, who I feel has a striking resemblance to our own dear Anton.
it's uncanny I'm telling you
I mean, he's a frog, he's adorable, he wears a robe, he's snarky, and he's just lovable all around! My headcanon is that the Spirited Away writers were inspired by Anton. Anyway, after a little comic relief from Aogaeru, Haku instructs Chihiro to head to the popular bathhouse in the middle of the spirit world and to seek work there from the man running the boiler room. Chihiro arrives there, and to my surprise, the man running the boiler room is none other than Dr. Robotnik himself.
you can't tell me that's not eggman okay

...Okay, so his name is actually Kamaji, and he has far more limbs than the real Dr. Eggman, but... still! I refuse to believe the animators weren't at least partially inspired by his design when they made this guy; it's simply too close. If you don't believe me, just look up a picture of Eggman online and compare it to that gif; it's way too fucking close to just be a coincidence, and I refuse to believe anything else. Anyway, Chihiro asks Eggman for work, but he mentions that he already has an army of Soot Sprites working for him in the boiler room, and that he doesn't need any help from a human (context: the spirit world is tl;dr hella racist to humans). Then they come rushing out of like little mousehole-like thingies and oh my god they are absolutely adorable aaaaAAAA where can i buy these i need them all in my life i want them to be my children to love forever

Anyway, Chihiro is persistent and keeps hounding Eggman for a job. She tries to help in her own way by helping the Soot Sprites move coal from their mousehole things to the boiler, but they're surprisingly heavy and can't take the task on very well; she flattens a Soot Sprite in such a cute way by accidentally dropping a lump of coal on it. Anyway, after struggling for a bit, another (oddly enough, human) worker, named Lin, comes in and assists Chihiro by taking her to meet the owner of the bathhouse. The owner is a witch named Yubaba, and she's the one who cursed Chihiro's parents and turned them into pigs. She is bound by a promise that states she must give work to anyone who asks, so Lin figured Chihiro would be more successful there. She takes her to Yubaba, but before then, the Soot Sprites are rewarded with these little candies for all their hard work, and one of the cutest most adorable and just happiest things ever plays out... just see for yourself.

HalfBaked 9 9.gif

i want to eat those candies so badly omg give them to me now please i beg of you i need them in my life they are my new reason to live just give me those candies that's my series arc even if it takes 9 more seasons and 97 years

Anyway, so they meet up with Yubaba... er, not necessarily. Instead, Chihiro is literally dragged to Yubaba's office by magic, and the doors to the office open automatically as she goes through the halls in a neatly-animated but almost frightening scene. Once she gets to the office, she's plopped down in front of Yubaba, and boy is she certainly a ... sight to behold.
don't you ever just want to do this to someone
After being mesmerized by the big-ass wart on her forehead and the sword she calls a nose, I got back to the story and also noticed three green bouncing heads and Yubaba's gigantic baby, Boh. Chihiro was again asking for a job; Yubaba was initially reluctant at first, but she was forced by her promise to give her a job at the bathhouse. Yubaba asked Chihiro for her name, and in doing so stole it from her; this was essentially a binding contract between them, as Chihiro wasn't allowed to leave without her own name. She was renamed to Sen, and is referred to this for the majority of the film. Afterwards, Lin takes her around the bathhouse for a tour of the facilities and meets all the spirits there. They're accompanied by a radish spirit which kinda resembled an albino walrus with a rather exaggerated ass; it was funny to see, though. Later on, "Sen" has to take on her first customer; a huge gob of sentient sewage and gunk, termed a "stink spirit". She was told not to cover her nose in order to be polite, and washed the stink spirit, who was later revealed to be the spirit of a very heavily polluted river nearby. He thanked "Sen" heartily, gave her some magical medicine, and then set off from the bathhouse.
me when i'm offered any free food

However, throughout the whole movie, a weird creepy spirit has been following Chihiro/Sen around during her journeys in the spirit world. Known as "No-Face", he's simply just a black shadow-like creature wearing a creepy mask. In following Chihiro/Sen around, he was corrupted by the greed and vanity of the other spirits in the bathhouse, leading him to quite literally vore them, beginning with our old buddy Aogaeru! Luring him out with gold, Aogaeru falls right into his trap, and gets vored by No-Face, who steals his voice and personality. Afterwards, No-Face continues to lure and vore all the spirits he can, terrorizing the bathhouse and becoming incredibly greedy himself by hoarding food and other necessities. By gorging himself on food, he becomes quite large and inflated, just like in the gif here. I'm pretty sure the animators meant for No-Face to be a fetish magnet; I mean, there's deceit, vore, inflation... there's really no other valid explanation,,,
Oh wait. There's also vomiting. Later on, Sen feeds No-Face a vomit-inducing dumpling, making him spit out everything he's ever eaten, including the spirits and Aogaeru. After this, No-Face becomes pretty nice and chill and follows around Sen again, being a Good Buddy to her! Woo!

After this, Haku offers to take Sen to visit her parents as pigs. To do this, he reveals his true form as a water dragon. However, after the visit, Sen notices Haku flying back to her, being chased by... sentient origami. This origami was attacking Haku, leaving him severely injured; Sen also later discovers that Haku has been cursed by another witch, causing him internal bleeding and bringing him close to death. In order to remove the curse, Sen feeds Haku more of the vomit-inducing dumping, causing Haku to spit out a seal that was causing the curse. Afterwards, Haku feels better, and it is discovered that the witch who cursed him is known as Zeniba, who cursed him because he stole a seal of hers. To undo it, Sen travels to her house to return the seal to her, accompanied by one of Yubaba's ravens, Boh, and No-Face.
does this count as sippin time
Zeniba looks... exactly the same as Yubaba, which confused me a bit since I thought they were the same person for a while,,,

The only differences between Yubaba and Zeniba is that Zeniba wears glasses and is generally nicer than Yubaba, but that isn't saying much considering her treatment of Haku. Anyway, the group managed to get her to listen and lift the curse from Haku, freeing him and fixing him up from his injuries. They all go back to the bathhouse to confront Yubaba and her greed, but before then, Haku and Sen travel over a familiar river. It's revealed that Haku is actually the spirit of this river, letting Haku remember his past and who he was; this allows him to break free of Yubaba's hold over him. They gather at the bathhouse and confront Yubaba, who agrees to let Chihiro and her parents go if Chihiro can guess who her parents are from a pen of pigs. Chihiro says none of the pigs are her parents, and she turns out to be correct, allowing her to be free. The movie ends with her departing the spirit world, after a sad "see you around"-moment with Haku and a rather ... ambiguous ending.

this is precious <3

The ending of the movie is what really gets me, since it's like implying that it never actually happened and was all a fantasy, but then again it's also implying that the events that occurred did happen by having continuity with what Chihiro is wearing, so it's like ??? what happened did I just waste two hours or what??? help ???? aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
I've also heard some interesting theories about the movie as well, one of them being brought up by Freakworld soon after I finished watching the movie. Apparently, Hayao Miyazaki (the creator of this film for those who forgot already) was a support of Communism, particularly Marxist Communism. This has led some people to speculate that Spirited Away was meant to be a possible allegory to that belief, characterized by the negative portrayal of capitalism (No-Face baiting people with gold and then voring them) and emphasis on working. I'm not sure how much of that was actually legit reasoning or just people talking out of their asses, but it was still a neat thing to read people's insights on the film. I personally don't have very much of any sort of critical thinking or analysis of the film on that kind of scale, but that didn't stop me from overall genuinely enjoying it. With that, let's get to a rating!

Rating: HalfBaked 9 14.png Mondo Owada giving a nice big thumbs-up and smiling

Explanation: This was a really cute and fun film to watch. I figured I would at least like it even though I'm super picky with movies since it was made by Studio Ghibli, a studio that basically everyone raves about nowadays. I can see why people like Nabber and Freakworld would like it so much; it's pretty well-animated, colorful, and sends a nice message. It's a cute story involving a cute girl and really gets you to think sometimes thanks to the ending which is so open-ended it's literally driving me insane seriously Miyazaki what actually happened with the events of the film was it all rEAL OR NOT HELP ME PLEASE I HAVE TO KNOW RIGHT NOW JESUS CHRIST THIS IS ACTUALLY KILLING ME RIGHT NOW ASDJKFKASLAJSFLK

But yeah, for real, good movie. It was a good intro to Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, and Japanese film in general for me. I'd be interested in seeing more in the future!

Well, that's it for this month's edition of Half-Baked Reviews, and my first attempt at a hostile takeover of it from Anton.
"But LB I thought Anton hypnotized yo-" *shot*
Tune in next month where you'll see Anton return to review Wario Land 4 and other Wario-related things! You better be hyped, cause I sure am. While you're here still, though, be sure to read the rest of Critic Corner, especially Lord Bowser's Inside Story way down a-ways there. Come on, who wouldn't want a double-dose of me? I sure wouldn't would!

Tune in next month where I review some Wario stuff! Also, tell me what to review next! Here’s my Steam Inventory filled with games I haven’t played for some ideas, but things you can tell me to do can also be movies, shows, physical actions, trying new foods, music, literally anything and I’ll cover it eventually if it’s not too ridiculous. Just send me a message here on my talk page or PM it to me on the forum. Don't like what I have to say? That's fine, and probably bound to happen because I've been told about how much people like Super Mario 64 and how they feel about any criticism of it! We at Critic Corner will welcome your alternate review of it as a new section for the next issue!


Written by: Luigi 64DD (talk)

Hello fellow wikians! I'm Luigi 64DD, and welcome to another exciting, amazing episode of Countdowns! This countdown is the Top 15 Mario Music. Why 15? Because 10 was not enough and… I ran out of time to do 20! This countdown applies to all Mario music, but no Yoshi, Wario, or Donkey Kong music. With each entry, I will provide a link to the song, so you can listen with ease. I will also put the song into one of three styles: Grand (like most orchestral pieces), Jammin’ (which makes you want to start boogieing), and Calming/Tearjerking (which makes you want to cry). Another thing to note is that this list is completely subjective, as music is very difficult to analyze objectively. If you disagree with me, it’s more of a matter of difference in taste than anything. That being said, let’s plug in our headphones, put them on, and get ready for some great tunes!
15. Come On! - Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Luigi's battle stance

Style: Jammin'
So you're in a park playing Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and you get into a battle. This music starts playing, and you watch Mario and Luigi dancing. Suddenly you realize your body is swaying back and forth to the beat without your control. You look away from the screen and see it's not just you. The other people in the park are dancing uncontrollably. But that's not all. With your mouth gaping in astonishment, you realize that the trees, bushes, and grass are jamming down too. That's how infectious this music is. Resistance is futile.
14. File Select - Super Mario 64
Style: Calming/Tearjerking
When you're feeling stressed, listen to this music and let it fade away. When I hear this music, I envision a wind blowing throughout the land, past hills, rivers, and mountains, carrying people's burdens, hopes, and dreams. With this wind, no matter what hardships you're going through, there will always be a way to carry on; a hope for the future. All that from a File Select theme of all things.
13. Chai Kingdom - Super Mario Land
Style: Grand (not really but it will have to do)
What's the first thing one notices when they listen to this track? It sounds very Asian. Like, stereotypically Asian. But that's not the main thing I want to call attention to. When you get to Chai Kingdom, things get serious. You're about to enter the hardest part of the game. It's going to take all of your skill to get through it. Perhaps you're overwhelmed. But then the part of the song with the extra twangy instrument kicks in (around 0:32 in the video), you begin to gain courage. Then, all the instruments except the melody and the beat cut out (0:40 in the video), and you are filled with determination. Even though Pionpis, Bullet Biffs, and Roto-discs are all trying to bring you down, you will dodge them and continue you on. Nothing will stop you from saving Daisy, even if you must do incredible feats of platforming to do it.
12. Rainbow Road - Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Style: Jammin'
Imagine you are one of the racers in Mario Kart: Super Circuit. After racing through many courses, with wins and losses on the way, you've finally made it to the legendary Rainbow Road, the ultimate challenge. You've always expected it to be some sort of solemn, ethereal, majestic place, and at first, the music seems to suggest this is true. But then the music takes a different turn. It sounds more casual and relatable while still representing how it is the ultimate track. With a smile, you continue racing down the track, trying not to jump off the edge.
11. Boomsday - Super Mario Galaxy 2
Style: More Jammin' than anything else
As you will know if you played Super Mario Galaxy 2, this is the music that plays when you fight the Boomsday Machine, which is the last Bowser Jr. fight in the game. Another fitting title of this music could be "Bowser Jr.'s Last Stand". It starts out with Bowser Jr.'s normal theme, but it's more angry-sounding than usual. Then it continues with a new tune. What this music conveys is that Bowser Jr. is serious this time. You've already defeated his attacks not once but twice, and this has made him extremely angry. Now, he will stop at nothing to destroy you, even if it means constructing a giant tower on tank treads with fire bars sticking out that shoots electricity. And, honestly, you better be careful during the Daredevil Run, or that day may be your Boomsday.
10. Beware the Forest Mushrooms - Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Style: Grand
This music plays when Mario is looking for Geno in the Forest Maze. Going along with the title of the song, there are lots of mushrooms, some that are really Amanitas, others that are actually healing Mushrooms. So, this music is for a forest where you can easily lose your way with a lot of enemies disguising themselves as innocuous mushrooms. Judging by that description, it fits the bill. But why is it such good music!?!? It's not like that area was a very significant area of the game or anything. It's one of those cases where the music seems disproportionately good compared to where it is being used. But, hey, I'm not complaining.
9. Rainbow Road - Mario Kart 64
Style: Calming/Tearjerking
Ahh, this music. It basically defined what Rainbow Road music should sound like (although this is defied occasionally, like with Super Circuit's earlier in the list). For some reason, this music just makes you want to cry with how beautiful it is, especially during the iconic part that's in several other Rainbow Road themes. It is also great how it has the flute-like instrument, then the electric guitar, and finally, in the most tearjerking part, both together. The peaceful and celestial music makes this Rainbow Road have one of the best songs of all the Rainbow Roads, even though the course itself wasn't very good. Oh, and I think this version of the music is better than the Mario Kart 8 version, as that one failed to capture the feel of the original correctly.
8. Ending & Credits - Super Mario Land
Style: Calming/Tearjerking
This song is like a bittersweet ending to Super Mario Land. You've finally saved the princess and brought peace to Sarasaland, but as the rocket ship flies past endless clouds, you feel sad the journey's over. Still, the feeling of finally having completed it overrides that. The beautiful, echoing wailing of this song makes the ending of the game more emotional and, admittedly, a lot better than it would have been otherwise.
7. Fluffy Bluff Galaxy - Super Mario Galaxy 2
Style: Grand
What adjectives best describe this song? Probably "cloudy" and "majestic". It's the equivalent of Gusty Garden Galaxy's music from this game's predecessor. I don't know what else to say about it other than it's grand. That's the best way I can describe it. While the whole song's good, the part that begins at 1:11 in the video is simply amazing. For some reason, when I first heard this song that part reminded me of songs from Disney movies. I honestly have no idea why.
6. Final Bowser Battle - Super Mario Galaxy 2
Style: Grand
Let me just get this out of the way right now: The first 12 seconds of this song is the perfect music for when something dramatic happens. That should be a meme. Anyway, this song is epic. It conveys a sense of dire importance to the final battle, as if the entire fate of the universe rests in this one battle. And the battle is also pretty epic, with -SPOILER ALERT- Bowser slamming his fists into the planet you're on while floating in the air -END SPOILER- although it is much too easy of a fight. I also like how at 0:51, there are 3 or 4 notes that sound similair to Super Mario Galaxy's main theme.
5. GBA Cheese Land - Mario Kart 8
Style: Jammin'
Awwww yeah, this is my jam. Just like the course this song plays at, the song has been changed quite a bit since it first appeared in Mario Kart: Super Circuit. But these changes are certainly for the best. That saxophone delivers some sweet jazz to this cheesy domain, and it's wonderful to the ears. This music first informs you that the land is made of cheese, and then it drives home how awesome the idea of a land made out of cheese. I mean, come on, how can you not love a land made of cheese? I do think this music is cheddar-- er, I mean better than the GBA version. You just can't deny that swiss is a great song. ...Darn, did I mess up again?
4. Bowser's Galaxy Generator - Super Mario Galaxy 2
Style: Grand
When this song begins, it pushes you forward with determination to get to Bowser's lair and stop him. As it continues, it signifies you moving past the traps and snares of the level. It really begins to pick up at 0:54 and finally reaches the climax at 1:24. Overall, this song succeeds at its goal: being a good song for the climactic level of the game. So, that's about. Some of these songs later on in the list I don't have much to say about, but that must mean they are so good they speak for themselves.
3. Rainbow Road - Mario Kart 7 and Rainbow Road (Moon) - Mario Kart 7
Style: Calming/Tearjerking
Did you think Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road was tearjerking? Well, this one will make you bawl your eyes out! This is technically two songs: the main Rainbow Road song and the Moon version of said song. First, I'll talk about the normal version. This music is inspiring; it strives for a utopia in space, where all suffering and unhappiness is gone and there is only peace. The Moon version represents the deep longing for such a place and the hope that it will come. Finally, in the final lap when it plays the sped up version of the normal version, it represents finally reaching this place and the supreme joy of it. Of course, the most tearjerking part is the section taken from Mario Kart 64 (starting at 1:10 in the normal and Moon versions and at 0:00 in the third lap version), especially in the Moon version. All in all, this song sounds like heaven.
2. Purple Comet - Super Mario Galaxy
Style: Jammin'

Luigi's Purple Coins. To see the reverse side, go to :File:8-bit Mario and Luigi Planet.png
"How Purple Coin Levels Trigger You"

Hopefully, you people reading this have not been permanently scarred by certain difficult missions so much so that you get triggered by this music, because I certainly have not. When you first start listening, it sounds as if it may be just another orchestral song which there are many of in Super Mario Galaxy. But then a beat gets added (around 0:19), and you you wanna start to it. It's a wonder that you don't accidentally make Mario spin by shaking the Wii Remote. It starts to get even better at 0:44 until reaching the best part at 0:57. This is the part at which you disregard Mario's safety by getting out of your chair and boogie down, all while that timer rings down, reminding Mario of his impending doom. Speaking of which, I can easily imagine that timer ringing down even when I'm not actually playing the game. And yes, I know that you didn't really start dancing when you heard this in-game. You were probably to busy panicking and raging because you didn't have enough Purple Coins.
1. Bouy Base Galaxy (Above Water) - Super Mario Galaxy
Style: Grand
We now reach number 1 one this list. With some of the other songs, I like one part of the song in particular. Not with this one. The entire song is amazing. So, this song makes me think of Mario invading a base with Bullet Bills and such shooting out of it. The part starting at 0:46 does a good job of representing the water in the base. But that's not important. I just have no words for how great this song is. I can't explain why I like it, I just do. Me describing it isn't gonna do it justice anyway, so just listen to it, and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Well, that's all, folks! Agree? Disagree? Want to give me a lecture on musical taste? Whatever the case may be, you can share your thoughts in the thread from last month which I will rename. There may be some extra content, but don't bet on it. I hope you enjoyed this list, and be sure to come back to my little corner of Critic Corner for another amazing countdown! Until then, Bon Voyage!

Marioverse Reviews

Written by: Rosalina1999 (talk)

North American box art of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Hello everyone! Happy May! I am enjoying my Nintendo Switch so far, and I only have one game on it. I've been enjoying this game since it came out last month, and it's really fun to race down the tracks. Do you know what game I'm talking about? That's right! It isn't Snipperclips. It's Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!!

If you didn't know, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a port of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U. It released on April 28, 2017. It is the same as the original, except that it includes all DLC at the start, as well as all characters (except Metal Mario), and it has a fixed battle mode with five battle modes including one new one. Now that I explained about the game, I'm going to explain the negatives and positives of the game, starting with the positives.

This game is so awesome! It's​ everything a Mario Kart fan wants! It has a few new characters, including King Boo, Bowser Jr., Inkling Boy, and Inkling Girl. Two new items including Boo, and the Feather (battle mode only). I love all these new additions and everything, but the change I like the most is the revamped Battle Mode. It has eight brand new tracks, all of the classic battle modes, and a brand new mode called Renegade Roundup. It is basically like “cops and robbers”, and everytime you play, you switch roles. I also like playing Mario Kart 8 on the go, which is a dream come true!

You know, now that I'm thinking about it, there is really nothing I dislike about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Except for one thing: I can't upload any Highlight Reels on YouTube. That's it!

I will give Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a 10/10. It is a big advancement of the original Mario Kart 8, and Nintendo really got what we wanted this time! So I recommend it for all of you, and have a great rest of May!

Book Review

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

Carry On
Author Rainbow Rowell
Release date 2015
Genre fiction
Pages 528
Available From

Welcome, readers, to a new edition of Book Reviews! This month, I will be bringing you a spoiler-free review of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell!

The story of Carry On technically starts in an earlier book of Rowell's called Fangirl. In a nutshell, Fangirl is in part about a girl writing a fanfiction called "Carry On." There's a ton more to say, obviously, but this is not a review of that book. In the deluxe edition of Fangirl, in an interview, Rowell said she had a lot of fun writing the "Carry On" parts, and she wanted to expand on the parts she had written for Fangirl and thus, Carry On was born.

Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, a young wizard who is said to be "The Chosen One" who will defeat the evil of the Humdrum, a being who jeopardizes the security of their entire realm. The book is a lot like Harry Potter, where in Fangirl, the two book series co-existed alongside each other. You can definitely see the parallels between the two books, especially the first HP book. This story takes a different direction, however, if you've read Fangirl. If you have, you know that the purpose of this book is to see Simon Snow (a human wizard) and his rival Baz (a vampire wizard) start dating. It's a big shippy fanfic book with wizards and magic. I won't go into the plot anymore, but I will say that it is a Rainbow Rowell book, and if you've read any of her books, you'll know that they always have a happy ending. It might now be the 'perfect' ending you want, but it will be a happy ending.

This story flows really, really well. It kept me turning pages, asking "When are they gonna kiss???" but really, beyond that, it's full of vivid imagery, likable characters, and exciting scenes. The descriptions of Watford, aka Hogwarts, are lovely, and all the scenes in the dining hall made me hungry for biscuits and butter. Spells are executed more by wordplay and puns than by magical words, which is really cool. And the romance is really sweet as well. Obviously it's a slow burn story, where the payoff is more than worth reading through more than half the book for. Really, the parts that don't have romance in them are just as good as the sappy sweet parts. I love the first HP book, and this one is a lot like that one.

One thing I've heard gripes about is the way the chapters are organized, and I can agree with them. The point of view switches around from character to character, and it can be really confusing, especially when the POV switches to a character that's in a completely different timeline. If you stop reading in the middle of a chapter, it can be really confusing to come back later and pick the story back up. By the end of the book, things come together, so stick with it, although I can understand any complaints about confusion with the switching POV.

If you've read the Harry Potter series, and you don't mind a little shippy fanfic material, you'll love this one. It's a wonderful read that will keep you coming back for more. I read the whole thing in a few hours because I couldn't put it down. The plot twists will catch your attention and before you know it, you'll already be on the epilogue. It's a thick book, but don't let that intimidate you! Give it a read, you might find a new author to follow!

That's all for me this month, readers! Come back next time for a new Graphic Novel Review, where I'll be looking at a new graphic novel for you to enjoy!

Character Review

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)


Perry from Super Princess Peach.
Protects you from rain, and eats your enemies. Just like a normal umbrella.

Super Princess Peach is the black sheep of the Mario series; it's nothing like any other game in the series, what with being the Princess instead of any of the Mario Bros., or the vibe-induced enemies that changes their attack patterns and behaviours. One of the principle changes was a sidekick character, although in game Perry was just used to hit enemies and ferry the Princess around in cut-scenes, he became a fully fledged character.

Unlike most Mario characters, Perry has a backstory. And it's an interesting backstory at that, he was originally a different species, but due to a magic spell he was transformed into an umbrella. He was then lost, before being picked up by a merchant, and sold to Toadsworth. And sadly, that's where it ends. Although this backstory does make Perry an intriguing character, and I was emotionally invested in him trying to reunite with his grandfather, it does still leave a few questions and a bit of disappointment.

Perry is said to have special powers, but they're not explained, and so unless they're the powers of turning into a submarine and eating enemies as an umbrella, they're not hinted at at any point of the game. The other disappointment is that his quest to find his grandfather is never resolved, you haven't found him at the end of the game, and as Perry doesn't appear in any other titles this plot point is left incomplete.

However, maybe that's the idea. Maybe in the pipeworks is another Super Princess Peach game, where the idea is to rescue and or find Perry's grandfather. And that is precisely what Perry needs, because as it stands he's an incomplete character, with unexplained powers, and an unresolved story.

That's not to say that I don't like Perry, I really do. He was a massive breath of fresh air for the 2D sidescroller games in the Mario series. Yes, he's a glorified power-up with the ability to hit enemies, ground pound, and act as a submarine in underwater sections, but he's not boring, and he's something else other than a palette swap for Mario when he picks up a new power-up.

Perry is probably one of my favourite characters from the series, he might not have any memorable quotes, but his backstory is what makes him memorable. I just hope that he hasn't been forgotten, and that one day we might get to learn more about him, and finally see him reunited with his grandfather.

DragonFreak’s Review Quest

Written by: DragonFreak (talk)

The Purring Quest
Purring Quest Boxart.jpg
Developer Valhalla Cats
Publisher Valhalla Cats
Platform(s) PC
Genres Platformer
Rating(s) E
Available From

Hello all you ‘Shroom readers! DragonFreak here for another edition of DragonFreak’s Review Quest. I’m willing to bet, since you are reading this, that you love the internet. And do you know what people who love the internet also love? Most likely a lot of good viable answers, but I’m thinking of cats! The Purring Quest is a platformer where you play as a cat, and it’s a fairly unique game. This is going to be a pretty short review because I’ve been busy with many things, which includes preparing for next month’s ‘Shroom issue. (Wario themed get HYPED)

In The Purring Quest, you play as a white and tan tomcat named Kimchi, a pet of an elderly man. However one night the man lost a precious necklace owned by his deceased wife, prompting Kimchi to out and find the necklace for his owner and return home. Along the way you’ll discover the world is pretty treacherous for a cat as dangers lurk around every gravestone and village street. Also along the way you’ll collect hundreds of cat treats and meet adorable cat friends.

DFRQ 122 1.jpeg
Before I go any further I do have to say that the gameplay is not the best. In fact, it’s as about as average as you can get for platformers. However, this is perfect fine in this case. It’s about hearing the beautifully crafted music in every level. It’s about taking in the hand-drawn art style that’s so visually appealing and pleasant. It’s about feeling the pure emotion that this game radiates. It’s one of those games that you experience rather than play. And it’s quite a great experience. To me video games are an art, an interactive art. With games such as The Purring Quest, I really feel that’s definitely true.

I recommend The Purring Quest to everyone for it’s gorgeous art and music and for it’s different and special gaming experience. It’s a fairly cheap game on steam and I feel it’s worth every penny. Plus a portion of every purchase goes to animal welfare associations, which is just so cool. Aren’t cats the best?

Meta Knight's Boss Battle Reviews

Written by: Meta Knight (talk)

Hello and welcome to this month's boss battle! For this month, we're going to take a look at something a little different. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe recently was released, so for the occasion let's get a boss from Mario Kart. Now you might be wondering what kind of boss is there in Mario Kart? Well aside from Time Trial ghosts, CPU opponents, and fellow racers, in Mario Kart DS there was a Mission mode, and within this mode at the end of each level there was a boss! Due to the short nature of these bosses, this will be a bonus section and we'll look at all of them!

Level 1: Big Bully

Yoshi and Big Bully about to fight in Mission Mode.
Big Bully and Yoshi.

The first boss is just a Big Bully. You play as Yoshi and have 3 orange balloons. This boss is pretty easy, all you do is grab Mushrooms and boost into him to try and push him off. Something that should be mentioned is that throughout these missions you do not get to choose your character. As a result, sometimes you could end up having to play as a character you hate. That being said, for this particular mission it's such a short boss that it doesn't have much of an impact. As soon as the match starts you can use the start boost to push him back quite a ways. Big Bully doesn't have much in terms of attacks, he just tries to charge at you. Big Bully is ridiculously easy, but since it's the first boss I think that's justified.

Level 2: Eyerok

Eyerok and Mario in the Sand Arena.

The next boss is Eyerok. One thing I have to give credit to is that a lot of these bosses are faithful to where it originally came from. Big Bully was one of them, and so is Eyerok. The battle takes place in what resembles inside the pyramid of Shifting Sand Land from Super Mario 64. The method to defeat them is similar as well. You play as Mario and must throw Green Shells at the eye in the center of the hand. Fortunately, the hit detection is forgiving, meaning the targets are somewhat easy to hit. This might be seen as a downside due to the lack of challenge, but I would rather it be probable to complete. Besides, it's still early in the mission mode, and Mario bosses aren't too difficult anyway.

Level 3: Goomboss

Goomboss and Toad at the start.

Goomboss is more of what you would expect from a boss in a racing game. You play as Toad on Baby Park and the goal is simple. Just beat Goomboss in a race. However, Gooomboss doesn't race fair. He will cut corners and drop enemy Goombas on the track that you will have to dodge. When I was a kid, this boss made me mad because I wanted a fair race, and this wasn't that. One thing to balance this is after each lap, Goomboss takes a few seconds to grow in size. Sometimes he will throw Mushrooms that you can use to boost as well, which can come in handy. As the race progresses he will drop more Goombas at once, etc. I would say that this is fairly challenging, and reminds me of the bosses in Crash Team Racing. Goomboss is more difficult than the first two bosses, but it is easy to get frustrated with his cheap tactics. If you get a lead, it can give a bit of an adrenaline rush because of the way Goomboss charges through the racetrack.

Level 4: King Boo

Peach and King Boo in Mission Mode.
King Boo and Peach in the Lava Arena.

King Boo throws in a change of pace from the other bosses. Here, it's kinda like a game of Shine Runners. You play as Peach and drive around an arena with lava to collect 50 coins while avoiding King Boo. All you do is drive around to get the coins. After some time, King Boo will attack and steal coins. You'll have to drive into him before you can get anymore because there won't be any to collect. Of all the bosses this is the one that most feels like a fight. It isn't too hard though, there's a lot of coins but the map makes it easy to keep track of what you need. Overall, this mission isn't too bad.

Level 5: King Bob-omb

King Bob-omb and Wario. King Bob-omb has been hit twice.

King Bob-omb is also really easy. You take control as Wario and all you do is throw Bob-ombs at him. Sometimes he'll hit himself with his own Bob-ombs as well. Despite being effortless to beat, this boss is somewhat satisfying in the sense that it's fun to throw bombs at things. Reminds me of the Bob-omb Battle in Double Dash (which coincidentally enough was removed from DS). Not a whole lot to say about this one, King Bob-omb is just as simple as he was in Super Mario 64.

Level 6: Chief Chilly

Luigi along with Chief Chilly, the boss of level 6 in Mission Mode.
Chief Chilly and Luigi.

Chief Chilly is almost identical to how Big Bully. Honestly that's kind of a letdown. The only difference is that he's faster, you need to make him fall off the edge 3 times, and you play as Luigi. Not a lot to say about this one either, that's literally all it is. You can even use the time it takes Chief Chilly to get back on the stage to get more Mushrooms. It isn't that much harder than Big Bully either, and as I said it's underwhelming that it's not that unique.

Level 7: Wiggler

Mario slightly behind Wiggler on Lap 1.

The very last mission is a race against Wiggler. The track takes place on Mushroom Bridge. Like Goomboss, Wiggler doesn't follow the rules. However, here it makes sense because he's a Wiggler and doesn't get hit by vehicles on the road due to his large size. There's plenty of item boxes for you to get with Stars in them, so this course utilizes shortcuts more favorably than Goomboss. This is a good boss to finish the mission mode with, as it ends in a classic race but against a large opponent.

Movie Reviews

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.jpg
Genres Superhero
Release date May 2017
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
Runtime 136 minutes
Ratings 12 (UK)

It's been a few months, but I finally managed to see a new film in the cinema. I have memories of watching the first one back in 2014, and having seen nothing about it before going in, I was expecting something very similar to that movie. Instead, I got something completely different.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a lot less action-orientated than the first film, most the action is consigned to the opening and closing scenes. What it does instead is take the time to weave an intriguing and gripping story. Usually in films like this, I start getting bored when someone isn't being punched in the face, and things seem to have slowed down, but here I enjoyed the slower pace, and it certainly differentiated the film from the usual action action action feel that most superhero films have these days.

And although it may ditch the action, it doesn't ditch anything else about what made the original great. It boasts an amazing soundtrack, and stunning visuals, especially Ego's planet, I had to catch my breath when I first saw it, it was that beautiful. And of course, the humour is still there, whether it's Drax's misunderstanding of general customs, or Rocket just being an arse, even if sometimes the latter did come off as a way to manufacture tension in the group.

The plot follows the Guardians after an encounter with the Sovereign, and a crash landing that causes an argument between Quill (Pratt) and Rocket (Cooper). During this, Quill meets his biological father (Kurt Russell), and discovers his heritage. However, this isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and it leads to the big set-piece battle, and a fairly emotional ending, that I won't spoil here. As I said earlier, it takes a slower pace, and this is to be commended as the film can focus more on the plot rather than wowing you with spectacular battles. My only complaint with the plot would be the Sovereign, in all honesty they feel like a minor distraction for the heroes, and their only real purpose is to set up the third film in the post-credits sequence.

One of my criticisms of the film is its lack on believability. Yes, I'm aware I'm talking about a film that have a genetically-engineered raccoon and a moving tree as some of its heroes, but stick with me. The Sovereign piloting their ships with what resembles old arcade machines, and Rocket and Yondu taking out an entire ship all by themselves with no help whatsoever may be a little amusing, but they do spoil the immersion. The opening scene with Ego and Quill's mother was also quite confusing, and it could have done with some contextualisation, especially since I only ended up figuring out who the characters were a significant portion of the way into the film.

My other complaint about the movie is that it feels like it drags at parts. I know I said earlier that I liked the slower pace, but this doesn't excuse this fact. The final fight could have ended a lot sooner, and it's not like we would've missed anything if it had. And while the sequence of Baby Groot misinterpreting what Yondu wanted him to get was amusing at times, it should have been limited to three gags, instead of what felt like ten, especially since some of them weren't even that funny.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is very good. It retains everything that made the first film so good, and improves upon them as well. A great soundtrack, great laughs, and a great plot certainly make any price tag for it justifiable. And if you don't see if for any of the reasons I've just listed, see it for the fact that it has the world's best opening credits sequence: Baby Groot dancing around as the rest of the Guardians face an intergalactic beast.


Welp, I'm here again. If my version of Half-Baked Reviews somehow wasn't enough to scare you away from me forever, here's a new edition of Lord Bowser's Inside Story for you!

This month's focus is on one of my all-time favorite Mario games -- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. The main challenge here is having enough patience to get through the General White chase in Chapter 7, but since that technically isn't postgame, I'm unable to review it even though I so desperately want to hate on it. So I'll take the next best thing; the Pit of 100 Trials!

"What am I getting myself into..."

The Pit of 100 Trials is an optional challenge in the game, located right next to the Thousand-Year Door in the sewers of Rogueport. It can be accessed as early as Chapter 1, after unlocking Paper Mode from the second Black Chest Demon in Hooktail Castle. You pass through the gates in the room, then use Plane Mode to fly over to the other side of the room, where a small opening can be seen. Inside is a pipe leading into the pit, though before entering a sign warns you about the Pit and how it's difficult to escape. However, we refuse to let a sign tell us what to do, and enter the pipe anyway! The sign then looks on very judgementally at you, criticizing your decisions and muttering to itself about how kids these days never listen. at least it does in my head

An example of a room in the Pit. It almost looks simple and fun... if only...

The design of the Pit of 100 Trials is like so; there are 100 rooms, most of them containing an enemy for you to encounter and fight. The enemies start off easy and in small groups, but as you progress deeper into the Pit, the enemies progressively get stronger and more numerous. Every 10 floors, there is a room with no enemies, serving as a bit of a rest stop. There is a chest instead, containing a useful badge, and occasionally the vendor Charlieton. It's recommended you stock up beforehand and not buy from Charlieton within the pit, as not only is his selection rather meager, it's severely overpriced as well, with the prices still increasing as you go deeper. Additionally, there is a small chance that a random floor may not have any enemies, and instead have a Mover. You can pay the Mover 10 coins to let you skip down two rooms, or 30 coins to let you skip down five. The good thing about these Movers is that their price remains constant, and aren't forced on you either; you can either pay them if you're having a rough time, or skip them if you want a bigger challenge. It's a pretty nice feature to have.

Assuming you're going at a typical level for the pit (I would say 25 or so is good enough for it), the first about 30 rooms of the Pit are quite boring. The enemies here offer very little challenge, as they're mostly Goomba and Koopa variants. It's a breeze to get through, even moreso if you're good with Action Commands and guarding, so nothing really notable happens here. The real "fun" begins at around room 50. The 50th room doesn't give you a badge; rather, it gives you an actually extremely useful item known as the Strange Sack. This doubles your inventory space, allowing you to carry 20 items rather than the usual 10. My only complaint is that you really have to work yourself for such a great quality-of-life item, but still, this is an excellent prize nonetheless. After this point, however, the enemies stop being pushovers and actually somewhat start putting up a fight. The background of the Pit changes as well at this point, going from a light brown-ish tone to a more... dank... green tone. that word is actually fitting and accurate okay

Make sure you have plenty of healing items here; you're gonna need them.

Down here, you'll find a lot of enemies either fought as pseudo-minibosses in earlier chapters, such as Dark Koopatrols and Dark Craws, or even enemies exclusive to the Pit, such as Dark Lakitus. This must be some edgy pit if like half the enemies here have "Dark" in front of their names... What's next; piercings, fake tattoos and an overabundance of Hot Topic t-shirts?
Anyway, the enemies do start putting up more of a fight here for sure; the vast majority of enemies here have an Attack of at least 5, with many having 6 or more. Elevated Defense values become more common as well, often forcing you to use more and more FP in order to actually deal damage. This is why it is important to be properly stocked up on replenishing items, such as Ultra Shrooms and Jammin' Jellies; it is recommended to store the Ultra Shrooms and Jammin' Jellies found in the overworld, and save them for the Pit. If you're good with guarding (especially Superguarding), this shouldn't be as bad of a problem, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. No one would want to die in room 91, like a certain someone I know did... Hi MK :-)

Now this is just cruel! But... also very appealing at the same time...

The enemies really start getting mean after room 80, which also brings about another color change; it's now a deep blue. Here, you deal with massively souped-up versions of weaker enemies, such as Spunias, Arantulas, Dark Bristles (there's more of that edginess), and... Piranha Plants. Don't let the vanilla appearance of Piranha Plants down here fool you, however; they have very high HP and Attack power, 15 and 9 respectively. What makes it worse is that they often attack in large groups, making them especially scary to deal with. High Attack power becomes standard for all enemies in the Pit from this point forward, making healing items essential for survival for those who can't master Superguarding. The rooms from 90 onward are even worse, with all battles featuring at least four extra-powerful enemies, including Elite Wizzerds, Poison Puffs, and even Amazy Dayzees at random. The good thing about these rooms is that the enemies here offer a very hefty payout of Star Points, especially the Amazy Dayzees, making level-ups quite frequent. Still, it's a real pain to get through the almost-nonstop onslaught of highly-damaging attacks and resistant enemies. It's a real, legitimate challenge, though it can get tedious quickly. As one could possibly expect, however, the fun doesn't end with the last room of enemies. Not at all.

Upon reaching room 100, you're at first greeted with an eerie quietness. Suddenly, you're jolted by a loud rumbling and howling. You have awakened Bonetail, the guardian and final boss of the Pit, the eldest brother of Hooktail and Gloomtail, and the superboss for the game.

Is that his mating call? Still, better than Hooktail publicly displaying her foot fetish. Gah...

Bonetail pulls absolutely no punches. His stats are all higher than that of the Shadow Queen, and barely gives you any opportunity to properly guard against any of his attacks. In fact, his biting attack is among one of the only attacks in the entire game that cannot be Superguarded against, meaning you literally have no choice but to just take it and survive it. It's no little weak attack either; it does a pretty high 8 damage. His other attacks include various types of toxic breaths, which are quite tricky to guard against due to their irregular timing. This battle drags on for a pretty long while, but even so, I find it easier than the Shadow Queen still. It's likely because you've fought this sort of battle twice already, with Hooktail and Gloomtail, so they end up serving as like training wheels for this fight. The Shadow Queen on the other hand was a completely new experience, and we have no prior experience with any of her attacks, making them a lot harder to dodge well. This is likely just me, since the vast majority of opinions I've heard all say that Bonetail is much harder than the Shadow Queen, but I still feel that way.

Anyway, after defeating Bonetail, he coughs up something for you just like the other two dragons did. This brings up several questions for me... what the hell do they eat? Since Bonetail is literally just bones, how does he keep it in his... wherever his stomach was? How did Mario not see it? How is he not severely nauseated by opening chests vomited out by dead dragons????
...Well, enough questioning video game logic and Mario's apparent lack of shame. Inside the chest lurks another badge; the Return Postage badge. What this badge does is essentially give you a permanent Payback status, which means all direct attacks from enemies will be automatically countered. It sounds useful until you realize many late-game enemies don't usually use direct attacks, Superguards make this irrelevant, and it takes up 7 BP. I mean yeah, it's a gr8 badge if you get it early on, but good luck getting it early on without being either an expert with Superguards or breaking the game with something like Danger Mario. Afterwards, you're allowed to leave the Pit with all the badges you've gotten. Unfortunately, if you're going for absolute 100% completion of the game, you're gonna have to do at least part of the Pit twice. This is where TTYD's next challenge comes in; the Trouble Center!

Ah, yes. Totally not suspicious.

The Trouble Center is found on the east end of Rogueport, serving as the front for the Pianta Syndicate's rivals, the Robbo Gang. This place is essentially a hub for small sidequests, and thankfully, their prizes are at least adequate most of the time. You unlock more sidequests as you progress through the game, and some are necessary for other various things you can do in the game, such as the games in the Pianta Parlor and cooking two items with Zess T. One of the most important quests in my opinion is the one titled "Elusive badge!", which is available after clearing Chapter 4. It is left by an anonymous person, and the game even warns you that taking on the sidequest could be dangerous. Should you be reckless and daring enough, or just not care about your life enough, to take it on, you're told to go up to the roof of the Lovely Howz of Badges shop in Rogueport to get additional information. Here, you're greeted by none other than Ms. Mowz herself, who tells you that she's looking for a badge somewhere in Hooktail Castle, specifically Hooktail's room.

Mario, using Flurrie to reveal the Attack FX B Badge.
I can't be the only one who thought Flurrie's whole uh.. blowing.. animation seemed weird, right? Especially Mario's... stance.

This is a bit annoying since you have to backtrack all the way through the castle in order to get to Hooktail's room, meaning likely wasting your time fighting the many Koopas and Dull Bones in there. However, in the long run it's worth it, since the chest contains a Super Cool Free Badge!
...Except you can't equip it yet. Instead, you have to go all the way back down the castle now, probably end up fighting more Koopas and Dull Bones, and then go all the way back to the Lovely Howz of Badges again to give it to her. In return, she lets you keep the badge, tells you it was all just a test, and right when you think the game just trolled you and wasted your time for a relatively worthless sound effect badge, she joins your party! Ms. Mowz becomes a full-fledged partner, able to fight in battle and be upgraded using Shine Sprites. She only has one move that actually deals damage, called Love Slap (ooh my~), but it's made up by the fact that it pierces all Defense. Her other moves include; Kiss Thief (golly gee~~), which steals an item from an enemy; Tease (why hello there~~~), which gives all enemies the Dizzy status; and Smooch (oh baby please!~~~~), which restores up to 10 HP for Mario. All in all, she's a fairly useful partner to have, meaning this quest, while annoying, is worth it in the long run.

Some other quests are fairly necessary for other games, too. You can only play games and unlock items in the Pianta Parlor (and therefore actually have fun in there) by getting their respective cards. These are the Special, Silver, Gold, and Platinum Cards, and all four of them can only be gotten through Trouble Center quests. The Special Card can be gotten after Chapter 1 by fulfilling Koopook's request of hide-n-seek in Hooktail Castle. He's hidden in the secret room where you first encountered Ms. Mowz, and there he gives you the card; you can then play the Plane Game in the Parlor afterwards.
What a cute family reunion!
The Silver Card can be gotten after Chapter 2, by doing Pine T. Jr's request. This one actually makes you go to the Pit of 100 Trials; the first sidequest that does so, and why I say you are forced to do part of the Pit at least twice in order for 100% completion. Luckily, you don't have to go down very far; he says his father is trapped in the 18th room, which isn't very much of a challenge at all even for Chapter 2 standards. You must rescue his father in there, then go down at least two more rooms to the 20th room and use the escape pipe there. Afterwards, you're given the Silver Card by Pine T. Jr in a cute little scene above a relentless dungeon of death and despair. How adorable! You are then allowed to play the Paper Game in the Parlor. The Gold Card is found much later in the game, only after Chapter 6. To get it, you must complete Frankie's request, which is looking for his misplaced wedding ring somewhere in Rogueport. It's hidden in front of a house in the east side of Rogueport, meaning this is actually one of the shorter and easier quests to do. The reward is quite useful, as the Gold Card gives you access to the Tube Game; however, it also unlocks the Power Rush badge in the Parlor's shop, which is essential for strategies such as Danger Mario: therefore, the Gold Card is very important for that style of gameplay. Finally, the Platinum Card can also be gotten after Chapter 6 by completing Toodles's request. She asks you to retreive a book from Jolene for her; you must go to Glitzville, head into Jolene's office, get the book (which is actually a wrestling magazine), and give it back to Toodles. She'll then thank you with the Platinum Card, which unlocks the Boat Game in the Parlor and the last of the shop items. Luckily none of those troubles are particularly aggravating to deal with, and their rewards are actually worthwhile; unfortunately, the same can't really be said for every sidequest here.

As one might expect, there is no shortage of particularly annoying sidequests. One such quest becomes available after Chapter 7, with Goldbob asking you for a delivery. He tells you to find General White in order to give him something important, but then you quickly realize that General White... keeps moving... from place to place... again...

Hey! I can hate on the General White chase after all! Thanks TTYD!

General White is just being tsundere t b h

So yeah, oh my god, this is the most annoying part of the game for me. Who in their right mind would think going from place to place only to be told "nope fuck you wrong place" repeatedly would be fun?? This is just annoying and a waste of time, and to make it worse, they force it on you twice in the game! At least the second one is shorter and less irritating, so the developers have some semblance of self-awareness and thinking ahead, but aaaagggghhhh this is just a really embarrassingly tedious part of an otherwise great game. I know they coulda done this a lot better, so that just makes me all the more annoyed by it.

Anyway, rant over. After finally finding General White in Fahr Outpost (asleep again that lazy bastard) and giving him the package, returning the Goldbob will net you 64 coins. A rather disappointing payoff for a diet version of a super annoying quest, but I guess I've ranted enough about that. The other particularly annoying quest can be found after beating the main game, and it's the very last quest in the Trouble Center. And boy, does it go out with a bang... The quest calls for you going all the way down to the 50th room of the Pit of 100 Trials and blow up a wall containing graffiti. The fact that it makes you go down so deep into the Pit, making you redo up to half of it if you've played through it before, and the hugely disappointing payoff (a Couple's Cake), makes this a pretty damn terrible quest. Oh well; at least that's the last of them.

And with that, my review of the postgame of TTYD comes to a close. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door earns...

8.0/10 (B-)

Holy shit, an actually not terrible rating for once! We take those!

Anyway, yeah, TTYD's postgame is pretty alright. It's definitely the best of all the postgames in its series, though that really isn't saying much when you've got abominations like SPM to deal with... shudder
But for real, the Pit of 100 Trials was just tedious at worst, and while some of the Trouble Center requests got annoying, it was overall a neat concept that I wish was reused in later games. It's certainly less blatant padding than what was done in games like say SPM, and a lot of those little quests were legitimately kinda fun and unique. So yeah, all things considered, this was actually Not Bad! Congratulations TTYD on not sucking! 🏆

Well, that's it for this month's double whammy of me. I'd like to thank Hypnotoad (talk) for allowing me to write Half-Baked Reviews in his place this month; it was truly an enjoyable experience. I'd also like to thank all of you currently reading this, as it probably means you had enough sanity to somehow get through two of me; a nearly unheard-of feat. Anyway, sappiness over. Tune in next month where I'll take on Wario in celebration of Issue 123. I hope to see you then!

Yooka-Laylee review

Written By: Gabumon from the Digimon franchise Gabumon (talk)

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I called the manufacturer of my keyboard to ask where the START key is. They told me to look next to ANY.

If you've been on the internet at all during the last couple months, chances are you know what Yooka-Laylee is. A seemingly modern take on the collectathon platformers of the Nintendo 64 era, developed by several Rareware veterans now flying under the banner of Playtonic. The game has achieved notoriety for being divisive, with some saying it's a grand return to form for the old genre, whereas others label it as mediocre, average at best, or even an uncontrollable, half-baked mess.

I do not commonly write in-depth reviews such as this one, yet in this case I feel compelled to for personal reasons. I make no secret of my love for collectathon platformers. In the past I have praised games like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, and the original Spyro trilogy, counting them among my favorites. With my personal history being deeply intertwined with these games, I feel obligated to examine and appraise this new entry into the genre.

As such, the questions I aim to answer today are: Did I, as an outspoken fan of this genre, enjoy Yooka-Laylee? Is this the great revival of collectathon platformers that many people have hoped for? Does it measure up to and improve upon the games that came before it? Unfortunately, I have to answer all of these with an anguished "Unnnnnnnngh.... mmmmhh.... nnnnnnnnnno, I don't really think so..."

Honey to eyes and ears

Let's get the surface presentation of the game out of the way first. The game looks pretty good, the environments are detailed and organic, and overall I was not put off by what I was looking at. There are some minor issues that could be improved upon, lack of character talking animations during dialogue for one thing. The game is certainly no Mighty No. 9, though.

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The music, provided by Grant Kirkhope himself, is also very fitting and pleasantly underlines the experience. The worries about the decision to switch to an orchestral score in lieu of Midi can be put to rest: The game sounds like a Banjo-Kazooie game would. The sole sore point that stands out to me is Rextro's theme, which is rather aggressively chiptune and prolonged exposure may assault your ears.

The game has drawn some ire for its use of Banjo-Kazooie style voice grunts that play whenever a character speaks. I can see how this can be annoying, but I can't really fault Playtonic for this, considering the fan-demand for the return of this feature. An option in the settings would have been nice though.

An uninspired story

You may think I'm an idiot for including story in this review, and I can see why. But hear me out first, ok?

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You can boil me later.

It's true: Looking for a story in this type of game is silly, because the plot is not the focus. But nevertheless, a creative framing device can go a long way, even in a game where it is largely inconsequential. I bring this up because I know that Rareware was pretty great at coming up with zany nonsense to go along with the gameplay. From things like a witch kidnapping your sister to suck out her beauty, to a skeleton killing one of your best friends to take a shower with his life essence, to a deranged king who wants to catch a squirrel as a replacement for a missing table leg.

All of these are things that didn't really matter in the grand scheme of the games they were in. Yet Rareware took these concepts and used them to give us entertaining scenarios that brought the whole experience together and thus stuck with us.

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Who can forget Banjo-Kazooie's game over screen?

Yooka-Laylee's framing device is as such: Laylee the bat found some apparently magical tome in her dust bin and wants to sell it because it looks valuable. Meanwhile, Capital B., the CEO of a nearby book factory wishes to increase profits, so he turns on his giant book vacuum, which promptly sucks up Laylee's book. And thus, Yooka and Laylee set out on an epic adventure to... retrieve Laylee's book so she can sell it.

Right off the bat (ha ha, bat), you might notice the complete lack of stakes. Whether you get the book back or not is meaningless, because failure does not impact the characters' lives in the slightest. If you were to just give up halfway through, Laylee would simply miss out on a bit of extra money and go back to what she was doing before. This is a missed opportunity, because previous Rareware games would usually show you the consequences of your failure. That's just not possible with a poor setup like this.

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After being thoroughly trounced by the forces of Capital B., Yooka and Laylee slinked back home to sunbathe in shame and defeat.

You might have also noticed that Yooka the chameleon did not really feature in that story at all. That is because Yooka is a wet blanket whose sole defining personality traits are that he farts oxygen, likes to munch on cannon balls, and forgot to get dressed. That last part is not a joke; Several characters note that he usually wears shorts and that him being naked is not normal. Apart from that, it's Laylee who provides 99% of the duo's personality.

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Though I suppose nudism IS a form of self-expression.

Game design ran out of stamina

Let's move on to the actual gameplay, the aspect by which a platformer is judged and deemed a success or a failure. Yooka-Laylee's goal from the beginning has been to emulate and breathe new life into the Banjo-Kazooie formula. And yes, the core elements of its predecessor are still present and intact: You explore a number of worlds filled with collectibles, there's a character who teaches you new moves, another who transforms you into various forms depending on the world, and there are five things that, when collected, turn into a different thing. So far, so Banjo.

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Although the Banjo games didn't outfit most surfaces with outcroppings that you would bang your head against if you're too close to the wall. So I guess this is a bonus feature.

But then you get to the new features, and here is where the game's design slowly starts tripping over itself.

The first notable change is the inclusion of a stamina meter from which some of your moves draw power now. This is both a blessing and a curse. Since everything is tied to one resource, this means you no longer have to juggle your supply of eggs and feathers to keep your moves functional. On the other hand, the meter attaches a time limit to some moves that really should not be limited, like your obligatory get-to-places-faster move. This, coupled with the fact that the blasted thing takes forever to recharge (10 seconds to even begin recharging), turns the stamina limit into an exercise in patience. Have fun taking breaks while trying to roll somewhere fast.

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To help mitigate the limited stamina, pink butterflies inhabit the game worlds that give you a refill. These insectible collectibles have to pull double duty as both health and stamina boosters. However, they do not do both at the same time. Which meter they recharge depends on how you ingest them. Grabbing them with your tongue gives you health, while walking into them gives you stamina. In theory, this creates a compelling scenario in which you have to decide what you value more: health or stamina. In practice however, it's just annoying. Need health but accidentally walked into the butterfly while breaking the box it was in? Tough. Need stamina, but the butterfly is out of reach? You'll waste so much time maneuvering yourself towards it that your meter has started recharging by the time you reach it anyway. It would be better if they just refilled both.

Even when you manage to stay rolling, frustration might still find a way to get you. The rolling controls are slippery, and not very fun. The controls in general could use some work. Yooka and Laylee mostly handle fine while on foot, but flying and being transformed can quickly turn unpleasant. Two especially egregious examples are the world 2 and world 5 transformations, which make really wide turns, are imprecise, and you have to do actual platforming and fight a boss with those pieces of crap respectively.

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This bush is my mortal enemy, because every time I drove off the transformation platform and tried to make a hard right turn, I ended up inside it somehow.

Another addition to the game are mine cart sections, which would feel more at home in a Donkey Kong game (and fittingly enough these sections are scored by David Wise of Donkey Kong Country fame instead of Kirkhope). In these you'll have to collect a certain amount of gemstones before reaching the end of the course. The mine cart controls mostly okay, but the cannon they give you is useless. It fires where it wants, and the firing rate is so atrocious that if you miss a shot at an obstacle in front of you, you've got no choice but to take the hit because you won't get a second shot in time.

Arbitrary moves that break the game

Like its spiritual predecessors, Yooka-Laylee comes with a whole list of moves for the protagonists to learn. They usually serve to overcome various obstacles within the game worlds. These moves are not very thought-out, as a lot of them are either arbitrary in their application, are outright obtuse and confusing, circumvent other game mechanics, or outright break the game.

At an early point in the game, I encountered a situation in which a glass wall was preventing me from entering an area. Luckily for me, I later unlocked an ability that was specifically advertised as "this does stuff with glass". So I bought the move, went back to the glass wall, did the move and... nothing. Tried it several times... nothing. Then later I found out I needed a different move that also dealt with glass, but differently.

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This glass is so broken, it forgot what it is.

Experiences like this are found all throughout the game. Trying to break a breakable object is a gamble. Sometimes glass breaks if you yell at it. Sometimes you have to ram into it. Sometimes ice melts when you breathe fire on it, sometimes it doesn't. Grenades can blow up cracked rocks, but not cracked windows. For me it all came to a head when I had to redirect a laser beam. I managed to figure out I had to use the invisibility power, because light refraction is a thing and I was in an area that made heavy use of invisibility. But intercepting the laser with my body did nothing to it. I had to look up the solution to find out that you have to crouch. Only then will the laser be redirected out of your bum.

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Then there's the tongue grappling move which only works whenever it feels like it.

Other moves are less absurd, but bring their own share of problems. Yooka can swim by entering a body of water, and diving brings up an oxygen meter that steadily depletes. Fair enough. If you fulfill certain conditions, you also unlock an upgrade that doubles your air meter. That works too. However, the oxygen meter becomes obsolete once you unlock the ability to fart underwater. Farting completely replenishes your oxygen, is not tied to your stamina bar, and can be used as often as you want, essentially giving you unlimited air. That whole air meter deal might as well not be in the game.

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The absolute pinnacle of challenge circumvention however is the move that lets you fly. Think Kazooie's flight from the previous games, but you can activate it wherever you want, you don't need red feathers, and you're only limited by a flat timer represented by your stamina bar. Don't like a particular platforming challenge? Now you can just fly over it. And while the ability to just say "screw it" and cheese entire sections of the game is fun, it... kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

Five worlds

Super Mario 64, the first 3D platformer, had fifteen worlds. Banjo-Kazooie had nine, Banjo-Tooie had eight. Yooka-Laylee on the other hand boasts a meager five... and finds itself outperformed by games that came decades before it.

Granted, Yooka-Laylee's worlds are far bigger than anything found on the Nintendo 64. Each world is filled with 25 Pagies and 200 Quills, a far cry from the seven Power Stars or ten Jiggies of old. But to be honest, I don't think this is a good thing.

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This screen is a lie. Half of the things listed will not even be in the world until you expand it.

In a game about collecting things, balance is essential. Players feel accomplished when they manage to collect everything inside a world. Thus, your worlds need to be expansive enough to be interesting, but small enough to not starve the player. Games like these tend to work best with somewhere around two main collectibles: One big (Stars, Jiggies, etc.) and one small (Coins, Notes, etc.). As for their distribution inside worlds, 5 to 10 big ones and 100 small ones seems to be a sweet spot.

Going beyond this risks overwhelming the player (Donkey Kong 64 is a good example of this). 25 Pagies and 200 Quills is too much. It will take too long for the player to feel accomplished and they become uninterested. Getting the player to lose interest in the collectibles in a collectathon is counterproductive. Bigger is not always better, and this game would have benefited from smaller worlds in greater numbers.

It doesn't help that, of the five worlds that are in this game, three are recycling themes from previous Banjo games. There's the tribal jungle level with ancient ruins (Mumbo's Mountain, Mayahem Temple), the snow level (Freezeezy Peak, Hailfire Peaks), and the swamp level (Bubblegloop Swamp). That's more than half of the game filled with stuff we've already seen. This is especially disappointing because I know Rareware is more creative than this.

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One of these things is not like the other. Except actually they're all pretty much the same.

Interestingly, my favorite level in the game is the casino world. Yeah, the one everyone apparently hates. It's not because I think it's particularly fun or anything, I just like it because it was the first level that did something new.

Since I mentioned it and it was touted as a selling point, I should also bring up the fact that you can expand worlds. To be honest though, there's really not much I can say about it. If at any point you exit a world and spend more Pagies on it, additional areas get stapled to the core level, opening up more collectibles. This isn't really mindblowing. All it really does is ensure that you cannot collect everything on your first trip to level one.

A lack of polish

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Overall, the game feels rough and gives off the impression that certain stages of its development were rushed. Specifically playtesting. The game's camera is atrocious and unwieldy, and some sections will just flat out lock it in place, often in a not particularly advantageous position.

The most notable oversight to me is that, if you play this game without a controller, and a prompt shows up asking you whether to say "yes" or "no", it is almost impossible to say "no". The reason for that is that the command to decline is mapped to the same button that calls the menu, so you're going to open the menu instead. This can potentially trap you in an infinite loop if there's a challenge you can't complete and it keeps asking you if you want to try again. As of the writing of this article, this has still not been patched. If you do get stuck, try spamming Escape and the P key. It worked for me once.

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I don't know why you even bother asking when “no” apparently means “yes”.

Aggravating this problem is the fact that you cannot rebind your keys, which I personally consider a cardinal sin of game design.

How to minimize frustration

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Rule 1 of Yooka-Laylee: Moves are everything!

If you wish to try the game yourself to build your own opinion on its faults and merits, allow me to give you some pointers to hopefully improve your experience. Or you can skip this section and move straight to my closing thoughts if you don't want that.

A lot of challenges in this game are gated off by moves, so it is a good idea to prioritize learning moves above all else. When you enter a world, do not bother trying to get everything right away. That is actually impossible because of the expansion system. Focus on grabbing Quills, as you will need those to purchase moves. You will probably pick up enough Pagies along the way to scrape by.

Once you have learned every move in a world, exit and move on to the next. Don't waste your Pagies on expanding worlds yet, because expansion will not unlock new moves. Repeat this process until you've visited all the worlds and know every move in the game. Once fully equipped, you are ready to take on the game for real.

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9 out of 10 dentists recommend exploration over expansion. One of them is a quack.

And should you ever get stuck, remember that glass is evil and that your butt can redirect lasers while you're invisible.

Final Verdict

I have seen a lot of people criticize this game because it is essentially an old 90's platformer that takes no steps forward. I am not sure if I agree with that. To me it seems like this game takes a few steps backwards and then several to the side. It is a game plagued by problems that the old Banjo games handled better, and by attempts to selectively include some modern gaming conventions without fully understanding them.

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Do I think Yooka-Laylee is a terrible game? No. The game is functional and can be a fun time waster if you can forgive it for some rough edges. All its flaws aside, it's still a mostly solid collectathon, and might be worth taking a look at if you like this type of game and the issues I listed didn't scare you too much. Just don't expect a masterpiece.

Do I think this is a lost cause and the franchise should be canned? Again, no. I believe the problems that plague this game can be fixed should there be a second one. I'm entirely willing to look at this as a stepping stone for an improved sequel. Just tighten the controls a bit, dedicate more time to playtesting, make sure your moves don't work against each other, and make the worlds smaller again.

I don't particularly care for attaching numerical scores to experiences, but if I had to, I would give Yooka-Laylee a 5 out of 11.

The 'Shroom: Issue 122
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