The 'Shroom:Issue 128/Critic Corner

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Director's Notes

Written by: Hypnotoad (talk)

Shroom2017 Anton.png

Welcome to another rousing issue of The 'Shroom, glad to see that you clicked over to Critic Corner where we specialize in people talking about things and stuff! Woo! This month we are celebrating 2D Games and also a parting of ways for the Wii U.

We also bring you a new section by Freakworld (talk) called World Wide Weeb. Nabber's Movie Reviews section has also been renamed to Late Night with Nabber. Also, thanks for your votes to make my Half-Baked Reviews the SOTM again, congrats to MsRetroGeek (talk)'s G.TV for placing 2nd with its first issue for CC SOTM, and Alex95 (talk)'s Could Have Been for being close behind!

Be sure next month to submit sections for our December special issue, where we celebrate the fact that December happens to have a bunch of holidays and that it gets cold and snowy for a good portion of the world's population! Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, New Year's, whatever you want as long as it's Decembery!

Section of the Month

Place Section Votes % Writer
1st Anton's Half-Baked Reviews 9 30.00% Hypnotoad (talk)
2nd G. TV 8 26.67% MsRetroGeek (talk)
3rd Could Have Been 5 16.67% Alex95 (talk)

Opinion Pieces

Thought you knew everything about SMB? Alex95 is here to tell you "maybe!"
[read more]

Anton assesses the validity of a flat Earth by blasting off in a Heart Rocket
[read more]

Might not be 2D but he's back and that's something special!
[read more]

Put on your tanooki suit and fly on over to Marioverse Reviews! (Tanooki suit not required)
[read more]

In classic style Freakworld goes against the 2-Dimensional grain.
[read more]

2D adventures are her bread & butter. I'm hungry..
[read more]

Yoshi876 waddles in with a nod to the Wii U.
[read more]

Feeling punch-drunk? Sit and relax with a movie review from Nabber!
[read more]

Could Have Been

Written by: Alex95 (talk)

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. This issue is themed around 2D Mario games, so I thought I'd cover the most popular of them all, Super Mario Bros! There is a slight issue, however. Most of the development for this game has been lost to time, but I'm not going to let something as finicky that stop us, so let's jump right in our TARDIS and take a look at what could have been.

First let's go back to before Mario even entered the picture. That's right, there was a short period of time where Mario wasn't even a part of this! "So who was the lead character", you mentally asked your computer screen? A square. Just a simple square. Couldn't even jump, just moved along the ground in a single screen. Just image if this riveting gameplay made it big, we'd be called the "Super Square Wiki". Actually, probably not, as this square was meant to be nothing more than a placeholder. Upon seeing the success of the Mario Bros. game, the then-fresh-out-of-dev-school Takashi Tezuka suggested that Mario be used as the character to Shigeru Miyamoto. He agreed, and the rest is history.

A development sketch of Super Mario Bros.
Concept page of the shooting gameplay.

Kind of. While they had settled on the character, the gameplay was something else entirely. At first, the game was not a platformer, but a shooter! Mario was able to carry weapons, such as a rifle or a "beam gun", and use them to attack enemies. The "Up Button" on the +Control Pad was used to make Mario jump, while the A Button was used to attack, either with the weapon or a kick if Mario was empty-handed. The game was also split between "ground" and "air" levels, with Mario riding a rocket or a cloud in the air levels as he shot enemies. This concept appears to have been revisited as the Sky Pop levels in Super Mario Land, and those Coin Heaven areas appear to be remnants of the idea. While the option to use guns as a weapon was canned, the ability to attack was not, as the Fire Flowers was brought in as a more comical way of dealing with those pesky Goombas. And Mario eventually got a gun in Yoshi's Safari and the Super Smash Bros. series, so there's that. Oh, and Luigi was brought in at some point, too.

Fast forward a few ideas and they now have the building Brick Blocks of what will become Super Mario Bros. But what about the stuff that didn't find a way to be worked into the game? That is, what about the stuff that is in the game, but you just can't see through normal means? Two of arguably the most annoying enemies in the game aside from Hammer Bros. are the Lakitus and Bloopers, but they have a function in the game that doesn't show. Remember that World 4-1 level where you have to run from Lakitu's Spinies? Yeah, turns out that's all a glitch! The Spinies were supposed to be thrown in front of Mario, relative to both his and Lakitu's speed. The game shows the Spinies dropping nearly straight down from Lakitu's current position, but they were also supposed to have a horizontal movement to them, curving in the air and bouncing off objects to land in front of Mario, as shown in this video with the restored code. Boy, am I glad the devs messed up on that one! As for the Bloopers, they have unused ground animations, or rather it's the same underwater animations, but above ground. These Bloopers don't behave like this in Super Mario Bros., but they do appear above ground in some levels of the sequel.

There are some other small things, like an unused ball and timer function, so if you wish to learn more about these, feel free to visit The Cutting Room Floor as they can explain those better than I can. And if you wish to see the sources of the pre-Super Mario Bros. development, visit our page here. Until next time, see you around!


Written By: Hypnotoad (talk)

Heart Rocket

HalfBaked 128 1.png
Heart Rocket is a “Love Live!” fangame, made by the user LYN on where, the plot is something like the only one people know--Nico--is on a Chex Quest to get a present for the one who is better because she has red hair--Maki. I think Super-Yoshi (talk) linked this to me months ago in one of my many launches into chat to gather up review ideas. I know basically nothing about this entire franchise other than Nico is the most famous in our reality so who’s the real winner here, that Maki has red hair, that NEXandGBX (talk) is Honoka, and that a bunch of people on the forum had themes of them. While writing the notes for this review as I played I asked him if LYN is someone who could potentially come across this review somehow so hey LYN if you do plz just know i’m but a humble magikoopa doing a silly section in a Mario wiki online magazine thing passing time to help entertain some kiddos and have like 0 background in any of this stuff ùwú.

So before I play I guess I’m gonna ramble on about some side stuff. The game’s website has a summary section that describes the game, and what caught my eye was “you can battle every girl except Maki”, which is a pointer that the Touhou games really need to take down, that being I don’t want to fight and kill my favorites, I want to hug them. It also has a disclaimer for it containing hamfisted and implied ships between the Idols which made me unsure if I wanted to download this, but then I looked at the More Information and saw that it was tagged LGBT and that pulled on me to give it a chance, as well as the fact that it’s a 2D theme this month for The ‘Shroom and this is like the only 2D thing that has been suggested to me with the other being the anime Uniju suggested I watch that I’m continuing to not do so for pretty much no reason other than suspected executive dysfunction. As this is a fangame, and apparently the first one this person has made using RPGMaker, I feel like I should hold this on a lower (which isn’t to say worse!) standard than a game made by a company or a professional. I did check out LYN’s page and saw some art used in the game as well as a link to their tumblr, and wowzee doodle dandy is it cool art! It was almost hard to recognize it as Love Live! Fanart, with Nico’s unmistakable hairdo and ribbons cluing me in, because it had a neat unique style. They should probably change up their blog’s design so I’m able to actually see the full image in each post without it being arbitrarily cut off by the aesthetic limitations, but, _, that has literally nothing to do at all with this game and I’m being unnecessarily nitpicking and hyperfocusing. Seeing this as well as browsing their comic is giving me high hopes for this game and I hope that me knowing pretty much nothing about the franchise doesn’t negatively impact beyond repair. Now let’s get to it!

crush, kill, destroy
Immediately after opening I found the menu music to be really good. Good thing all of the files are available so I can literally just go grab the .mp3 and listen again. After listening to the menu song for like 5 minutes I started actually playing the game where I was immediately greeted with a heavy pokemon opening vibe, where you’re in your bedroom just doing whatever, as well as visually with the pixel design. Leaving the apartment and the environment feels pretty barren, which holds true for the next like 4 settings as I proceed to the school. On my trip over I encountered two girls who look identical. Are all of the generic NPCs the same? Spoiler alert from me about an hour later to me an hour ago, yeah they’re all the same. They’re all just one peachy flesh color, including their hair and outfit.
wow i wonder which ones are the main cast
Wandering into the school I find another faceless girl who asks me to do a quiz about myself and I accept. All of them are Nico questions that I have absolutely no clue about but luckily I can just google them. I encountered a question that I couldn’t find an answer for so I just guess, got it wrong, which ended the quiz and I couldn’t do it again, so naturally I restarted the whole game asked Super-Yoshi (talk) in IRC what the answer was. Nico’s brazen narcissism and lying as displayed in this quiz is inspiring. Suddenly plot things happen I guess and a battle commences against Eli and Nozomi. It feels similar to pokemon again in a way? Four specialty attacks which are various songs that can damage multiple opponents, heal, block, or target one opponent, and one regular one which is “Nico Nico Nii”. After doing damage on Nozomi enough it says she was slain. Like, “slain”. Nozomi is dead and this is now canon I assume. Nico murdered her right in the classroom. Next was Eli.
Bird Hat's got good taste in a main, but horrible taste in the skin
I earned 6 Loveca from this, no idea what it means. I then wander around the halls some more and talk to the next anime girl I see where she blabbers on about her hat and mentions trading it. I can tell that this game is going to be about bouncing around and trading stuff already. Honoka runs into me so I kill her too. She then tells me she was freaking out because she lost her wallet that was loaded with cash that she was going to use to get a present for Maki. I later find Hanayo who wants money for rice balls in exchange for a hair clip that’s in the shape of....a heart rocket! Title drop, this game is totally about bartering and I’m guessing I have to get this heart rocket to Maki so she yiffs me or whatever. Nico then picks some garbage off the floor. Blah blah find out it costs 3 Loveca to heal with the girl I didn’t check the name of with the bird hat. Sure I guess.

Now, to break up both the giant slab of text as well as the “find some trinkets to trade up for a waifu” game, there’s a sidequest or whatever apparently in this game. Some cool faceless girls in a gang enlist my help with promise of cash. They all have stupid codenames that I forgot but the leader tells me to go figure out who the traitor is who wants to overthrow them, giving me a secret code to indicate that I’m an honorary member and free to talk to. Knock on the door: Loud, 3 short, loud, short, loud, short, 3 loud. This totally feels like morse code, so I looked it up and it spells N I C O. The cool gang is obviously a Nico cult. Bouncing around between gang members is a bit tedious and repetitive, and the story takes quite a few turns like a teacher enlisting the help of Nico to what I can only assume is to murder a student, rather than taking care of it themselves. After a bunch of convoluted stuff it turns out it was the leader’s own underlings, but the leader just disbanded the gang to avoid being overthrown. Maki’s present totally waited for all of this.

Nico's quest to become a Hammer Bro
Continuing on the longest lunch period ever in the history of school, I find Honoka’s missing wallet and Nico loudly questions whether she should return it or give cash to Hanayo, clearly setting up the point of diversion between good/bad paths. Not messing around, I decided to give Honoka back her wallet because that’s the job of a #1 idol. Honoka gives me her locker combination to go grab some stickers, giving me yet another opportunity to burglarize her. There seems to be a glitch because I can just keep taking items out of her locker, even if I’ve already taken them, giving me an infinite amount. After I ransack her locker a cascade of trades begins. After bouncing around some more between other girls to trade nonsense I get to Umi who suddenly attacks because she’s angry at birds or something; I can totally sympathize. After murdering her I exit the room and enter what appears to be a Neon Genesis Evangelion ending: everyone is standing around congratulating me before I barge into the 1st Year room. Lovie dovie music is playing, so this sounds like the end for sure. Nico debates on going to college or not based on a crush, a decision that I’m disgusted is even a consideration at all and I’m about to murder her. After some touchy-feely shipping fluff with Maki being like “uwu u did all this for me??” Nico remembers the song but doesn’t sing it and it just fades to black.

I didn’t feel like doing the bad ending so I asked Super-Yoshi (talk) and he gave me a youtube video that showed it.

21:42 Anton{Politoed} nico i won
Umeko makes an appearance

21:42 nico :clap: 21:42 Anton{Politoed} i did the good route because that's what #1 idols do
21:42 nico good
21:42 Anton{Politoed} should I replay the bad route just to see it or _
21:42 Anton{Politoed} it sounds like effort
21:43 Anton{Politoed} I guess the bad path has more battles
21:43 nico yea
21:43 Anton{Politoed} what's the bad ending
21:43 Anton{Politoed} let's just collab and you can just tell me
21:43 Anton{Politoed} and I'll put your name as a co-writer
21:43 Anton{Politoed}  :)
21:43 nico suer
21:43 Anton{Politoed} does maki tell you to fuk off jebs
21:43 nico i frogot most of it but
21:43 nico yea probably

21:44 nico i know u fight umi as the final boss and like nozomi and kotori
Congratulations! 👏👏👏

21:44 nico spoilers
21:44 nico oh yea u also steal from honoka
21:45 Anton{Politoed} i need to know the ending
21:45 Anton{Politoed} i'm dying
21:47 nico
21:47 nico skip to the end i gues
21:47 Anton{Politoed} excellent
21:51 Anton{Politoed} oh
21:51 Anton{Politoed} all nico steals from honoko is like 75 cents
21:51 Anton{Politoed} honoka
21:51 nico yea but thats a lot of money for honoka
21:52 Anton{Politoed} is she poor
21:52 Anton{Politoed} they're idols

21:52 nico that was a lot of money for honoka during that tiem

21:52 Anton{Politoed} scary
21:52 nico now shes probably filthy rich
21:52 Anton{Politoed} so nico steals from a poor person
21:52 nico whers nex
21:52 nico he probably knows these things
21:52 Anton{Politoed} I can't play the bad ending, it's too cruel
21:52 nico nicruel

Through this I learned that the bad end is really brutal. All of Nico’s friends are upset and Maki’s birthday is ruined. At least it doesn’t reward Nico for being a bad idol; more reason to always play the good route!

Final Thoughts

Heart Rocket felt like it was ambitious and just didn’t hit the mark, but I’m unsure if that’s really something I am even in the place to criticize it for since it served its job as being a short and sweet NicoMaki shipping story thing. The benefit of the bad ending route is that you fight all of the other idols and subsequently get like....more game out of it, as well as see the art. Luckily the game download includes all of the things that make up the game, including the art, so I could just go into those and look at all of them. The Loveca currency is also basically entirely worthless because you earn more than you'll ever need--if you have to even use it at all--if you take the good path. Additionally, the sidequest took almost as much time as if I just focused on the main objective, and was almost just as engaging. The good ending path just felt like it lacked something other than the full pursuit of Maki’s unfettered affection, and since that’s the entire point of the game and its inception then it succeeded, because I did find it cute.

Rating: Homemade Chex Mix

Explanation: So you threw together some Rice Chex, some popcorn, some M&Ms, and drizzled it with chocolate syrup or caramel if you’re feeling extra fancy tonight. You end up filling it up with more candy than other stuff and it starts to lose its feel. While it ultimately achieves the single purpose you had in mind when you set out, it failed to take into account the subtleties and nuances in flavor and ingredient combinations that truly made it a Mix. While this by no means denies that it was tasty and something to find pride in doing with trying out something to do if not just to be a bit indulgent and treat yourself, the corporate pros are pros for a reason and it certainly could be rounded out a bit more. Keep the ambition up because the skill and creativity is there!

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)

Hey, paesanos! I'm Luigi 64DD, and I'm here to say that Countdowns is back from its hiatus! Yahoo! Today, we'll be looking at Ten Retro Courses I Want In The Next Mario Kart Game. I know this has nothing to do with this month's theme, but I couldn't think of anything to do that fit the theme. This countdown is a little different than others in that this list is not ranked; these are just ten courses I want in the next Mario Kart without being compared to each other. There will be one entry from each of the eight Mario Kart games released so far plus two extra. I'll only be choosing courses that have not returned as retro courses yet (discounting Super Circuit‘s SNES courses). So let's race down memory lane as we take a look at some classic courses!

SNES Vanilla Lake 1
In past Mario Kart games, we've seen nearly every course theme from Super Mario Kart return as retro courses. However, there are two that have not yet returned: Bowser Castle and Vanilla Lake. We've already seen Super Circuit's Bowser Castle courses, and they're pretty similar to Super Mario Kart's Bowser Castle courses, so it makes more sense to go for Vanilla Lake. Both of the two Vanilla Lake course are big lakes frozen over with ice, with main difference being that Vanilla Lake 2 is thawed in the middle, causing a big water hazard. I chose Vanilla Lake 1 because that huge water hazard can be annoying to get around. Some of the hazards at Vanilla Lake 1 are pipes, small areas of water, ice blocks, and heavy snow as the off-road. The course is also slippery, making it more challenging to avoid those obstacles. While this course is largely circular, I think it can still be an interesting course by making there be a few more curves here and there, but not too many since the slippery ground already makes it challenging. Also, I would remove or severely lessen the number of ice blocks. These are really annoying because they are hard to avoid and they stop you completely. As for aesthetic changes, they could add some Shiverians in the background as a reference to Super Mario Odyssey, as I feel they would fit very well here. These changes could help the return of this course feel more new and creative rather than the same course but in 3D like most other SNES retro courses.
N64 Wario Stadium

Wario Stadium from Mario Kart 64.
Wario's dirt bike track is looking a little bland. Time to spruce it up!

Now there's a very good reason this course should return: it's the only one from Mario Kart 64 that hasn't returned already! Wario Stadium resembles a dirt bike track and therefore has a lot of sharp turns and bumps. This course is already pretty fun to race on, but it could use a few hazards to make things more interesting, like Fire Bars for example. The bumps could turn into trick boosts for some extra opportunities for speed. They should also remove the course-breaking glitch and have Lakitu pick you up on the big jump to avoid the cruelty of having to redo part of the track. While this course doesn't need too many changes to its layout, it could use some aesthetic changes. The bleachers could be filled with cheering Koopa Troopas and other creatures, and the jumbrotron could show first place making their way around the track. Those pictures of Wario should stay. He just loves to be in your face, doesn't he? Another change they should make is to remix the music to be more fitting, as the original theme doesn't quite fit the course very well. Wario Stadium would make a great addition to the next Mario Kart's courses.
GBA Rainbow Road
In the past two Mario Kart games, we've had the first two Rainbow Roads return. Therefore, it's only logical to continue that trend with the next game. This Rainbow Road is your typical Rainbow Road, the magical multi-color road in space. It's got jumping humps at the edges and some falling stars and thunderclouds as stage hazards, but other than that this course is really rather generic. As such, this course should be enhanced with anti-gravity sections and just given a makeover like Cheese Land and Ribbon Road were in Mario Kart 8. This will make the course much more interesting and free it from the plague of being completely flat, just like the two aforementioned courses which happen to be some of my favorites from Mario Kart 8. Some of the jumping humps should probably be removed, though; they're okay to have at some parts, but it's a little excessive to have them throughout the entire course. The falling stars and thunderclouds should be made more visible because they were a bit hard to see originally. They should also keep Bowser's Castle from Paper Mario, since that's a cool reference that will make Mario RPG fans happy as they wait longingly for a classic-style Paper Mario game. I also would love to hear a remix of this track's music, because I like it a lot (enough to put it on my Top 15 Mario Music list a few months ago).
GBA Sunset Wilds

Sunset Wilds
If there is one course theme that's overdone in Mario Kart games, it's the desert theme. What makes this worse is that it's almost always an Egyptian-themed desert. While Mario Kart: Super Circuit did have one of these, it also had Sunset Wilds. This track is desert-themed, but it's themed after the Wild West, with music that sounds like it's straight out of an old cowboy movie. You could argue that it's a canyon, not a desert, but I digress. This theme is much more unique than most desert courses, so I think it'd be great choice for the next game. Furthermore, the course's sunset and eventual night sky would look beautiful in HD. I don't think this course needs too many changes as it's already well-designed and nice-looking. There is the question of what to do with the Shy Guys, however. In the original version, they'd latch onto your kart and slow you down when you crash into their teepees. This may be annoying, but it's so dang hilarious how they're just minding their own business until you crash through their teepee and they get stuck on your kart. That's why I kind of hope they stay despite being a hassle to deal with. Honestly, I really hope this course makes it into the next game.

GCN Mushroom City
If New York is the Big Apple, then this place is the Big Mushroom. Mushroom City is one of only four tracks from Mario Kart: Double Dash that has not yet returned. It takes place in a city at night, with many cars driving by that must be avoided. These include the dreaded Wiggler Bus and the even more dreaded Bob-omb Cars. This course has different path at multiple places that makes it resemble getting lost in a real-life city. Do you turn left or right here? Do you take this exit? Do you fall down this pit into a lower boulevard to your doom? Needless to say, you'll have to keep on your toes to avoid all the traffic and make sure you're going the right way. As far as changes, this course doesn't need any particularly, save for maybe a glider shortcut to skip a bit of the track. A few other tracks make a cameo in this course, and it'd be cool if they kept those in, because more cameos is almost always a good thing. Some new advertisements and sponsors could be placed on various buildings as well as the advertisements that were always there. I think this track is the best choice for a returning Double Dash track for the next game.
GCN Bowser's Castle

The icon for Bowser's Castle, from Mario Kart Double Dash!!.
Into the jaws of the beast.

Mario Kart 8 did not have a retro Bowser's Castle course. Therefore, I think it's high time to bring one back, and Mario Kart: Double Dash's is a prime choice. It's got everything you could want from a Bowser's Castle: Thwomps, Fire Bars, Lava Bubbles, dangerous turns, a giant fire-breathing mechanical Bowser, lots of lava, and a general sense of doom and foreboding! This is well-designed Bowser's Castle with tight turns and a lot of hazards to test your skill and reflexes. It even has a voice laughing at you if you mess up (it's not the Duck Hunt dog, though). If this course were brought back, anti-gravity could be added to make things interesting, and the big jump at the end of the course could be turned into a glider pad for even more modernization. This would also be the first remix of its music, which could use some freshening up. This is a great Bowser's Castle, and it would round out the retro tracks of the future Mario Kart quite well.
DS Shroom Ridge
Have you ever been on a road trip where you had to drive through mountains? That's what Shroom Ridge from Mario Kart DS emulates. This course takes place on a mountain ridge, and it's another one of those types where you have to avoid the cars. To address what you must be thinking, I know having this course in the same game as GCN Mushroom City would be slightly redundant, but there's a few differences between the two that justify this: this course takes place during the day unlike Mushroom City, it is mountainous rather than a cityscape, and it feels a bit more relaxed (despite the fact that cars are coming from both directions rather than only one). This track is rather fun to play at, and it's one of the few Mario Kart DS courses that haven't returned yet. I think a glider ramp would be great to add to this course, since it feels like the right type of course for flying over. However, I wouldn't add any anti-gravity sections because I can't see where those would really work. This course could also use a lot more details in its background, so that would be nice to see in a remake of the track. This course is due for a remake, so get ready for it in Mario Kart 9.
Wii Toad's Factory

Toad's Factory
Toad surveys his factory in his fancy hot rod. Man, who knew Toad had so much dough?

While Wario is the character known for owning property and companies, it turns out that Toad of all people has made a rather successful business venture producing Item Boxes. There are still many courses from Mario Kart Wii that have not yet returned, but I feel that Toad's Factory is quite ready for a comeback. It's got a lot of features that make things interesting, such as conveyor belts, hydraulic crushing machines, and bulldozers. I could easily see the big jump shortly before the mud section having a glider ramp on one side while keeping the normal boost ramp on the other side. The aesthetics of this course are also great, with cranes, crates, and other factory things. Besides the aforementioned glider ramp, I don't think this course needs much change besides glorious HD, although an anti-gravity section to the side in one of the buildings could work. This track also has a killer soundtrack that would sound great remixed. This course would be a cool choice for the next game, and Toad would be happy about his increased monetary gain.
3DS Shy Guy Bazaar The idea of bringing Shy Guy Bazaar back is anything but bizarre. I apologize... Terrible puns aside, Shy Guy Bazaar is a rather creative course from Mario Kart 7 themed after an Arabian city inhabited by Shy Guys. This is a reference to Super Mario Bros. 2 and its original incarnation Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, which is actually pretty awesome. The course has sand at some parts which makes it slightly harder to drive, although the main portion is the city part. This part has several stands as obstacles and a raised wooden platform that serves as a shortcut. There are also numerous references to Super Mario Bros. 2 in the track, such as various enemies appearing on carpets and Cobrats being in the jars. All of this stuff doesn't need to be changed, as I can see this course working great if the only change is added HD. However, it would be cool if the raised wooden platform became an anti-gravity section. This course would be a great addition to the next game as long as the Shy Guys aren't too shy for it.
Wii U Electrodrome

The first video shown in the Electrodrome in Mario Kart 8.
Boogie down, man.
For the last entry on our list we have Electrodrome from Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This one takes place in a nightclub with many enemies jamming to the beat, including Shy Guys who have seemingly overcome their shyness. It has great course design, with lots of satisfying turns. It also looks great, with all the lights mixing well with the grayish-purple atmosphere. Finally, it has great music! This is one of my favorite courses from Mario Kart 8, and so I'd love playing on it again in the next game. There isn't a lot to be changed since this is from the most recent game, but they could incorporate any new feature that they might add to the next game. The music has so many different versions of it that they would have to be careful to keep the original feel intact. In fact they may be better off leaving this course exactly the same save for graphical improvement since this course is already so great. This is my most wanted track from Mario Kart 8 despite there being so many to choose from.

Well, there you go, folks! Agree? Disagree? Want to send angry letters to Nintendo to prevent them from putting these courses in Mario Kart 9? Whatever the case may be, you can share your thoughts at my Countdowns discussion thread. I may put a new poll there to get some feedback on some ideas I have... I hope you enjoyed this list, and be sure to come back for another grand old issue of Countdowns. Until next time, au revoir!

Marioverse Reviews

Written by: Rosalina1999 (talk)

North American box art for Super Mario Bros. 3

Hello everyone!! It’s November, and I have a confession to make. This will not be my last issue, the next one will be. I changed my plans to write based on this issues topic, which is 2D. Unfortunately, that is not Super Mario Odyssey. But I promise I will review it next issue! Now, I’m going to review Super Mario Bros. 3, since I’ve been playing it recently.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best Mario Games I’ve ever played! It seems challenging in some levels, and I really like it! I’m going to do the positives first, and the negatives last.

I like it because it’s a true classic, and to be honest, I like it better than Super Mario Bros.. It is really fun to play, and i like the addition of the Super Leaf, and seeing it in this game seems more charming than seeing it in Super Mario 3D Land. I also like the level design. The design of World 1 is Grass, World 2 is Desert, World 3 is Sky, and on and on. It’s interesting to me, at least. I also like the addition of Boomerang Bro, even though I hate it when he throws boomerangs at me.

What I don’t like about the game is that there are no checkpoints. I could be three quarters through the level, and if I die, I have to start the whole thing over. Well, it probably wasn’t thought of back then. I kind of like it because it brings up a challenge, but it gets me really frustrated at some points.

I will give this amazing game a 9/10. It’s an amazing classic in every which way. If you haven’t played it, I insist you do, because you will enjoy it. Go ahead. Pick up that NES Controller and go old school and enjoy this game! Don’t worry guys, my last issue will be the next one, which it will be Super Mario Odyssey'! Have a great Thanksgiving, and a Happy New Year! Wait, excuse me! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

World Wide Weeb

by Freakworld (talk)

Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories Review

Disclaimer: The contents of this review do not necessarily represent the actual views of the reviewer. There is overstatements around every corner. Do not let yourself get fooled though, the game still sucks.

The Origins.

Kingdom Hearts. The revered culmination of the RPG genre that is loved by critics, amassed a tremendous amount of fanboys and fangirls, and is subject to one of our sister projects. The series was conceived out of the unlikely combination of one of the most legendary game developers of the early 2000s and one of the most seasoned companies in motion picture entertainment. And just thinking about it makes my blood pressure skyrocket to levels usually reserved to blood donation packages when they are about to burst.

The company responsible for developing this game is Squaresoft, which however is now known as Square Enix because they had to do a merger after betting literally all of their money on a shitty movie that flopped hard. Regardless, they are probably most known for developing the Final Fantasy series, and released a tremendous number of other great titles such as Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger, to name a few. However, in recent years, they have been subject to increased westernization, as they have purchased the publisher Eidos Interactive, which has led to them publishing such games as Tomb Raider and Hitman. I mean, who plays shit like that anyways? If I want to play a western game, I might as well touch fucking Bubsy or something, same kind of bullshit really.

Anyways, of course they're not only publishing games (and mangas, for some reason) nowadays, they're also still developing them. Such great titles as the Escalator Simulator 2009. I mean, Final Fantasy XIII. What a shitty game. I honestly don't know what kind of acid they were on when they came up with that bucket of diarrhea. It's like as if a Square Enix employee hit a bunch of blunts, played merry-go-round in an elevator for I don't even know how long, then went up to his superior, puked on their desk, looked them straight into the eyes and then bam, Final Fantasy XIII.

A hallway in Final Fantasy XIII. This is the only picture of the game you ever need to see, as the rest of the game has absolutely the same level design.

Where Nightmares Come True.

But I digress. The other partaker in this franchise is none other than Disney. According to what I know, they are a mysterious company from the mythical land known as the United States of America. Must be boring as all hell considering it's not Japan. Apparently, they make fake animes. Great. Just what I needed. Well, to be fair, they also make a wide variety of other stuff, such as live-action movies, and actual anime. Although it's the kind of anime that has been westernized into a pulp. Sad! They also make video games semi-frequently, or rather, they contract other companies into making video games based on their IP.

This isn't what happened with Kingdom Hearts, though. Oh no. Apparently, at some point around the year 2000, Square conjured the idea for this game up while thinking about Super Mario 64 and how only characters from Disney could rival Mario in popularity. And then the producer, Shinji Hashimoto, straight up just pitched the idea to a Disney executive because they happened to work in the same building. And they let Tetsuya Nomura direct the game. That absolute madman. Beginning as a background design slave for various SNES Squaresoft titles such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, he somehow got appointed as the lead character designer for Final Fantasy VII, and nowadays, he's basically the chief perpetrator. Square Enix lets him do whatever the fuck he wants. There is absolutely no remorse.

Tetsuya Nomura, while having a phone call with the Devil himself.

When You Take A Good Game...

And the game Kingdom Hearts similarly shows absolutely no remorse. To sum it up in the most brief way possible, in Kingdom Hearts you play this kid named Sora, who is a generic anime Final Fantasy protagonist complete with an eccentric hairstyle and fancy clothing. He is sitting around on an island all day with his waifu, Kairi, and his best friend/arch nemesis, Riku, and a bunch of Final Fantasy characters. Then the island gets destroyed by the personificated darkness known as the "Heartless". So far so good. His friends stray into all directions, Sora himself lands in some other fucking town with more Final Fantasy characters,... and then he bumps into Donald and Goofy from the Disney universe. They then proceed to travel through various Disney worlds and slaughter everything in sight. The game is exactly as stupid as this sounds. And also as stupidly fun. You will never have more fun mashing X to win. And the story, albeit going to lengths at points, is also frankly very engaging.

Now with all of this introductory bullshit out of the way, let us get to the real topic of this section: a Kingdom Hearts spin-off. Oh yes. You see, it's become the norm for a popular game to spawn various sequels and eventually also spin-offs. Except here, the spin-off was actually the first title to be released after the original game! Imagine being one of the fans of the original game, eagerly awaiting the continuation of the story, and once they finally get their hands on the grand sequel, they get pissed in the face. Because that's exactly what this game feels like.

Sora, the main protagonist of the series. Note: Picture not actually from Kingdom Hearts.

...And Turn It Into A Horrendous One.

I am talking about Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories, which was released in 2004 for the Gameboy Advance, but we will get back to that in a second. The particular version of the game that I played is Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, which was first released in 2007 for the Playstation 2, before getting re-released a bunch of times on the Playstation 3 and 4. What, you think the title of this game sucks? Wait until you hear some of the current Kingdom Hearts titles then: What about "Kingdom Hearts HD I.5 + II.5 ReMIX", mind the Roman numerals and the lowercase e, or what's with "Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue"? Don't worry, I don't have to make these up. They're actually real.

Anyways, the game picks up right where the original Kingdom Hearts ended, which is good I... guess, in that you don't get super confused right from the start. Don't worry we're getting there. The most spoiler-free way I can put this is after the first game Sora, Donald and Goofy go on a new quest in order to find Riku (Sora's friend from before, remember? Gotta jog your memory else this will get kind of bad) and "The King", who is actually Mickey Mouse himself. So they mee Pluto, Mickey's dog, and follow him somewhere. On the way there Sora notices this menacing guy wearing a black cloak, who's very foreboding, almost as if he wants to tell the player to shut the game off while they still can. So after a while they arrive at this very weird looking castle, and once in, all hell breaks lose. They lose all their powers and the first thing cloak guy does after he meets them again inside is he fucking locks the door and throws a card at Sora and is just like "Here, have fun!" Oh, by the way, the place is called Castle Oblivion. Got it memorized?

Castle Oblivion. Whoever designed this place was probably experimenting with multiple drugs.

You'd Rather Have Exodia Summons Shoved Up Your Ass.

After using the card on the next door, Sora finds himself back in the town where he landed in the first game right after his island was destroyed, called Traverse Town. But oh no, it's not the real one. It's a replicate cloak guy created from Sora's memories. Now we're getting into real trouble: Everything is cards from here on out. All of his weapons (He has this cool asf "Keyblade" which is completely wasted on him tbh) and friends, including Donald and Goofy, are now cards. And every battle requires you to play a goddamn card game! And oh boy, that card game. The only thing you have to do is to take the enemies' cards by playing a card with a higher number than them, the cards are numbered from 0-9, with 9 being the highest, and 0 being able to take everything but is also subsequently taken by everything. Got it memorized? Good!

This doesn't sound too bad right? Well imagine having to play a card game like that, all the while moving around in a three-dimensional space, jumping and rolling around, dodging enemy attacks, with being unable to see what card the enemy is about to play most of the time. Sounds fun? It's not. At least there is an icon you can select which completely refills your card deck, but this takes increasingly longer the longer the battle takes. The battle system is complete ass. There are gimmicks all around. Certain enemies have their deck visible, so you can kind of predict what they are gonna do, but that's where the real fun only starts. These enemies as well as you are able to utilize something called card sleights. Essentially, you press the triangle button a bunch of times while selecting cards and the three cards you selected can be used all at once to hit enemies. With this you can do various combos, the likes of which you unlock throughout the game. The problem here is, the values on the cards you play in this fashion are all added up, which means you will be able to take almost anything, but you are also extremely vulnerable to 0 cards, and you need to have 0 cards yourself in your deck at all times in order to prevent enemies from OHKOing you with their sleights.

The battle system gets even more fascinating later, but let's talk about the general concept some more. Essentially, since everything's been turned into cards, in order to progress through areas you have to use a room card at every door you see. Using this card will generate a room of the selected kind and you will be able to enter that room. However, cards always need to meet a specific number and/or color requirement in order to be used at doors. These get insanely specfic later in the game, to the point where you have to actually grind for a specific room card because else you will be unable to progress the game. Also, this leads to every room in the game being increasingly similar to each other. Seriously, you are starting to lose your mind after a while.

This girl, Kairi, is the only true waifu material in this series. However she is completely absent from Chain of Memories, which only adds to the pile of reasons that make this game ass.

You Can't Get Off Of Nomura's Wild Ride.

Cloak guy also returns later, and he gets to bring his pedophile friends as well. There's a redhead guy called Axel. Got it memorized? Then there's a blonde bitch called Larxene, and also a bunch of other guys whose hairs come in all colors of the rainbow. They all claim to be part of some mysterious organization, and apparently, they're just out to fuck with Sora. Because that's just about what happens. After a while, Sora and his friends start losing their memories. Big time. Whenever they enter an area based on stuff from Kingdom Hearts 1 which they should be able to remember, they don't. And don't worry, that's not even the most confusing part.

While we're at it, I forgot to mention how this game recycles every Disney world from the first game. Yeah. Talk about creativity, huh? It is worth mentioning that there's two original areas, which don't appear until lategame, however. There is also one notable exception which they didn't recycle: The Tarzan world. And thank god they didn't. That world legitimately sucked in the first game. Imagine chapter 4 from PM:TTYD except about 60 times worse because you randomly progress the story by going back and forth through seemingly unconnected screens and jumping off of a treehouse at one point (That's what I had to do anyways). I guess the reason they didn't include it is some copyright thing, but to be honest, looking at some stuff in Chain of Memories, I'd much rather have played the Tarzan world three times over!

Okay so, after a while of going up the castle through boring asf rooms with basically the same story as the first Kingdom Hearts game and beating up random cloaked perverts, you suddenly meet Riku. This is the point where shit starts getting really trippy, because Sora also remembers another one of his friends called Naminé who was supposedly on the island with them before moving away or whatever, and Sora claims to have forgotten her all along. Riku is apparently really pissed off by this fact because Naminé appears to be in the castle as well, and then he attacks Sora. And he doesn't only attack him, he attacks him 4 whopping times throughout the game.

Riku, about to rekt Sora by countering his cards with forged evidence and paid witnesses.

How Many Times Can You Microwave A Battle System Before It Starts Questioning Its Existence?

And Riku is about the point where the difficulty in this game also really starts picking up. By all means, he's almost harder than the final boss. It is almost impossible to beat him and other lategame bosses without the correct use of sleights. Good thing there's a bunch of sleights that essentially break the game. Yeah. What a fucking mess right? So for defating bosses you always get these enemy cards which are saved to a seperate deck you can access by pressing select, or the touchpad button on the PS4. Playing these cards will set one of various effects on Sora. One of these is the inability of your attack cards being taken for like, 20 cards. Play this card, then play the sleight which literally stops time for a while and does like one full HP bar of damage to the enemy, and repeat this a bunch of times. Boom, most enemies are dead.

However, unfortunately, this stops working towards the end of the game. There are enemies that float where you cannot use that combo, and one who randomly teleports away just as you're about to do the time freeze. So in short, you are majorly fucked. As if you weren't fucked enough by the mere fact that you are playing this game! And the story gets even worse. After a while it turns out, this Naminé girl is all fake news. He gets brainwashed into thinking she is his waifu, while in reality it is still Kairi. Naminé is merely a fucking memory-manipulating witch who is blackmailed by the pedo organization in order to turn Sora into their pawn. This plan is ultimately foiled by herself, and Sora kills every member of the organization present. With him still being super confused, Naminé has to put him into cryo-sleep for like a year in order for his memory to recover. At that point you've been through like 20 hours of this bullshit, and you've basically seen it all, but the whole thing essentially being a sadomaso brainwashing trap, not only for Sora but also for the player, is merely the icing on this shit cake.

But after the credits roll, you are far from done, oh no. This was the half-way point. After doing Sora's side of the story, you can play as the real Riku, who somehow randomly appears in the bottom of the castle. His gameplay is slightly different, you are not able to freely select a deck anymore, but rather, the game selects a new deck for you in every area. Sometimes, this is better than Sora's battles, but in some areas, the deck you have is so enormously underpowered, even normal enemies prove to be huge problems, let alone the bosses. No the real problem here is that this gamemode let's you run through the same fucking Disney levels, AGAIN. By now it's just a fucking drag. Eventually, I had beaten the game, but I was completely emotionally drained.

Me IRL after playing this game, whenever I witness anything remotely connected to Disney.

Introducing Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories... But It's Even Worse.

Now if you thought this couldn't possible be any worse, now let's take a look at the fucking Gameboy Advance version. Now let us think for a second. What might possibly be a huge problem in a game with such convoluted controls to boot? The number of buttons. You see, the average Playstation controller has 2 Sticks, a D-Pad, 6 front buttons and 4 shoulder buttons. The GBA has in total 6 buttons and a D-Pad. Do you see the problem yet? So you move around with the D-Pad, do you fucking wanna know how to dodge? In the PS version, it's the square button. Here, it is DOUBLE TAPPING THE D-PAD INTO A DIRECTION QUICKLY. Ouch! Choosing cards? L and R. Still okay I guess, but doing sleights? ...L+R. I can only imagine how that will drive you insane after a while. Some effects entirely don't exist in the GBA version, such as the ability to do combos by pressing triangle when it's lighting up on the screen, or changing the camera angle.

Changing the camera angle? The game is essentially playing in more-or-less a 2D perspective on the GBA, which I can imagine to cause even more frustration than the 3D version. Then of course, the graphics are all butchered, the music is butchered, with the music being one of the only great things in the PS version by the way, but yeah I guess it's a typical GBA game in that regard. One thing I have to commend the game on though, is that despite being a GBA game, it is utilizing voice acting and FMV cutscenes.

Do I have to comment this?

In summary, this game is probably one of the most hellish trips you can sign up for. I am fairly sure even hardcore fans of the series don't touch this game again after beating it with both characters. Another problem is, you also need to have played this game before you can even attempt to play Kingdom Hearts II. Or alternatively, just read the fucking KHWiki article. Probably saves you some headaches. As for a rating, here is a fucking picture of a trashbin. Because that's where this game fucking belongs.


This has been World Wide Weeb, signing out.

Graphic Novel Review

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

The Adventures of Simone and Ajax
Author Andrew Pepoy
Release date 2010
Genre Adventure, humor
Pages 132

Greetings, readers, and welcome back to a new edition of Graphic Novel Reviews! This month, I will be reviewing The Adventures of Simone and Ajax!

Why is this book so good, you ask? Well, it's all because of Andrew Pepoy, the author and illustrator. I first found his work in the Katy Keene graphic novel he did for Archie Comics (you should also give that one a read as well). His art style reminds me of Dan DeCarlo's, who is my favorite comic book artist. His lines are curvy and clean, and his style feels friendly to younger readers while still being risque enough for older readers. Hits all the bases. He's just that good. Of course, his writing is silly enough to get chuckles out of everyone with silly scenarios in each of the stories this book collects.

Simone and Ajax are a human woman and a dinosaur, respectively, who have been tasked with protecting an ancient land, a maltese duck, and saving Christmas itself in the three stories in the book. I won't spoil any of the plot for you, because it's really something else. Travel to mythical lands like the Legendary Lost City of Borculo, Michigan, meet villains who only want to star in a stage play, and marvel at all of Simone's top-notch fashions. Pepoy really went all out to give Simone a great wardrobe, although I personally think she'd look better in some bigger shades. You can tell why he was the one for the job for Katy Keene, who parades through her own book dressed in customized outfits sent in by her fans. Colors are vibrant, locations are imaginative, and action is always great. You really can't go wrong with this one.

I'd definitely give this book a read if you can get your hands on it. It can be a bit hard to find, but if you can find a copy, go for it, you won't be sorry. Andrew Pepoy is a great talent who can really do it all, and you don't want to miss out on Simone and Ajax's adventures.

That's all for me this month, readers! Tune in next time for a new book review!

Character Review

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)


Waddlewing's Mario Party 10 artwork
Beware, this terrifying enemy is coming for you...

Not everyone will agree with me, but I really did enjoy New Super Mario Bros U. I thought the game looked wonderful, and yes it was similar to the other games in the series, but I did find that a lot of the levels were designed wonderfully, and it did feel quite different. My complaint of the game would be the lack of diversity in the new enemies introduced, a lot of them were just variations on other enemies, but not all of them. The Waddlewing was one of these, and as we celebrate 2D games, and bid farewell to the Wii U, this seems the perfect to give a review on them.

Unlike most of the enemies that I review, I really like the Waddlewing. Its design fits perfectly with the Mario series, and although it is one of the key new introductions (it's featured on the boxart, and is the most common new enemy in the game), it never feels overused. It's even linked to an item, which is quite nice to see.

It's also nice to see an enemy that does something when it comes to an edge of the platform. Many enemies simply either drop off, or turn around, and as such they don't really pose much of a risk. However, Waddlewings glide off, and seeing as they do a small flip whenever a "bah" is heard, dodging them can be a little tricky.

But after New Super Mario Bros. U, it feels like they drop off the face of the earth. Yes, they appear in the Mario Kart series as a glider, but they're relegated to only cameo appearances in the Mario Party series. And this is a massive shame, because it feels like there could be more out of them.

Waddlewings could function in a 3D plane, as many feature some form of mountains, and if not, a boss based off of a Waddlewing could easily be done. Waddlewings could also feature within the RPG series. It'd be nice to see a unique Waddlewing character in the Mario & Luigi series, or if the Paper Mario series returns to its old style of play. Perhaps they could base it off the Waddlewing that criticised Mario after he crashed into his home in Super Mario Kun.

I love the Waddlewing, and I feel there is so much more that Nintendo could get out of it. And hopefully, in the future they will bring the Waddlewing back, because I feel it could easily become a staple of the series.

Movie Reviews

Written by: Yoshi876 (talk)


Genres Horror
Release date October 2017
Starring Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Tobin Bell
Runtime 92 minutes
Ratings 18 (UK)

"Hello reader, I'd like you to read my review. It's a simple review, best ones are. Just plot, characters, and traps. What more could you want?"

I am a massive fan of the SAW franchise, even though I am more than aware that the series has a lot of flaws. However, it's been five years since the last edition in this horror series, so has it managed to revive itself, or should it have remained locked in that iconic bathroom?

When it comes to the story, it's classic SAW. There's a series of people trapped in some macabre games where their lives are at stake, while the police force showcases its ineptitude as they attempt to stop the game. There are plenty of twists and turns in the tale, and while some are obvious some are less so. And when it comes to the final twist, fans of the franchise will have already anticipated it, and all it does is confirm our suspicions.

One of the franchise's weakest areas was with its characters. Most of the time, they'd receive just the basic of characterisation, before being killed off in an exceptionally gory manner. Although the characters in this movie could have been explored a lot better, it does a decent job at creating some believable characters. Now, all the franchise has to do is work to make them likable. Although some of the victims, like Mitch, were likable, it's hard to say that about any of the characters on the police force. The only character who was likable out of them was Eleanor, and she was criminally underused.

Of course, one of the main draws of SAW is its traps, and in this instance the movie really delivers. We'd been used to over-the-top traps that were designed to kill their intended victim in the most gory way possible, whilst looking pretty cool. This time, they've been geared back, and made tamer, but this benefits it. The traps are pretty decent, with particular praise going to Mitch's trap; it risks falling into the style that I mentioned earlier, and yet it actually manages to succeed as a well thought out trap that does satisfy viewers' gore desires. However, there are some weak ones like the grain silo trap. It makes sense given the location, but I just didn't feel any tension while watching it.

However, it does feel like the franchise was ran out of ideas. A mole inside the law enforcement is a plotline we're more than used to, so it's sad to see the majority of the police storyline devoted to this. And as good as some of the traps and twists are, some just feel ripped out of the SAW history books, the first trap is almost identical to the first trap in SAW V, and the climax of the film is eerily close to that of SAW II.

I did enjoy Jigsaw, and fans of the franchise will find the best one we've gotten in a long while (and no, that's not because of how it's been since the last one). However, those who aren't fans of the franchise may not find much to interest them. It's a decent Halloween flick, but if you were too busy out trick-or-treating, it's not essential viewing.

Late Night with Nabber

By:Nabber (talk)

Punch-Drunk Love
Director Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman
Runtime 1hr 35min
Release date 10/11/02

There are many movies that make my heart soar, that make me remember what it’s like to be in love. Her, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and last year’s famous documentary on the state of the jazz industry, La La Land. Yet these movies always seem to include an “yeah, but…”, elating the viewer only to remind them of the bittersweet nature of life, of the uncertainty of love, anything to bring us crashing down back to reality. But Punch-Drunk Love is pure. Coming back from my second viewing of the film, I felt the same emotions as the first time I saw it, the feeling of being in love and, goddammit, how wonderful love is, no buts about it. It exists in a world without cynicism, a world where you cheer on as Adam Sandler, of all people, gives one of the sappiest, corniest declarations of love one can imagine.


And boy, is it a film. Punch-Drunk Love finds director Paul Thomas Anderson employing his typical manner of ostentatiousness, as the camera moves dynamically through scenes and lens flares crowd the frame and weird splashes of color are spliced into the movie just because they look, well, lovely. Rather than taking you out of the film, though, they work to create an alternate, idealistic world, one that isn’t perfect but is still magical in its own right. A kiss results in a surge of people flowing by in silhouette, a phone call to a lover turns on the light of a public phone box. Bruised, bleeding knuckles, if you look at them just right, seem to spell “love”. The film is overflowing with beauty, overwhelming the viewer, and my god, it’s fantastic.


But the true heart of a romance lies just in its central couple, and this is what truly sets Punch-Drunk Love apart from other romances. Its main characters are social misfits. Not in the stereotypical, edgy high school student kind of way, but in the actual, can’t-function-in-society kind of way. Protagonist Barry Egan breaks down crying randomly, naively falls for a phone sex scam, and stumbles his way through social interactions with a realness that seems to belie Adam Sandler’s reputation as an actor. There aren’t many words spoken between Barry and his love, Lena, but in their interactions you can sense an understanding, the comfort that love is supposed to provide, an acceptance that everyone’s fucked up and that’s ok. The movie is horrifically engrossing in its portrayal of Barry’s social anxiety, but it leads itself to a wonderful catharsis, especially for viewers who suffer similar anxiety, that there’s a kind of hope and peace out there. And no, Lena does not come off as a perfect manic pixie dream girl; while she could use some more development, there’s a sense that she too, like Barry, is not “normal”, and as such the pairing of the two feels like a quiet triumph over a world that’s never quite right.


About that “not normal” thing - the character of Barry Egan tends to draw lots of attention because, for a protagonist of a romance movie, he is shockingly violent, and prone to throwing punches in fits of rage. The movie walks a fine line here; Barry tends to be provoked and shoved around to the point where some form of outburst seems reasonable, but it’s also hard to watch the movie while ignoring how much violence manifests itself in real people. Some may find Barry to be a well-meaning, sympathetic man who simply gets pushed too far; others may find him tragic and scary. Yet while I find Barry’s violence a terrifying but important element of the story, I can’t help but see it a trait of a troubled man who just needs to be understood, because it never goes unprovoked, and it never becomes a part of the relationship. I am sure that those who have suffered domestic abuse may find this movie repulsive, but taken in its context, there is a catharsis in Barry finding a life he feels happy in.


That’s the ultimate takeaway from Punch-Drunk Love– not about the violence or the romance but a little dance Adam Sandler does that somehow comes across as adorable instead of hokey. Because seeing someone who genuinely struggles in everyday life express real, genuine happiness – in whatever weird way that happens – is one of the most wondrous feelings in the world. Each time I finish watching this movie, I feel like doing a little twirl, with an elation that makes me immediately want to rewatch it.

The 'Shroom: Issue 128
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