The 'Shroom:Issue 140/Critic Corner
November is here, and already more than halfway over!!! While it's alarming and disgusting that October flew by so quickly, this means we're getting closer to everyone's favorite biannual event
Additionally, as you will read later on, next month's Could Have Been will be the last for Alex95 (talk) as he shifts focus. He has been a monthly writer here in Critic Corner since Issue 120 back in March 2017, frequently placing high or winning our CC Section of the Month poll, and will be missed. Go enjoy his section (and others) while you can! If you would like to help Critic Corner, we always have opening for more writers! The application process is very simple, starting with reading the Sign Up page, and sending your application to LudwigVon, our Stats Manager on the forum. On the Sign Up page there are a list of "vacancies" that provide you with examples of the types of sections we're looking for that would fit into Critic Corner, including the soon-open Could Have Been, but any idea you have is welcome!
Thank you voters for making Half-Baked Reviews Critic Corner's Section of the Month in November, with Virtual Console Reviews by Doomhiker (talk) making a nice splash in 2nd for his first section with us!
Next month is our annual Holiday special issue, so please help us make it special by providing us a section that fits whatever December-January Holiday toots your fancy, or something celebrating the Super Smash Bros. franchise's 20th anniversary! 🎅🕎🧦🎇🎁☃️
Section of the Month
Could Have Been
Greetings everyone! Alex95 here with another Could Have Been, and you can probably already tell I'm doing something different this month. Every previous Could Have Been focused on a Mario or Mario-related game (in fact, that's the description on The 'Shroom:Sign up), but it's November, and you know what that means? Zelda Month! So in celebration of that, I'm taking a look at the very first The Legend of Zelda game and see what went into developing this classic game. So let's equip our Zora Tunics and dive right in!
Seeing as this was the first Zelda game and there was no set standard for the series yet, the game went through a lot of differences, yet still managed to stay on the path set by the original concepts. But when it comes to what's left in the coding of the final cartridge, there isn't much. We have some regional differences and some coding fixes, so let's go over some of those. The earliest versions of the cartridge lack a "TM" symbol on the titlescreen, either meaning the trademarks weren't figured out yet or they forgot to put it in. Earlier versions also lack the save warning on the continue screen. As for localization, the old men in the dungeons of the Japanese version are much more helpful than in the English game. The Japanese men actually give you hints for how to play the game, such as Level 1's "EASTMOST PENNINSULA IS THE SECRET" being "You can't use arrows if you run out of money" and Level 8's "SPECTACLE ROCK IS AN ENTRANCE TO DEATH" replaced an actually useful bit of info "Look for the arrows in Death Mountain", regarding the Silver Arrows. There's also an unused enemy! It's just a one-headed Gleeok, that's it. That's all there is from the final cartridge, really. But time moves on and more things get discovered…
Christmas day, 2010. Staff member, Skrybe, of the Lost Levels forums posts a special Christmas gift for the forum users: a prototype disc of the Famicom Zelda no Densetsu ("The Legend of Zelda")! This prototype disc shows many, many, many differences from the final game including sprites, dungeon layouts, music, and glitches. The entirety of the Second Quest is also under construction, so it wasn't finished yet. The prototype's difficulty is also somewhat easier, some of the stronger enemies in the final game were easier enemies in the prototype and some enemies had lower health. You also can't attack the old men in dungeons and the Magical Sword required 8 hearts instead of 12. And the famous "It's a secret to everybody" line? In Japanese, the Moblin is essentially bribing Link to keep quiet about his hideout. Enemy sprites were changed slightly, with the Wall Masters missing their spots and the Ghini looking angrier and having two ghost legs. Strangely enough, artwork of the Ghini with two legs made it into the Japanese strategy guide. This prototype is filled with stuff that was changed or corrected before the final build, but we can find things that go back even further…
In a promotional video for the Famicom Disk System, The Legend of Zelda was shown for six minutes (with some pretty nifty animation). This promotional video shows a different layout of Aqumentis's room with blocks that look different than the final game and some different prices for some shops. The most interesting of these is probably the room at the very start of the game, where the old man gives Link his sword. Instead, Link originally had the choice between the sword or the boomerang. The boomerang was likely removed because it can't defeat any enemies other than the small Keese and Gels or the developers wanted the player to be able to finish the game with a full inventory. The Triforce was also called "Power Triangle". Well, at least that's a better name than "Triumph Forks". This promotional video shows the game in a very early stage of development, possibly the earliest we can find outside of concepts.
What Could Have Been
It's very likely The Legend of Zelda would've been how it is today, just slightly different… Unless you want to go to the absolute earliest concept of the game. When the Famicom Disk System was being designed, Nintendo wanted a game that was rewritable to make use of the new saving property. Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of both Zelda and Mario, originally planned for the game to be a dungeon maker. At first, it was just the dungeons, there was no Hyrule! The original plan was for players to design their own dungeon and then share it with their friends. But during the play-testing, Miyamoto found players were having more fun exploring the dungeons than they were building them. So he made a game out of that instead! Since that point, the concepts of The Legend of Zelda remained mostly the same: Explore overworld, slay enemies, explore dungeon and find an item, defeat boss with said item, and gain a piece of the Triforce. And that concept stayed pretty much the same until A Link Between Worlds changed up how item progression works. The Adventure of Link and Breath of the Wild are the only games to really throw out this concept entirely in the 30+ years of the series.
So much work went into this game and there is way too much to accurately cover in a 'Shroom section. But the guys at The Cutting Room Floor spent a lot of time chronicling everything they can. There's even a download link to a dumped ROM of the prototype build if you want to play that for yourself!
Now for a quick announcement: Next issue will be my last Could Have Been. I've been going over my priorities and I need focus more on other life matters, and The 'Shroom sections have been taking something of a backseat lately for me. I decided to round out this year with Could Have Been (and Upcoming Game in Pipe Plaza), and then hand off the section to whoever else wants to do it.
That's it for this month, but be sure to come back next issue, it'll be a real smash! See you around!
Hey guys, it’s November! You know what that means, right? That’s right! Christmas decorations have already been up for three weeks. Since no one else cares about it anymore since, quite frankly, it’s a crappy holiday, let’s celebrate American Thanksgiving with some candies and chocolates that the pilgrims destined their descendants to have to pay import pricing to try from an already limited sample from the domestic market! This month I have rounded up a selection of Nestlé treats; so much that I’ve saved four of them already to be added onto and delayed until November 2019 for a repeat of this issue’s Nestlé theme so I don’t overcrowd my sections and burn through my backlog too quickly.
Nestlé Milk Chocolate Bar
According to Wikipedia, the Nestlé Milk Chocolate Bar has been discontinued since 2016, and, while there’s no source link to verify that claim directly, I’m not finding any convincing information on the Nestlé website or elsewhere that proves otherwise; frankly, I’m not finding much information or active reference links at all. What convinces me is that a bunch of 3rd party retailers have it listed as no longer available. I have no idea why they’d discontinue such a basic bar that feels like a common standard, but I guess it must not be selling as well. Given that countries with Nestlé have things like Kit Kats in more than milk, dark, and white chocolate, that they have moved on from baseline sweets, and can just get them elsewhere, like Cadbury or Cailler, a Nestlé Swiss-chocolate brand. The bar I bought has a Best Before date of December 2018, and with milk chocolate bars having a shelf life of 1-2 years, this implies I got one of the last bars produced and they’ve been sitting on the shelf in the store I got them since 2016 to when I got it in October 2018, or somewhere in Turkey they’re still manufacturing them. Regardless of this bar’s continued existence, this is still milk chocolate produced by Nestlé, and is the same milk chocolate recipe that is present in all of their other bars that otherwise includes it.
So the actual taste of it is like...really boring. It definitely has the milk chocolate creaminess, but doesn’t have much for flavor. It’s not sweet, or even bitter, it’s just kinda...there. I know Americans get enough crap for me to notice it for this anecdote that our chocolate is just packed with filler and sugar and milk that dilutes its purity and whatever but like……...that’s what makes it taste good. That’s what makes it cheap and accessible. That’s what makes it successful. That’s what makes it a product that continues to be sold in stores. While there should be a market for high-end luxury chocolates of impeccable design and purity, there can also exist a market for less-than-high-end that people who just want to enjoy something can just go and enjoy it. The Nestlé Milk Chocolate Bar is effectively just a slab of baking chocolate, and who’d want to buy that when there’s an inundation of other options?
Explanation: Created for the sole purpose of competition, it misses the point of what it should be in the first place. Unless you have a vendetta against the original brand, just go with the market’s flow and let this one die.
For informative purposes, I must state that there are two types of Mars bars: European and American. The American Mars is nougat and almonds covered in milk chocolate, while the European is nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate. I’m guessing I got the European version, which I’m glad for in terms of selecting the genuine product for this specific theming. The American version was discontinued in 2002 and replaced with the Snickers Almond, which has nougat, almond, caramel all covered in milk chocolate, which has plagued assorted bags of Hershey’s Halloween candy bags on sales at stores alongside Milk Duds and Almond Joy. Despite this discontinuation, much like every other snack food and, frankly, every other trend and show and movie and style in Western civilization, it keeps popping back up on shelves with fanfare. Hopefully it will be easy to discern between which version is the one available, but I can safely say that I’ll just buy a Milky Way to begin with if I’m ever compelled to have the fleeting experience of spongy processed nougat grace my palate. Oh, who am I fooling? I’ll blow my money on Kit Kats and Reese’s Cups if I ever buy candy outside of reviewing.
Rating: Buying Chex Mix at full retail price
Explanation: Frankly, Chex Mix isn’t even that good, but it is a sufficient snack product that satisfies cravings due to their availability of salty, sweet, chocolatey, crunchy, spicy, almost anything. Their true appeal is that they regularly go on in-store sales that can be compounded with manufacturer’s coupons for suburban mom-tier savings, so paying more than necessary just absolutely depletes the value, and you may as well spend your money on a higher quality product that you can at least show off smugly on Instagram.
In an 11th hour attempt to not judge this solely on the price, the Mars bar really isn't that bad and is actually pretty decent compared to how overbearingly salty and manufactured a Milky Way can be. I'd probably snag it up again if it was significantly larger and slightly cheaper, which I guess is an option available to people who live in places where this doesn't have import pricing. It's just not anything new or exciting, and exists in multiple different forms by several different multinational companies with minor negligible differences.
Nestlé Coffee Crisp
The coffee center is definitely not “creme” and is instead more like sponge candy, which is a chocolate toffee thing that’s apparently only really well-known and popular from the western New York area I grew up in. Me, being the only Buffalo native who hates it, I’m not exactly too pleased at this being stiff and rigid instead of chewy and creamy, but I will admit that it does at least validate the “Crisp” part of the name and also isn’t as hard as a rock like actual sponge candy. I will credit that to the wafers the coffee crisp part is sandwiched between, which gives each bite a gentle lead-in to the brittle stiffness instead of just dipping floral foam into chocolate like how sponge candy seems to be done. The actual coffee flavor is very mild, which I’m ok enough with. I will give it points for being a unique texture and product.
Explanation: A decent version of something that’s otherwise kinda dull if not mildly unpleasant, it has a light enough flavoring to strike a balance between wanting a particular taste without wanting all five of your senses, plus a few more, being slammed through a wall. It satisfies a certain craving you may have while not leaving you overwhelmed, and instead still wanting more.
The Lion bar outwardly looks just like a NutRageous, and tastes almost exactly like one too, except that it’s not peanuts, and doesn’t have that caustic aftertaste as a result of all that salt or whatever on the nuts. It doesn’t really provide me with any new experience beyond instilling me with the belief that there’s a hard limit on the variety of sensations you can experience with food, and that the properties of one can just easily be mimicked by others. Really makes you think about veggie burgers.
Explanation: Basically the same thing as Traditional, it changes just one measly aspect that cuts the edge off of what makes Traditional kinda meh, and instead makes it something that’s only a little meh. It’s still good, but it doesn’t feel new, just a refining of the original.
MilkybarI like chocolate, and I like milk, and I like buying nonsense to pack tight my review section here, so the Milkybar caught my attention pretty easily. It cost like $3.49 at Publix for what’s basically a King Size candy bar, which is certainly pricy, but wasn’t the $6+ it was at The British Shoppe on its clearance rack, and instead just falls into the fair trade organic chocolate bar price range. I feel bad for deferring to a corporate chain at the neglect of a small cultural-district unique boutique, but it just wasn’t even competitive in pricing. Honestly, I’ve noticed the same thing in Disney parks, particularly Epcot and its World Showcase; a thing I’ve been able to notice as I’m now a resident and have an annual pass and could literally just go to Hollywood Studios any time to just use their new Toy Story themed bathroom and then leave. Their little country-themed sections, in particular England and Germany, but the others are all subject, have little shops that sell nonsense from that host country, including candies, chocolates and sweets.
Back on track, the Milkybar package had a pearly matte finish with a smooth texture of organic chip bags, which is my absolute favorite tactile experience when going out shopping, so it already gets some bonus points for me. When I opened it I was, for some reason, surprised that it was white chocolate. I guess I was expecting super creamy milk chocolate, but taking another look at the packaging showed me I was just flat in the wrong. It’s not as milky as I was hoping. I was thinking it’d be similar to a Hershey’s Symphony bar--really smooth, creamy, melts in your mouth; instead it’s kinda hard and like...chalky? but not in a Smarties way but like a Tums Smoothies antacids after having absorbed some milk. It’s difficult to find a word to describe it. Smoothly brittle? The package claims that the bar is super milky; “Milk is our No. 1 ingredient”, which is cool I guess, but ultimately it just seems to be a really flavorless white chocolate.
As I had more later on the next day, it was a different experience. Likely due to my apartment being warmer than the store, it was softer and smoother. The flavor changed as well, and was no longer a boring hunk of homemade Easter sale white chocolate, and instead tasted exactly like a Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Creme without the Cookies. Let this be a testament to food not existing in a vacuum, and everything has a context in which is can do well in.
Explanation: A traditional American homemade snack that has been reclaimed by General Mills to turn it into a caustic mess of dust designed to make you choke. An overall miserable experience at home, somehow it becomes a shining beacon of taste and a flash of wealth when purchased at a gas station while on a road trip.
Tune in next month for a holidaylicious review! Also, tell me what to review next! 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!
Graphic Novel Review
The graphic novel collects all eight of the issues in this series published earlier this year, and it's the first of DC's "Black Label" titles, which is a new label that DC uses for basically AUs of its characters drawn and written by all-star artists. Sean Murphy wrote and drew this one, but I'll get to the aesthetics later.
White Knight begins in the middle of a fight between Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl against the Joker. The chase eventually ends in a warehouse full of "defective" drugs, where the Joker tricks Batman into overdosing him on the medicine inside in a brutal act that makes its way to Gotham City News. Batman has been getting more and more aggressive as of late, and the viral video makes Gotham truly cast doubt on the Dark Knight's ethics.
The Joker wakes up in jail, not as Joker, but as Jack Napier, his psychosis cured and his mind not like the famous villain's. Using his newfound sanity and intellect, Napier is able to sue the Gotham City Police and get out of jail, reconnect with Harley Quinn, and set out on a quest to clean up Gotham City and expose Batman as the supercriminal he truly is. It's a story full of political intrigue, superhero ethics, and some romance, and it's really a story with a lot of grey morality. There's no black and white here: everyone is in the wrong, and yet they all have to work together to make things right again.
One of my favorite parts of the story is that they address the disconnect with Harley Quinn. The more recent Suicide Squad comics and movie have really painted her out to be just some crazy Joker fangirl who wears skimpy clothes and wants Daddy Joker's attention (I'm so sorry). However, if you know her history, you'll know that she's actually a "graduate" of Gotham University's School of Psychology (I use the term graduate loosely because she wasn't 100% legitimate). Either way, the woman has a brain and she was able to hold it together well enough to graduate college and med school AND get into Arkham to meet and greet with the Joker. This series acknowledges that in a very good way instead of just sweeping it under the rug, and it's actually a very important plot point, so I won't spoil it for you. Harley Quinn is one of my favorite Batman characters, and I really hate how she's portrayed in Suicide Squad. Just had to get that off my chest.
Onto the aesthetics of this series! The art style reminds me of Batman: Year One, which featured much thicker linework. It's not as clean as the artwork seen in Mad Love, but it's a really nice style. This isn't a colorful book, so if you're looking for bright colors, go read Mad Love. Shadows play a big part in the background, and the small details Murphy adds in here and there are really lovely. You get to see everyone without their masks, and they all look fantastic, especially Napier. Heck, even when he's playing the Joker he's not too hard on the eyes. Also, you get to see Bruce Wayne in a fuzzy pink bathrobe. Enough said there.
If you're a fan of Batman, even just a casual one, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. You don't have to read 100 issues of Batman comics to understand what's going on here, just a basic knowledge of Batman lore is enough. It's a story that really makes you think, and while the ending is not sunshine and rainbows, it's still very satisfying and leave the reader with only a few small questions. I would really recommend getting this one soon, as I'm not sure how frequently DC will be publishing their "Black Label" titles. It's a welcome addition to any Batman collection, big or small, and it's also a great place to start a collection, too.
That's all for me this month, readers! Tune in next time for a fresh Book Review, hot out of the oven!
Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am a big fan of Yoshi, and by extension the games that he stars in, with the Island series and Woolly World being some of the best examples that I can give. One of the reasons that I like the series is, alongside Yoshi, some of its creative enemies. Sure, there are plenty of duds, but sometimes there a little gems.
Eggo-Dil is probably one of the more gem-like than others, even if I hate coming across them. As you can tell by the image accompanying this review an Eggo-Dil is a flower, however, what you can't tell from the image is that it fires those petals at you. Although relatively easy to dodge, younger me actually quite struggled whenever it was around.
However, even though like most enemies there isn't a lot to say about it, that's one of its charms. The flower is able to sit there, shoot its petals off, regenerate and then do the exact same, but there is a missed opportunity with it. The Yoshi's Island series regularly has enemies become supersized for boss fights, and an enlarged Eggo-Dil could be a difficult boss to face. Although it could also be a bit like Gilbert the Gooey from Yoshi's Island DS in which you have to eat all of the petals off of it in order to defeat.
Eggo-Dil, although slightly annoying with having to dodge its petals is one of the Yoshi's Island series' strongest enemies. It manages to not outstay its welcome by appearing infrequently enough, but it could benefit from becoming a boss character. And hopefully it stays a Yoshi's Island series mainstay, as I don't feel like it would work in the overall Mario series.