The 'Shroom:Issue 126/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Shroom2017 Anton.png

Each month I'm wildly surprised that it's already whatever month it is in that moment, and September is no exception. This year has gone by super fast, but what I'm PUMPED for is that like 2 days after this issue goes up I'll be on vacation and hanging out with MST3K (talk) and 2257 (talk) again, so, !!!! While I'm off doing that, though, you guys better be sure to check out what we've got here in Critic Corner for you. Dragonfreak's Review Quest and Lord Bowser's Inside Story are absent this month for ~reasons~, but don't fret, we still have 9 sections to read, including a new Movie Reviews section by Nabber (talk)!

Additionally, congrats to Lord Bowser (talk) for snagging CC's August Section of the Month! With this team having such a large amount of quality sections, it's an exciting feat to be consistently percolating to the top!

Finally, a note to writers: Issue 128, November's issue, will be themed after 2D games, so if you want to do something special for that please do so! Issue 129, December's issue, will also be a special issue--our annual Holiday issue. It doesn't seem like it's that close already but it is!!!

Section of the Month

Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Lord Bowser's Inside Story 9 33.33% Lord Bowser (talk)
2nd Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 7 25.93% Hypnotoad (talk)
3rd Could Have Been 5 18.52% Alex95 (talk)

Opinion Pieces

What has happened is horrifying, so let's look at what could have been
[read more]

[read more]

Countdown to Countdowns
[read more]

Almost the final chapter of PowerKamek's Story
[read more]

FunkyK38's Guide to Guides
[read more]

Pulitzer prize winning writer Yoshi876 debuts another GROUNDBREAKING publication
[read more]

Blocky makes an unexpected and avant-garde cameo
[read more]

Nabber shows his drive for movies
[read more]

beep boop CRASH SMASH blorp dweep dweep dweep
[read more]

Could Have Been

Written by: Alex95 (talk)

The logo used at the start of development.

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 have decided to take a look into the original Paper Mario game, which is the first game I've covered on here that I have little experience with. I thought it'd make an interesting challenge of some kind. Anyway, there is a lot of content here, so let's dive right in and take a look at what could have been.

Concept of "Super Mario World RPG 64"

First of all, let's talk about something anyone with knowledge on Paper Mario's development should be familiar with. Originally, the game was titled Super Mario RPG 2, meant to be a sequel to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. However, due to copyright issues with partner company Squaresoft, the game was renamed to Mario RPG 64, Super Mario Adventure, and finally Paper Mario (Mario Story in Japan). The game was envisioned as having 2D sprites, with Super Mario World's as the example, in a 3D space. At this point, the "paper" feel to the game has been established, but the look of it is far from finished.

File:PM Prerelease Forever Forest.jpg
An eerier looking Forever Forest

Mario himself looks close to how he does in the finished game, but just slightly different. His eyes aren't completely block dots and some pre-release screenshots also shows him with different animations, such as pressing his ear to a door. Moving on from Mario, some of the areas seem to have been decided pretty early on. There are early screenshots of Goomba Village, Toad Town, Koopa Village, Forever Forest, and Yoshi's Island. In these areas, most of the textures are missing or unfinished (Goombario's house, for example, is just a large red block), but the most interesting from the available screenshots is perhaps Forever Forest. One screenshot shows an open area with scattered trees, which was perhaps near the beginning or end of the forest, and another shows Mario in the center of an area. While you can reach the center of one area, the screenshot shows Mario just beyond the boarder to the center, which can't be done in the final game.

A pre-release battle in Paper Mario
Early battle menu

Continuing with screenshots, some also show battle menus. Mario's Health and Flower points were indicated by hearts and flowers, respectively (duh). One screenshot shows a Heart grayed out, meaning Mario took damage, but I can't tell if the Heart icon grays out immediately upon getting hit (in other words, one Heart equals one Health Point), or if the Heart depletes with attack (one Heart equals five Health Points or whatever). Think The Legend of Zelda series. Another unfinalized screen show a different meter for the Hammer action and another shows the HUD and battle menus similar to the final one, but with different icons. Screenshots also show different appearances of certain enemies, like the Koopa Troopas lacking shades like how they do in some levels of Super Paper Mario, and a generic Koopa can be seen following Mario around, possibly an early version of Kooper.

Unused sprite of Princess Peach kissing.
Come on, Mario, don't leave her hanging!
A bug's worst nightmare.

Now then, sprites! There's a lot! Already talked about Mario's, but those were the only real differences. Princess Peach, however, does have an unused sprite of her kissing someone (possibly Mario) and her pallet suggests it takes place at the end of the game after her castle returns to the ground. The fireworks show at the end would've been the perfect time to use this sprite! Paper Mario also has a ton of unused items. There's a plant that instantly defeats bug enemies like the Bzzap! enemies, a drink of something that allows Mario to attack twice that turn, and a special tag that can "call back" party member. The last one is interesting, since partners can't die in Paper Mario, something that was introduced in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, so perhaps they were meant to be defeated rather than stunned (or maybe the tag cured being stunned?). There are also unused key items, such as a Screwdriver that was supposed to be delivered to Goompa at the start of the game and several dummied out Letters.

This Koopa took the term "stay frosty" literally.
Mr. Angry Eyes

When it comes to sprites and unused equipment, the badges are really interesting. There exist Jump and Hammer charge badges that are weaker and stronger than the Jump and Hammer Charges, badges that let you execute Action Commands perfectly, a "Shrink Smash" badge similar to the Shrink Stomp one, and sound effect changers. One that would've been really interesting to keep would be a "berserk"-type badge, where Mario turns red and begins attacking enemies of his own accord, as if being controlled by the CPU. However, Mario also turns kinda dumb and starts doing commands players wouldn't normally make intentionally, such as jumping on spiked enemies. Since the CPU has control of Mario, the player then assumes the role of the partner character…which Mario can theoretically swap out at any time. Hmm…

And that's about it! There are unused enemies, but they're mostly just pallet swaps of each other, though there is a fully functional Dark Paratroopa. If you want to know more and see some images that I couldn't fit here, be sure to check out our page of list of Paper Mario pre-release and unused content and also check out The Cutting Room Floor pages as well for some in depth data mining, like finding ten Luigis!


Written By: Hypnotoad (talk)

Here we are, the last month of me reviewing a bunch of fizzy things! When this is posted it will be 2 days until I leave for vacation and will return with another series of things to review since I’ll be trying out a whole ton of Asian goodies and things. Whether or not I write those reviews before my other backlogs of things I told people I’d do remains a mystery, but, for now, what I’ve got here are mostly things that I abused my power at work to achieve, summoning our PepsiCo Representative to bring me things.

1893 Pepsi Ginger Cola

This became an item on my list because of some coworkers who buy this straight from the Pepsi distributor for themselves instead of resale. It’s in a fancy can and is given a design to make it appear more sophisticated and remarkable or something. I made the mistake one day of asking what it tastes like and ever since then I have been under a constant barrage of “c’mon man just take one and try it, it’s on me!” despite my persistent reluctance to try anything new or live on any kind of wild side--a homeostatic lifestyle that drove me to developing Anton’s Half-Baked Reviews to begin with.

After summoning the courage to ask for one, guided by my desire to fluff up this section, I snagged one and brought it home. It smells like ginger, as expected I guess, and tastes like regular cola after the first sip. As I kept drinking it started feeling more like I’ve been poisoned, but I conveniently drank it while I had a sore throat and it seemed to help. By the time I finished it, it was a net positive experience I guess. I don’t have much to say about it because it’s like...what it’s a ginger cola. I’d certainly drink this more than actual ginger ale if my intent is to relieve an ailment, but at the end of the day I’ll just take medicine instead.

Rating: Going shopping for something else and hitting up a conversation with a friend of yours who works at that store and they tell you that there’s a sale on Chex Mix so you head on over to that aisle and see that they’re all only 99 cents when they’re usually close to $2.50.

Explanation: An unexpected surprise that I probably don’t need but nevertheless has cleared my pores and cured my depression.

1893 Pepsi Black Currant Cola

Continuing with this, I decided to try the rest of the 1893 batch of Pepsi drinks because they’re cheap enough to do such a thing. The Black Currant one tastes literally the same as regular but just a bit better and lighter, which I’m sure is an attribute of it being made with real ingredients and not the black currant flavor which itself seems to be just a soupçon of generic berry flavor that can easily be mistaken as blueberry or something else that’s common here. I googled “black currant” to see exactly what it was and I found some article called “Why Americans don't know blackcurrant flavor but Europeans do”, with a subtitle of “There's an intriguing reason why 99.9% of Americans have never tasted blackcurrant but Europeans love it”. I attempted to read the article but then some big thing popped up telling me that I’m using an adblocker like yeah I totally am, and it told me it won’t let me read anymore unless I remove it or sign up for something so I decided: the reason Americans don’t know the black currant flavor is because it tastes like nothing and my ad blocker blocks it.

Rating: I don’t think I can rate this, it’s beyond my scale.

Explanation: Chex Mix is banned in some countries and apparently America is like the only country that sells trail mix, at least in any quickly researchable form. I was going to try to find a non-American Chex Mix equivalent to use as a rating but I couldn’t so I guess this non-rating is good enough and poetic given how the Black Currant flavor tasted like nothing.

1893 Pepsi Citrus Cola

This Citrus one is the one I was most excited for because I love citrus flavors. According to the can it’s kola nut extract, grapefruit essence, sparkling water, real sugar, which is basically the same thing as the others minus the grapefruit. I’m not sure why it’s called “citrus” when it’s literally just grapefruit, I was expecting a blend of stuff but whatever, grapefruit is good. It’s a very subtle taste, which initially I was going to complain about, but ehhhhhhh I kinda actually prefer that. I can still kinda feel that Pepsi Cola tooth grinding nonsense that I hate and thus prefer Coca-Cola over it for, but, the flavor itself is nice. When they say “grapefruit essence” I guess they really mean that, as in they just wafted a freshly cut grapefruit above a vat of diluted cola and called it a day, which turned out more successful than blasting it with a bunch of artificially flavored syrup. It genuinely tastes like grapefruit like wow I’m actually like ______ like……..I can’t remember a fruit drink that actually tastes like what it is like WOW.

Rating: ChocolateChex.png Chocolate chex piece

Explanation: One of the most satisfying pieces in any Chex Mix. Not to be mistaken as the cereal version, this piece was a staple of the late Chocolate Peanut Butter Chex Mix, rest in pieces, the chocolate chex piece stands out from the crowd for its familiar flavor without being completely drenched in instant-choking dust that coats the muddy buddy chocolate pieces. It’s just the right amount to hit the spot without overloading and ruining it, resulting in me wanting more.

Jones Cream Soda

Going into my fridge to pick out a drink to try out I ended up knocking my Mtn Dew S A onto the ground.
HalfBaked 126 1.png
My wallet flashed before my eyes because I spent $1.99 on that thing and I was less ready for it to explode than I was to try it. Luckily it all stayed in the bottle but it was as S H O O K as I felt, so Jones Cream Soda first it is. Thanks to time magic, despite this being tried first I crammed it into the end because, I don’t know, I just did.

Jones Cream Soda, a brand notable for its lack of branding and instead using customer-submitted photographs on their labels. They also use real sugar and all that happy nonsense people suddenly care about. As soon as I open it I notice words under the cap. I’m used to there being like a joke or code or something so I read it and it turned out to be “Turn off your cellphone”...... . . .. . . . .. .. …….like ok thanks for the pretension but maybe consider doing that when you stop using artificial flavors as well and keep that kind of turned-up-nosery to the big dogs over in the organic section. Like what kind of audience is this appealing to? You’re THE brand drink of the clothing store Old Navy and your marketing is entirely through social media so calm down unless you want your next soda flavor to be prune juice for all of the middle aged parents who are guffawing at this after their teenage daughter begged them to buy it. I lost all of my own desire to try it after this, but they already had my money and I have 4 bottles of this so whatever. I couldn’t really tell what cream soda was supposed to be; was it sugar I’m tasting? Fake milk attempt? I had to Google it to find out it’s vanilla, and suddenly things made sense. Not sure why they don’t just call it vanilla soda, but I guess that doesn’t sound as fancy despite being accurate. The flavor on its own just feels like a corn syrup attempt at an ice cream float, which made me think that this would be good for making floats that aren’t root beer, so I’ll just stash the other 3 bottle aside for whenever I get around to buying ice cream that’s not chocolate peanut butter. Flash forward with more time magic, I did that with vanilla ice cream and it does taste better. Now that it’s a float it has the actual creaminess that the artificial flavor tries to replicate. Still has that strange sweetness, so I mixed in some milk and it was good; not a go-to treat but it’s alright.

Rating: RyeChip.png Rye chip

Explanation: My explanation for rye chip several months ago remains accurate enough so here it is again: “Everyone seems to love it and rave about it but I just can’t see the appeal. I won’t ryeshame anyone but I would pick other pieces first. Rye chips, like the onion rings, do have the potential to bring about a feeling of well-roundedness, but really shouldn’t be left on their own. Rye chips are common at get-togethers because they’re a core piece of the Traditional Chex Mix blend, so at the very least they’re a quaint reminder of a good time spent with a friend regardless of what taste you’ve got left in your mouth.” What I will add, though, is that the people who tend to like rye chips are weirdly defensive of their taste and view it as objectively superior, and I assume they’d be in the same camp of people who think Jones’ advertising is objectively superior.

Crystal Pepsi

Last second addition because suddenly these came out. It’s back thanks to 90s kids now being a marketable audience with disposable income they’re more than willing to throw away on garbage that reminds them of when Trump was nothing more than a cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Back in the 90s when it was created it was just to jump on some health food trend of people thinking that if something was clear that it must be healthy, which Pepsi made big bucks on because it launched a monumental ad campaign, making it a total scam. Coca-Cola, to compete with it, released its own version, the history of I can’t adequately retell so here’s the Wikipedia version of Coca-Cola just absolutely annihilating Pepsi: “According to Coca-Cola Chief Marketing Officer Sergio Zyman, Tab Clear was an intentionally "suicidal," "kamikaze" effort to create an unpopular beverage that was positioned as an analogue of Crystal Pepsi in order to "kill both in the process." The "born to die" strategy included using the poor-performing Tab brand rather than Coke, labeling the product as a "sugar free" diet drink to confuse consumers into thinking Crystal Pepsi had no sugar, and marketing the product as if it were "medicinal." Zyman said "Pepsi spent an enormous amount of money on the brand and, regardless, we killed it. Both of them were dead within six months."” About 25 years later, Coca-Cola decided to revive one of its own discontinued drinks--Surge--which spurred the idea among internet 90s kids to start petitions because that’s what they do I guess, causing Pepsi to revive Crystal Pepsi in a magical twist of irony. Along with it just being clear, in the original release of it in the 90s it also was caffeine-free, whereas this rerelease is not. It also, in being clear, didn’t have the caramel-color that was recently found to pretty much give you cancer, and has been phased out of existence in the last few years, which ironically did make it a healthier product when it was fully intended to just be a slick marketing gimmick. The revival offers neither of those differences, as it also has caffeine and the flagship Pepsi no longer uses cancer juice either, so it literally just is clear Pepsi and doubly a scam.

We got some at the deli and I was like “wow this is something I can fill my ‘Shroom section with” and then also thought “wow I can just like...take this...without paying for it, and no one can stop me because I’m literally the boss” so it was doubly good specifically just for me. It just tastes like Pepsi. That’s it. It’s just clear Pepsi. I went to Google to see if there were any real differences and couldn’t find any, beyond just a few foodie blogs speculating on what changed and pretending that they tasted different, which they don’t. They’re the same. Don’t buy it. Steal it like I did if you have to try it.

Rating: Some kinda “healthy party snack mix” recipe I found on Pinterest

Explanation: It’s literally just Chex Mix, you’re even using actual rice, corn, and wheat Chex pieces in it. The only difference apparently is using reduced fat cheese and that literally isn’t even part of the Original flavor and is already used in the Cheddar and other cheesy flavors, like, it’s literally the same thing. It’s the same thing. Just go buy the original from the store like a normal person instead of falling for some stupid trend; you can probably find some coupons for it, too, that the scam otherwise won’t have..

Tune in next month where I review...something! Could be the start of another series, could be something else. 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 I am unfortunately not here to bring you another issue of Countdowns. I've been busy with real-life stuff, like homework and my brother who's in college coming to visit. As a result, I haven't found the time to write my section, so I'm skipping this month. I apologize for this, but rest assured that I will be back next month bringing you another Countdown. See you then!

Marioverse Reviews

Written by: Rosalina1999 (talk)

North American box art for Yoshi's Story

Hello everybody! I’m happy that fall is coming! It’s starting to cool down. Anyway, I’m planning on ending my writing for Marioverse Reviews after I review Super Mario Odyssey. I’ve reviewed about every Mario Game I owned, and I’m running out of ideas. That would be Issue 128. I’m sorry about that, but when you have no more games to review, it’s really hard to do any reviewing. Anyway, this month, I’m going to review Yoshi’s Story!

Yoshi’s Story released on March 10, 1998 on the Nintendo 64. It is a sequel of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. Here, I’m going to review the positives first, and the negatives last. Enjoy!!!!

Yoshi’s Story is really cute and amazing. It is just like it’s prequel, except now it’s 3D. It’s like a storybook also. Something new about this game that makes it different from its prequel is that there is now fruit that helps Yoshi’s health go up. The fruit that is the most helpful with your health is the fruit of the day, which you pick randomly before you start playing. There is a lot of Yoshi’s of all different colors, but everytime one loses a life, they are brought to Bowser’s Castle. It’s so sad to watch. I also like how it’s like a storybook setting. Every level is a different page. It’s so interesting! Anyway, that’s basically what I like about the game!

What I don’t like about the game is its depressing game over when the Baby Yoshi’s get taken to Bowser’s Castle. It looks eerie in the background, and those poor Baby Yoshi’s going to that creepy looking castle is just cruel. That’s all!

I will give Yoshi’s Story an 8/10. It’s really a good game, but that cruel ending just is not for me. What do you think? You can PM me on my forum if you wish. Again, I’m really sorry about me ending my writing for Marioverse Reviews. I promise you will like my final review on Issue 128!

I hope you enjoyed this issue of The ‘Shroom, and I hope you have a great day :)!

Book Review

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks
Author Sam Maggs
Release date 2015
Genre Nonfiction, humor
Pages 208
Available From

Greetings, book junkies! Welcome back to Book Reviews! For this month, I'll be reviewing something a little different: a non-fiction book! Every so often I find one that attracts my interest (that's not a cookbook!)

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy is a how-to book, sort of, on how to be a fangirl. But don't let the fact that it says "FanGIRL" on the cover discourage you from reading it. Fanboys can also get a lot of enjoyment out of this one, too! This book is actually really small. It about the size of a standard Archie digest, maybe a little bit bigger, so it's perfect for pocket reading!

What's inside? Well, there's a lot to talk about on how to be a fangirl! You've got a basic look at a few types of fandoms (Harry Potter, DC/Marvel, Supernatural, etc. The big ones), guides to interacting with others online, how to survive a convention, even a chapter about feminism. And before you discredit the book and this review for containing the word "feminism", no, this chapter doesn't put down men. I said "feminism", not "misandry."

One of my favorite parts of this book is the chapter about online interactions. Maggs covers different social media platforms (like Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit), how to deal with online trolls, and how to write a successful fanfiction. She also includes a glossary of commonly used words in fandom and fanfiction, so if you're someone like me (doesn't know what "gen" means and is too afraid to ask at this point), it's a really helpful tool. The chapter on going to conventions is a helpful guide as well- basically, the guidebook parts of this book are like all of those great tumblr posts you saved but can't find anymore.

This book is just really positive. It's all about empowering girls to like what they like, not be ashamed to be a geek, and to go all out in their geek-dom. It doesn't get preachy, it's always lighthearted, and it's a good resource to have about lots of things fandom. Short, sweet, and to-the-point. Just how I like my non-fiction. I'd definitely recommend picking this one up and giving it a read. If you take pride in the fact that you're in a fandom, it's a must-read.

That's all for me this month, readers! Come back again next time for a new Graphic Novel review!

Character Review

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)


Not really fuzzi...

The one thing I can't be accused of here at Character Reviews is not knowing my audience. Month in month out I provide in-depth and unrivalled (please note, these are author's own thoughts, and do not necessarily reflect your own views) reviews of the characters that you want, no matter how much you think differently. You might think you want reviews on major characters who made a meaningful and memorable impact on the game, but no, what you really want is a review on all the side-characters who you probably forgot. Like Fuzzipede!

Who's Fuzzipede you will might ask? Fuzzipede is a character in Paper Mario who appears in the Toad Town Docks alongside Fishmael who is trying to use him as bait. Understandably, Fuzzipede isn't, and they have some humourous dialogue that adds to the whole game's charm. But worry not, I'm not going to subject you to a review of a character so minor, Fuzzipede does actually have more to him.

And that happens just before Chapter 5 when he's swallowed by a tuna whale. Fuzzipede's non-fuzzyness causes the whale some bellyache, and so Mario has to solve the problem. And to do so, Mario has to fight Fuzzipede. Fuzzipede doesn't have that interesting a boss fight, other than clinging to the ceiling for part of it. However, it's what happens after the boss fight that changes my whole perception of him.

Before then, I was fairly sympathetic towards him. He was constantly being harassed to be used as bait, and then when he escaped he got eaten by a whale, the thing he was trying to avoid. But once free from the whale, despite the apology, Fuzzipede is a complete jerk to him. I understand he'd just been eaten, so he's not going to be entirely happy, but this whale was clearly trying to make amends and explain how it was an accident, and yet Fuzzipede rudely brushes him off.

I started off liking Fuzzipede, he was a fun little distraction for a couple of lines, but after the whole whale incident, I would happily leave him in the belly of the whale. The only thing that'd stop me is the discomfort it caused to the poor creature. Maybe Fuzzipede should've been turned into bait by Fishmael...

Movie Reviews

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)

The LEGO Movie

The LEGO Movie
The LEGO Movie.png
Genres Animated, adventure, comedy
Release date February 2014
Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman
Runtime 100 minutes
Ratings U (UK)

I don't really know where to start with this one... I remember that despite hearing amazing things about it, I still missed it when it hit cinemas back in 2014, but despite the praise I never really sought it out. It wasn't until Summer of this year that I actually watched what is, in essence, a glorified commercial that somehow is a really good film at the same time.

Now I realise a statement like that is going to require some immediate backing up, so here it is. The LEGO Movie features LEGO characters in various locales, with various vehicles, in various situations that have all coincidentally become LEGO sets. Despite though it does offer up a small satire of how mundane modern life is. Come on, don't we all have a poster of a "Popular Band" hanging somewhere in our own house?

And now onto the good film bit. Yes, the plot is incredibly generic, but the animation is great, the dialogue is humourous, and the film just oozes charm. I was smiling for the entire runtime of the film. Although all of the set pieces are fundamentally LEGO sets, each and every one of the had a life to them, they weren't just bland slates. And although they have ultimately become products, all of the vehicles created throughout the film oozed in imagination, and just looked really cool.

As I mentioned the plot is a standard generic one: a special person is needed to save the world, and that just so happens to be our main character. Chris Pratt plays Emmett, a LEGO figurine, whose main character flaw is that he's plain ordinary. And in a world where he has to use his imagination, obviously that throws up a fair amount of problems.

It's not all just animation though, there are some live-action parts as well nearer the end. They're alright, and add some dimension to the film, but in all honesty, the film would have felt exactly the same without these parts, so they weren't massively necessary.

There are still some issues with the film, however. And one of them is that it's just too much. There are too many locations, and too many characters. Middle Zealand has its own cute introductory card, but none of the action actually happens there, and it's barely even featured. There was no reason to waste time on such a useless thing. Going onto characters, while yes, it's nice to see so many series fan-serviced from Star Wars to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ultimately the majority of them end up being meaningless cameos. The only licensed character we spend any time with is LEGO Batman, and in all honesty, I found him incredibly annoying, and would have preferred the movie more without him. Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are likable enough characters that can carry the film alongside Emmett without needing LEGO Batman to be there. And also, Milhouse as The Simpsons representative, you couldn't think of a more iconic character?

Like I said at the start of this review, ultimately The LEGO movie is a ploy to get you to buy more LEGO, but yet it's actually a really good film, and so I would only avoid it if you're an incredibly cynical person. Otherwise, get your imagination back in gear, because you're going to be buying some LEGO, I mean watching a great film.

Movie Reviews

Written by: Nabber (talk)

Baby Driver
Baby Driver.jpg
Director Edgar Wright
Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal
Runtime 1hr 53min
Release date 6/28/17

Considering that I’ve been telling everyone and their mothers to see Baby Driver over the weeks and months leading up to its release, one wouldn’t be mistaken for assuming that I already preemptively had placed it as one of the greatest movies of all time. But the fact of the matter is that while I had great faith – to put it mildly – in director Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The World’s End) cinematic skills, I did have my doubts regarding the movie. Baby Driver was being advertised as an action/heist movie where everything is choreographed around the soundtrack, and it calls to mind, in a way, the relatively recent trend in movie trailers where shots are cut to music to give off a fun and cool vibe. Kong: Skull Island did it, and god knows Suicide Squad ran a highly successful campaign based around its (admittedly quite good)music-based trailers. But the problem with those trailers is that while they may be fun to watch, they don’t give you any real insight into what the movie will actually be like, because editing a few clips to 2 minutes of music is a lot easier than making an actually competent, let alone interesting and engaging film – hence Suicide Squad’s decision to hand over its editing to the team who edited its trailers showed that just layering vaguely-related songs over full-lengths scenes doesn’t make for a good time, especially when your actual movie is the cinematic equivalent of that guy who thinks he’s edgy because he saw Fight Club once.

But Baby Driver put a smile on my face from the opening scene that genuinely didn’t leave until the film had completed its running time, and that’s because the movie, rather than using music as a marketing gimmick, makes it the film’s raison d'être. Simply put, Baby Driver manages to encapsulate the way people love music in a way nothing else quite has. Music drives (sorry) all of the characters’ lives, and as such it makes the action choreography more than a gimmick – the music syncs up to everyone’s actions because that’s how it feels when listening to really great music. Certainly when driving I have a bit of a guilty practice of always flicking my turn signal on to the beat of my music, and maybe sometimes timing my braking, too. Simply put, watching Baby Driver feels like listening to your favorite song. It also helps that Wright has an impeccable taste in music. One might be tempted to draw comparisons between this and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films, which also heavily employ diegetic music (though rest assured that Wright has been developing this movie over the course of 20 years), but the selection here is a bit less well-known and a lot more diverse than those movies, ranging over the course of several decades and genres. That’s not a knock to the Guardians films, by the way, but rather an observation to how these films utilize music to different ends, with the Gunn using it to set an overall tone and Wright using it more as a reflection of the world and scenes of his film.

There’s much more to scoring a movie than just selecting your favorite songs – when done right, a song and its accompanying scene are inseparable from each other. As such, Wright’s Shaun of the Dead immediately comes to mind whenever I hear Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”, because the two are intrinsically linked. Cinema is often thought of for its image, but the truth is that it is best when directors know how to utilize the audio and visuals to reinforce each other and become more than the sum of its parts. Wright, like Tarantino, is one of the few filmmakers to not only be a music aficionado but also have a keen sense of what songs will make a movie unique, and how to integrate them – and incidentally, this movie comes closest to emulating Tarantino’s style of dialogue, though it very much remains evident that this is Wright’s film through and through. Wright has always been similar to Tarantino, both having near-encyclopedic knowledge of movies and a love for the genre film. And like Tarantino, this movie manages to be artsier than your typical summer movie fare while still being crowdpleasing in the very best sense of the term. There’s a reason why I’ve been telling people to watch Baby Driver and not, say, the depressing and rather challenging existential despair of Synecdoche, New York - another movie I adore but can’t easily recommend to others. The former is an absolute blast to watch, and pretty much everyone in this community who has seen it has come back with rave reviews.

And while the movie’s plot may be simple, it isn’t very predictable – something that surprised me quite a bit. In this age of blockbusters, I pretty much always know what I’m getting into from beginning to end, and while I thought I had a pretty good idea of what Baby Driver was going to be – after shamelessly watching the movie’s trailer over and over I was pleasantly surprised to see that the plot followed its own logic and the characters, archetypes though they may be, felt fleshed out. The latter is thanks in no small part to some fantastic performances – while I was sure that the titular Baby would be a generic, stoic protagonist, Ansel Elgort gives a surprisingly sympathetic side to the character that left me truly invested in his fate. The genuine vulnerability in Baby goes a long way towards making him likable and is something more blockbuster fare should take note of. Sadly, the sketchbook template for the characters leads to the object of Baby’s affection, Deborah (played by Lily James), to be just that – an object. But it’s almost forgettable due to the wonderful chemistry between Elgort and James. This is one of those movies where you can feel a world existing behind all of the characters, and while the movie could have explored these worlds a bit more, it still finds strength in its simplicity, so it’s hard to take the thin writing of Deborah as a fault of the movie, only being a problem in a larger context of generic female roles. Rather, at times, Baby Driver feels like a classic Hollywood romance, one that is sweet, believable and worth caring about, a far cry from the overly superfluous love plots that plague many features today. Baby and Deborah also are a wonderful example of the ways music can create a bond between people, taking something personal and sharing it with another person with the simple act of handing over an earbud.

And of course, it’s impossible to mention this movie without giving mad props to the editing team, who had to deal with the Herculean task of keeping all of the movie in sync to the soundtrack while ensuring continuity. Also of note is director of photography Bill Pope’s excellent work on this movie, giving it a slight but not overbearing neon aesthetic that’s lovely to look at. While movie criticism sometimes focuses too much on the technical, Baby Driver is a reminder of the ways the technical aspects of a movie can draw a person deeper into the narrative, can showcase the magic of movies. Baby Driver has its own unique version of our world that you want to experience, and I feel confident that, like Wright’s past works, this will become a cult classic in its own right, a love letter to cinema, to music, and to sweet, sweet car chases.

Have a movie or film-related topic you want Nabber to discuss? Shoot him a PM on the forums right here!

Shoey’s Shoetacular Reviews

By:Chester Alan Arthur (talk) Edited by: Nabber (talk)

Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction
Advanced Destruction GBA UK.png
Developer Crawfish Interactive
Publisher Vivendi Universal Games
Platform(s) Game Boy Advanced
Genres Action
Rating(s) N/A

Hey guys I’m back after a short break. Now this week's review is about something I really love: Robot Combat. Those of you on the forums who pay attention to my names might realize that I fucking love the show Robot Wars and it’s been like that since I was a kid. So when my friend told me that he had Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction for the GBA, I knew it was my destiny to play it. So I forced him to load it up on his GameCube using the GBA GameCube adapter, and what do you know: it was a blast. A real simple game, but still a blast. So I was like I’m totally going to review this because this is my section and I do what I want. So please enjoy my review of Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction for the GBA.

The gameplay is actually fairly simple. The main point of the game is to defeat your opponent in robot combat. Now there are 3 ways to do this. Way number 1: immobilize your opponent by depleting their health bar. Way number 2: have more health than your opponent when time ends (in the series proper that would be called a judge’s decision). And finally, my favorite way to defeat an opponent: put them in the Pit of Oblivion (the pit opens when there are 30 seconds left in the fight). The best way to immobilize your opponent is to attack them with your weapons. Much like in the real Robot Wars, flippers/lifters are the most effective weapon since they allows you to keep your opponent down. Now one interesting thing about this game is that every robot can self-right, even robots like Plunderbird 4 (which is literally just a wedge with a claw on it) which makes sense because it makes flippers a little less effective. Now one thing I appreciate is the fact that Razer (who is literally just a big claw) can grab onto its opponent and drag them forward and backwards (much like the regular Razer would do). But one thing I don’t like is that you can’t push flipped over opponents. It just doesn’t make any sense; a flipped over opponent would be significantly easier to push then an opponent who’s on its wheels. This also makes getting into pushing matches with flippers and lifters difficult because you just end up getting flipped over. But in reality I totally understand this decision cause hell the best strategy is already just flip you opponent over and just jam your wedge over them preventing them from moving. So I can see why they wouldn’t want you to push a downed opponent around. Now overall I really like the fights while a lot of them lack strategy they’re fairly fun and it’s always nice to try different tactics.

One thing I will say is that there isn’t very much to do in this game. There’s only 4 different modes in this game with those being:

Quickstart - This is just a quick single match between two randomly assigned robots.

UK Championship - This is a tournament that starts off with you battling two other robots (you only need to immobilize one) and then moves on to a single knockout tournament. When you defeat a robot in the finals you unlock that robot.

Vengeance - Basically just Quickstart except you get to pick the robots.

Mayhem - My favorite mode, in this mode you have to battle every robot in the game including the house robots. One thing I really like is that you only get one chance cause once you get knocked out (or pitted) it’s game over and you best believe there are no health pick ups. And that’s really it. Now there is a multiplayer mode where you can battle it out with your friends. But I do in fact no have friends with link cables, GBAs, and copies of Advanced Destruction.

You can also make your own robot in this game which for most people would be the selling point. But for me personally I don’t really care about this feature. As a big fan of Robot Wars I’m personally more interested playing as my favorite robots rather than my own creation. Now I will say the robot workshop is pretty detailed and you can make a lot of different robots and you get a lot of different options. You get to chose things like battery size, wheels or tracks, weapons and so on. You can even design a full body spinner (a type of robot that isn’t in the game at all). You can also make just crazy robots with weapons that would never work (like a big fat robot that just has a big plow on it). Like I said it’s a pretty detailed but it’s just not for me.

Now the controls are a bit different. In order to steer you press up one the d-pad to go up and down on the d-pad to go down. Pretty standard stuff, but in order to turn you hold R to turn right and L to turn left. Now at first this seems counter intuitive but I actually really like it. I think it adds depth to the controls and makes it a bit like controlling an actual robot (which from what I’ve heard can be pretty difficult). Of course it takes a bit of time to get used to (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally driven into the Pit of Oblivion) but once you get them down it because a joy to drive around. Now the attack controls are fairly simple robots can have two weapons with A controlling the front weapon and B controlling the back weapon. Overall I like the controls even if driving can be a little difficult at times.

The soundtrack while small fits the game perfectly. Every song features a large amount of bass which I feel fits the atmosphere of robot combat perfectly. Each song is a gritty metal song and it all comes together to really fit what the game is and what the song is supposed to represent. One thing I appreciate is that the Workshop tune features all sorts of hammers, drills, and other tools as if the song is building its own robot. But probably my favorite thing about the soundtrack is that they managed to port over a good sounding version of Robot Wars' actual theme song. The hardware fits perfectly and it sounds just like the actual theme. Now unfortunately there are only six songs in this game and each one comes on a specific stage so be prepared to hear the same songs over and over. Despite the lack of songs I think each one fits the level that it is in.

The graphics are ok. I mean they look like standard GBA graphics. Most of the stages are bare with a few obstacles and the house robots in the CPZ (corner patrol zone). However I will give this you can always tell what the obstacles are and how to avoid them which is good. Probably the most impressive part of the graphics is the robots themselves. See unlike Robot Wars: Metal Mayhem for the GBC where robots would look nothing like what they did in real life, the robots in this game all line up to how they should be. I really can’t think off the top of my head of a robot that doesn’t look how it’s supposed to which is really good.

Speaking off the roster I have to say I’m very impressed by the roster in Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction. Most of the robots wars games have surprisingly limited rosters and usually don’t feature a lot of the more prominent ones. Every robot in this game is a robot with a good pedigree, with every robot having either made it to the series semi-finals or won some sort of side competition (with the except of Onslaught). There’s also a wide variety of robots in this game weapon wise with each major weapon type being represented in some way. There are even some unexpected robots in this game such as 101 and Terrohurtz.

I really like this game imo it’s the perfect portable adaption of Robot Wars. Now I’m not saying it’s a really good game cause it’s kind of lacking in options but for what it’s trying to do I think it does it perfectly. I have a lot of fun playing this game and as a fan of Robot Wars the series itself I think it’s a quality game. However, I have a hard time recommending this game because it’s limited and there’s not a whole lot of replay value at the end of the day. But if you’re a big Robot Wars fan and you want a portable Robot Wars game you probably can’t do better than Robot Wars: Advanced Destruction. Final Score: 7/10

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